Corn Pudding with Mushrooms

Whenever I think of savory puddings I immediately think of the Brits.  I'm not 100% sure that's historically accurate but since the London Olympics are in full swing I'm going with it!  It also doesn't hurt that the corn in season right now is so ridiculously sweet and tender that I'm trying to figure out ways to work it into all three meals a day.  So when I saw this recipe in my current issue of Bon Appétit it simply felt like all the stars had aligned and I needed to make it right away...and wow am I glad that I did!

In terms of the recipe itself, you all know by now that I'm not a huge fan of typing recipes up if I don't have you can find the original Bon Appétit recipe here. I chose to omit the ham since we were serving it as a side dish alongside pork (Tenderloin with Plum Chutney if you're curious). I would also suggest using 6-7 ears of corn vs. the 4-5 they recommend.  I used white corn since that's what they had at my farmer's market and you can see my pudding still came out pretty and bright but yellow corn would likely make the dish even more striking visually.

Other than that I followed the recipe exactly.  It's pretty straightforward, but one technique that may be a bit new to some is using a box grater to grate corn kernels directly off the cob. It's a pretty genius technique, both removing the kernels from the cob quickly and "milking" the corn all at the same time so you get a nice wet mushy pile of grated corn as the base for your pudding.  The only watch-out is that it splatters like crazy, so I would suggest draping a clean towel over your grater and work station to contain the mess.  But be careful if you do this since you won't be able to see what you're doing as well...keep those fingers away from the grater and go slow!  Another option is to put your bowl down in a clean sink and do all of your work there with an apron on (although my face still got quite a splattering when I tried this approach!)

Chickpea Obsession…

We have recently become obsessed with chickpeas.  I'm not sure exactly when or why it happened, but somehow I keep finding recipes with chickpeas on my weekly menus.  Not only are these chickpea dishes making their way on my menus like some sneaky guest you don't remember inviting, but they're becoming the star of the party!  Week after week these seemingly simple dishes have blown both Christian and I away, becoming our favorite dinner of the week.  You know, the kind where you're excitedly awaiting the leftovers.  Don't get me wrong...we've always liked chickpeas, but all of a sudden we love chickpeas!

Since they've been such a welcome part of our dinners lately I thought I'd share a few of our favorite dishes that feature chickpeas. The name of each dish is linked to the recipe so you can make them yourself.  Besides all having chickpeas, the other commonality that these dishes have is that they are all super simple as well.  What could be better than simple and delicious?!  Oh....healthy.  Yup, these dinners fit that bill as well!
Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad

This is a delicious and fabulous winter salad...even for those who have never eaten kale or think they don't like kale.  How do I know that?  It was my one risky dish for Thanksgiving this year and it got rave reviews!  And this was from a group of 12, men an women, who aren't really into the whole healthy, superfood movement.  So this was a bit of an experiment and I was prepared for it to be snubbed next to all of those buttery and rich Thanksgiving stand-bys.  Imagine my surprise when I started hearing murmurings around the table about the salad....of all things!  I think almost everyone loved it (yes there were one or two holdouts...but I'm convinced they didn't even try it) and had seconds.  It was even one of the first leftovers to be finished off.  So, I stand by my assessment that this is a phenomenal salad!

Recipe: Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad

It's actually quite simple when you look at the recipe...kale, brussels sprouts, almonds & pecorino dressed with a simple mixture of lemon juice, dijon mustard, shallot & garlic.  Voilà!  Delicious salad!  That being said, there are two steps that can take a bit of time if you don't have the right technique:

Butternut Squash & Chickpea Farroto

Holy good heavens, this is a winner!  I stumbled upon this recipe in a Bon Appétit a couple of years ago and it's been on my "to be cooked" list ever since and I'm kicking myself for not making it sooner.  Now that we've had it once, it will definitely become a winter staple in our household.

If you're not familiar with Farro, it's an Italian grain that has a mild nutty taste with a nice toothsome texture...similar in texture to risotto which is why it works so well as a substitute here.  If the labor-intensive stirring of risotto scares you off then this is the perfect alternative since you get a similar textured dish without standing by the stove stirring non-stop for 30 minutes.  Farro can be a bit harder to find than other grains, but specialty food and natural food stores tend to carry it.  Italian and Middle East grocers are another good place to look.  Of course, you could also order some online and save yourself some driving around.  Trust me, this dish is worth the hunt!  
SavoryGirl’s Famous Sweet Potatoes

I've been making these sweet potatoes for as long as I've been making Thanksgiving dinner and they've been requested by my repeat guests every year since.  To be honest, I did not grow up eating sweet potatoes with marshmallows in them....always kind of thought it was gross.  But the hubby requested it the first Thanksgiving we were together so I went and found this recipe that has the added twist of coconut.  So now even I can't imagine Thanksgiving without them.
Weekly Menu: November 13-19, 2011
Sunday: Ordered Pizza to celebrate Christian’s triathlon!
Monday: Lemon, Shrimp & Arugula Pasta (DIY from stuff we have on hand)
Tuesday: Healthy take-out from the grocery store
Wednesday: Heirloom Squash Farrotto
Thursday: Meet friends out for dinner
Friday: Leftovers: Farrotto
Saturday: Eat Out for a friend's birthday
SavoryGirl confessional here.  We don't always manage to stick to our menus as planned and this last week was one where we kind of failed miserably.  We only managed to make one dish off the menu (the curry which was easy and delish!) simply because it was a super busy weekend with Christian's triathlon (he did fantastic by the way!) and we didn't actually make it to the grocery store until Tuesday.

So, I thought I'd share what we actually ended up eating last week as this week's menu. The only difference is that I substituted in the new recipe we're adding to last week's menu to take the place of the curry for you to try out...the Heirloom Squash Farroto.   For the DIY pasta we honestly just scourged our cupboards and fridge to come up with that dish and it turned out really well!

I know this week's menu isn't super helpful since there's a lot of eating out, but take it as an excuse to get creative on your own...and of course share any success you have!  
Weekly Menu: August 21-27, 2011
Sunday: Eggplant Putannesca Stacks with Roasted Balsamic Seasonal Veggies
Monday: Disappearing Zucchini Orzo with Shrimp & Salad
Tuesday: Leftovers: Eggplant Putannesca
Wednesday: Leftovers: Orzo
Thursday: In San Diego
Friday: In San Diego
Saturday: In San Diego
The menu is a bit bare bones for those of you using it this week since we're heading down to San Diego to see our good friends Nancy & Adam and our little sister Katrin.  But fear not! There are 8 months of archived menus to dig back through for other ideas for the weekend if you're interested.

Both of the dishes we are making this week are old-time favorites of ours...the first one from our Almost Meatless cookbook (this is the cover recipe) and the second one actually comes from the book Animal Vegetable Miracle...which if you haven't read yet you definitely should!  It's an incredibly inspiring book and it has lots of good recipes throughout...we add grilled shrimp to this one to add a bit of protein, but otherwise it's fantastic.    
Stinging Nettle & Walnut Orecchiette

This is a SavoryGirl Original, but based on one of our favorite recipes (Braised Broccoli Rabe with Orecchiette). We randomly stumbled across Stinging Nettles at our local Farmers’ Market this weekend and decided to give them a try based on all the good things we’ve heard about them.

Once we got the stinging nettles home we (luckily) did some quick research and found out that there were some serious implications to working with you have to really be careful and prep them properly or else feel a similar sting to that of fire ants due to the formic acid that the little spines all over the plant secrete. That’s right, formic acid. Yikes. Okay, don’t be scared off though, the prep is quite’s what you do:
White Bean & Kale Soup

This is an oldie but a goodie...filed away in my “Suz’s Recipes” document that I've been creating for as long as I've been cooking. So old that I can’t even recall where it’s from, so apologies if I’m not giving credit where it’s due! It’s a super basic recipe but really yummy, healthy and soul satisfying!