Barger is the co-founder of Eastside Cafe who went on to start HausBar Farm in 2009. Seven years ago, Gustavo came to live on the farm when he was two days old, Barger says. “He arrived in a box from the hatchery. I had to drive to the post office to pick him up,” she says in the campaign. “When I got him back to the farm, he jumped out of the box and took over the whole farm with his enormous personality, his huge heart and his gift for making people feel loved.”
On any visit to the farm, you’ll see Gustavo following Barger around the East Austin farm, keeping tabs on the rotating seasonal crops, which are sold to local restaurants.
It’s a sweet story in real life that Barger knew would make a sweet book, so she teamed with her mother, Barbara Adams, a painter, to create “On Gustavo’s Farm,” a new children’s book coming out this fall.
The authors are hosting several events in coming months to celebrate its debut, including a private dinner at 6 p.m. Oct. 13th in the farm’s outdoor kitchen space with chefs Michael CastiIlo and Emily Davis. The first general book signing event is “Cocktails with Gustavo” ($125) at 6 p.m., Oct. 20 that will feature drinks with Paula’s Texas Spirits.
At 10 a.m. on Oct. 27, HausBar will host a kid-friendly book signing ($100 donation for 2 adults and up to 2 kids) that will include the Tiny Tales To You mobile petting zoo, a book signing and “Gustavo on the Go” coloring activity station.
Barger is selling copies of the book and tickets to the book events through Indigogo over the next month, but the book will be available in other locations in November.
If you haven’t seen Texas barbecue through Wyatt McSpadden’s eyes, then you haven’t seen Texas barbecue.
McSpadden is the Austin-based photographer and longtime Texas Monthly contributor who has been chronicling the state’s barbecue culture for more than 20 years. In 2009, he published “Texas BBQ,” which earned him the title of “official barbecue photographer of Texas” from the magazine’s barbecue editor, Daniel Vaughn, and in the years’ since, he has continued to visit every barbecue joint he can with a camera in hand.
The result is a new book, “Texas BBQ: From Small Town to Downtown,” which features the many urban barbecue restaurants that have opened in the past decade, including Dallas’s Pecan Lodge and Cattleack Barbecue and Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Que in Marlin. Vaughn and Austin’s Aaron Franklin provide reflections on barbecue to accompany the images.
The book is already available for pre-order on Amazon for $29.99, and the title — for now — is “Franklin Steak.” Ten Speed Press, which published Franklin’s first book, “Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto,” in 2015, has paired him up with co-author Jordan Mackay to “go deeper into the art and science of cooking steak than anyone has gone before,” which means they’ll be traveling the world to get steak tips and recipes from meat-lovers in Spain, Scotland and Japan.
According to the book blurb on Amazon: “They demystify cattle breeds, explore the technique of dry-aging, and even teach readers how to build custom, backyard grill setups inspired by the best steak chefs in the world.”
Though they are native Texans, my kids haven’t quite taken to cornbread. They usually think it’s too sweet (even if there’s very little sugar) or too crumbly. But, that just means more cornbread for me.
Here is English’s go-to cornbread recipes, as well as a wilted spinach salad that uses cornbread croutons and a bacon vinaigrette. It’s an ideal dish for people who love both greens and cornbread, but skip the homemade croutons if you don’t feel like baking.
First, some history about cornbread: Versions of hot, corn-based breads were being baked on the continent well before European colonists arrived. “Suppone” and “pone” are but two names that Native Americans gave to their cornbreads, which consisted of ground cornmeal and liquid, typically water. Since then, additional ingredients have been introduced to lighten and leaven the bread, including fats (butter, bacon grease, vegetable oils), eggs, milk or buttermilk, and baking soda and baking powder.
I am deeply picky about cornbread. According to my standards, a properly prepared pan should possess no added sugar, have a moist interior and crumby exterior, and be simultaneously smoky, salty, and naturally sweet. It needs to be baked with bacon drippings and butter, and contain no trace of processed vegetable oils. While I welcome white or yellow cornmeal equally, so long as my other criteria are met, I do tend to gravitate toward yellow cornbread, as that is the kind I grew up eating.
Essentially, what I’m describing is my grandmother’s cornbread, the kind she baked regularly, having learned from her own mother, my Mamaw. I would rather have no cornbread at all than one that is too sweet, or baked with vegetable oil, or so light and fluffy and devoid of exterior crunch that it might as well be a slice of cake. I tell you, when it comes to cornbread, I am Goldilocks. The side eye I give most cornbread would make a grown man cry. What I offer here is a version my ancestors would applaud.
— Ashley English
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
1 1/4 cup yellow medium-grind cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
Turn the oven to 400 degrees. Place the butter and bacon grease in a 9-inch cast iron skillet or pie pan. Put the pan in the oven, allowing the fats to melt and the pan to heat while you prepare the batter.
Sift together the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
Whisk together the buttermilk and eggs in a large bowl. Remove the heated pan from the oven, and carefully pour all but several teaspoons of the melted fat into the bowl. Whisk until fully combined.
Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet, combining just until the batter is free of lumps.
Pour the batter into the heated pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the sides of the cornbread begin to pull away from the edges of the pan. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8.
Kilt Spinach Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette & Cornbread Croutons
Croutons are a great way to use up leftover cornbread — you could also crumble it to use as a crust for fish or instead of breadcrumbs in meatballs — and they add a wonderful texture to this kilt spinach salad, which gets its name from the Southern Appalachian term for wilted. The addition of the hot fat on the spinach wilts it slightly, so let the dressing cool longer if you want the spinach to retain its fresh texture.
— Addie Broyles
For the croutons:
1 batch cornbread, cut into bite-size cubes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
For the spinach:
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
3 pieces bacon, cooked until lightly crisped and crumbled
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
10 ounces fresh spinach leaves
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the cornbread cubes evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet, with some space in between each cube.
Drizzle the cornbread with the olive oil, and then sprinkle evenly with the salt. Toss gently to coat and then spread out the cubes again on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, gently flip the cubes, and bake for 8 minutes longer until crispy and golden. Remove the pan from the oven and set the croutons aside to cool while you prepare the spinach.
Warm the olive oil over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute, and then remove the garlic from the pan.
Stir in the crumbled bacon, brown sugar, salt and several grinds of pepper until fully incorporated, then turn off the heat. Let the mixture sit for 2 to 3 minutes and then carefully (it may splatter a little) stir in the vinegar.
Place the spinach in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the dressing over the greens. Using salad tongs, toss the spinach with the dressing and serve immediately, topped with the cornbread croutons. Serves 4.
Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” books are reliable, creative and, most importantly, useful.
Why are the recipes that fill those books so well-loved and easy to adapt? Because Bittman knows, perhaps more than any cookbook writer today, how we cook. Sometimes, we start to cook with nothing more than a craving — a fruit cobbler, a potato salad or a grilled chicken — so he starts with a basic recipe for each and then offers up to a dozen ways to adjust the recipe to fit your palate or your pantry, as well as your schedule and skill level.
For example, in the latest book in this series, “How to Grill Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Flame-Cooked Food” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30), Bittman starts the chapter on chicken with a basic grilled chicken breast recipe that includes alternative cooking times and methods for chicken thighs and turkey cutlets, as well as nine variations on the flavor profile (curried, Thai, North African, Mediterranean, etc).
After a recipe for crunchy breaded chicken cutlets on the grill — yes, you read that right, breaded chicken on the grill — he shares this recipe for chicken in Mexican-style escabeche. Knowing that a Chinese-inspired sweet-and-sour sauce serves a similar culinary function, Bittman includes that variation, as well as a Jamaican-style escovitch and a whole fish en escabeche, a traditional dish in South America and the Caribbean.
Oh, and he reminds us that you can make the original dish with turkey cutlets, salmon, tuna or swordfish and that you can turn it into a main-course salad by serving it over baby spinach and adding sliced peaches, mango or grapes. As if we needed another reminder that Bittman really does know how to cook everything.
Grilled Chicken Breasts and Red Onion en Escabeche
1/2 cup good-quality olive oil, plus more for brushing
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño, or more to taste (optional)
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 red onion, cut into small wedges
If you’re using bamboo or wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, start the coals or heat a gas grill for medium direct cooking. Make sure the grates are clean.
Make the vinaigrette: Whisk the 1/2 cup oil, vinegar and the orange and lime juices together in a small bowl until thickened. Whisk in the garlic, oregano, cloves, cinnamon and jalapeño, if you’re using it. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, taste, and adjust the seasoning.
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then pound the breasts to an even thickness if necessary. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Skewer the onion wedges and brush with the vinaigrette.
Put the chicken and skewers on the grill directly over the fire. Close the lid and cook the chicken, turning once, until the breasts are no longer pink in the center, 3 to 8 minutes per side depending on their size. (Nick with a small knife and peek inside.) Cook the onions, turning the skewers several times, until they have softened and taken on some color, even some char, 8 to 10 minutes per side. As they finish, transfer the chicken and onions to a deep platter or shallow bowl. Let them rest for 5 minutes.
Slice the chicken 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick and return it to the platter. Slide the onions from the skewers and scatter them over the chicken. Pour the vinaigrette over all and serve. Or cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours and serve cold or at room temperature. Serves 4.
Before the new library opened downtown, one of the most exciting proposed elements was the Cookbook Cafe, a cookbook-inspired eatery on the bottom floor.
The Central Library opened in October, but today, the cafe opens with a surprise: The books lining the shelves were the collection of Virginia B. Wood, the late food writer who was influential in Austin’s food community before her death earlier this year.
The Cookbook Cafe, which is run by the ELM Group, will features dishes pulled from the cookbooks in Wood’s collection, whose books line the shelves of the interior dining space, as well as in the personal collections of chefs Andrew and Mary Catherine Curren.
So what cookbooks will you find featured on the menu? “The Commander’s Palace Cookbook” by Ti Adelaide Martin & Jamie Shannon inspired the granola parfait, and Heidi Gibson’s “Grilled Cheese Kitchen” holds the recipe for the restaurant’s breakfast grilled cheese.
At a preview event over the weekend, we got to sample a rice pudding with strawberries and spiced hibiscus syrup from “Baking Chez Moi” by Dorie Greenspan. The restaurant will be serving coffee, matcha and tea, as well as beer, wine and spirits. The literary-inspired cocktails include The Adventures of Huckleberry Gin and Murder on the Orient Espresso.
The hours of the restaurant will be 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. The Cookbook Cafe also runs a rooftop coffee cart in the library’s top floor from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 3 p.m.
You can park in the underground lot at the library, but there are also some street parking options. The library is located at Cesar Chavez and San Antonio Streets, between the Seaholm Development and the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.
One of those cooks is Michelle Smith, who has a new cookbook called “The Whole Smiths Good Food Cookbook,” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30), which is officially endorsed by the Whole30 brand led by Melissa Hartwig in Dallas.
Smith is a mother of two and recipe developer for her own website, thewholesmiths.com, and the official Whole30 blog, so many of the dishes are family friendly and can be adapted for paleo, vegan, dairy free or nut free homes.
She’ll be in Austin this week for an event at BookPeople. You can catch her there at 7 p.m. Thursday.
In the book, Smith includes a peach and prosciutto salad that’s great for summer.
Peach and Prosciutto Salad
What’s not to love about this salad? Fresh peaches? Check. Prosciutto? Check. Combined with some blue cheese? Trust me, you’re in for a treat.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups packed baby spinach
2 cups packed watercress
1/2 cup Marcona almonds
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
8 slices prosciutto, halved
2 peaches, sliced
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, and salt until emulsified.
In a large bowl, toss together the spinach, watercress, almonds, blueberries, and blue cheese. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Garnish the salad with the prosciutto and peach slices and serve. Serves 4.
In her research, Magness found out that fried chicken is still the granddaddy of funeral foods and that plenty of cooks, however well-intentioned, are still dropping off Jell-O salads for friends in grief. This pimiento cheese salad would be a welcome sight on many potluck tables and picnic blankets, not just a memorial service.
Pimiento Cheese Pasta Salad
I never really thought of pasta salad as a funeral food until I was attending a wedding at a very, very small church in a very, very small Mississippi town. As I was waiting in the vestibule to be ushered down the aisle, I glanced at the church bulletin board and saw a sign-up sheet for the funeral reception of a congregation member. Three people had signed up to bring macaroni salad.
— Perre Coleman Magness
10 strips bacon
1 pound elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons cider vinegar, divided
7 green onions, white and light green parts only
3 tablespoons chopped chives
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 1/2 cups whole buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated
2 (7-ounce) jars diced pimientos, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped celery (optional)
Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook over medium-high heat until very crispy. Remove to paper towels to drain and reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.
Cook the macaroni in a large pot of water with 2 tablespoons vinegar, according to the package instructions, until cooked through. Drain the pasta, rinse it with cool water, and drain well again. Return the pasta to the pot and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar and the 2 tablespoons of bacon grease. Stir to coat the pasta well and leave to sit for 15 minutes.
Place 4 of the green onions, the chives and the parsley in a food processor or blender and pulse to chop finely. Add the buttermilk, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper, and blend until smooth and combined. Pour the dressing over the macaroni and stir gently to coat. Add the grated cheese, drained pimientos and cooked bacon and stir to distribute.
Finely chop the remaining green onions and add onions and celery, if using, to the salad, stirring to combine. The dressing will absorb and thicken as it chills, so don’t worry if it looks a little loose. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Cover the salad and refrigerate until chilled. The salad will keep for three days covered and refrigerated. You can stir in a little more buttermilk to loosen the salad up before serving. Serves 10.
We’re seeing more and more chefs and cookbook authors booked at the downtown library, and tonight, food lovers have a chance to hear from esteemed chef Alon Shaya.
The James Beard-winning Shaya, who was born in Israel and immigrated to Philadelphia when he was four, gained U.S. fame in New Orleans, where his restaurant Shaya, won the Beard award for Best New Restaurant in 2016, a year after his 2015 award for “Best Chef: South.”
At 7 p.m., Shaya will chat with CultureMap writer Adam Boles about what modern Israeli-American cuisine looks like and Shaya’s journey from Israel to Philadelphia, Italy, back to Israel and then New Orleans. Before opening Israeli restaurants, Shaya specialized in Italian cuisine, which is why you’ll find this recipe for gnocchi and tomato sauce in the new book. It’s the perfect way to use up some of those summer tomatoes that are starting to show up at the farmers markets and in CSA boxes.
GNOCCHI WITH FAST TOMATO SAUCE
Despite my angst over the failed gnocchi in St. Louis, I did eventually learn how to make them well. The lesson I took from them is: face your fears and conquer the food that intimidates you most; you may not win the first battle, but you’ll win the war! The key is to commit to the process. Be precise about the weight of your peeled potatoes (too much or too little will alter the final texture); use a potato ricer or food mill, and work rapidly, while everything is warm, since the starches get gummy if you beat them up or allow them to cool. Therefore, it’s crucial to get your ingredients and equipment ready to go before you start. Take those little steps, be sure not to overwork the dough, and you’ll get the lightest, fluffiest gnocchi you’ve ever had.
Because time is of the essence whenever you cook potatoes, you get the best results when you make a relatively small batch — this recipe makes four portions. But because the gnocchi can be made in advance, you can make two or three batches, then sauce them all at once. Each batch will get easier, as the process becomes more intuitive. For all that focus, I like to pair this with something effortless that allows the gnocchi to really shine. Look no further than my fast tomato sauce (recipe follows). Other great options would be brown butter or even a really good olive oil.
— Alon Shaya
1 gallon plus 2 quarts water, divided
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon Morton kosher salt, divided
2 or 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes (18 ounces peeled)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 egg yolks
1 1/3 cup all- purpose flour, preferably White Lily, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 recipe fast tomato sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Fill a pot with 1 gallon water and 2 tablespoons salt, and let it come to a boil. Cover the pot and leave it on low heat, so it’s ready when you need it.
Peel the potatoes, and measure out exactly 18 ounces. Cut them into eighths, place them in a large ovenproof pot or saucepan, cover them with 2 quarts cold water, and put the pan over high heat. Once the water boils, decrease the heat to medium, and simmer until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, 10 to 12 minutes.
Drain the potatoes, and place them back in the ovenproof pot. Bake until they’re rid of excess moisture, 4 to 5 minutes. While they bake, use a fork to beat together the butter and yolks until they’re as smooth as you can get them; set the bowl aside.
As soon as the potatoes are out of the oven, pass them through a ricer or food mill into a large bowl, making sure you scrape the bottom. Fold in the butter mixture until it’s incorporated, then add the flour, nutmeg, and last 1⁄2 teaspoon salt all at once, using your spatula to cut these ingredients in with minimal stirring. It’ll look crumbly, almost like pie crust.
Generously our an unrimmed baking sheet and your work surface. Dump the dough onto the surface, and gently press it into a ball. Cut it in quarters, and work with one piece at a time, leaving the rest covered with a dish towel to stay warm.
Roll each piece of dough into a long, skinny log, about 3/4-inch wide; dust with our as you work, to prevent it from sticking. With a floured paring knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 3/4-inch dumplings, keeping the blade clean as you work. Add all the dumplings to the baking sheet, and repeat with the rest of the dough, working quickly so the potatoes don’t get too starchy as they cool.
Shape the gnocchi, one at a time, by pressing the dumpling between the pad of your thumb and a gnocchi board or the back of a fork. Roll it steadily, parallel to the board’s ridges or the fork’s tines, so it curls around itself.
Gently drop the gnocchi from the baking sheet into the boiling water. A bench scraper or wide spatula can help you make sure they aren’t misshapen in transit. Watch for them to oat—should be about 1 minute—then cook for another 30 seconds. They’re done when the centers resemble pound cake, with the same consistency throughout. Drain, and toss with the olive oil.
At this point, you can add the gnocchi to the sauce and eat them, or refrigerate them in an airtight container for a day or two. To reheat: Drop them into boiling water for about 20 seconds, just until they’re warm all the way through, before adding sauce; reheating them this way restores the light, fluffy texture. Top with plenty of Parmesan to serve.
Fast Tomato Sauce
This is my go-to pasta sauce, as fast as it is delicious. Make it with the best in-season tomatoes you can find—the screaming-hot oil allows you to hold on to their fresh, raw sweetness and acidity while concentrating them into a thick sauce. Needless to say, this sauce is good on any pasta you feel like making, so don’t limit it to showstoppers like gnocchi. Just be sure you wear an apron, so you don’t get tomatoes and oil splattered on your clothes!
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
9 fresh basil leaves, torn
3/4 teaspoon Morton kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
Pour the olive oil into a large skillet with high sides or a Dutch oven over high heat, and cook until it’s smoking-hot. Being extremely careful, add the tomatoes and garlic; they will give off a lot of smoke as soon as they hit the oil, so it’s easiest to have the tomatoes on a flexible cutting board or in a bowl that you can dump from.
Use your spoon to spread the tomatoes in a single layer, then add the basil, salt, and red pepper. Give everything a good stir, and cook another 4 to 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Serves 4.
In 2008, brothers Derek and Chad Sarno, who grew up in New England, founded Wicked Healthy, a website with recipes and videos for making their signature “80 percent healthy, 20 percent wicked” lifestyle. They are “plant pushers, not meat shamers” with years of chef experience in restaurants and global grocery chains.
Derek Sarno, the former senior global executive chef for Whole Foods who is the director of plant-based innovation at the U.K. grocer Tesco, has also farmed and worked at a Buddhist monastery, and Chad Sarno, who is based in Austin and also used to work for Whole Foods, is the VP of culinary at Good Catch Foods, a plant-based seafood line that will launch later this year.
Chad Sarno had previously written a cookbook, “Crazy Sexy Kitchen,” with Kris Carr, but “The Wicked Healthy Cookbook: Free. From. Animals.” (Grand Central Life & Style, $30) is the first Wicked Healthy book. The book is a compilation of somewhat sophisticated recipes for chef-worthy vegan dishes, like king oyster mushroom “scallops” with shaved asparagus or these corn dumplings in a coconut corn broth (recipe below), but the authors and editors tripped up by including “Crack Corn,” an insensitive play on the addictive nature of the infamous drug.
Chad Sarno will be hosting several local book events in the coming weeks, including a cooking demo at the Austin Central Library downtown at 6:30 p.m. May 21, a book signing at BookPeople at 7 p.m. June 5 and a Father’s Day event from 10 to 3 p.m. June 17 at Skull and Cakebones Craft Bakery in Dripping Springs. (Tickets to the Father’s Day event cost $20 for adults and $10 for kids ages 5 to 12.)
Corn Dumplings in Coconut Corn Broth
Dumplings are hands-down my favorite finger food. They’re also perfect as a first course in a small bath of flavorful broth. Save these dumplings for the height of summer when sweet corn is super fresh. Some fresh corn shows up in the creamy filling and some in the corn broth, which you make by simmering the corncobs in coconut milk with lemongrass and other aromatics. When you nestle the dumplings in a small bowl of broth with a few drops of chile oil and some Thai basil leaves, they make a sensual little starter.
A tip: When the corn on the cob is tender, after 10 to 15 minutes of simmering, you could just take the cobs out of the broth and gnaw the corn off the cobs. But you want the naked cobs to go back in the broth for more flavor. So…if it’s all in the family and you don’t mind re-using the gnawed-down cobs, give them a quick rinse, then add them back to the broth. Or simply cut the tender kernels from the cobs as directed and serve the corn as loose kernels. You’ll get about 5 cups corn kernels. You can keep them in the fridge for a few days or cool completely and freeze them for several weeks.
Look for freeze-dried corn in the grain aisle of your market. We’re partial to the taste and texture of Karen’s Naturals freeze-dried corn. If you can’t find it, the recipe works fine without the freeze-dried corn—it’s just a little lighter on corn flavor.
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels or frozen sweet corn
3 tablespoons plant-based butter
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 cup freeze-dried corn (see tip in headnote)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass
1 teaspoon minced or thinly sliced red chile
2 teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 to 1 1/2 packages (12 ounces each) round eggless dumpling skins, about 3 1/2-inch diameter
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Spray oil for steaming, or cabbage leaves or bamboo leaves
1 1/2 to 2 cups Coconut Corn Broth (see recipe below)
Chile oil, for garnish
Several small Thai basil leaves or more sliced green onions, for garnish
To make the filling, soak the cashews in water to cover at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. Drain and rinse. You’ll add these later to the filling.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Set up a bowl of ice water. Drop the fresh or frozen corn in the boiling water and blanch for 30 seconds. Use a spider strainer to transfer the corn to the ice water. Let cool for a minute or two, then transfer 2 cups of the corn to a blender (set aside the remaining 1/2 cup kernels).
Add the butter to the blender and blend until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the drained cashews and garlic and blend until smooth. The puree should be nice and thick. Scrape it into a mixing bowl.
Grind the freeze-dried corn in a clean spice mill or coffee grinder to a somewhat-coarse texture, similar to cornmeal. Add to the cashew cream in the mixing bowl along with the reserved corn kernels, green onions, lemongrass, chile, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
To assemble the dumplings, set the bowl of filling, a small cup of water, your dumpling skins, and a baking sheet on a work surface. Scatter some cornstarch over the baking sheet (to help keep the dumplings from sticking to the pan).
For each dumpling, mound about a tablespoon of filling in the center. Dip your finger in the water and moisten the entire edge of the dumpling skin. For a shumai-style fold, bring all the sides up to the top and twist gently to make a small round purse. Pinch just under the top opening of the purse to gently close it. You should have enough filling to make 30 to 40 dumplings.
These dumplings are best steamed: Spray a steamer basket with oil or line with cabbage leaves or bamboo leaves to prevent sticking. Put the dumplings in the steamer in batches, place over simmering water, cover, and steam until the dumplings are tender, about 3 minutes.
Gather 6 to 8 small serving bowls and place 4 or 5 dumplings in the center of each. Pour about ¼ cup broth around the dumplings in each bowl so a little broth comes up the sides of the dumplings. Anoint each bowl with a few drops of chile oil and a couple of basil leaves (or sliced green onions).
Coconut Corn Broth
6 large ears corn, preferably organic and in season, shucked
3 quarts water
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk or coconut cream
1 jalapeño chile, halved lengthwise (remove the seeds for less heat)
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
1/4 cup garlic cloves (8 to 12 cloves), crushed with the flat of your knife
10 fresh mint sprigs, stems and all
1 bay leaf
1 star anise, optional
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 lime, juiced
Snap or cut the ears of corn in half. Bring the water to a boil in a large stockpot over high heat. Add the corn and everything else except the lime juice. Cut the heat to medium, then bring the liquid to a slow simmer. Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove the corncobs and cut the kernels from the cobs (see headnote). Return the naked cobs to the broth along with the lime juice. Continue simmering gently over medium heat for another 30 minutes. The liquid will reduce in volume by about one-fourth, which is fine. Shut off the heat and let everything cool down a bit in the pot. Strain the warm broth through a fine-mesh strainer into quart containers, then use immediately or refrigerate for a week or two before using.