Corn and Bacon Risotto with Wisconsin Cheese Curds and Paprika Oil

In the middle of Iowa, there’s a fairly short period of time when sweet corn comes fresh from the cob, and this dish, from Denver and Boulder Chef’s Table, is full of Midwestern goodness.  It incorporates bacon, sweet corn, and cheese curds (preferably from Wisconsin — luckily only an hour away from here, so Wisconsin cheese curds are plentiful).  This recipe was a little time-intensive, and a little heavy for the hot summer day when I made it, but the flavor was great.  I also love a cheese curd and incorporate them all the time into things, but if you find a great one, you’ll hear the curd squeak as you eat it, so something to watch for when purchasing your curds.  While not Wisconsin, one of my favorite local cheese curd purveyors is WW Homestead Dairy.  With fresh sweet corn, leftover milk from my ice cream making adventures this summer, and some bacon ready-to-be cooked, I knew it was time to make this recipe.

Corn and Bacon Risotto with Wisconsin Cheese Curds and Paprika Oil.jpg

Corn and Bacon Risotto with Wisconsin Cheese Curds and Paprika Oil

Paprika Oil:
2 fluid ounces canola oil
1 tsp smoked paprika

Roasted corn:
2 ears sweet corn, shucked
1 Tbsp canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Roasted garlic puree:
2 heads garlic
1/2 c canola oil

Corn puree:
3 ears corn, shucked
1 quart milk
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme

Risotto:
1 quart chicken stock
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 c finely diced yellow onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1 c Arborio rice
1/2 c white wine
salt to taste
1 medium red bell pepper, deveined and diced small
3/4 c Wisconsin cheddar curds
6 strips, bacon, cooked until crispy, divided
2 Tbsp chopped chives, divided
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the paprika oil: Pulse the ingredients to combine in a blender, pour into a small container or squeeze bottle, and let sit until the paprika settles.  Strain and reserve.

To prepare the roasted corn: Slice the kernels carefully off the cob with a knife.  In a pan with canola oil over medium heat, lightly saute them until tender, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Next, roast the garlic: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Slice off the tops of the bulbs so that the tips of the cloves are showing.  Place top-down in a shallow baking pan and pour oil over the top.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in oven until tender and golden, about 1 hour.  Remove and let cool, reserving the oil in the refrigerator for future use (it’s great on bread or in pasta sauce).  hen ready to handle, press the roasted cloves out of the bulb and mash them with a fork or use a food processor to grind them into a paste.  Set aside.

To make the corn puree: Slice the kernels carefully off the cobs.  Add them along with the milk and herbs to a small saucepan and, over medium heat, bring to a simmer.  Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.  Strain the kernels, reserving the milk but discarding the herbs; place in a blender and puree, adding milk as necessary (use as little as possible) until the consistency is smooth.  Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap to prevent the formation surface skin and set aside.

Begin the risotto: In a medium pot, bring the stock to a simmer.  Add canola oil to another good-size pot and sweat onion and garlic over medium-low heat.  Add rice and toast until translucent.  Deglaze with white wine.  Add 3/4 c stock to the risotto, stirring continuously.  When the liquid is almost gone, add another 3/4 c and keep stirring.  Repeat until rice is tender yet still has tooth, about 20-25 minutes.  (You will likely use all the stock, though a little less or more may be needed to ensure the proper al dente texture.)  Salt to taste.

When the risotto is finished, fold in the roasted corn kernels, 2 Tbsp of roasted garlic puree, 4 Tbsp corn puree, diced red pepper, cheddar curds, 4 pieces of bacon crumbled into small pieces, and 1 Tbsp of chives.  Heat a few minutes until the cheese begins to melt.  Season to taste.  Ladle into four bowls and garnish each with a half piece of the other two bacon slices, remaining tablespoon of chives and paprika oil.  Serve at once.

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Summer Vegetable Medley

I found this recipe just after harvest season last year and have been waiting for everything to ripen.  Finally, it came time for that to happen, and so I decided it was time to make this summer vegetable medley.  And, this was a nice refreshing change from my standard grilled vegetables recipe.  The only struggle is that when I went to light the grill to make these, I was out of propane.  I knew that the tank was getting empty, but I wasn’t too concerned because I had a spare in the corner.  But wouldn’t you know that the spare that I had waiting was also empty?  What luck!  So, a quick change of plans and this was cooked in the oven, instead of on the grill, but still enjoyed on the porch, outside, with friends.  The recipe comes from the Minnesota Catholic Daughters cookbook.

Summer Vegetable Medley.jpg

Summer Vegetable Medley

1/2 c butter, melted
1 1/4 tsp each minced fresh cilantro, basil, and chives
3 medium ears of corn, cut in 2″ pieces
1 medium sweet red pepper and yellow pepper, cut in 1″ pieces
1 medium zucchini, cut in 1/4″ pieces
10 large fresh mushrooms

In a large bowl, combine butter, cilantro, basil, chives, and salt and coarse black pepper to taste.  Add vegetables, toss to coat.  Place vegetables in foil.  Grill covered, over medium heat, for 5 minutes, stir.  Grill 5 minutes longer until tender.

Corn Dip

Every once in awhile, a recipe catches my eye and I know I want to make it.  This recipe, from the Iowa State Fair Cookbook was one such recipe.  I was looking for an off-the-beaten-track dip for chips and the combination of corn, cream cheese, ranch dressing, and other items (and that it was a refrigerated dip, not a heated one, was the right combination to pique my interest.

This was another recipe in the various recipes that I served to the students who came over to my house last month.  If you have a potluck or tailgating event to attend this summer, this may be the recipe you want to throw together.

Corn Dip.jpg

Corn Dip

2 8 oz pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 pkg dry ranch dressing mix
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
2.25 oz can chopped ripe olives, drained
1 can whole kernal corn, drained
14 oz can chopped green chilies, drained

Beat together cream cheese and ranch dressing mix.  Add additional ingredients.  Chill several hours and serve with tortilla chips.

Broccoli Corn Bake

Sometimes there are recipes from childhood that make no sense in terms of what I love today and what  would be considered a positive intake of food.  For me, one of these items is scalloped corn.  I don’t eat very many casseroles, or corn, or crackers these days, but when I was going through an old recipe box when I came across a recipe for a Broccoli Corn Bake from “Norma” that I knew I wanted to try.

Broccoli Corn Bake.jpg

Broccoli Corn Bake

16 oz can creamed corn
1 package frozen broccoli (cooked and drained)
1 beaten egg
1/2 c saltine cracker crumbs (12 crackers)
1 Tbsp minced onion
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
dash pepper

1/4 c cracker crumbs (6 crackers)
1 Tbsp butter, melted

Combine first eight ingredients — pour into a 1 quart casserole.  Combine the last two ingredients.  Sprinkle over the vegetables.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Harvest Grain Salad

It’s no secret that I love a Trader Joe’s.  One of the go-to ingredients I have there is their Harvest Grain blend.  I thought I’d share my favorite (and easy) way to put it together to make a quick grain salad.

Harvest Blend Salad

Couscous Salad

1 package Harvest Grain Blend
1 can black beans
3 ½ c chicken stock
1 c corn
1 jar Roasted Garlic Salsa

Cook Harvest Grain Blend with chicken stock per package directions. Add black beans, corn, and salsa. Serve warm or cold.

Frozen Corn

The farm has been giving us delicious corn.  Lots and lots of delicious corn.  Each week I have received 6-8 ears of corn and I am not getting tired of corn, but needing to save some of this goodness for the bleak winter months ahead.  With a long hour available, freezing some corn seemed like the perfect thing to take advantage of the days ahead.

After having made some pickles, I went into another church cookbook to find a recipe for freezing corn.  It’s not difficult and there are lots of recipes out there, but Bernice Erdahl’s Freezing Corn recipe from the Kongsvinger Kokk Bok, compiled by the American Lutheran Church Women from Kongsvinger Lutheran Church in Donnelly, Minnesota has been calling my name lately.  I’ve been reading through this cookbook frequently, inspired by the Scandinavian Heritage recipes from the front of the book, wanting to taste some treats which are reflective of my Norwegian background.  I mean, who doesn’t love lefse?  Okay, a few people in my family don’t love it, but that’s a whole different post for another time.

Bernice’s recipe is as follows, and I followed it the first time I made it, and used garlic butter for my second batch of frozen corn, so as to have some options:

Frozen Corn

8 quarts corn (cut from cob)

2 cups water

¼ c canning salt

¾ c sugar

1 stick butter

Cook on top of stove, stirring quite often.  Cool completely, put in containers and freeze.

Bernice also noted at the end of her recipe: Very good.  I would imagine that later this winter, I will concur with her assessment.