That Christmas, my Auntie Ann gave me a copy of “The Joy of Cooking” and it became my constant kitchen companion as I tried new things, with much trial and error. My boyfriend, now husband, still occasionally will bring up the chicken casserole with a stuffing topping and a few other adventurous attempts at impressing him with my culinary talents, such as the time I nearly caused a fire attempting to make fish and chips. You know the old adage…the way to a man’s heart and all that… Thank goodness that was not the case with him! My lack of skills in the kitchen could have had him running scared for sure.
I started to voraciously read cookbooks like they were novels, each week bringing home large stacks from the library to consume. This is how I learned to cook because I hadn’t learned growing up. My mother wasn’t a good cook at all – she overcooked everything and my father was a practical cook…very good at hearty stews and soups, something he had picked up from his time in the Navy.
All these years later, I have a huge collection of cookbooks and I still read them like they are novels, always trying and learning new things. But want I want to tell you Dear Reader, is that recipes are only guidelines. Years of reading recipes has given me a feel for what works and what doesn’t. For example, my husband isn’t crazy about dill so I will use thyme instead in certain recipes. If I feel like substituting red onion for Vidalia onion because that’s what my family prefers, that’s what I do. It’s not carved in stone. Unless you’re baking and baking is chemistry and that my friend is a whole other blog post for another day.
So about that red onion. The recent issue of Food and Drink magazine (a fantastic freebie magazine put out by the LCBO here in Ontario which now you can access online!) has a recipe that piqued my interest. It’s summer time, hot and humid, and I live with a man who doesn’t want the oven turned on to further heat up the house (that is air conditioned!) Dinner, not to mention this little food blog of mine, can be a challenge. I’m always looking for sides that can be made on the bbq or on the stove-top. This recipe went perfectly with the chicken quesadillas we had. My husband bbq’ed the chicken and grilled the corn on the cob at the same time. The rest of it was just chopping and assembly. An easy-peasy, fresh summer side in no time at all. I think this just might become your new summer favourite...to serve at home or take along to a family bbq.
Mexican Street Corn Salad
Adapted slightly from Food and Drink magazine (2017 Summer issue)
For the Crema:
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
4 tsp fresh lime juice
Zest of 1 lime, grated finely
¾ tsp smoked paprika or ground chipotle pepper for a spicier kick
Salt to taste
For the Corn Salad:
6 cobs of corn, shucked
⅔ cup red onion, finely diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups salad greens (optional)
1 cup crumbled feta
To make the crema, whisk the mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, lime zest and smoked paprika or ground chipotle pepper in a mixing bowl. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate at least 2 hours but for as long as one week.
Preheat grill to high. Grease bbq grate and place shucked corn onto the grill. Cook, turning occasionally, until cooked through and slightly browned in spots, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet and let cool completely.
Stand corn on end and carefully slice downward with a sharp knife to cut kernels away from cob. Place corn in a large mixing bowl with the red onion, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, crumbled feta, salt, pepper and toss together until mixed together evenly.
For each serving, place a little mound of salad greens in a bowl, if using. Spoon in some corn salad. Top with a dollop of crema and serve with lime wedges. (I skipped the greens and served it with a dollop of crema on top. Next time I make it, I am going to put the crema in a squeeze bottle and drizzle it over the corn salad for prettier presentation)