Sunny Summer Corn

We look forward to the arrival of sweet, summer corn all year. Mostly we eat it on the cob, au naturale. Luca likes to use corn holders and pretend he’s riding a motorcycle. When we come across particularly appealing ears of corn at the market, I can’t resist buying them by the dozen and adding fresh corn to pizza, salads, soups, pretty much everything we’re eating.

Last summer I came across a genius recipe for “Corn and Lobster Ravioli in a Corn Broth” from the book Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home. The genius is in the broth which uses no stock, just kernels, cobs, a few herb sprigs and water. The resulting broth is so light and summery, yet very flavorful — the very essence of  sunny summer corn in a bowl. The simplicity of this dish makes it very kid-friendly too.

Summer Corn and Lobster Ravioli in A Corn Broth

(adapted from Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home)

Shopping List: 10 ears of corn, several shallots, fresh herbs, several ounces of cooked lobster (or substitute shrimp, ricotta or your favorite ravioli fillings), won ton wrappers, butter

Making the Broth:

  • Cut the kernels from 10 ears of corn, reserve half for the ravioli.
  • Add the cobs, the other half of the kernels, a few sprigs of fresh herbs (such as Bay Leaf or lemon thyme). Cover with water.
  • Simmer for 1 hour then strain. Return broth to the pot to reduce  by one third to on half to intensify the flavor. Season to taste.

Making the Ravioli

  • Saute a minced shallots with the corn kernels in butter until tender, then mash them up a bit (or puree about half the mixture).
  • Stir in chopped cooked lobster and taste for seasoning. (You could substitute shrimp, make it vegetarian using well-drained ricotta or any other filling you like. Just make sure the mixture is not too wet.)
  • Fill each won ton skin with about a one tablespoon of filling, push out any air pockets and seal the edges well using a little water.
  • Boil ravioli in well salted water for several, then drain.
  • Place a few ravioli into each bowl and ladle some of the hot corn broth over. Garnich with more fresh herbs.
  • Freeze extra ravioli in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. When they are frozen through, transfer them to an air tight container.

This would make a great first course for a special dinner, or something light and lovely on a day when you come across some gorgeous summer corn and have time to let something bubble away on the stove. It takes a little time, but none of the steps are much of a hassle.

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Tortellini in Brodo

Have you ever had one of those ultimate meals — one your mind wanders back to, even years later? Tortellini in brodo at a little restaurant in Bologna (I can’t even remember the name of the place!) ranks in there as one of the best things I have ever eaten. A few humble tortellini swimming around in some broth — but somehow impossibly delicious. Tim says his grandmother’s cousin Alina used to whip up homemade tortellini for lunch whenever they came to visit her in Lucca, Italy. I regret that I never had the chance to sample them. You can’t get much better than homecooking from an Italian nonna!

So, peeking into my refrigerator the other day and seeing a half of a package of gyoza wrappers and a few pieces of prosciutto, I got the inspiration to take a try at tortellini. It’s really not too hard but it does take some time, so better saved for when you’re not rushed to get dinner on the table. You can do some of it in advance (the broth, the filling) and it’s a nice way to use up extra roasted meat you might have on hand.  This definitely falls into the category of something extra special to cook for people you love! Most kids love simple, uncomplicated food, so this should be a big hit.

This will make 100+ tortellini. You can freeze the extra tortellini on a cookie sheet  lined with waxed paper and transfer to a freezer safe container once they are frozen.

Shopping List:

  • 1/2 pound chicken (breast or thigh, your choice)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • Several slices proscuitto and/or mortadella
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ~100 Fresh pasta squares (wonton wrapper will do)

Extra Chicken-y Broth

I got a little inspiration in the broth department from Charlie Trotter’s “Egg Drop Soup with Ginger-Braised Chicken” recipe from the “Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home” cookbook. He makes a super flavorful broth by simmering chicken in stock and using the resulting braising liquid for the final dish.

  • In a hot pan, sear the chicken for a few minutes on both sides until golden.
  • Roughly chop 1 small onion, 1 carrot and 1 celery stalk and add to the pan, cooking 5-10 minutes until caramelized.
  • Add 2 quarts chicken stock and simmer 30 minutes or so or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken.
  • Put the stock through a strainer and skim off the fat. Or to make things easier make the stock the day before, strain and refrigerate, removing the fat after it has cooled.

Tortellini:

  • Remove skin/bones from the cooked chicken and finely mince. (BTW: In lieu of or in addition to the chicken, you could substitute any combination of cooked meats you might have on hand… a good opportunity to use up leftovers)
  • Add a few slices of minced prosciutto and/or mortadella, one egg yolk, and a cup or so of grated parmesan cheese, and just a teeny pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. You could add well-drained ricotta or whatever herbs or seasonings you desire.  Mix until well combined. Since all but the egg yolk is cooked, definitely taste and adjust the seasonings — you could even mix in the egg yolk after tasting if you’re concerned about it.
  • Fill each pasta square with a tsp of filling. Lightly wet the edges and fold in half to form a triangle. Press to seal making sure there are no air pockets. With the triangle point facing up, bring the 2 bottom corners together around your finger and pinch to seal. Gently fold back the triangle point (the one that was facing up). Place on a kitchen towel without letting the tortellini touch. I used circular gyoza wrapers just because I had them and it worked out fine. Homemade pasta if you really have some time on your hands, would be phenomenal, of course.
  • Here’s a video if you want a quick little video tutorial on folding tortellini.

Serve

  • Heat the broth. If you want you can throw in a handful of peas and some steamed, diced carrots (I know, not traditional, but I’m always trying to get more vegetables on the table).
  • Cook the tortellini in well-salted water for 8-10 minutes.
  • Spoon the cooked tortellini into bowls and ladle the broth (with the optional vegetables) over. Add some grated parmesan cheese on top.