Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Esquites (Mexican-Style Corn In A Cup)

Think of esquites as Mexican-style corn in a cup! There's a bit of heat from jalapeño, creaminess from mayonnaise, brightness from lime and saltiness from cotija cheese. It makes a great snack, appetizer or side dish to grilled meats. Perfect for summer gatherings!



Let's talk about obsessions and surrendering first

Do you ever hear a song on the radio and become totally obsessed with it? Like, you buy it on iTunes and press repeat over and over until you’ve memorized the chorus and then some and you sing it driving to work at the top of your lungs with the windows rolled up because you know you have a terrible singing voice and heaven forbid you further embarrass yourself by inflicting said terrible voice onto others and you sing it driving home from work and then you think, how is it that this song is so perfect washing over you and into you and affecting you all the way to the very core of your being? 

I have. Many times. And I’m currently obsessing on Hillsong United’s “Touch the Sky.” Have you heard it?

"My heart beating, my soul breathing

I found my life when I laid it down

Upward falling, spirit soaring

I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground … "




“I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground.” 

I love that line! What a powerful image. 

The song is about surrender–which is something I’ve always struggled with. I’m a control freak and I'm a choosy perfectionist meaning that I can be pretty dang lazy a procrastinator and a bit complacent about some areas in my life and completely anal about others. Always have been. Maybe it comes from being the first born of five? Maybe it’s just genetics? I really don’t know. What I do know is that even when I’m professing faith with my mouth, my heart can still be filled with fear.

What I’m learning as I approach middle age is that it’s so much easier to live your life just doing the very best you can, helping others to do the same, then surrendering the rest up to God. For (a vague) example: A key area of my life has been in constant upheaval for the better part of three years now. It became so exhausting, the constant worry and fighting and yelling to be heard, making myself physically ill by taking out my pain and frustration on my diet or lack thereof. Then last year, when I decided that I would take control of what was in my purview to control and whatever the outcome, I would not let illness or failure define me. I know who I am. I know what I am capable of. When I made that decision, it was almost like a switch had been flipped. Things started to change. What and who I thought would never budge, began to after I surrendered the worry and fear. Life is still very much a balancing act and I don’t know what the future holds or how secure it is but I’m trying really hard to live my faith and catch myself when I start to worry about my future and complain about the things I can’t control.

They aren’t mine to control. 

And there can be so much peace and calmness in that knowledge. 

"Find me here at Your feet again

Everything I am, reaching out, I surrender

Come sweep me up in Your love again

And my soul will dance
On the wings of forever … "


Wait! I thought this post was about corn?

What does surrender have to do with corn, you ask? Nothing really. It’s just that I gave up corn a year ago when I was really strict and focused on reversing my diabetes. This summer, though, I’ve allowed it back into my diet and just like the song above, I have become a bit obsessed by it. Not like eating-it-every-day obsessed but obsessed in that I don’t turn it down when it’s fresh, corn on the cob soaked in a salty bath and then thrown on the grill to char up to perfection then garnished with cheese and a touch of heat. Mexican style corn has been a favorite since I was a child. I have many fond memories associated with it.


Like Mexican corn, esguites is also “street food”. Consider it "Mexican corn to the max": Take all the yummy flavors of Mexican-style grilled corn and put it into a cup thus removing the indelicacies of eating corn directly off the cob, if you know what I mean.


Just like Mexican corn, you can tweak the ratio of the ingredients to your taste. Don’t like heat? Cut back on the jalapeño or leave it out altogether. Don’t like mayonnaise? Sub in sour cream or Mexican crema or even some greek yogurt. Don’t have cotija cheese? Use parmesan or feta instead. Really love Tapatío or Sriracha? Go ahead, top it off with some. Take the basic recipe and personalize it. That’s what makes cooking – and eating – so much fun.
Until next time, eat well. xo, ani


ESQUITES
This Mexican-style corn in a cup adds a bit of heat from jalapeño, creaminess from mayonnaise, brightness from lime and saltiness from cotija cheese. It’s a great snack, appetizer or side dish to grilled meats. 

Yield: 4 servings


INGREDIENTS

water
¼ cup salt
3 ears corn on the cob
2 tablespoons butter
1 jalapeño, top and seeds removed, finely diced
2 tablespoons mayonaise
zest of 1 lime
2-3 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)
⅓ cup cotija cheese, plus more for garnish

2 scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
½ teaspoon chile powder (California chile powder, preferred), or to taste

To serve:
paprika, to taste
lime wedges
chopped cilantro, for garnish, optional


DIRECTIONS
At least two hours or the night before, prep the brine and corn for soaking by filling a tall gallon-sized pitcher or big enough to hold the three ears of corn vertically (or a stock pot) halfway with water. Whisk in the salt. Gently peel back some of the husks on the cob and remove the silk. Smooth husks back into place. Trim excess husks hanging over the top of the cob to just above the tip. Place cobs, trimmed side down into the pitcher (or layer in the stock pot) and add more water if needed to just cover corn. Set aside to soak for as long as possible, preferably overnight.

Preheat grill to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. When the grill is hot, add the corn, still with their husks, to the grill, close lid and allow to cook for 20 minutes, turning the corn every 5 minutes to ensure all sides make contact with the grates. Remove corn from grill and allow to cool until you can handle, then peel off husks (use oven mitts if necessary). Return to grill just long enough to char slightly. Remove corn and allow to cool for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Using a sharp chef’s knife, carefully remove corn from the cob and discard cob. Add corn to a bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter in a small skillet set on medium heat. Add the diced jalapeño and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the corn and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or just to combine well. Remove corn back to a bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise, zest, lime juice, ⅓ cup cotija cheese, scallions and the chile powder. Divide the corn into four cups. Garnish with more cheese, a dash of paprika and a small handful of cilantro, optional, to taste.

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