Wednesday, January 20, 2010

OMG a Recipe: Cookbook Combo

With the cold weather and extra time (I am a temporary Lady of Leisure, after all), the Prime has been flipping through cookbooks and seeing what items catch my fancy. This particular weekday meal combined two recipes that seemed destined to play nice on the edible playground: Dinette's Chef Melissa Nyffeler's Corn Fritters with Bacon and Feta, served with a seared flank steak, marinated and dressed with Chef Jerry Traunfeld's Lemon Rosemary sauce. Because these are recipes from well-known local chefs, it was like going out, but with the comforts of home. And wearing one's fuzzy silppers at dinner.

Savory-sweet corn fritters served with an citrus-herb flank steak - OM NOM NOM! - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Chef Nyffeler's recipe was another one found in my copy of Celebrated Chefs, the restaurant/non-profit organization program that yields a nice cookbook of local chefs' recipes when you sign up. I'm still a sucker for photos with every recipe, so the lovely and colorful corn fritters from Capitol Hill's Dinette looked too delicious not to make. This is definitely more of a warm-weather recipe, so I had to make modifications to match the availability of winter ingredients. This is a nice cookbook to peruse for ideas as well as a reminder for restaurants to visit; some of the other Seattle restaurants who donated recipes include: Rover's, Joule, and Spring Hill, among many other well-loved eateries. The recipes range from drinks, to starters, main courses, and desserts. They're all fairly uncomplicated to make, and are good options for when you're cooking for friends, as it's a nice to have a story to tell with every dish, and where the recipes came from.

Another cookbook that's been a go-to for weekday meals has been The Herbfarm/Poppy's famed Chef Jerry Traunfeld's The Herbal Kitchen: Cooking with Fragrance and Flavor, a beloved signed copy Mr. Wasabi and I got when we were at a cooking demonstration years ago. I do own his The Herbfarm Cookbook, which has an amazing collection of recipes and informative uses for herbs -- I tend to use this book more as a reference guide, cooking more dishes directly from Herbal Kitchen. For his grilled lemon-rosemary hanger steak recipe, I changed out the cut of meat, as we had a spare flank. Sadly, our tree-like lemon verbena has gone into winter dormancy, so I used his substitution of zesting two lemons. Thankfully, the rosemary was still snippable in the garden, so that, along with garlic and chives, there was an ample supply of fresh herbs for the sauce. Using soy sauce as a savory element, giving it a depth of flavor, it provided a great marination liquid. I used the leftover lemon juice to loosen the leftover marinade to drizzle over the finished meat as a sauce, a bit like a chimichurri. I do recommend both books, as they're great reading material for ideas and herb usage, but our copy of The Herbal Kitchen definitely has the most bookmarked pages.

Having a going-out experience while staying in! Photos by Wasabi Prime

The beef takes time to marinate, but beyond that preparation, it's a fairly reasonable weekday meal to prepare. Because I'm such a leftover queen, this makes for a great second-day meal, if you toss the sliced flank steak and sauce with fresh greens and serve with a warmed fritter, it makes for a grand hearty salad. The sweetness of the corn fritters went well with the herbal citrus flavor of the meat, and I think this would be something great to make again in the summer, with more fresh-picked herb options and it's not so rainy to use the outdoor grill.

Here is a modified version of Chef Nyffeler's corn fritter recipe. I think this would be a fun and flexible side dish to play with, in terms of ingredients. Sliced fennel would be a nice addition, or a bit of shredded parsnips as a sweet swap-out for the corn. Different cheeses could be used, like a creamy chevre; maybe a light coating of breadcrumbs as a crust to keep the cheese from oozing out. For the bacon, I've been microwaving slices laid between a layer of paper towels, about a minute per slice -- since the recipe doesn't use the fat and just needs crumbled bits, this has been one of my preparation shortcuts.

Corn Fritters with Bacon and Feta (Winterized!) by Chef Melissa Nyffeler of Dinette
Serves 8

3 cups frozen corn
1 cup crumbled sheep's feta
8 oz thick-cut bacon, chopped and fried (ok to leave out if you're making it vegetarian)
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley and cilantro)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, for frying

Stir together the corn, feta, bacon, herbs, green onions, and eggs in a medium bowl. Fold in the flour until well blended.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. Spoon the batter into the pan forming patties about 2 1/2 inches across. Cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes, then turn and brown on the other side, about 3 minutes longer. Set aside on a plate and keep warm in a low oven while cooking the rest, adding more butter as needed. Scoop out any stray corn kernels between batches.

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  1. The corn fritters sound scrumptious, I love the feta addition!

  2. You are way impressive. I don't think I've ever made a meal at home that looked and tasted that much like restaurant cooking.

    Thanks for the bacon tip. The bacon is able to dry and become crumbly in the microwave? I just got a convection microwave oven, so I might play around with that!

  3. Sounds awesome...especially those little corn fritters. Wouldn't they go with just about anything? As a side? snack? breakfast? I'm putting these on my to-make list...

  4. Delicious! I think I can actually smell that steak from all the way over here... I love cooking with herbs. I'm sure that if I owned that Herbfarm cookbook of yours it would be packed with bookmarks too! I've been paging through my Bouchon cookbook wanting to make a meal that felt like eating out. There is just something great about making a meal you might otherwise only experience in a restaurant and enjoying it in the comfort of your own home. Of course, I still love getting gussied up and going out on occasion :)

  5. That corn fritter looks amazing and the beef is perfectly cook. It's really great to cook something at home with restaurant quality food. But I'm not surprised because you always do cook something very special. Even the simplest dishes that you've posted before are really good.

  6. Oh man that looks so good! I could eat a plate of that right now. :-d

    Since you are using homegrown ingredients, would you like to enter this post in our Grow Your Own roundup this month? Full details at

  7. Your pictures are brilliant and I love how you paired these dishes together. I've been microwaving bacon too, don't be ashamed ;)

  8. Looks unbelievable. I always go the quick route with my steak and just grill it, but I like your idea of the perfect cuts and the sauce. Another recipe must try!

  9. I'd like to try this with the fennel, I think. It sounds great combined with the feta.

  10. OH MY. I can't wait to make these fritters! Thanks for sharing!

    And, while I'm here, thanks for all your kind (and funny) comments on my blog. I ALWAYS look forward to reading them! :)

    Velveeta Ain't Food

  11. those fritters look fantastic. I have both of the mentioned herbfarm cookbooks - never been to the restaurant, but I find the recipes to be very inspiring too. Looks like a delicious meal.

  12. You plate it up so nice! Love the steak description. It is making me hungry.


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