Mexican Sweet Corn Cake (Pan de Elote)

In Mexico, this simple cake is called panqué de elote, pan de elote or pastel de elote. It is often served for breakfast. We ate it for dessert after our family favorite Middle School Tacos on Cinco de Mayo this year and ate the leftovers for breakfast. Perfect. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Milk Street. The original recipe accurately describes the texture as somewhere between cake and cornbread while hinting at custard. I used Greek yogurt and modified the method and the baking time for a convection oven. I served the cake with strawberries which was a lovely accompaniment.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

  • 3 medium ears fresh corn, preferably yellow, husked (see Note)
  • 36 grams (1/4 cup) fine yellow cornmeal
  • 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 57 grams (1/4 cup) plain whole-milk yogurt (I used whole-milk Greek yogurt)
  • 165 grams (1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • Confectioners’ sugar, to serve
  • fresh strawberries, to serve
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. (I set my oven to the true convection setting.)
  2. Mist a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.
  3. Hold an ear of corn upright in the center of a medium bowl. Using a chef’s knife, cut the kernels from the corn. Repeat with the additional two ears. Measure 250 grams (1 1/2 cups) of the freshly cut kernels and add to a blender; if you have extra corn, reserve it for another use.
  4. To the blender, add the cornmeal, condensed milk and yogurt, then puree until smooth, 15 to 20 seconds, scraping down the blender as needed. Let stand for 10 minutes. (I used a Vitamix.)
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
  6. To the blender, add the whole eggs and yolks, and the oil; blend on low until smooth, 5 to 10 seconds.
  7. Pour the puree into a large bowl.
  8. Add the flour mixture and whisk just until evenly moistened and no lumps of flour remain. It is important that you don’t whisk vigorously! Gentle mixing, just until no pockets of flour remain, will minimize gluten development so the finished cake is tender.
  9. Transfer to the prepared cake pan and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes in a convection oven or 40 to 45 minutes in a standard oven.
  10. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
  11. Run a paring knife around the pan to loosen the cake, then invert directly onto the rack and lift off the pan. Re-invert the cake onto a serving platter and cool completely, about 1 hour.
  12. Serve dusted with Confectioners’ sugar with strawberry slices on the side.

Note: Don’t use frozen corn kernels—it results in a dense, gummy texture. Made with fresh corn, the cake’s crumb is much lighter and softer.

Skillet Greek Chicken with Orzo, Tomatoes & Feta

This was a super quick and delicious skillet dinner that was absolutely packed with flavor. I loved the colorful and fresh tomato topping. We ate it with a green salad but it truly could have been a complete meal on its own.

This recipe was adapted from Half Baked Harvest, contributed by Tieghan Gerard. I used chicken thighs, dried oregano, and capers. I also modified the method and proportions. Next time, I may substitute 10-minute farro for the orzo. Great.

Yield: Serves 6

For the Chicken & Orzo:

  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 3/4 to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces (about 4 large)
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced (I used a yellow pepper)
  • 2 cups dry orzo pasta
  • 2 T capers, drained

For the Tomatoes & To Serve:

  • 2 1/2 cups mixed heirloom grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or put through a garlic press
  • kosher salt
  • 1-2 pinches/dashes red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese, for serving
  1. In a large skillet, toss together the olive oil, chicken, oregano, paprika; season with salt and pepper. (I used an enameled cast iron pan.)
  2. Cook over medium-high heat until the chicken is browned all over and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and garlic, cook another minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the skillet.
  4. Add the bell peppers to the drippings in the skillet. Cook until soft, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the orzo and 2 1/2 cups water. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often until almost all the water is absorbed, about 5 to 10 minutes. Taste the pasta for doneness; add water and continue to cook until tender, if necessary. (I added 1/2 to 3/4 cup additional water after 5 minutes.)
  6. Stir the chicken and capers into the orzo. Allow the chicken to warm through, about 3 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes with olive oil, basil, and garlic in a bowl. Season with salt and red pepper flakes.
  8. To serve, spoon the tomatoes over the chicken and gently toss. Top with feta cheese.

Lemony Greek Meatball Soup (Youvarlakia Avgolemono)

My mom and I absolutely love Greek avgolemono soup. Recently, I made this meatball version when she was visiting. Springtime in a bowl! Light, bright and fresh.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used homemade stock and modified the method.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 pound ground chicken, ground turkey, or beef, very cold
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill or parsley, plus more for garnish, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated yellow onion (from about 1 small onion)
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot (from about 1 carrot)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked long-grain rice, such as Basmati or Carolina, well rinsed and drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated, pushed through a garlic press, or minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 6 cups chicken stock (I used 4 cups homemade turkey stock + 2 cups chicken stock)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
  • freshly grated nutmeg, for serving, optional
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, 1/4 cup dill, onion, carrot, rice, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Gently mix with your hands until well combined.
  2. Gently form the mixture into 24 to 30 meatballs, each about 1 1/4 inches in diameter, placing them on a plate or baking pan. (I used a cookie scoop to evenly ration the meat mixture.)
  3. Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours. This helps the meatballs keep their shape while cooking.
  4. In a large pot, bring stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and use a slotted spoon to carefully add meatballs to the pot. The broth should cover the tops of the meatballs by about 1/2 inch. If not, add a little water. Simmer gently, adjusting the heat so the broth doesn’t boil, until meatballs are cooked through and rice is tender, 25 to 35 minutes. (You can break open a meatball to test it.) Remove pot from heat.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and lemon juice until just mixed. Slowly add a ladle of warm broth to egg-lemon mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in another two ladles of broth to temper the egg mixture.
  6. Slowly drizzle the egg-lemon mixture back into the pot with the meatballs, stirring gently so you don’t break apart the meatballs.
  7. Return the pot to medium-low heat until it just starts to simmer. (Wait for a bubble or two to appear, but don’t let the pot boil.) The broth should be silky.
  8. Remove from heat, stir in remaining 1/2 cup dill. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. (It may need quite a bit of salt if you are starting with unsalted broth.)
  9. Garnish with nutmeg, if you like, and dill, and serve.

Creamy Pappardelle with Chicken & Bacon

This quick comfort food dish uses store-bought rotisserie chicken as a shortcut. I loved the freshness and pop of color from the fresh herbs and the minced carrot.

The recipe was adapted from Antoni Let’s Do Dinner by Antoni Porowski of Queer Eye. My daughter and I are big Antoni fans! 🙂 I modified the proportions. Next time I would reduce the amount of chicken meat- just personal preference.

Yield: Serves 8

  • coarse salt
  • 8 oz bacon (about 5 slices), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch wide pieces
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, gently smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 T chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 T coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 16 oz pappardelle (I used two 227 g packages)
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 4 to 6 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, at room temperature (I used 6 cups but would reduce the amount next time)
  • freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
  • coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving, optional
  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet large enough to hold the pasta and sauce or a wide heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until just cooked through with crispy edges, about 5 minutes. (I used an enameled cast iron pan.)
  3. Transfer the bacon to a plate, leaving the fat in the pan.
  4. Add the onion, garlic, sage, rosemary, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, add the pappardelle and carrots to the boiling water and cook until the pasta is al dente and the carrots are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
  7. Drain the pasta, reserving 2 cups of the pasta cooking water.
  8. Add the pasta to the sauce with 3/4 cups of the pasta water, the chicken, and the reserved bacon. Toss to combine.
  9. Add more pasta water to loosen the sauce, if desired.
  10. Top with cheese, parsley, if using, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Irish Ale Bread with Caraway & Herbs

Hope everyone had a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Other than wearing green, we typically celebrate the holiday by having a festive meal. 🙂

This year, instead of making a new soda bread, I made this Irish version of beer bread. I loved the caraway seeds (which I also love in soda bread) and the flecks of green from the fresh herbs in the dough.

We ate it for dinner with shepherd’s chicken pot pie, roasted asparagus, and green salad. It would also be a perfect accompaniment to a traditional celebratory corned beef and cabbage meal.

The recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com. I modified the baking time to bake the loaf in a pullman loaf pan in a convection oven. The bread was delicious with and without salted butter.

Yield: one Pullman loaf or one 9-inch loaf

  • 260 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) cake flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 T caraway seeds, coarsely ground in a spice grinder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 T honey
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) salted butter, melted, divided
  • 12 ounce bottle or can Irish lager, such as Harp
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle position. (I used the convection setting.)
  2. Mist a Pullman loaf pan or a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk both flours, the baking powder, baking soda, caraway, salt and pepper.
  4. Add the dill and chives, then toss well.
  5. Drizzle in the honey and 4 tablespoons of melted butter, then add the beer and whisk gently just until evenly moistened; do not over mix. The batter will be thick.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Brush the top with 1 tablespoon of the remaining melted butter.
  7. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, 25 minutes in a Pullman pan on convection, or up to 40 to 45 minutes in a 9-inch pan in a standard oven.
  8. Remove from the oven and immediately brush the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter.
  9. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Turn the loaf right side up and cool to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours.

Tip: Don’t slice the bread while it’s warm. Like all quick breads, this loaf slices more easily and cleanly at room temperature. Use a serrated knife and a sawing motion.

Coffee Blondies

When an amazing baker like Sarah Kieffer says that she’s been making these blondies for almost two decades, I had to try them. Right? They did not disappoint.

The recipe was adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics by Sarah Kieffer of The Vanilla Bean Blog. I used espresso, fine sea salt, and dark chocolate chips. We ate them with and without (caramel) ice cream. 🙂

Yield: one 9×13-inch pan of blondies (about 12 large or 24 small)

  • 213 g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 12 T (1 1/2 sticks; 170 g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 297 g (1 1/2 cups) light brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 T strong coffee, room temperature (I used espresso)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 86 g (3/4 cup) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
  • 128 g (3/4 cup) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (I used 72% dark chocolate chips)
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease a 9×13-inch metal baking pan with cooking oil spray. Line the pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang on 2 sides. (I clip the overhang with binder clips to keep it in place.)
  3. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool and then chop; set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder.
  5. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, and salt.
  6. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the coffee until well combined. Let the mixture come to room temperature. (I transferred it to a large bowl to expedite the process at this point.)
  7. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk to combine. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl (if you haven’t already).
  8. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  9. Add the pecans and chocolate chips and stir gently until incorporated.
  10. Using an offset spatula, spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  11. Bake 18 to 24 minutes, until the blondies are set on the edges and the top is golden brown and just beginning to form cracks. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out with just a couple of crumbs.
  12. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut into squares.

Pasta with Pestocado (Avocado Pesto) & Broccoli

According to America’s Test Kitchen, Pestocado is the “hottest new ‘it’ sauce.” Avocado replaces the cheese in this full-flavored pesto. It was creamy and delicious.

The recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s cookbook, More Mediterranean, via americastestkitchen.com. I modified the method and used linguine fini, Meyer lemon, walnuts, and two garlic cloves. Easy and great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 T table salt, for cooking broccoli and pasta
  • 12 to 16 ounces broccoli, florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stalks peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound spaghettini, or spaghetti
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios or walnuts, toasted and chopped, divided
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
  • 2 tsp toasted fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice (I used Meyer lemon)
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat an oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Coarsely chop.
  2. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon table salt and broccoli stalks and cook for 1 minute. Add florets and cook until stalks and florets are tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Using slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to colander set over bowl (do not discard boiling water). Let broccoli drain and cool slightly, about 5 minutes; set aside.
  4. Add pasta to reserved boiling water and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot.
  5. Process 1 cup broccoli, 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, avocado, basil, 1/4 cup chopped nuts, anchovies, fennel seeds, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and coarse salt in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. With processor running, slowly add oil until incorporated, about 15 seconds.
  7. Add pesto to pasta in pot and toss until sauce evenly coats pasta, adjusting consistency with remaining reserved cooking water as needed.
  8. Stir in remaining broccoli and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pistachios. Garnish with fresh basil and drizzle with extra oil, as desired. Serve.

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