Deborah Schneider, executive chef-partner at Solita (Huntington Beach) and SOL Cocina (Newport Beach and Scottsdale, AZ), draws on her rich culinary background to bring the seductive flavors and relaxing vibe of the Baja Pennisula to the plate.
Street foods cooked on simple wood-fired grills are at the heart of Solita’s scrumptious grilled corn. The treat is so tempting, I asked her to cook some at my house on my kettle-style barbecue. I fueled the fire with both hard wood and charcoal. Schneider, the author of five cookbooks, made the process look easy.
Watch this short video to see Deb’s secrets!
The browning concentrates the sweetness and makes the texture alluringly chewy.
Off the heat the corn gets slathered with butter and topped with a zigzag of chipotle sauce, a mixture of mayonnaise, pureed chipotles in adobo and fresh lime juice.
A little crumbled Cotija cheese, and a little sliced green onion. A sprinkle of ground toasted California chilies and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Although it is delicious on its own, I love to cut the kernels from the cob and use them as a topping for Schneider’s queso fundido (Queso al Forno), a melted cheese concoction that is best enjoyed tucked into warm tortillas. The ingredients, a mixture of cheeses, fresh salsa, cilantro and garlic, are assembled in a small, shallow cast iron cazuela; it cooks on the grill alongside the corn or can be heated on the stovetop.
Solita’s Grilled Corn Elote
Yield: 4 servings, with Chipotle Sauce leftover
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup pureed chipotle chilies, see cook’s notes
Juice of 1/2 lime, plus more if needed
4 ears of corn, husks intact
3 tablespoons melted butter, divided use
Salt to taste
Crumbled Cotija cheese, about 1/4 cup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground toasted California chili
2 green onions, trimmed, thinly sliced – including dark green stalks
Garnish: 4 lime wedges
Cook’s notes: Chipotle chilies are sold in small cans in the Mexican specialty section of many supermarkets. Puree the contents of the can in a small food processor or blender, including the red adobo sauce. Use what you need and freeze the rest.
1. In a small bowl, stir mayonnaise, chipotle chili puree and lime juice. Taste and add more lime juice if needed. Place in squeeze bottle and refrigerate. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place corn in single layer on baking sheet or directly on the oven rack. Roast uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool enough to handle.
2. Meanwhile, start fire in barbecue using charcoal and chunks of wood (hardwood designated for barbecuing). Pull off a couple of outer crispy husks on the corn and tear them into strips to use as ties. Pull back husks on corn to expose kernels, leaving the husks attached; tie husks together with the ties. Brush with melted butter, just enough to very lightly coat; sprinkle with a little salt. When flames die down, grill on clean grate, letting husks extend over side of barbecue to use as handles. Turn as each side browns.
3. Place corn on platter. Brush with remaining butter. Top each with Chipotle Sauce squeezed from the bottle in a zigzag pattern. Top with Cotija cheese, a sprinkle of ground chili and green onion. Serve lime wedges on the side.
Source: Deborah Schneider, Solita, Huntington Beach
Solita’s Queso Fundido (Queso al Forno)
Yield: 4 servings as an appetizer
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons diced tomatoes or fresh salsa
1 cup shredded Jack cheese
1 cup shredded Menonita cheese or Asadero cheese
1/3 cup cream cheese, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon minced serrano chilies, see cook’s notes
1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon minced green onions
1 teaspoon crumbled Cotija cheese
For serving: warm corn tortillas
Cook’s notes: Use caution when working with fresh chilies. Upon completion, wash hands and work surface thoroughly and do NOT touch eyes or face.
1. Heat a 6-inch flameproof ramekin or cazuela on medium heat. Add oil; when hot, add garlic and tomatoes (or salsa). Cook until softened but not browned. Stir in shredded cheeses; when hot add cubes of cream cheese, pushing them down into the mixture with the back of a spoon.
2. Scatter the chilies, cilantro, green onions and Cotija cheese on top. Continue to cook slowly, reducing heat if needed, until cheese is melted and bubbly. If you like, place under the broiler to lightly brown the top. Additional salsa can be spooned on top, if you like. If desired, top with grilled corn cut off the cob. Serve spooned into warm corn tortillas.
Source: Deborah Schneider, Solita, Huntington Beach
… Here’s a quick tip from Melissa’s …
Kumquats are delicious used in a quick-to-prepare relish.
Here it is used to top a roasted chicken breast.
Hey, without this relish the chicken would be blah!
With the relish it is delicious. Kumquats add a lot of pizzazz. They are sweet on the outside and tart on the inside. Perky.
Yield: enough to serve with 4 small chicken breasts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
6 kumquats, washed, dried, thinly sliced crosswise, seeded if seeds are large
3 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1. Heat vegetable oil in medium skillet on medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add kumquats, sugar, water, cranberries, vinegar and red pepper flakes. Bring to simmer; simmer, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and mixture thickens, about 8 to 11 minutes.
Adapted from “Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce” by Cathy Thomas (Wiley, $29.95)