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Today I want to share some of Wayne Thiebaud’s painterly confections which are as buoyant and beguiling as any baked creation you could ever possibly imagine!

Wayne Thieboud was a founding member of the Pop Art movement of the 60’s, along with Andy Warhol, Roy Licktanstein, Robert Rouschenberg, Jasper Johns, and others. His paintings stand apart and quietly occupy their own space. I like to think of him as the Morandi of pop art.

          Wayne Thiebaud died on Christmas day this past week  at 101 . 

 

Cornbread muffins with grilled corn, jalapenos, and cheddar

Corn muffins with grilled corn, jalapenos, and cheddar

 

Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix is as American as apple pie. It is just one of those staples that everyone has turned to in a pinch at onetime or another. Myself included during my art school days when cooking was limited to quick serviceable meals that had nothing to do with cuisine. That was to came along later in my life.

That said, Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix is a staple created by Mabel White Holmes back in 1930. The Holmes family still owns the company and he original cheerful blue and yellow packaging has remained mostly unchanged ever since. Whenever I see a box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix on the shelf I just can’t resist picking one up! Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix has been a dependable partner for countless quick yummy corn muffin hacks I’ve whipped up over the years.

Summer is after all  about grilled meals and corn muffins are always a perfect comfort food accompaniment! The recipe that follows is a tried and true favorite of mine that requires very little time to make and these muffins are always a huge hit.

Corn Muffins with grilled corn, jalapenos, and cheddar cheese.

Makes 8 muffins

Grease a muffin tin with melted butter

preheat oven to 450 f / 245 c

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix 
  • 1large organic egg
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cultured buttermilk
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup grilled corn kernels 
  • 1or 2 grilled jalapenos, skin and seeds removed, and minced
  • ¾ cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese, divided

Place the corn muffin mix in a mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the egg and whisk briefly. Then whisk in the buttermilk  and salt. Fold the ingredients together just until they come together using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.

Add the corn and jalapenos and fold them into the batter without over mixing. A few lumps are fine.

Then fold in ½ cup of the cheddar cheese and set the batter aside to rest for 15 minutes.

Fill each muffin cup ¾ full and top off with the remaining cheddar.

Bake for 15 or 20 minutes until the muffins are lightly golden brown.

Serve warm, with pats of butter (optional)

Fresh Epazote

Fresh Epazote

 

I was so surprised to find fresh Epazote so readily available here in the US if you know where to look for it.

It really doesn’t take much to get me excited when it comes to finding unusual ingredients that are readily available and have no substitutes. Epazote is certainly one of those ingredients and sorely missed in favored rustic Mexican dishes while living in Thailand.

Epazote ( dysphania ambrosioides) is a lush green wild herb, or weed if you will, that originates from southern Mexico, but can be found growing throughout Central America, parts of South America, and in temperate zones in North America. Epazote is a nahuat word that roughly translates as “stinky sweet” in the nahuate language of the Aztec and Maya cultures. That may not be the most enticing description to peak one’s curiosity, but perhaps epazote’s culinary heritage may be convincing enough for the adventurist cook in you to give it a try.

Epazote has been used since ancient times as a culinary ingredient as well as for medicinal remedies. It’s piquant flavor is unique and defies categorization. I would loosely describe epazote’s flavor as resinous or medicinal, with assertive notes of fennel or anise, followed with a minty peppery finish. It is an acquired taste for some, but an essential flavor for those with a seasoned Latin palate.

Epazote’s contributions to Mexican cuisine can be traced back through the centuries. It is Mexico’s indigenous ingredients and unique flavor sensibilities that have contributed to the evolution of tradition Mexican food into one of the most fascinating cuisines in the world.

Epazote has had many names over the centuries including payqu, herba santae, Jesuit’s tea, Mexican tea, wormseed, and the list goes on and on. Added to soups, stews, frijoles de la olla (beans cooked in a clay pot), Oaxaca moles, pork or iguana barbacoas from Chiapas and the Yucatan, as well as a flavoring chocolate, and an ideal footnote when added to enchiladas, quesadillas, papas, tamales, and for wrapping local cheeses.

Epazote’s introduction into Mexican cooking is credited to some ancient cooks who realized epazote’s capacity for reducing flatulence and bloating following a robust meal that included hearty portions of cooked beans!

If you are in doubt try this recipe for home cooked beans. (click here).

Another favorite recipe using is epazote is Papazules from the Yucatan (click here)

Fresh epazote can be found at Mexican markets, some specialty super markets, and online, as well as growing wild along the road or in vacant lots. If you are a gardener, epazote grows like a weed and ideal to have on demand just outside your kitchen door!
If fresh epazote is not available dried epazote is acceptable, but without the full flavor of the fresh.

The magic of epazote awaits. Buen proveco!

 

Chef’s Table Season 5 has arrived on Netflix with four documentary episodes on chefs who celebrate their native cuisines through traditional foods, their origins, their cultural bonds, and a return to sustainable organic farming.

This season of Chef’s Table, as well as all the preceding seasons, should not to be missed by anyone who loves food and cooking.

This is compelling food television at its very best!

 

Chefs’s Table Trailer ( click here)

 

Chef’s Table Season 5

 

Episode 1: Christina Martinez    South Philly Barbacoa & El Compadre
Both restaurants are located on South 9th and Ellsworth, South Philadelphia

Episode 2: Musa Dagdeviren    CIYA Kebap and CIYA Sofrasi, Istanbul, Turkey

Episode 3: Bo Songvisava    Bo Lan, Bangkok, Thailand (www.bolan.co.th)
Soi 24 Sukhumvit 53, Bangkok BTS Thonglor station

Episode 4: Albert Adria      Tickets, Enigma, and Pakta, Barcelona, Spain

 

 

The episode with Christina Martinez had particular resonance for me as I have  an enduring love for Mexico and its cuisine. But also, as a working chef in Los Angeles, I had the pleasure to have worked with dedicated kitchen crews who were all immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Christina’s story is so like millions of others in many ways, but told through her love of her native food and culture. Her determination to make the best of her circumstances as an immigrant and thrive and, by example, giving a face to the mostly invisible immigrants who work behind the scenes in the American food industry.

Of course I am also very familiar with the food culture in South Philadelphia and was delighted to learn that Christina and her husband Ben Miller have been growing native Mexican corn on a farm in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, where I  grew up.

Episode 3 also has particular resonance for me as Bo Lan Thai restaurant is here in Thailand. The lush photography, the street food, the markets, and Thai kitchen banter feels particularly familiar of course as this is where I live. Thai food is like none other and is only really understandable when you encounter all the totally unrecognizable produce and spices that are at the heart of real authentic Thai food.

All a real visual feast for anyone who loves food!

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