Esquites – Deconstructed Mexican Style Corn

Esquites – Deconstructed Mexican Style Corn is the third Ample Bites version of a warm, salty-spicy, creamy Mexican corn salad. This one is the best of the three. Give it a try.

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Esquites – Deconstructed Mexican Style Corn

Yields 3 cups

2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 Tbsp sea salt

6 ears sweet corn (can be frozen, if that is all that is available)
1/2 red onion, minced
1 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
3/4 cup cojita cheese, divided
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp roughly chopped cilantro leaves
Zest of 2 limes

To prepare Chili-Cayenne Salt: Combine the chili powders with the salt and store in an airtight container.

For the corn: Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat until hot. Brush the corn lightly with oil. Add the corn to the grill and char on all sides, turning occasionally, until blackened in parts, 12 to 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the kernels.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a saucepan over medium heat and saute onions until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add charred corn kernels and cook until warmed. Stir in 1/2 cup of cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro and lime zest. Season with 1 teaspoon of Chili-Cayenne Salt. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of cojita cheese on top and sprinkle with more Chili-Cayenne Salt, to taste.

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Homemade Bacon

Homemade Bacon is really easy to make if you have access to pork belly. Ample Bites got the pork belly for this recipe from the local Costco. At Costco the pork belly pieces are 8-10 pounds, so the recipe needs to be doubled. A local butcher will have the ability to provide you with a 5-pound pork belly.

The rest is about having the correct, simple equipment and ingredients, having some patience, and following simple directions.

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Homemade Bacon
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Yields about 3 1/2 pounds bacon

5 pounds pork belly, skin on
1/4 cup Kosher salt
2 tsp pink curing salt
1/4 cup packer dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp smoked sweet paprika
1 tsp cumin seeds

Rinse the pork belly and pat dry. Cut in half crosswise. Transfer each half to a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. To make the spice rub, mix the kosher salt, pink salt, brown sugar, honey, red pepper flakes, paprika, and cumin in a bowl. Using half of the rub mixture for each piece, coat all over.

Close the bag squeezing out as much air as possible and seal. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate for 7 days, flipping once a day, until the pork belly feels firm.

Remove the pork belly from the bags, rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Refrigerate on a rack, uncovered, 48 hours. Meanwhile soak applewood or hickory strips in water in a large tupperware container. Remove from refrigerator at least an hour before smoking.

Using a three-burner gas grill, heat to a constant temperature of 200F using only the left burner. Put wood chips in a large foil packet, poked through the top to allow the smoke to escape. Place over the hot burner. In a foil tray fill to 1″ deep with cold water. Place over the center and right burner, which are turned off. Place the bacon over the drip pan. Smoke for about 3 hours, or until bacon reaches an internal temperature of 150F.

To store, vacuum seal and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 2 months.

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Gorgonzola Cheese Puffs with Honey-Balsamic Dipping Sauce

Gorgonzola Cheese Puffs with Honey-Balsamic Dipping Sauce are bite-sized pastry puffs with the earthy flavor of gorgonzola cheese. When dipped in the accompanying sweet sauce the flavors become even more complex. These puffs are easy to make and they can be served hot, right from the oven, or hours later at room temperature.

Not a fan of gorgonzola? Substitute gruyere or another heartily-flavored cheese.

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Gorgonzola Cheese Puffs with Honey-Balsamic Dipping Sauce
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Makes about 40 puffs

1/4 cup honey
Balsamic vinegar

1 cup 2% milk
1 stick (1/4-pound) unsalted butter, softened
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
3 green onions, white and light green parts finely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
1/4 cup shredded white sharp cheddar
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash

Prepare dipping sauce by drizzling vinegar into the honey until desired consistency is achieved. The sauce should be smooth and thick enough to cling to a spoon.

Preheat oven to 425F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a saucepan, heat milk, butter seasoned with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper over medium heat until scalded. Add flour and stir vigorously over low heat until the mixture comes together and then another 2 minutes. Empty the mixture into a food processor. Immediately add the eggs, green onions, gorgonzola and cheddar. Pulse until the eggs are incorporated and the dough is smooth and thick.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag. Pipe in mounds 1 1/4-inches wide and 3/4-inch high. Brush the top of each puff lightly with egg wash. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden outside but still soft inside.

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Artichoke, Spinach, Prosciutto Flatbread with Spicy Honey

Artichoke, Spinach, Prosciutto Flatbread with Spicy Honey is a sauceless but especially tasty pizza.

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Artichoke, Spinach, Prosciutto Flatbread with Spicy Honey
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Epicurious, 2015)

Serves 4

Extra-virgin olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
10 oz. fresh baby spinach
1 (9-oz.) can artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 lb pizza dough
2 cups freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, plus more cheese shaved for garnish
4 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
3 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Combine honey and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and set aside at room temperature while preparing and baking flatbreads.

In a large skillet over medium heat bring 2 tablespoons of oil to a shimmer. Add garlic and parsley and cook, stirring 30 seconds. Add artichokes, toss to coat, and cook, covered, until the artichokes are tender, 10-12 minutes. Uncover and add spinach. Cook until just wilted. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and stir in lemon zest. Set aside.

Sprinkle two large, rimmed baking sheets with cornmeal. Roll out half of the dough on a floured surface to a 12-inch-by-7-inch oval. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Brush the edges of each dough with oil.

Sprinkle each dough with 1/2 cup Parmesan, then top with half of the artichoke-spinach mixture. Top doughs with remaining Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until crust is golden brown, 20-22 minutes.

Remove flatbreads from oven. Top with prosciutto and drizzle with spicy honey then garnish with shaved Parmesan. Cut and serve along with a side salad of choice.

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Bacon-Wrapped Chorizo Stuffing Bites

Bacon-Wrapped Chorizo Stuffing Bites is an appetizer that allows you to creatively use your stuffing left over from a holiday meal. If you don’t have any leftover stuffing (a common affliction) make up a new batch using a couple of boxes of stovetop brand with some freshly browned chorizo mixed in.

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Bacon-Wrapped Chorizo Stuffing Bites
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Makes about 32 appetizer-sized bites

5 – 6 cups of leftover stuffing
2 lbs thick-cut bacon
8 – 10 oz. chorizo, uncased and browned

If you are making stovetop stuffing for this recipe substitute turkey broth for the water. Make and combine with chorizo a day ahead of time and refrigerate over night.

Preheat oven to 350F using convection setting.

Combine the chorizo with the leftover stuffing. To form the stuffing into four 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch diameter logs place a sheet of plastic wrap (about 12-inch by 16-inch) on work surface and lay one-fourth of the stuffing mix on the plastic wrap. Roll, compressing to make the stuffing mix tight and dense. Set aside. Repeat three more times with the remaining stuffing.

Cut bacon slabs crosswise to create 4 to 5-inch pieces. Lay eight pieces from each half slab of bacon next to each other on a works surface. Unwrap one stuffing log an place it on the bacon. Close each piece of bacon around the stuffing and secure each piece of bacon with a toothpick. Cut the log between the pieces of bacon and place them one a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining three half slabs of bacon and the three remaining stuffing logs.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and browned. Serve warm.

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