Jalapeño Corn Muffins

These are based (closely) on the Mesa Grill Blue and Yellow Corn Muffins recipe from the Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill Cookbook: Explosive Flavors from the Southwestern Kitchen; a book I highly recommend - easy, accurate, tasty recipes with a bit of flair (substitute parsley for cilantro for those with an aversion to that oh so typical southwestern flavour).

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I've been to Mesa Grill in New York several times. I took my Dad, went with my brother a couple of times, my little sister once, with my big sister once too I think, and a couple of times by myself to have a burger. Always they serve these muffins in the bread basket for the table. If my big brother is there we always had to request some extra ones; these are a highlight of going. I don't know if the Mesa Grill place in Vegas also serves these; they should.

Moist, savoury. They're easy enough although it takes some patient chopping to make the little pepper bits and there's some complexity to getting the two colours into the muffin tin. By the way, it uses a lot of bowls to make and mix and separate stuff so be prepared.

What I actually did was:

Jalapeño Corn Muffins

Makes: 12


  • 1/2 C red pepper, brunoise [diced] (corn kernel sized)
  • 1/2 C corn kernels, thawed (from previously frozen)
  • 2 T finely chopped cilantro, fresh (measure this, it's really quite a lot - but just right)
  • 2 jalepeño chiles, brunoise [diced] (canned, since there's reports of dicey chiles coming along with that tomato/salmonella scare)

  • 1/2 C red onion, fine brunoise [diced] (that's about 1/2 an onion)
  • 6 cloves garlic, fine brunoise [diced]
  • Olive oil

  • 1 1/3 C milk, whole (not skim, not 2 %, not goat's)
  • 4 eggs, large
  • 2 T honey

  • 1 C yellow cornmeal
  • 1 C purple corn flour (supposed to be blue cornmeal but I mis-purchased it)

  • 1 1/3 C flour, all purpose
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 4 t kosher salt


  1. Chop all the things that need to be chopped and set them aside in little cowls or something
  2. Go have a beer; you're tired after all that chopping and measuring (preferably a Corona)
    • oven to 200 C [400F]
  3. Oil into a pan, sauté the onions until soft; add garlic in the last minute
    • allow to cool (meanwhile, carry on with the following)

  4. Mix together the all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt - really really well - with a fork
  5. Put 1 C of each corn meal into a big bowl
  6. Add 2/3 C of the regular flour mix to each cornmeal/flour bowl (if there's a bit left in the bowl after measuring just split it between the two)

  7. Mix the milk, eggs, honey together
  8. Add the red pepper, jalapeños, corn and cilantro to the milk mix
  9. Divide the whole liquid mess equally between 2 bowls (about 375 ml each [1 1/2 cups))
    • don't worry too much about getting the cilantro, corn and other solids equal; some of the charge will be the irregular distribution

  10. Put one share each of the liquid into the yellow and blue cornmeal bowls
    • Blend mixedly - it's a mush rather than a thin batter
  11. Oil the muffin tin and spoon a glob of each batter into the tins in a somewhat left and right fashion

  12. Bake for 18 minutes (until a toothpick comes out almost completely clean)
  13. Let cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tin then turn out on a cooling rack



  1. My cornmeal mixture ended up a wee bit too thick so I thinned it with what ended up being 3 T of milk (added one at a time)
  2. The recipe is very accurate. It made enough for the 12 regular sized muffins and just enough left over to not have to worry about running out of batter. I was able to make 1 extra single colored muffin in a little ramekin.
  3. I also made a variation of the recommended jalapeño jam; a jalapeño/green pepper version - delicious.

Cucumbers & Squirrels

This is a whole cucumber from the garden.

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Not huge, but eatable. Bigger than a pickle size; smaller than one of those long english cucumbers.

On the other hand... many cukes look like this:

cuke eaten 28072008001

Gnawed on by the damn squirrels! And a couple of decent sized ones have been stolen entirely.

Anyone have any suggestions? We're no abandoning the crop to the rodents but it's an uneven fight; there's more of them than of us. I fear too for the tomato's - slowly they're ripening and I suspect that hte squirrels will be at them too. If not the squirrels... then the raccoons.

A Summer Day

Toronto. Summer does, on occasion, happen.

That's a Bordeaux in the glasses; in the bowls, Berry Soup.

It has, apparently, been the wettest summer (June/July) in a century; depending on August it might become the wettest ever. Sure feels like it already. It seems I selected the wrong year to spend summer in Toronto. Usually, they tell me, it's quite sunny and warm.

I installed new "firmware" on the telephone (Nokia N95) and it seems to be taking pictures again. Never expected that phones would get so complicated.

That Was Fifteen

Having completed 15 of the 90 (!) menus of the Le Cordon Bleu at Home course we'll be taking a summer break; it's too hot to cook every week. The thinking is that a Southwestern menu (principally grilled meat) would be a reasonable way to go - that is to say... barbecue - that is to say... outdoors.
French food, Cordon Bleu, will resume in the fall.

That, and my phone-camera decided to act weirdly and must go in for warranty repair; inconvenient - since it's a Spanish phone and I'm currently in Canada. The repairs will be complicated to negotiate.

Cheese Soufflé, Trout, Cherry Flan : Lesson 15 : Le Cordon Bleu at Home

It's a lazy week so only one posting about the dinner.

On Wednesday it was:

Soufflé au Comté : Cheese Souffle

Truite de Mer, Sauce Verte : Whole Poached Salmon Trout with Herbed Mayonnaise

Clafoutis aux Cherises : Cherry Flan

This one requires equipment: a fish poacher (pan) would be useful and a souffle dish would help. Alternatives: a roasting pan instead of a fish poacher and an angel food cake pan instead of a souffle dish. But both these specialty items were acquired and the project carried on.

It turned out that Comté cheese is hard to come by (it's a great, delicious, tangy French cheese) but Gruyere is a viable substitute. Alas, the cheese shop wrapped a Havarti piece instead of the gruyere (I have know idea how that confusion happened) so neither Comté nor Gruyere were used - - luckily Havarti works fine too (hey... so would cheddar).

And the Salmon-Trout was difficult to get in the required size (limited by the size of the fish poacher pan). Real Salmon would be too big and there were to be 8 people at dinner (eventually turned out to be 10) so a fair amount of fish was needed. I bought 3 trouts at a kilo (2 lb) apiece.

Soufflé au Comté : Cheese Souffle

It assembles easily. It's a béchamel sauce with egg yolks and cheese in it then folded with beaten egg whites. Simple, really. It rose very well. Since it's fragile (and deflates) once out of the oven the picture is of it while still in there.

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Shockingly tall. Excellent. It held up quite well once removed from the oven and did not collapse immediately (it took a full 3 or 4 minutes). As for flavour... very light and tasty.

The top is rather too brown, just short of being burnt, because it was left on the "convection" setting accidentally and the swirling air over-browned the thing. No harm done except that people were inclined to ask if it was a Chocolate soufflé.

Truite de Mer, Sauce Verte : Whole Poached Salmon Trout with Herbed Mayonnaise

This we called the "Fish Disguised as a Fish".

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Wrapped in cheesecloth, poached in a "Court Boullion", a little over-poached in fact (the head was too loose and fell off) - - cooled, the skin peeled off and replaced with decorative cucumbers - using a herb mayonnaise as the glue for the cucumber scales.

Court Boullion is a herbed wine & vinegar mixture; much more flavourful than poaching in water.

The Herbed Mayonnaise came off without a hitch (I often mess up when making mayo - don't know why). I used 2 egg yolks, light olive oil for a more delicate flavour. Then you add chopped spinach and watercress to make it green. Very nice taste and it looked good with the cucumbers.

Clafoutis aux Cherises : Cherry Flan

Then, dessert, simple as well... cherries (pitted, fresh, whole) covered with what amounts to Crépe batter and baked in individual little dishes.

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No tricks here, no trouble, just plain tasty. Luckily it happens to be cherry season.

Egg Whites

Best whipped in a gigantic copper bowl with a huge whip - by hand. Better than a machine any old day.
They say the copper reacts somehow with the whites; no cream of tartar needed.

Foie de Veau : Sautéed Calf's Liver : Lesson 14 : LCB at Home

This was a tough one (not literally). Liver's not a favorite of anyone I know. Alas, this dinner won't cause anyone to convert.

Other than the liver (which was, in reality, not horrid), it was good eatin'.

Coquilles Saint Jacques Dieppoise : Scallops with Mussels and Shrimp in Cream Sauce

Scallops 090720081482

This was very popular - fish soup more or less. Perhaps it wasn't meant to be and the "sauce" should have been thicker. You can see that it had oily spots on top too, which means that it wasn't properly emulsified and maybe the cream/sauce was about to separate. Thus, despite the less than ideal appearance the flavour was great. Honestly, one can't go far wrong with a combination of shrimp, mussels, mushrooms and scallops in a cream sauce.

All the stuff can be prepared in advance (hours) and put together and heated with the sauce a the last minute - very convenient.

Yes, that's a sprig of parsley on top; tacky, I know, but I have a ton of parsley growing in the garden and really must do something practical with it - step 1... decorate stuff.

Foie de Veau au Vinaigre et aux Deux Pommes : Sautéed Calf's Liver with Roasted Apples and Potatoes

What can I say? It's liver. So, put a sprig of parsley on top and hope for the best.

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It would have been great to get full sized (not thinly sliced) liver. These thin ones are touchy to fry (sauté). It worked just fine; 1 minute 30 in one side (high heat) and 1 minute on the other side. They remain a bit pink in the middle and were very good - given that it's liver.

Then the sauce; interesting. - one part apple cider vinegar to two parts veal stock and deglaze the pan. Reduce until saucy. Ends with a slight acidic vinegar touch to a sort of sweet tasting sauce. Works very well with the veal.

The hit of the evening was the roasted apple and potatoes. Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, cut in 6ths; toss (fry) in hot butter and oil then roast at 450F for 15 minutes. Do the same with potatoes, but for 30 minutes (they said to boil them first but I forgot - so I simply fried them for a bit longer than planned before they went into the oven for roasting). That's the apples on the outer ring and the potatoes piled in the center - they look rather alike.

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Soupe de Fraise Cécile : Fresh Orange Ice Cream with Strawberry Sauce

A great dessert from the chefs at Le Cordon Bleu.

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Orange Ice Cream on a puddle of strawberry coulis (just blended strawberries and powdered sugar) with chunks of berries. A great combination.

The fresh orange juice ice "cream" was made without cream. It's more or less the same procedure at the famed Crème Anglaise that we've done so often - but with orange juice instead of cream. Next time I will double the recipe to make a whole liter [quart] because it disappeared in a flash.

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The fine folks at Donvier were kind enough to send me a new, gratis [no charge], paddle that had given out on this ice cream machine. Very kind of them; they made a happy customer out of me and happy ice-cream-consumers out of 5 other people. An ice-cream maker is great fun and surprisingly easy to use. A good return on investment too.

Scallops, Beef Liver, Ice Cream : Lesson 14 : Le Cordon Bleu at Home

foie de  veau 242527896_6d31d06464_b
Thanks to Robyn Lee for the picture of a Foie from Paris

Wednesday's dinner will be:

Coquilles Saint Jacques Dieppoise : Scallops with Mussels and Shrimp in Cream Sauce

Foie de Veau au Vinaigre et aux Deux Pommes : Sautéed Calf's Liver with Roasted Apples and Potatoes

Soupe de Fraises Cécile : Fresh Orange Ice Cream with Strawberry Sauce

There's Cointreau in the ice cream - but there's not any cream so it's really a sorbet I think. The recipe is essentially a Crème Anglaise, made the same way, but made with fresh squeezed orange juice instead of using milk or cream - - then frozen up as ice cream. Great for the lactose intolerant.

The foie recipe called for is calf's liver; the Portuguese Butcher down the street calls theirs "beef" liver (generically) thus we will have beef liver, not calf's & not veal liver; I wonder if it qualifies as calf's liver though. Really, who would eat anything but calf's liver - as an old cow liver is not likely to be very nice.
It's supposed to be served with "turned" [shaped] potatoes and apples but probably I won't be "turning " them.
Getting guests for this dinner proved trickier than the other 13 times - likely 'cause Liver is the theme and many have not such a good impression of it. Count me as one of those.

The starter is scallops with shrimps and mussels and mushrooms. Doubling up on the mussels would be a good idea; the mushrooms too maybe.

Summer in Toronto

At last a few nice days in a row and the barbeque's been fired up; at last!  The official national summer diet of steak, corn on the cob, baked potatoes and did I mention the steak?


I eat in a lot of fine fine restaurants, cook fancy food - but it's been a long time since I had a great barbequed steak.

This was great!  The first of many - I hope.

Duck with Garlic, Tomatoes and Olives : Canard à la Niçoise : Lesson 13 : LCB at Home

Today there were a few deviations from the recipes; this will be occurring as confidence builds while executing these lessons. 

Daurade Crue à l'Aneth : Marinated Sea Bream with Fresh Dill

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It started out as Sea Bream but since I'd done the same recipe with Salmon in class in Paris we figured to go with the cheaper/more colorful option.  Layered between a mix of lemon and lime juice, shallots (very finely and neatly diced), olive oil, salt & pepper and a few hours to marinate.  Quite a success.

Salade d'avocat : Avocado Salad with Tomato

Unexpectedly (not mentioned in the menu listing) was a veggie salad to accompany the fish.  It's simply diced avocado mixed with some lemon juice, olive oil, and salt & pepper; with diced tomato and a few decorative leaves of lettuce underpinning it and some decorative dill on top. It's all very '70s looking. And surprisingly tasty for something so simple.

Avocado Salad 020720081450


Canard à la Niçoise : Duck with Garlic, Tomatoes and Olives

The star of the show.  Delicious.  But there's not a lot of meat on one of these; I was worried that there wasn't enough for 6 people.

When preparing the duck remember to remove the wishbone (at the neck end); it makes the cutting of the meat ever so much easier.

Followed the recipe as written more or less (see the book: Le Cordon Bleu: At Home) except for two things:

1) I could not get a duck like the ones in France so we went over to Chinatown and got a nice fresh one there; as a result the tail end could not be trussed shut (as you can see on the right of the picture [compare to the picture in Marinated Fish, Duck, Crepes : Lesson 13 : Le Cordon Bleu at Home).

and 2) triple the use of cloves and don't discard them at the end

and 3) I didn't cook the whole thing on top of the stove. In cooking school and in professional kitchens the finishing of the dish is almost inevitably done in the oven; it's cooked in a covered casserole so why bother taking up space on a burner or two - better to get it out of the way.  Bring the thing to a boil on top of the stove and then stick it in a hot oven.
Some day I'd like to try this in the sous-vide manner - maybe 65C [145F] for a few hours.

well... also 4) I cooked it for an hour and then removed it from the stove to go on "standby" until dinner-time was closer.  Did the last half hour in a 350F [175C] oven to get it back up to temperature and finish it off.
I would have been better off cooking it for 40 minutes at first and then 30 at the end; the meat was very nice but would have been even better if it was a bit less "done".

oh, and...  5) I did not deglaze with cognac but with Brandy from Jerez (Spain); also delicious and much more reasonably priced.
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Crêpes à la Gelée de Groseilles : Crepes with Red Current Jelly

Another major change to the recipe.  No red currant jelly.  It's strawberry season so let's exploit the opportunity.

Make the crepes (the sweet sort), sprinkle the "inside" with Cointreau, roll 'em up, line either side with 'berries and dust with powdered sugar.  These were very popular and a nice light finish to the meal.
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Note:  Also served were some green beans (there are never any vegetable dishes in French cuisine) and a few baked potatoes (since the oven was on anyway).

Marinated Fish, Duck, Crepes : Lesson 13 : Le Cordon Bleu at Home

Wednesday's dinner will be:

Daurade Crue à l'Aneth : Marinated Sea Bream with Fresh Dill

Canard à la Niçoise : Duck with Garlic, Tomatoes and Olives

Crêpes à la Gelée de Groseilles : Crepes with Red Current Jelly

That's the menu as called for in the book (that being... Le Cordon Bleu: At Home) but there will be some little changes (with the passage of time and experience with the book we're becoming less pedantic).

Probably it'll be Marinated Salmon instead of Sea Bream; because that's what we used when I did this dish in school and it's loads less expensive. There will be more than the requested two (2) cloves of garlic in the duck (looove the garlic). The crepes will probably have something other than red current jelly on them since it's not so popular around here (I'm thinking maybe... Cointreau (Le Cordon Bleu is, as an aside, presided over by André Cointreau of that very family).

June Equals Summer - Right?

At least some summer flowers are finally blooming; a bit.

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Thus, now that summer is officially here maybe the temps will get agreeable and it'll stop raining every other day. Bah!