Posts by Chef Nathan Lyon

Sweet Summer Corn Soup

What is summer without corn?! Grilled, sauteed, boiled – it’s all delicious, but one of my all time favorite ways to enjoy corn is corn soup.

This recipe is packed with that sweet corn flavor because everything comes to a boil, including the otherwise discarded cobs. Even when you take all the kernels off, they still hold so much flavor! So, why not use that flavor to your advantage? This recipe is also drought friendly: not only because we use every last inch of that corn on the cob, but also because it’s creamy without using any butter or dairy. The trick? Throwing a potato into the mix to give it extra richness. Oh, and there’s also that dollop of avocado. Mmmm.

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Creamed Summer Corn Soup with Chopped Cilantro and Avocado Puree

Yield: 6 cups

 

¼ cup grapeseed oil

2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced small (3 cups)

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh thyme

teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

4 ears corn, kernels sliced off the cob (2 cups), reserving cobs

1 medium yellow potato, peeled and diced medium (1 cup)

4 cups vegetable stock

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of 1 large lime)

1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder (or more to taste!)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Avocado puree (recipe below)

 

Heat the grapeseed oil in a small pot over medium heat.

Add the onion, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Stir in the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the corn (and their cobs), the diced potato and the stock, then cover. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.

Remove from the heat, then remove and discard the corn cobs.

Using an immersion blender, blend continuously until smooth. Add the lime juice, chipotle powder and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve warm and garnish each bowl with a dollop of avocado puree, a good sprinkle of chopped cilantro and a light grind of pepper.

 

Avocado Puree

1 large avocado (9 ounces), flesh scooped out, seed and skin discarded

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of 1/2 large lime)

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

A few good grinds of black pepper

 

In a small food processor combine the ingredients and puree until smooth.

Melon Mint Sorbet

It’s a sweltering summer, so here’s a drought friendly recipe that will cool you off and make your summer fruit last. I recently got a delicious green melon at the Hollywood farmer’s market (from T&D Farms) called an Ogen Melon, originally from Israel. This is part of what makes shopping at the farmers market so fun – being able to try new varieties of fruits and vegetables. If you can’t find an Ogen Melon, you can use Honeydew. Either way, you can go wrong with this sweet, refreshing treat.

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Melon Mint Sorbet

Yield: approximately 2 pints

 

1 3-pound ogen melon or honeydew, cut in half and seeded

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup organic corn syrup

40 medium mint leaves

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (approximately 3 to 4 limes)

 

Scoop out melon and put in a blender. Puree and measure out 3 cups. (Drink any excess for a delicious cooling beverage!) Save the melon shell for optional service.

Add the 3 cups melon puree, sugar, organic corn syrup, mint leaves, salt and lime juice to the blender and blend on high for 30 seconds.

Transfer the blended mixture into an ice cream machine and process until firm. Alternatively, transfer to a container, cover with plastic film (pressing the film directly against the surface of the sorbet) and place into the freezer until firm.

Grilled Zucchini with Pumpkin Seed Romesco and Crostini

We are heading into the time of year when zucchini becomes the front runner of produce – bursting from backyard gardens and farmers’ fields.

With its versatile use, from raw salads to baked casseroles, zucchini offers a lot. One of my favorite preparations/cooking methods for zucchini is grilling. Getting those nice grill marks lends a depth of flavor that you don’t normally get when sauteing or baking.

For this recipe, another drought friendly one, Super Sous and I are grilling the zucchini and serving them with crositini and pumpkin seed romesco. Romesco is a sauce often made with almonds, but since the drought, we are exploring alternative nut/seed options, which makes pumpkin seeds, which take little water to produce, a great alternative. Taste wise, you won’t miss the almonds and price wise you’ll be happy too!

Enjoy this recipe and let us know what you think. Happy cooking!

Zucc slice

1/4-inch slices

Zucc Grilled

On the grill

Zucc and Crostini

Grilled crostini and zucchini

Zucc Final Crostini

Grilled Zucchini with Pumpkin Seed Romesco and Crostini

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

 

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

4 medium-sized zucchini, sliced lengthwise in ¼-inch slices using a mandoline or vegetable peeler

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 lemon, cut in half

Homemade Grilled Crostini (recipe below)

Pumpkin Seed Romesco (recipe below)

6 medium-sized fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled, and sliced very thinly (chiffonade)

 

Preheat a grill to medium-high. Once hot, clean the grill, then, using tongs, lightly dip a cloth in grapeseed oil and wipe to coat the grill rack.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil over the sliced zucchini. Using your hands, coat each piece evenly with the oil; season with salt and pepper. Taste a piece to see if it needs more seasoning, adding more to taste.

Grill the zucchini with the cover closed until nicely colored, 5 minutes per side. Do not move the zucchini slices for the first few minutes.

Once nicely caramelized, flip each piece and continue cooking until equally caramelized on the second side. Put your lemon, flesh side down, on the grill now.

Transfer the cooked zucchini and grilled lemon onto a plate until ready to assemble. Once the lemon is cool enough to handle, squeeze the juice over the zucchini.

To serve, top the crostini with some romesco sauce and then a few slices of the grilled zucchini, finish with the basil.

 

Homemade Grilled Crostini

1 loaf fresh bread, such as French baguette, sourdough, or ciabatta

Grapeseed oil, for drizzling

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Set your grill to high. Once hot, clean the grill, then, using tongs, lightly dip a cloth in grapeseed oil and wipe to coat the grill rack.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Using a bread knife, slice the loaf on a 25- to 45-degree angle (the greater the angle, the higher the surface area) half an inch thick.

Lay each piece, side by side, on the sheet pan in one layer, drizzle grapeseed oil over each piece, then season them evenly with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Arrange the slices on the grill and grill until lightly toasted with grill marks.

Flip the pieces and repeat.

Remove from the oven and transfer the crostini to a plate until needed.

Note: If using a round loaf of bread, be sure to cut the loaf in half first. Then, with the flat (cut) side facing down, starting from one side, cut straight down, making even slices. This method of slicing bread will prevent your slices from being smushed as you slice them.

 

Pumpkin Seed Romesco Sauce

Yield: 2 cups

 

5 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced small

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced

¼ teaspoon red chile flakes

1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

1 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes

1 roasted red bell pepper, diced medium

½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds

2¼ teaspoons sherry vinegar

¼ cup grapeseed oil

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Add 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil and the onion to a medium sauté pan over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the garlic, chile flakes and paprika, stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes and bell pepper, stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has almost all reduced, approximately, 7 to 10 minutes.

Carefully transfer ingredients from sauté pan to a food processor and add the pumpkin seeds and sherry vinegar.

Process until well combined, scraping down the sides of the food processor as needed.

While processing, begin slowly streaming in the grapeseed oil. Continue until is combined.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ginger Pickled Watermelon Rind

Don’t leave behind that watermelon rind!

Watermelons are a low water footprint fruit, using around 50 gallons of water to grow per pound. But a lot of that weight is in the watermelon rind. So, here’s a drought friendly, delicious recipe that will use the rind and extend your summer by months!

watermelon2

Pre-Pickling!

watermelon3

Pickled Watermelon Rind

Yield: 10 cups

 

1 8-pound watermelon

1½ cups distilled white vinegar

4½ cups water

¾ cup granulated sugar

2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds (1/2 cup)

1 2-inch cinnamon stick

½ Serrano pepper

3 whole cloves

5 green cardamom pods, crushed

½ vanilla bean, sliced open and seeds scraped with back of a knife

1 tablespoon kosher salt

10 whole black peppercorns

 

Cut watermelon in half and scoop out watermelon (yum!) leaving approximately ¼ to ½-inch of flesh on the rind.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel off the green outer layer of the watermelon.

Cut watermelon rind into 1-inch pieces. You should have approximately 10 cups.

Place all ingredients (except diced watermelon rind) in a large pot and heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has melted.

Add watermelon rind, stir and remove from heat.

Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Once cooled to room temperature, transfer to a bowl and place a plate or an inverted saucepan lid over watermelon to submerge the pieces in the liquid.

For maximum flavor, refrigerate for 24 hours before eating.

Yellow Peach and Basil Shrub

I declare this the summer of shrubs! Not the lawn “decoration.” No, the delicious, refreshing and fizzy fruit/vinegar drink that’s popping up at coffee shops and restaurants around the country – a call back to a common drink popular during America’s colonial era.

Simple to make and a perfect way to  store your summer fruit for months on end, here’s our recipe (yup – it’s another Drought Friendly Recipe from me and Super Sous) for a Yellow Peach and Basil Shrub.

 

Yellow Peach and Basil Shrub

Yellow Peach and Basil Shrub

Yield: 28-ounces shrub mix

 

1½ pounds ripe yellow peaches, pit discarded, diced large (3 large peaches)

1 cup organic granulated sugar

1 tablespoon orange zest

½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

30 medium basil leaves, bruised with your fingers

½ cup white wine vinegar, plus more to taste

 

Add diced peaches and sugar to a large bowl. Mash the peaches with a potato masher until mostly pulverized and the sugar is fully dissolved. Stir in the orange zest, orange juice and bruised basil leaves.

Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring once, after 1 hour.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain the mixture, pressing on the solids with a spatula to extract as much liquid as possible.

(Use the solids in your next smoothie!)

Stir in the vinegar. This beautiful liquid is your “shrub” mix.

Transfer shrub mix into a bottle or jar, close to seal, and store in the refrigerator until ready to enjoy.

Serve one part peach shrub mix for every four parts sparkling water.

Garnish with basil leaves and a few thin slices of peach.

Note: You can make it “adult” by adding a shot of alcohol, like whiskey or vodka.

Drought Friendly Elote: Mexican-style Grilled Corn

OMG. This recipe is so delicious. Need proof? Super Sous and I grilled 7 ears of corn when developing this recipe and devoured them all within 15 minutes. In fact, Super Sous exclaimed, “this is the best grilled corn dish I’ve ever had!” when all was said and gone, I mean done.

Elote or the Mexican-style street food version of corn is common to see here, being sold, in LA. Vendors in parks or on street corners set up camp with their makeshift grills, tub of mayonnaise, chili powder and cojita cheese, serving the sweet and savory cobs to eager customers.  It’s pretty fantastic; a pleasure on the taste buds.

Since Super Sous and I have been creating Drought Friendly Recipes, we realized that we could still enjoy this creamy crunchy corn on the cob, sans egg and cheese by doing a swap out with soymilk aioli (aioli is normally made with an egg, but soymilk acts as an emulsifier) and using a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for the cheesy creaminess. Add to that a special spice mix blend we created (take that, chili powder!) and fresh chopped cilantro and you have a winner.

This recipe serves 12, but you may need to double or triple the batch. Trust us. It’s addictive.

 

corn shucked

Shucked corn with one layer of husk left

corn grilled

Grilled corn

Drought Friendly Aioli

Vegan Aioli

Elote with Aioli

Slathering on the aioli

Elote finished

Time to dig in

Drought Friendly Elote: Mexican-style Grilled Corn

Yield: 12 servings

 

12 ears of corn, whole and unshucked

Vegan Aioli (recipe below)

Elote Spice Mix (recipe below)

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 cup packed roughly chopped cilantro

 

Preheat your grill to medium-high.

Shuck the corn, leaving 1 layer of husk covering the cob. Cut off the silk at top of corn.

Place the corn on the grill, close the lid, and grill for a total of 15 minutes, rotating the corn ⅓ turn every 5 minutes, until the corn is cooked and the husks are slightly charred.

Remove the corn from the grill, carefully shuck the corn (hot!). Brush with aioli, sprinkle some of the spice mix and yeast on the corn and top with cilantro.

Serve, enjoy, repeat.

 

Drought Friendly Vegan Aioli

Yield: 1 cup

 

1 large clove garlic, pressed (1/4 teaspoon)

3½ teaspoons lime juice

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup organic soy milk

2/3 cup organic grapeseed oil

 

Mix all ingredients except oil in a small container or bowl with high sides. (I used the glass container that goes with my French Press.

Using an immersion blender, blend all ingredients thoroughly.

Keep the immersion blender a bit raised in the container, to where the liquid is churning vigorously. Slowly stream the oil into the vortex of the churning liquid. Don’t rush this step. The slower the oil stream, the better. The liquid will thicken and form to the consistency of mayonnaise. Refrigerate until use.

 

Elote Spice Mix

1 tablespoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon chipotle powder

1¼ teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ancho chile powder

 

Mix ingredients together in a small bowl.

Sparkling Rosé-White Sangría with Grand Marnier and Fresh Mint

Countdown to July 4th…

Why not make a dash to your local farmers market to grab some summer fruit and whip up this delicious beverage?

Sangria

Sparkling Rosé-White Sangría with Grand Marnier and Fresh Mint

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

 

1 medium peach, pit removed and diced small

1 medium nectarine, pit removed and small diced small

1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered

1 plum, pit removed and small diced small

1 pint red raspberries

Large fresh mint leaves, to taste

½ vanilla bean, seeds and pod: slice down the length of the pod, spread open, and scrape out the flesh by pressing with a butter knife

½ cup Grand Marnier

1 bottle Viognier white wine, chilled

1 bottle sparkling rosé wine, chilled

 

Combine the peach, nectarine, strawberries, plum, raspberries, mint, vanilla seeds and pod, Grand Mariner and Viognier in a large container.

If time permits, refrigerate for a few hours to allow the fruit to chill.

Pour into a pitcher or punch bowl, then just before serving, add the bottle of sparkling rosé.