Having stayed in the New Orleans French Quarter with my family over Thanksgiving, I returned home with Corn Maque-Choux on my mind. None of the versions that tempted me on menus there were vegan, so I was obsessed with giving it a try in my own kitchen.
Though corn is quite the summer vegetable, I was craving this Cajun mainstay, so I used frozen corn, and it was delish. Many versions of this recipe abound so, after consulting several, I just started cooking from memory.
I rather like my take on this standard: slightly spicy from dried pepper flakes and a hint of smoked paprika, in addition to the requisite fresh thyme. Plus, with it’s flecks of red bell pepper and green onion, it looks very festive for the holidays.
Plannig to make it a while ago–but becoming sidetracked–and having already purchased the produce, I realized I still had it on hand, yet I am heading out of town on Monday. So, I had to use it up and, in a flash, realized that the Maque-Choux packaged in small glass canning jars that I happened to have would make a very festive food gift for guests at a luncheon I was privileged to attend at noon. (Stay tuned for recipes from close friend Trish Pfeifer’s inspired meal.) So, I went into high gear, also making a Vegan Fresh Fennel and Cranberry Chutney and bird ornaments from recycled Kleenex boxes–tucking all three with alittle tissue inside holiday gift bags–before going to yoga at 9:30 (okay, I was late: 9:40!). Thank goodness Minnie wakes me up early!
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 bell peppers, diced (I used a red and an orange, but both red or 1 red and 1 green is nice too)
4 celery hearts, diced
6 green onions, sliced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
2-12 ounce packages frozen corn (about 5 1/3 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plain coconut creamer
1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk
Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring occastionally, for about 3 minutes or until softened. Add celery, and do the same. Stir in green onions and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, for another minute or two. Add corn and cook, still stirring occasionally, until defrosted and heated through. Sprinkle with pepper, smoked paprika, dried pepper flakes and flour, and stir to combine. Drizzle creamer and soymilk over the top and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until flour no longer tastes raw and mixture is thickened. Adjust seasoning if necessary and serve or spoon into an airtight container(s) and refrigerate.
A few years back, my mom found the recipe that inspired this dish and started making it when she would come with my sister and dad for Thanksgiving.
It was a hit, but we abandoned it for a number of years because of our multi-cultural “Thematic Thanksgiving” approach. Two years ago, after both of my husband’s parents’ had passed away, his sisters seemed to be craving a more Traditional thanksgiving for nostalgic reasons. And this pudding was always a favorite of Tina’s.
So, a month ago, I made it a couple of times, testing different approaches to veganizing it. The second one was almost “it,” though the silken extra firm tofu didn’t lend quite the right texture. With my fingers crossed, I made it Thanksgiving morning with regular extra firm tofu and it was perfect.
Though corn is a summer veg, this recipe relies on the frozen variety for it’s special texture, so I like to make it off-season and Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion.
20 ounces frozen corn
2 tablespoons vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)
14 ounces regular (not silken) extra fim tofu, drained
1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I bake with white whole wheat, so that’s what I use)
1 tablespoon natural sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black salt (available at Indian markets and online; desired for its sulphury-eggy taste) or an additional 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg or mace
1/4 teaspoon sriracha sauce or your fvoirte hot sauce
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coarsely chop corn in a food processor and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Oil an 8-inch round souffle dish, drop in the 2 tablespoon butter, and melt by heating for a few seconds in the microwave. In a food processor, combine all ingredients, including melted butter, except corn, vinegar, baking powder, and baking soda. Process until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. In a small cup, combine vinegar, baking powder, and baking soda (it will fizz up) and add immediately to the tofu mixture. Process another few seconds or until the vinegar mixture is completely incorporated. Pour the tofu mixture over the corn and fold together until completely combined. The mixture will be very thick because the corn is so icy. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and bake for 1 1/4 hours or until set and top is golden brown. Serve immediately. To make ahead: refrigerate the baked and cooled pudding, covered, until one hour before you plan to serve it. Remove it from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for a half hour. Then heat, still covered, for 20-30 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.
This recipe telescopes me right back to childhood and my Mama’s Double Corn Fingers made with creamed corn. She would make a big pan–crusty on the outside and tender on the inside–and we would have nothing but them and a glass of milk, calling it dinner as a special treat when my dad was out of town.
Though “creamed” corn hardly sounds vegan, the canned version actually is, the natural starch in the corn helping impart a luscious creaminess. I love it mostly to cook and bake with. Mama baked her corn fingers, but in my iteration, I fry them up as skillet cakes.
And, though this recipe isn’t in my new cookbook, The Blooming Platter: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes (175 other delicious recipes are!), I add a mound of fresh baby spinach to the corncake batter for a nutritious burst of seasonal freshness. and flecks of green goodness. In summer, just substitute 1/2 cup fresh corn for the chopped spinach.
These cakes are addicting served as a combined bread-side dish or as the main event for breakfast or brunch. But I also love them topped with chili or my Vegan Spinach-Three Bean Dip. Make them silver dollar sized and serve them as appetizers, topped or not. Use your imagination!
2 tablespoons vegan butter (I like Earth Balance) + additional for frying
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup self-rising cornmeal
pinch of garlic powder
2 cups loosely packed fresh stemmed spinach, finely chopped (should yield about 1/2 cup)
1-15 ounce can creamed corn (I like the yellow variety for rich color)
1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk
Optional garnish: vegan sour cream and cilantro sprigs
Preheat the oven to warm. Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together, flour, cornmeal, garlic powder and chopped spinach. Whisk in creamed corn and soymilk until well combined. Make cakes, two at a time, using a 1/4 cup measure. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, flip and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with remaining batter, keeping skillet greased with additional butter as needed. Garnish as desired and serve warm.
If you read my Vegan Edamame Risotto post, you know that it was inspired by a dish our friend Jeff Berger ordered at The Green Onion in Virginia Beach last Friday night. He pronounced his dinner, which included a non-vegan corn risotto, “stellar.”
A couple of tiny tastes–just for research–of his creamy-fluffy mound of rice and sweet corn created a powerful craving in me. But I thought I had no corn, so I made an edamame version, which was on the money.
Still, though, I wanted to try the corn. The next day, I found a bag hidden in the freezer, so I made it again. Another keeper! Though the frozen corn was very good, I can’t wait to try the dish this summer when our fresh corn is in season.
As with the edamame version, the flavor of the risotto is largely dependent on stock, so be sure to use one that is very flavorful, but not too salty, as both the flavors and salt become concentrated as the stock cooks down. This happens quickly and, before you know it, you are adding more stock and what seems like protracted hands-on cooking time, “evaporates.”
1 tablespoon olive oil
2/3 cup rice
1 shallot, finely chopped (or about 2-3 tablespoons of finely chopped onion)
2-3 cloves garlic
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup white wine (I used a Pinot Grigio)
(or 5 cups vegetable stock)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
coarse sea or kosher salt to taste (you may not need any if your stock is adequately salted)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
optional: 1 teaspoon vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)
optional: 1 tablespoon soy or coconut milk creamer
generous 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen corn (if fresh, just cut it right off the cob, raw)
optional garnish: a sprinkling of nutritional yeast and snipped chives
In a large cast iron skillet or pot over medium-high, heat olive oil to shimmering. Add rice and, toast, stirring frequently. When barely, golden, add shallot and garlic and continue cooking until the color of the rice is a light golden brown. Meanwhile, heat stock and white wine to a bare simmer. Once the rice is the desired color, start adding half cups of the liquid to it, simmering while stirring frequently until almost all moisture is evaporated. Repeat until all liquid is used, which should take about 30 minutes. Be careful that, as the rice becomes creamy, it doesn’t stick to the pan. Lower heat if necessary. After about 15 minutes of cooking, stir in the optional soy sauce and nutritional yeast along with the salt, if needed, and pepper. After about 25 minutes, stir in the edamame and finish cooking the risotto, adding the optional vegan butter and creamer very near the end. Serve warm topped with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast and, if desired, snipped chives.
Note: if you prefer a risotto with a lighter color and less pronounced rice flavor, don’t toast the rice first.