Saturday, January 12, 2013

Weekend Cooking...Say Cheese!

We are not done with that Mexican Christmas dinner yet.
No, I have a recipe or two to share with you still.
And this was one that I particularly liked, Esquites, Mexican Corn Salad.

But first, let's take a little look at Mexican cheeses, one of which is used in this recipe. I have had that crumbled white cheese in Mexican restaurant on top of various dishes, but was not sure what it was.
I did know it was not available in my local supermarket, so it was time for a field trip!! Off to the Mexican Supermarket..which is located not that far from the Asian Supermarket I visited awhile ago. I went just before Christmas..Christmas Eve in fact...and the place was packed, with both people and interesting stuff. Like these...

ok, I made them look a little more friendly...

Oh, stop making those noises. No screams!
Yes, they are pig heads. Not sure what you do with them, so no recipe here.
No, we are heading to the dairy section to check out the cheese. CHEESE!!

Here are two very common ones, queseo fresco, "This is a white spongy cheese whose origins can be traced back to Burgos, Spain and used primarily to crumble over dishes. This cheese is made in just about all parts of Mexico with little variation." And then there is queseo blanco, "is a creamy white cheese made with skimmed cows’ milk, and has been described as being a cross between mozzarella and cottage cheese."

OK, we will grab one of those, but we are also looking for another one for a recipe I found online, a cheese called Cotija, which has a strong flavor, similar to Italian Parmesan. Which I guess would make a good substitute if you can't find the cotija. Or maybe feta, as the recipe suggests.

But I found it,  so that goes in the cart too!

And then there is the corn.

The recipe calls for fresh corn and explains how to toast it in a pan. But reading some comments online, I went to Trader Joe and got a bag of their Roasted Corn. Very roasted taste and smell and I am all for saving a step. Especially since it is not fresh corn season and frozen is excellent. Now if this was the middle of summer and corn was as high as an elephant's eye...

So, on to the recipe.
This is based on a Mexican street food..or so I am told, haven't been to Mexico.

Vendors grill ears of corn, then slathered them with mayonnaise, (yes, mayo), a squeeze of lime, Cotija cheese and sprinkled with chili powder. So, here is a little more dinner friendly version, this one borrowed from Serious Eats..

Mexican Street Corn Salad
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 ears fresh corn, shucked, (about 3 cups fresh corn kernels)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 ounces feta or cotija cheese, finely crumbled
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced scallion greens
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and stemmed, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced on a microplane grater
  • 1 tablespoon fresh juice
  • Chili powder or hot chili flakes, to taste
Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok over high heat until shimmering. Add corn kernels, season to taste with salt, toss once or twice, and cook without moving until charred on one side, about 2 minutes. 
Toss corn, stir, and repeat until charred on second side, about 2 minutes longer. Continue tossing and charring until well charred all over, about 10 minutes total. 

Transfer to a large bowl. Add mayonnaise, cheese, scallions, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, and chili powder and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and more chili powder to taste. Serve immediately. 

Of course, just buy a bag of the TJ corn, nuke it, and skip the whole first part!
And yes, I ran out of lime, so that is lemon in the pic.
But you go get a lime. :-)
Either way, very tasty!


This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. Oh this looks wonderful. And now that we have a TJs, I too can buy the pre-roasted corn. Yum.

    1. sadly, we do not have a Trader Joe's I have to plan ahead and stock up.
      I think it is time to write them another letter, begging them to open a store nearby.

  2. I so wish we had a Trader Joe's here. When we go up north we visit one frequently. Your recipe looks so tasty. Glad you weren't cooking with the pig heads. I've never seen those in a grocery store just the feet.

  3. I could have done without the picture of the pigs' heads so early in the morning. The corn does look delicious.

    1. ok, I retouched them to make them look a little less

  4. Caite, your corn dish looks delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Those pigs heads are freaky looking. Have a great weekend!

  5. I'm so glad to have an internet connection again so I can see your great recipe posts! They always make me want to run out and make whatever you have made! :--)

  6. Scary pigs heads . . .

    The corn salad looks wonderful -- thanks for the primer on Mexican cheeses, and I'll have to look for frozen roasted corn next time I'm at Trader Joe's. :)

  7. Scary pigs heads . . .

    The corn salad looks wonderful -- thanks for the primer on Mexican cheeses, and I'll have to look for frozen roasted corn next time I'm at Trader Joe's. :)

  8. I may just have to try this one. The pig heads are nothing. I am always hesitant to put animal heads on the blog as I am not sure how some may react.

  9. The mayo is an interesting ingredient here. Looks good. Think I'll save this one for a summer side.

  10. Oh, yum. I do a similar dish to this with corn and black beans - but I've never added the mexican cheese. I'll have to play with the recipes now. Thank you!

  11. LOL at the pig heads! When I have time to wander our global grocery, I'm always amazed at the animal bits I find in the freezer.

    That salad looks so yummy! And what a festive dish for a party!

  12. Oh man, this looks great!

  13. Jealous of anyone who can just hop over to their local Trader Joe's. Me, I have to drive two hours either north or south to get to one but next time I'm there I will pick up a bag of roasted corn and make this dish. Love the pig's head opening shot. Blech. You did make them look entertaining.

  14. i love corn and corn salad .. so i am absolutely going to TJs and get their frozen roasted corn .. yum

  15. We don't have a Trader Joe's in this area and I'm really bummed about it!! You made such an improvement on the pig's head. I could stand to look at them LOL!
    I love Mexican food, will have to try this sometime.
    Here’s My WC

  16. Trader Joe's just opened in Gainesville.... so during the winter the
    bagged corn will do nicely.... if only it would turn out as esthetically
    appealing as your photo ... yum

  17. My first impulse was to save this recipe until summer when the corn is fresh. Better yet is your idea to head to TJ and make this dish now. I can't wait to try it. OK, I'm weird, but I thought the pig heads were cute.

  18. Looks lovely - we can't get Mexican cheeses but I could probably work out good substitutes. Have a great week.

  19. Yeah, see I've done the roast pig thing before and I'd just prefer for someone to scoop up some meat for me. I don't like heads on my food. (I feel the same way about lobster, fish or shrimp, thanks.) But cheese? Any day, any time. Equal opportunity on the cheese, no matter what its called.

    1. lobster, fish or shrimp..i don't mind the heads. but mammals..not feel too good. always reminds me of that scene with the duck in the Chinese restaurant in "Christmas story".

  20. I love street corn. One of the taco trucks in the area sometimes serves it in the summer. I wish I would've seen this before we took a road trip today. I would've stopped at a Trader Joe's (there aren't any in my area) and got some of this corn!

  21. It's rumored we are getting a Trader Joes in Tallahassee...haven't seen it yet. The pig heads and glasses are hysterical. Great way to make them look more appealing.

  22. Oh wow, this does look incredibly tasty. I shall have to try it. Thanks for sharing!

  23. We get the roasted sweet corn at some of our street fairs here--love it! And I love that Trader Joe's roasted corn, also. Thinking I need to try this recipe and see if it's the best of both worlds.

  24. OMG--
    MY COMMENT WENT THROUGH! I have tried and failed to comment on your blog so many times in the past few months, and my comments normally just disappear. This must be a sign of things to come!

    1. gosh, I wonder why that is!
      well, I am very happy it worked and hope it continues to work!

  25. Hi Caite!!! Glad you found the corn at Trader Joe's!! This recipe sounds fabulous!! Will have to give it a try!! Thanks so much for letting me know!!


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