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Summer Corn and Tomatoes
© Sue Courtney
22 February 2003

Summertime. Fresh sweetcorn and Chardonnay. Vine picked tomatoes and fresh Sauvignon Blanc. Can there be anything better?

I love fresh sweet corn in the summer. It's so easy. You pick up some freshly picked cobs on the way home from somewhere, perhaps at a roadside stall on your way home from the Coromandel Peninsula or failing that from the fruit and vege shop or supermarket on the way home from work or your day out. You cook it on the cob so the bright yellow kernels are tender, plump and juicy. You smother the kernels with butter, salt and pepper. Then you pick it up and eat it. Accompanied with a glass of buttery mealy chardonnay there can be no simpler way to ward off the hunger pains at the end of a long day.

I usually cook the cobs in the microwave - just bung them in - leaves and all - and cook for 4 minutes a whole cob, turning after half the cooking time. Some people say to remove the silks first but I never bother - they come away just as easily when the leaves are removed. For two people the meal in ready is less than ten minutes, which gives time to open the wine and taste it and set the table. If you have more time (or more people) then bake or in the oven or cook over the heat of a BBQ - it depends how starving you are.

I just love Sweet Corn Fritters. We cook fritters for a lazy brunch about once a month, serve with bacon and grilled tomatoes and if we want to be even more deecadent, then make a stack with sour cream (as pictured).

Even better, becuase you can have it with Chardonnay, is the filling lunchtime or lazy weekend dinner. I use fennel because it grows wild everywhere at this time of the year. There are young fern tips always sprouting while flowering heads are turning to seed. Of course you can buy the fennel fern and seeds from a shop if you wish.

Coriander and Fennel Chicken and Sweet Corn Stack
The recipe is for two or three people.

For the Chicken -
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
6 to 8 chicken tenderloins
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon coriander powder
Grapeseed oil

For the Sweetcorn Fritters -
300 grams of creamed sweet corn (see below)
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 spring onion
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh fennel fern
grapeseed oil for cooking

Additional Items
Fresh fennel fern
Sour cream

Method
Wash and dry the chicken tenderloins and roll in a mixture of the flour and coriander powder. Heat the oil in a non stick pan. Add the whole fennel seeds and cook for a minute without burning. Add the chicken to the pan and and pan fry, turning as necessary, until cooked. Keep warm while you cook the fritters - or cook fritters at the same time in another pan.

For the fritters, first beat the egg in a bowl. Add to it the creamed sweet corn, flour, baking powder, ground coriander, salt and pepper and finely chopped spring onion and mix well. The mixture should be fairly stiff.

Heat the grape seed oil in a non-stick pan. Add spoonfuls of mixture to the pan and cook as you would for pikelets, cooking on one side until bubbles appear on the top side, then flip and cook the other side. Form similar sized 'fritters', about 8-9cm in diameter so they are a decent size and will be quite even when you stack them up later.
You will need three fritters per serving.

Assemblage
Stack the fritters in the centre of the plater with a dollop of sour cream in between each one. Top the stack with 3 or 4 pieces of the fennel chicken.
Decorate with fennel fern.

* * *

Stuffed Tomatoes
One of the first things I learnt in my first cooking class (as an 11-year old) was Stuffed Tomatoes. I can't quite remember that recipe now but I still love stuffed tomatoes in the summer. This stuffing uses Feta Cheese. Here in New Zealand we can buy flavoured Feta, such as 'Garlic and Cumin' that adds a spiciness to the smooth and creamy cheese, or 'Basil Pesto Feta' that enhances the cheese with the tanginess of fresh basil. These cheeses are great simply cubed and added to a salad.

Ingredients
Choose small ripe evenly sized tomatoes and allow one or two per person.
One packet of Basil Pesto Feta Cheese
Extra fresh Basil Leaves

Method
Slice the top off the tomatoes and put aside.
Scoop the seeds and flesh out of the tomato and out into a bowl. Be careful not to go right through the firm part of the flesh as you don't want to puncture the skin.
For each small tomato, use about 1-2 teaspoons of the Feta. Crumble the Feta and add to the tomato pulp.
Finely slice some bail leaves and add to the mixture.
Combine well.

Fill the tomatoes cases with the mixture. Add a basil leaf for garnish. Pop the cap back onto the tomato. Serve.

Alternatively, you can cook the mixture in a frying pan, pile the mixture back into the cases, then roast in a fan oven for about 10 minutes. You will need really firm tomatoes if you are going to cook them.

The combination of tomatoes and Feta is simply sensational with a brightly herbaceous New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Baked Feta
This is a favourite of my sisters. You simply take a packet of flavoured Feta, remove it from its packaging, wrap in baking paper to make a parcel, then wrap the parcel in tinfoil.

Heat the cheese on the BBQ plate or warm in a moderate oven for 10-15 minutes so the cheese is heated through.

Unwrap and place on a small serving plate. This is great as an aperitif while you are sipping on a Sauvignon Blanc, or it can be served alongside the salad for dinner.

Alternatively you can use plain Feta, rub in a little olive oil and cover the top of the cheese with fresh basil leaves before wrapping and cooking.

For 'Baked Feta in a Hurry' do it in the microwave. I use the already flavoured feta. Remove it from its packaging, place on a microwave-proof serving plate, cover with cling wrap and warm in the microwave for about 30 seconds. It should be warm, not runny.

* * *

© Sue Courtney
February 2003


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