If you follow this blog, you’ve probably realised that I have been in a mad rush to complete my contest entries for all the IFBM contests that are being held by the various sponsors. (You can see the previous 2 entries here and here). It’s actually a whole lot of fun to try and find recipes that fit the given parameters. Except, I have not been managing my time well at all. Mad work rush and 4 birthdays in the house have consigned all the contest entries to the last possible moment. In fact, I’m typing this in the train, in an attempt to finish it before I lose internet connectivity for the next 3 days.The contest is being run by IFBM & Freedom Tree and here’s what I had to adhere to, to qualify!
When I first thought about savoury+corn, my instinctive thought was to bake corn & spinach muffins or baked eggs over corn. But I had a feeling that a few others may have the same idea. I was rummaging through some of my older, more Indian cookbooks to find something interesting when I came across a recipe for Cheese Sticks in my first ever cookbook. Why it was interesting was that it used potatoes as a base, no cheese and still guaranteed that it would taste cheesy! Every other recipe that I had ever seen was a simple, pastry-like recipe with flour, butter, cheese and egg/milk/buttermilk. But the fact that this used potatoes as a base gave me the idea and opportunity to try it with corn instead of the potatoes.
Heres’s what I used for about 16 Corn & Cheese Sticks:
125 gms boiled corn kernels
125 gms grated cheese (I used regular Amul processed but some sharp cheddar would have been nice)
2 tbsp softened butter + extra for greasing and brushing
200 gms all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp red chilly powder (adjust according to your spice threshold)
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Sesame and nigella seeds to sprinkle
Here’s how I made them:
Peeled and de-husked the corn and set a large pot of water to boil with some salt.
I used 2 corn cobs but I didn’t know how much of the kernel they would yield. I actually only ended up using half! I dunked these in boiling water, allowed the water to return to a boil and then reduced the heat to medium, cooking it covered for 10 minutes. When done, I carefully removed them from the hot water, rinsed with cold water and allowed them to cool fully before handling.
While the corn was boiling, I weighed and grated the cheese.
Mixed all the dry ingredients together — the flour, baking powder, salt, red chilly powder and black pepper and kept it aside.
Once cool enough to handle, I halved the corn cobs by breaking them with my hands — I found that they are easier to handle when they are a bit smaller in size. Placing each half firmly on the cutting board and using a sharp knife, I sliced out the kernels.
I weighed them and figured out that I used only a little more than half to make up 125 gms. I put the kernels in the mixie to grind them up (as finely as possible without adding water) and stashed the rest away for a simple corn chaat to have with my evening coffee! I put the ground corn, cheese and butter in a mixing bowl and mixed them up by hand.
Then I added the flour and mixed it up, first with a metal spoon and then my hands until it came together. I thought it was a little dry so I added 1-2 tbsp of cold milk. It should not be a soft, smooth dough, but rather a slightly crumbly, biscuit-y dough.
Rolling it into a rough disc, I covered it in clingfilm and popped it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
I turned on the oven to pre-heat at 180 C, about 15 minutes before I pulled the dough out of the fridge. I lined 2 baking sheets with butter paper and greased them with a little butter. Then I pulled out the dough and plonked it on a well floured counter.
Using a rolling pin and flouring as required, I rolled it out into a rectangle, about 1/8th inch thick.
Using a pizza cutter (you can also just use a sharp knife), I trimmed the sides and cut the dough into 1/2 inch strips.
Lifting each one individually, I twisted it up and laid it down on the greased baking sheet. They need not be to far away from each other because they don’t expand much. I brushed the tops with a little butter and sprinkled some sesame seeds and nigella seeds on it.
I rolled out the trimmings again and cut them into uneven squares/ rectangles and fit them in the blank spaces. I popped the trays, one at a time for about 18 minutes, until they were golden.
They crisp up after they cool down, after which they should be stored in an airtight container. I served them up with green chutney, ketchup and mayo! Yes, AK loves mayo and will add it to anything possible!
They turned out better than I expected! Actually, I wasn’t sure that the corn would hold them together at all, but it all worked out very well! Very corny and very cheesy! Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun!
These are definitely to be repeated with different flavour variations in the future — this time, corn was a pre-requisite so I didn’t want to overpower that flavour with any other. But I’m already dreaming about garlic & herbs, caramelised onions, paprika, jeera+pepper+curry leaves. My head is spinning with the possibilities.
Leave me a comment to tell me if you have any other suggestions!
- Because I used corn as a base instead of butter, these were not as light and flaky as traditional cheese straws (which have an almost like puff pastry like quality). But they were crunchy and delicious all the same. Maybe cutting them out into biscuit shapes would do them more justice!
- The butter I used to brush the tops before baking didn’t hold the seeds in place. In future, I’ll go with whisked egg white. If you don’t want to sprinkle any seeds, then butter/ milk/ cream will do.
- 125 gms boiled corn kernels
- 125 gms grated cheddar cheese
- 2 tbsp softened butter + extra for greasing and brushing
- 200 gms all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp red chilly powder, or to taste
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- Sesame and nigella seeds to sprinkle
- Mixer Grinder
- Pizza Cutter / Sharp Paring Knife
- 10 x 15 inch Baking Sheets
- Grind the corn to a paste in the mixer grinder, without adding any water.
- Mix all the dry ingredients together – flour, baking powder, salt, chilly powder and pepper and keep aside.
- In a mixing bowl, mix together the cheese, butter and corn paste until well combined. Add in the flour and rub together, kneading with your hands till the dough comes together. It will be a dry, crumbly, biscuit-y dough. You can add 1-2 tbsp of milk/ buttermilk/ cream if it is too dry and won’t come together.
- Roll into a rough disc and cover with clingfilm. Let this chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Turn on the oven to pre-heat at 180 C, about 15 minutes before you pull out the dough. Also, line a baking sheet with butter paper/ parchment paper/ Silpat. Grease paper with a little butter.
- Roll out the dough on a floured counter into a rough rectangle, about ⅛ inch thick. Using a pizza cutter/ sharp knife, cut it into strips about ½ inch wide.
- Pick up each strip, one at a time and twist it before placing it on the baking sheet. They may need two baking sheets and need to be baked in batches.
- Brush the tops with butter and sprinkle on some seeds before popping each batch in the oven for about 16-18 minutes or until golden and slightly puffed.
- Allow them to cool fully, on the baking sheet, before moving them to an airtight container.
- Serve with green chutney/ ketchup/ mayo/ mustard/ salsa/ pesto or any other dipping sauce of your choice.
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