Sweet Corn Pancakes with Mt. Tam Cheese

It’s that time of year!

No, we’re not talking about Pumpkin Spice Lattes… Bon Appétit has announced Best New Restaurant 2014! See, for the past three years (twice by luck, once by plan), we’ve had the good fortune of nabbing seats at each establishment that Andrew Knowlton and his team have deemed the hottest new place to dine.

This year, Rose’s Luxury in Washington, D.C. has won the title, and with D.C. just a little over four hours away, we’re gonna have to keep the streak alive. In the meantime, we’re just going to reminisce a bit.

Almost two years ago, we walked into State Bird Provisions in San Francisco (Best New Restaurant 2012) without reservations. We hadn’t even finished our beers at the bar around the corner when we got the text that we could be seated. At the chef’s counter. Right in front of all the action of the open kitchen.

It was one of the best food nights of our lives and we tried our best to make our way through as many of the 30+ dishes as possible, which you can read more about here… Everything from fried garlic bread with burrata, to tofu, to the namesake fried state bird, and these sweet corn shortstacks with Mt. Tam cheese.

state bird shortstack

For us, the fun in going out to eat is trying new things and indulging in dishes we wouldn’t typically make at home. But pancakes we can do, and when we spotted Mt. Tam cheese in the case at our local Whole Foods, it was on.

mt. tam

Were they exactly like State Bird’s? Not exactly, but close enough to satisfy our cravings when flying 2,800 miles for dinner isn’t an option 🙂

sweet corn pancakes with chives and mt. tam cheese - life with the lushers

serves 4

4 large ears of corn
3/4 cup self rising flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 egg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup, plus more, if necessary, buttermilk
1 bunch chives, minced & divided
1 egg white
canola oil, for cooking
8 oz, Mt. Tam cheese (St. André or Brie as a substitute, but seriously splurge for the Mt Tam, if you can find it)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil & salt well. Add corn & cook for 3-5 minutes, until tender, but still crisp. Set aside to cool.

When the corn is cool, cut from the cobs, scraping to release the corn “milk.” Transfer half the corn to a food processor & pulse until finely chopped.

In a large mixing bowl, pour in the flour, baking powder, egg, melted butter, salt & buttermilk. Whisk with a fork until smooth. Add all of the chopped corn, half of the set aside corn kernels, and half of the minced chives & stir until combined.

In a small separate bowl, whisk the egg white until soft peaks form. Add that to the corn pancake mixture & fold in gently just until combined.

Heat canola oil on a griddle or in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Scoop the batter in 2 tablespoon spoonfuls on to the griddle & pat the tops down, if necessary. Cook for about 2 minutes, until set on the bottom side. Flip & cook until done throughout.

While the pancakes cook, add the Mt. Tam to a small pan & melt, over medium-low heat, until drizzly & delicious.

When the pancakes are finished & cheese melted, plate pancakes on individual plates. Drizzle with cheese “syrup,” sprinkle with remaining corn kernels & chives, serve immediately & fall in love.

sweet corn pancakes - life with the lushers

Posted in entrees, travel, vegetarian | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Pasta Salad with Melon, Pancetta & Ricotta Salata

Do you have a grocery store luxury item?

For us, it’s chopped melon.Does it cost more? Sure. But when we buy whole melons, unless they get cut within minutes of entering the house (unlikely), they are sure to meet a slow, squishy, fermented demise on the counter, so it’s money well spent.

And what do we do with a huge tub of cantaloupe chunks, besides eat them all straight from the container?

melon pasta salad

Toss them together with pasta, oil & champagne vinegar, salty shaved ricotta salata cheese,  punchy green onions, crispy bits of pancetta, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a little handful of bright mint to make the most unusually interesting, perfectly light summer meal.

melon and pancetta pasta with ricotta salata

serves 4

6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
8 ounces orecchiette or other shell-shaped pasta
kosher salt
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons champagne vinegar
4 cups cubed cantaloupe, honeydew, or other melon
1/3 cup freshly chopped mint
3 green onions, thinly sliced
big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
freshly ground pepper
2 ounces ricotta salata, shaved (a mild feta would work, too)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (it will make cleanup a little easier). Lay the pancetta in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 20-25 minutes. Set aside to cool.

While the pancetta crisps, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, salt generously and add the pasta. Cook to al dente, according to package instructions. Drain, run under cool water, and set aside to drain more.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar. Add the cooked pasta, melon, half of the mint, green onions, red pepper flakes, and crumble in half the cooled pancetta. Toss to combine and coat with the oil and vinegar. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Transfer to a large serving dish, or individual dishes, and top with remaining mint, pancetta, and shaved ricotta salata.

adapted very slightly from Bon Appétit


Posted in entrees, pasta & grains, salads | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Friday Favorites | Things loved this week.

Here we are! It’s Friday & I’m resurrecting Friday Favorites, so you can see some of our favorite things from the past week, & maybe find some new favorites of your own.

Here we go!

chinese chicken noodle soup

1.  David Chang’s Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup. This is a soup absolutely worth sweating over in the stifling summer heat. It takes a little work, simmering both vegetable & chicken broth for a few hours, but let it bubble away on a lazy Sunday afternoon & you will be rewarded with an intensely flavored broth & the best chicken noodle soup you’ve ever tasted. Truth.

2.  101 Cookbooks & Super Natural Every Day. I’m sure it’s been mentioned here before, but anytime we’re feeling the need for a healthy, wholesome meal, we turn to Heidi Swanson. Some of the ingredients may be a little unfamiliar at first, but absolutely trust her, she knows what she’s doing. Her recipes are filling & so full of flavor you won’t even realize you’re eating “health food.” In fact, two things we made this week, the California Barley Bowls & Black Pepper Tempeh, are her recipes.

menu board

3.  Miso Buttered Popcorn with Togarashi. If you know anything about me, you know that I love popcorn. At least one night a week, I sit down on the couch with a giant bowl of it & a glass of wine & call it dinner. This Dijon Buttered Popcorn was my go-to for a long time (coincidentally a riff on one from Super Natural Ever Day) but this version caught my eye recently. Plus, we have a tub of miso hanging out in the fridge & a jar of togarashi that I just had to have. I used a mellow white miso & skipped the furikake, so it’s not quite the original recipe, but was an amazing umami/spicy combination.

Be sure to stick around & read the blog, too. Those girls are hilarious.

4.  New menu at Chow. Chow is right near our house & they have a good selection of rotating craft beers, so I’d be lying if I told you we didn’t go very often & hadn’t eaten everything on the menu…probably at least twice. We made it over there this week to find a new menu! A whole new “snacks” section, new pizzas & burgers, a chicken biscuit…this could be trouble.


5.  Throwback Thursday. We’re taking #tbt & giving it the Lusher’s twist: pulling something we’ve been aging from the cellar to enjoy. Be sure to follow me & Tom on Instagram to see what we’re getting into each week.

Cheers & Happy Weekend!

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What we’re drinking | A peek into our recycling bin.

Here’s what we’ve been drinking lately.

empty lineup

Pisgah Valdez // We love this organic North Carolina brewery for their delicious Pale Ale, but also love this unfiltered, slightly dry coffee stout.

Asheville Brewing Company Shiva IPA // We grab a few of these every time we head west. It’s a bittersweet blend of Columbus & Tradition hops & simple malts that will please IPA hopheads with both floral & grapefruit notes.

Against the Grain Brewery Citra Ass Down American IPA // The name kind of tells you what you need to know…it’s a crisp, hop-forward American style IPA with great citrus flavor from the prevalent Citra hop.

Kyle Hollingsworth/Keri Kelli/Stone collaboration Collective Distortion IPA // Yep, a collaboration with Stone, the keyboardist from The String Cheese Incident & guitarist from Alice Cooper. It’s gotten pretty rave reviews on Untappd, with a solid four stars (which Tom & I both rated it) for its fresh hop-forward flavor, characteristic of Stone’s IPAs, & coriander & elderberry notes.

Evil Twin/Bottle Revolution collaboration Mini Dingo Imperial Stout // We’re not sure the story on this Evil Twin/local bottle shop collaboration, so fill is in if you know. We enjoyed this smooth, sticky, chocolatey, spicy beer.

2013 Ameztoi Rubentis Getariako Txakolina // Don’t let the name scare you off (Txakolina is pronounced chocolina), this may just become your favorite summer wine. It’s bright & fruity with the minerality & effervescence that makes it perfectly drinkable on a hot summer day.

trophy growler

Trophy Brewing Company Best Lei Pineapple Saison // We love a lot of the beers at Trophy & refill our growler every time we stop in. Most recently we brought home Best Lei, a well-made, fruity, sessionable Saison.


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green tomato, prosciutto & fresh cheese curd quiche

This may just be one of our favorite things we’ve made lately.

green tomato, prosciutto & fresh cheese curd quiche

With tomatoes ripening on the vines, we’ve had plenty of opportunities for green tomatoes in our CSA box, but beyond frying them (so good!) we tend to draw a blank. Then, I thought back to a quiche I had last year at Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, a quiche with diced green tomatoes & fresh, local cheese curds, both available through our CSA & decided we should try to give it a shot.

green tomato, prosciutto & fresh cheese curd quiche 1

For the crust, we looked to our trusty Food Bible, The Joy of Cooking, & chose the buttery, flaky Pat-in-the-Pan dough & a custard-like 1:3 cream to egg ratio as the base for this quiche. We added a little chopped prosciutto for a salty bite, but the real stars of the dish are the bright & tangy bites of green tomato & pockets of gooey, but still firm curds of cheddar cheese*.

serves 6

1 Pat-in-the-Pan Butter Crust (recipe below)
1/2 green tomato, diced
1 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
1 cup cheese curds
1 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Scatter the green tomato, prosciutto & cheese curds evenly in the bottom of the quiche crust. Whisk the heavy cream, eggs & salt & pepper together in a small bowl, then pour over the top of the tomato, prosciutto & cheese curds. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown & puffy & a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Resist temptation & let the quiche rest for 10 minutes before digging in.


makes one 9 inch crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
2-4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 large egg yolk
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour & salt. Add the butter & using the back of a fork, or a pastry cutter, mash the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like coarse, shaggy crumbs. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the cream over the dough & continue to mix until the crumbs look damp & hold together when pinched, adding more cream if necessary.

Transfer the dough to a 9 inch pie or tart pan. Firmly & evenly press the dough in the bottom & sides of the pan. Prick the bottom & sides thoroughly with a fork, place in the preheated oven & bake for 18-22 minutes, until golden brown. Check a few times while baking for bubbles, & if they appear, simply prick them with a fork.

While the crust bakes, whisk together egg yolk & pinch of salt. When the crust is finished baking, let it cool a few minutes, then brush with the egg mixture. It’s now ready for filling!

adapted very slightly from The Joy of Cooking 

*At this time of year, green tomatoes are readily available at most Farmers’ Markets. If you’re having a hard time finding cheese curds (although, Farmers’ Markets are a good place to look, too), you could probably get by with substituting chunks of Mozzarella.

Posted in breakfast, entrees, savory | Tagged , , | 3 Comments