Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Esquites - Memories of the Elote Cafe in Sedona, Arizona

In January I had the privilege of staying in Sedona, Arizona where I attended an amazing two week healing program. I have always loved south-west cuisine and so it was on my radar to find a restaurant that would satisfy my craving for such local food. As small as Sedona is, it has a plethora of restaurants to chose from to please almost every palate.

One of my favourites is the Elote Cafe, a hip south-western style restaurant that prides itself on dishing up a menu made up of up-scale Mexican street food using fresh, local ingredients.

One of their signature dishes (named after Elote, which in Mexico refers to grilled corn on the cob doused in butter, cheese, chili powder, mayonnaise and lemon or lime juice - and also holds the same name as the restaurant), is a twist on the traditional street version. The ingredients are instead served up as a deliciously decadent hot dip alongside freshly fried corn tortilla chips. In certain parts of Mexico this version is called Esquites.

This dish is the perfect indulgence not only for a casual hot summer evening served with Margaritas, Sangria or Coronas, but also as a soul-warming comfort food in the long cold winter months. The best part is that its a snap to prepare - you put all the ingredients in a pot and heat it and Velado!

My recipe is an adaptation of the Elote Cafe's own chef Jeff Smedstad's, with the time-saving use of frozen organic peaches and cream corn niblets and queso fresco cheese. I could bathe in this dip, it is that good...

You will need:

2 cups frozen corn niblets, thawed and drained (I used organic from Costco)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp hot sauce such as Cholula or Tabasco (reduce amount to 1/2 Tbsp for less heat)
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice plus 1 tsp zest
1/4 - 1/2 tsp sugar (depending on how sweet your corn is)
2 Tbsp good chicken stock - preferably low sodium
1/4 tsp crushed red chili flakes
Pinch chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
75g  Queso Fresco cheese, crumbled (Mexican style farmers cheese)
or 2 Tbsp regular farmers cheese, grated
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Corn tortilla chips (preferably organic or at least non GMO)

Here's how its done:

In a medium saucepan, heat mayonnaise, hot sauce, lime juice, sugar, chicken stock, salt and pepper, chili flakes and chili powder. When the mixture comes just to a boil, add the corn kernels and queso fresco cheese; heat through. Don't continue to boil, or the mixture will begin to separate. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve on a platter along with corn tortilla chips.

Buen provecho! and...Salud!

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