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Granola

17 Jul

I’m going to be honest with you.  I love my homemade granola so much that I think I had it for breakfast every day for about six months (with some Greek yogurt and fresh berries) until I finally got sick of it and (thought I) never wanted to see it again.  Then, after going on a granola fast for a few months, I woke up one day and realized that I really missed it.

Here’s what I love about it: it’s filling and delicious and flexible.  I’m sharing a recipe with you (below), but just take it as a guide. Add or replace nuts, spices, grains or anything else you like.  Just stick with the basics — start with oats, add nuts and or coconut, spices, grains, some fat and a sweetener. You can add dried fruit, but don’t add it at the beginning.  Stir it in for the last 10 minutes of baking.  And make big batches — in a freezer bag or container this stuff can hang out in the freezer for a couple of months.

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Granola

  • 5 cups large flake oats
  • 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 cups slivered, blanched almonds
  • 2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup

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Preheat your oven to 325°.

In a large mixing bowl, use a spoon to mix the oats, coconut, almonds, pecans, salt, cinnamon and allspice.

Add the oil, vanilla and corn syrup and mix until everything is well incorporated.

Spread the mixture out on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 20 minutes, then stir. Switch the position of the trays around, then bake another 20 minutes and stir. Switch the trays around one more time and bake another 20 minutes or until golden brown (if you’re adding dried fruit, add it after 50 minutes or total baking time — then bake another 10 minutes or until done).

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Let cool completely and package in freezer bags or an air-tight container.  Can stay on your counter for a couple of weeks or in the freezer for a couple of months.

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My favorite way to have this is with some Greek yogurt and lots of fresh, ripe berries.

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Passover Post — No Time to Post

8 Mar

I started off the year well, posting more times in one week than I did in all of 2012. I did well into February until I got buried under Passover prep and all of the sudden I had no time to do anything.  I have a notebook full of recipes just waiting to be typed up and pictures on my phone ready to upload, but they’ll have to wait until after Passover before they get turned into posts. I thought I’d be able to post some great new recipes for Passover, but time got away from me (though there’s still a chance of some posts during the holiday).  Instead, I’ve done a little search online to find my Passover footprints and round them up into a single post here.  Some of the links are recipes on my blog or other websites, some are links to my business and my books and a few of them are links to eGullet.org, where I spent 3 Passovers blogging for the members there during Passover (I look back on those foodblogs now and can’t figure out how I got them done).

These are recipes on my blog:

The three eGullet Passover foodblogs I did over the years:

My family business: So, the reason I’m so busy now is that along with my parents, I own a kosher food store (the only independent kosher food store in the city) and catering company.  Passover is our busiest time of the year, no question.  We turn our store over completely for Passover,  removing all items that are not kosher for Passover from the shelves, freezers and coolers and bringing in well over 1,000 kosher for Passover items (plus beef, lamb, veal, poultry and deli). Starting last week, we’ve been getting truckloads of products delivered almost daily, starting with an initial order that weighed in at 11,600 lbs.  You can take a look at what we sell on our Facebook page, where we posted this album/tour.

On the side, I write cookbooks.  So far, two.  The second book is Passover –  A Kosher Collection. For the three weeks leading up to Passover, my days are spent (among other things) answering questions from my customers.  Younger customers are looking for help with traditional recipes, older customers are looking for new ideas and vice versa.  I realized that there was a need for a new Passover cookbook and went to work on it.  In the US and Canada, you can by it in various Judaica stores, and it’s available on Amazon.com in hard copy or for the Kindle/eReader.  You can also order them from my website, and I’ll ship them anywhere! Around the web – my Passover friendly recipes/articles from other sites:

To all those preparing for Pesach, I hope it’s an easy year for you and hopefully I’ll be back during the holiday with more recipes.  Chag sameach!

Tortilla Soup

22 Feb

I love Tortilla Soup and make many different yet similar versions of it. What’s so great about Tortilla Soup (in my mind, at least) is that it’s a bowl of hot, slightly spicy (how spicy is up to you), filling soup that’s just what I want on a cold winter day,  yet the flavours take me to southern California and I can pretend I’m sitting in the sun rather than shivering in the ice and snow.

The chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are a new obsession for me, but if you can’t get them, don’t want to use them because they’re too spicy or don’t like them, simply leave them out and add 1/2 – 1 tsp. chili powder.  If you have it, add 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika as well.

The fresh, cool avocado that I add when serving the soup is something new for me.  The last couple of times I’ve made this soup I’ve added the avocado and love it.  The creamy, cool avocado is a great addition to the spicy, tart soup flavours.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium orange pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 tomatillos, paper removed, cored and chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. adobo sauce
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced 1/2″
  • 19 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • tortilla chips
  • lime wedges
  • extra cilantro

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Over medium heat, saute the onion and orange pepper in the olive oil for 5-7 minutes, until soft.  Add the garlic, cumin, salt, black pepper and the tomatillo and cook another minute.

Add the chipotle and the adobo sauce and stir through. Add the stock and tomato juice, cover and bring to a boil on high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the chicken and beans and cook for 2 minutes, then add the corn.  Cook another 8-10 minutes, or until the soup just comes back to the simmer, the corn is hot and the chicken has cooked through.

Add the lime juice and cilantro, stir through and taste, checking the seasoning and adjusting if necessary.

Top each bowl with diced avocado and serve with tortilla chips and extra lime wedges and chopped cilantro on the side.

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Simple Sides: Roasted Cauliflower

20 Feb

I’ve always liked cauliflower — even when I was really young, I always liked the vegetables that most kids don’t. I’m quite happy with simply steamed cauliflower, but I’ll take it in a soup, with sauces, in a stir-fry, a quiche or many other recipes.  But just like my crispy smashed potatoes, one of my absolutely favorites ways to prepare cauliflower is to simply roast it. (It also happens to be great for Passover.)

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Just like those crispy smashed potatoes, the ingredient list is small — only four items:

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 large cauliflower, washed well and broken down into small florets

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Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Mix the olive oil, garlic and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the cauliflower and mix until the oil, salt and garlic are evenly distributed.  Spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Roast for 20 minutes, then toss and roast for another 20-25 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and the edges golden brown.  Serve immediately.

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** Any leftovers are great chopped up and added to scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Pulled BBQ Beef

7 Feb

I  planned on posting this last week for a great Superbowl Sunday dinner idea. Though I’m not a football fan (I’d watch hockey over football any day), I thought this was a great option.  Alas, do to some technical difficulties, my blog has been down for over a week.   But it’s still a great recipe and with a very short prep time, you’re free to watch the hockey game or anything else while it slowly cooks.

This is an easy recipe.  Mix everything together and toss it in the oven or slow-cooker for several hours and you’re good to go.

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This is a hearty, filling meal. It’s fun. Finally, it’s delicious.

I’ve done this with a shoulder roast in the past, and you can, but I really prefer a chuck roast (boneless here, but you can use bone-in).

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Raw, ready to cook.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb. beef chuck roast (boneless)
  • salt and pepper

Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. fancy molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup water
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After 5 hours. .

Preheat the oven to 275°F.

Season the roast generously with salt and pepper and place in a Dutch oven or large pot with lid.

Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a mixing bowl and pour the sauce over the roast.  Cover the pot and place in the oven to cook for 5 hours, turning the roast over every 2 hours.  It’s ready when the meat breaks apart easily when you stick a fork in it.

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Shredded, mixed with sauce.

Remove the meat from the pot, placing it on a large plate or in a bowl.  Use a spoon to carefully remove as much fat as possible from the top of the sauce.  (If you’re not eating this right away, you can chill the sauce, remove the fat, then reheat it before serving.)

Use two forks to break the roast into small chunks or to shred it.  Remove any fat as you go.

Return the meat to the sauce and mix, making sure all of the beef has been coated in sauce.  Serve on a soft bun on it’s own, or try it with some coleslaw added to the sandwich.

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Makes 6-8 big sandwiches.

** If you’re using a slow cooker, cook for 10 hours on low or until the roast is fork tender and pulls apart easily when using two forks.

Coconut Sweet Potato Soup

29 Jan

It has been cold here.  I mean really, really cold. I hate to complain about the weather because there’s more to my little region of the world than the cold weather, but when temperatures are hitting -40°C it has a big impact.  By the time the work day is over and I’ve made it through the frigid temperatures back home I’m there for the night and I’m looking for something to warm me up.

One of the best ways to warm up is with a steaming bowl of soup.  Between the weather and the fact that we still have a couple of days left of National Soup Month, I decided to share a quick, simple and delicious recipe with you.  It’s based on the Coconut Sweet Potato Soup that’s in the 2nd edition of my book, Soup – A Kosher Collection with a few changes that reflected my mood and what I had on hand in my kitchen when I made it a few nights ago.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 lbs. (2 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 5 cups chicken stock (you can use vegetable stock to keep it parve)
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add the shallots and saute for 4-5 minutes, until the shallots are soft but not browned.  Add the garlic, ginger, salt and pepper and cook another 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Add the sweet potatoes and chicken stock, cover and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Puree the soup — I like to use an immersion blender to puree the soup right in the pot, but if you don’t have one, use a food processor or blender to puree the soup in small batches.  When it’s pureed and smooth, return the pot to low heat and add the coconut milk and lemon juice, heating until it just returns to the simmer.

Taste the soup and check for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper if necessary.  Serve!

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Crispy Smashed Potatoes

22 Jan

imageBy special request, this is how I make my Crispy Smashed Potatoes.  They’re not difficult, and this is more of a technique than a recipe — once you’ve made them, you don’t have to worry about quantities, just follow procedure.  But if you’re a stickler for recipes, here are the quantities:

  • 2 lbs. new potatoes, scrubbed well
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt

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Place the clean potatoes in a pot and cover with cold, salted water.  Place over high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes or until fork-tender.  Drain very well.  Cool enough so that you can handle — but the warmer they are when you smash them the better.

imageWhile the potatoes are simmering, preheat your oven to  400° F on convection or 425° F if you don’t have convection.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Now, I use a heavy glass for the next step but you can use a can, mallet or anything else you might have to press each potato down until it’s smashed into a disk.  Smash/press them until they’re all the same thickness and line them up on your baking sheet in a single layer (use another baking sheet if there’s not enough room on the first one).

Drizzle 2 Tbsp. of olive oil over the potatoes, making sure each potato gets some.  Sprinkle 3/4 tsp. of salt oven them and then flip them all over.  Drizzle another 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and another 3/4 tsp. of salt oven the potatoes.

Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, or until they’ve started to brown.  Flip them all over again and roast another 20 minutes or until they are all browned and crispy.  Serve right away (ketchup is optional).

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Meat Chili with Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

10 Jan

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I’ve never used chipotle peppers in adobo Sauce — mainly because I’ve never been able to find a kosher version before. But a while ago I spotted this product on a supplier’s list and ordered a case thinking something like “ah! now I will use these!”. Well . . about six months later, I’ve finally tried them. — and loved them!

If you’ve never used them or had them, they are smoked peppers (often jalapeno) in a delicious sauce made of vinegar, tomato and spices.  On a recent trip to California, I became addicted to a chipotle salsa I had that finally pushed me into trying to cook with them at home.

There are all sorts of things you could do with these, but I started off with a batch of chili. Note that these peppers can be quite spicy and if you don’t love spicy food, go easy on them.  My recipe calls for 2 chipotle peppers (seeds removed), but you can go down to one — or you can even leave them out and just use the adobo sauce.  On the other hand, if you love spicy food, use more of them or forgo removing the seeds.

The chipotle peppers in adobo sauce add  rich, smoky and spicy flavors to this meaty chili.  I tasted it right away and liked it, but not as much as I liked it when I reheated it the next day.  I also like it on it’s own, but it was even better when I squeezed some lime juice into it and dusted the top with some chopped cilantro.   Serve on it’s own, with taco chips for scooping or over a baked potato or pasta.

Chili – serves 8

  • 4 cups cold water
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder (Ancho)
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 19 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 x chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (seeds removed and finely chopped)
  • 3 Tbsp. adobo sauce
  • fresh cilantro and limes for garnishing

Combine the cold water and ground beef in a pot, using your hands or a spoon to break up the ground beef as much as possible. Place over high heat and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes, skimming off any scum that comes to the surface.  Set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium.  Add the onion, carrots, celery, poblano pepper and salt and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  You just want to sweat the vegetables to soften them, not brown them.

Add the garlic, cumin and chili powder (I like Ancho or other single pepper chili powder) and cook, stirring, for one minute.

Add the tomatoes, black beans, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce and the ground beef and water you’ve set aside.  Bring to a simmer over medium then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for one hour, stirring occasionally. Taste and check for seasoning.  Eat right away or chill or freeze for later.

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(inter)National Soup Month

7 Jan

According to daysoftheyear.com, January is National Soup Month. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this makes sense — for those of us in the northern part of the northern hemisphere, January can be a bitterly cold month and a warm bowl of soup can warm you from the inside out.

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(c) Pam Reiss

Now, I personally don’t believe you need to have a month out of the year set aside to enjoy soup. I’m an advocate of cooking soup throughout the year — there are so many different types of soups you can make that trying to cram them all into one month is impossible.  Not only that, but different growing seasons mean that some ingredients just aren’t available in January and you need to take advantage in the spring or summer of what’s readily available.

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(c) Pam Reiss

But just because I don’t like to limit soups to one month, it doesn’t mean I can’t get behind supporting and encouraging Soup Month.  I think everybody should make soup all the time.  Meat soups, dairy soups, parve soups, hot soups and cold soups.  Broths, chunky soups, chowders, pureed soups, thin soups and thick soups.  There are so many options.

This weekend I made a big pot of chicken soup.  I admit, it’s the soup I make more than any other.  First, I like to have some in the freezer to use in other recipes or just to pull out when I need a bowl of Jewish Penicillin.  But it’s more than that.  I have a strong connection to chicken soup.  It’s in my bones.  With a pot of chicken soup simmering on the stove top I’m transported to my grandmother’s kitchen. The aromas coming from my pot of soup are the exact aromas that greeted me at the door every Friday night when I arrived at her house for our weekly Shabbat dinner.

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(c) Pam Reiss

It’s been many years since my grandmother was around to make a pot of chicken soup, but the memories have grown to include my own mother’s pot of simmering soup and the vats and vats of chicken soup we make at work. And having moved into a new home myself in the last year, one of the first things I did was make a huge pot of chicken soup (and meat kreplach), creating the same memory in my own kitchen that I have from my grandmother and mother’s kitchens.

I have recipes for Chicken Soup in both my cookbooks, and they’re great for learning how to make it, but once you’ve been making it for years, you can do it by sight, smell and taste.

No Quantities Chicken Soup Recipe (check cookbooks for quantities)

  • place lots and lots of chicken bones, wings and necks into a large pot, filling your pot 2/3s with chicken parts
  • cover with cold water, and place the pot over high heat
  • bring to a simmer, skimming off any scum that rises to the top
  • as soon as it’s simmering, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, continuing to skim the top until there is no more scum
  • add yellow onions (peeled, but left whole), carrots (peeled and cut into large chunks), parsnips (peeled and cut into large chunks), celery (cut into large chunks) and simmer, skimming until all of the scum is removed
  • simmer another hour
  • add fresh dill, and simmer another 30 minutes
  • taste
  • if it’s too watery, simmer longer, letting the liquid reduce, if it’s rich enough, season with salt to taste
  • use tongs to remove any large pieces of vegetable and chicken and discard (we’re not using chicken with much meat on the bones, just bones, necks and wings, so there isn’t much worth keeping)
  • use a ladle to pour the broth through cheesecloth into clean bowls or pots
  • to chill the soup quickly, the night before I make chicken soup, I fill a few small freezer bags 2/3s with water, expel any extra air, close and freeze – once the soup has been strained, carefully place the frozen bags of ice in the broth and leave for 5-10 minutes  – the soup should be cool and ready for the fridge (remove the bags before refrigerating)
  • leave the soup in the fridge for a couple of hours, then carefully remove any fat from the top of the soup with a spoon
  • reheat when ready to eat or freeze for later use

To purchase the 2nd edition of Soup a Kosher Collection (with new recipes), follow these links:

In the USA: amazon.com

In Canada: amazon.ca

Chicken, Corn and Poblano Stew

31 Jan
Typically, winter brings bitterly cold temperatures to my little corner of the world.  We can go weeks without a break, keeping an eye on the thermostat, waiting for it to rise above the -30C mark. So far this winter has been atypical. Sure, we’ve had some cold days where the wind kept us below -30C, but for the most part, it’s been a beautiful, warm winter here.
Those of you living south of the Canadian border may still shudder when I tell you that we’re happy with the temperatures hovering in the 0 to -10C range.  For those of us up here, it’s been a joy.  Even if we’re not shivering away, it is winter and it does call for some meals that warm you (and your home) up.
I make a soup that I love that has poblano peppers, corn, tomatillos and potatoes — the other night I decided to take those flavours and turn them into a chicken stew. This is a great change from a typical beef stew – while still filling and warming, it feels lighter.  The poblano add a little heat, the potatoes add some bulk, the tomatillos add a tang and the corn a touch of sweetness.  If you’re not a fan of cilantro, leave it out.  If you don’t like any spice at all, substitute a couple of bell peppers for the poblanos.
  • 2 poblano peppers, cut in half, cored and seeded
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 8 small tomatillos, husks removed, cored and diced
  • 3 cups good, homemade chicken stock
  • 12 new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

Preheat your broiler.  Place the poblanos on a baking sheet, cut side down and broil for 5-8 minutes, or until the skins are charred.  Transfer to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let the peppers cool enough to handle and then peel them, discarding the peel. Dice the peppers and set aside.

Remove any excess fat from the thighs, rinse and pat dry.  Cut into large chunks and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over med-high heat.  Sear the chicken in batches (don’t overcrowd the pan) until it just starts to brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Once all of the chicken is seared, add more oil if the pan is dry, reduce heat to medium and add the onions.  Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until they start to brown and soften.  Add the garlic, tomatillo and poblanos and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and potatoes and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan, making sure that nothing is sticking.

Turn the heat back up to medium-high and bring the stock to a simmer.  Cook for 15 minutes — if it’s boiling too hard, reduce the temperature again.  Return the chicken to the pot and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the corn and simmer another 2 minutes.  Add the cilantro and stir through.  Taste, checking the seasoning.  Add salt if necessary and serve!