Want to stay in, but eat like you’re out? Here, chef and writer Heather Platt shares recipes inspired by L.A.’s hottest restaurant dishes. We say “inspired by,” as these creations are Platt’s own and have been adapted for the home cook, using easy-to-access ingredients and techniques you can pull off in just about any kitchen—yes, even yours.
The Real Thing: The real real thing, in this case is that slightly spicy, mayonnaise and cheese slathered corn-on-the-cob sold on street carts all over Los Angeles. If you happen to come across one, you’re in for a tasty, if not particularly healthy treat. But for the more health conscious lot, there’s Gracias Madre; West Hollywood’s answer to upscale, posh, vegan-Mexican dining where chef Chandra Gilbert created a popular version of the street treat. In this case, she uses vegan mayonnaise and sour cream and instead of cotija cheese, sprinkles the cobs with ground toasted pumpkin seeds, a brilliantly flavorful substitution.
The Hack: Not everyone is vegan. And perhaps more relevantly, not everyone has vegan mayonnaise and sour cream in their house. And since this is a dish hack, it’s perfectly OK to use the regular kind and even sprinkle it with real cheese, if you so choose. It is corn season and the perfect time of year to grill it at home; I wouldn’t want anyone to feel left out. This version of the recipe accommodates all diets and most importantly, includes chef Gilbert’s sprinkling of pumpkin seeds.
Dish Hack: Gracia’s Madre’s Street Corn
Inspired by the innovative version at West Hollywood’s hippest vegan restaurant
Total Time: 20 minutes
4 ears corn, husks and silks removed (leave the core attached)
1 tablespoon vegan (or regular) mayonnaise
1 cup vegan (or regular) sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, finely chopped to a powder
3 limes, 1 for juice, 2 cut into wedges
1/2 cup crumbled feta or cojita cheese (optional)
Chipotle powder, to taste
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Preheat a grill or cast iron skillet over high heat. Place the corn on the hot grill or skillet and, using tongs, rotate it until it is evenly charred on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic and cilantro together in a small bowl. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper. While the corn is still warm slather it all over with mayonnaise mixture. Squeeze the remaining lime juice over the corn and sprinkle it with ground pumpkin seeds and feta (if using). Season with chipotle powder and serve with extra lime wedges.