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Monday, August 30, 2010

Corn (and Tomato) Time!

Oh Corn. You are so tasty when good, yet so bad when not. I think it best to avoid any early corn offerings at your local market, and get really tired of broccoli and zucchini and early summer vegetables while you wait for Perfect Corn. Then, right about mid August, when the price drops and the ears fatten, get yourself a dozen and have at 'er. This morning I had the pleasure of helping myself to beautiful corn for only $3 a dozen, at the same honour system stand that had provided me with most of the strawberries I ate this summer. Then I took the corn to the restaurant, shucked it, cut off all the kernels and made a beautiful and simple Corn Chowder, which I served at lunch. Courtney, my trusted salad gal, made Peach, Fresh Tomato and Corn Salad. For a couple of food geeks, this is what it's all about.
Steaming is the easiest and fastest method of cooking corn, requiring only an inch of water. Shuck and de-silk the corn, pile into a large pot with an inch of water at the bottom and set it over high heat. When steam starts billowing out, set the timer for two minutes, no more. Today's sweet corn really only needs to be heated through, then it's ready to eat. Try combining equal parts of butter and maple syrup with a pinch of cayenne or maybe a small spoonful of sriracha sauce, then brushing this on the corn after it's cooked.
The Corn Fritters have been part of my family's cooking repertoire since I can remember. They are almost as simple as corn on the cob and really delicious. The flour has gradually been reduced over the years, now just barely holding the sweet kernels together. Together with the emergence of Fried Green Tomatoes on the table, they are a sure sign that it is the end of August.

Peach, Fresh Tomato and Corn Salad

2 ears of Corn, shucked and kernels cut off
1 T. Olive Oil
2 ripe Peaches, cut in 1” chunks
enough assorted Tomatoes, cut in 1”chunks, to measure 3-4 cups
1 T. Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 T. Fresh Basil, cut into ribbons

Heat a small frying pan over medium high heat. Swirl in the oil, then add the corn kernels. Cook briefly, a minute at most, until heated through. Scrape into a bowl, making sure to include the oil. Add the remaining ingredients and toss gently.

Corn Fritters

I've been cooking half the batter plain for the kids and then adding the cumin and green onion to the bowl to cook for the grownups! These fritters are lovely as is, but you can't go wrong with a little maple syrup and even a pat of butter on the plain ones.

3 ears Corn (about 3 Cups)
2 Eggs
½ t. Salt
¼ t. Pepper
2 T. Flour
Canola Oil for frying
¼ C. Sliced Green Onion (optional)
½ t. Ground toasted Cumin (optional)

Stand the cob on end on your cutting board, then cut the corn from the cob. Scrape the cob clean with the edge of the knife. Put all the bits of corn in a large bowl and add the eggs, salt, pepper, flour and optional green onion and cumin. Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat and add 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Use a soup spoon to dole out the batter, spacing them for easy turning. Fry on one side for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown, then flip and cook a minute on the other side. Serve right away or keep the fritters warm in a low oven. They are also great at room temperature!

Fresh off the Cob Corn Chowder

6 fresh ears of Corn

2 large Onions, diced
1/4 C. Butter
 8 C. cubed Potatoes
1/2 C. Flour
2 C. Milk or Cream
2 T. Parsley
1 T. Salt

Stand the cob on end on your cutting board, then cut the corn from the cob. Scrape the cob clean with the edge of the knife into a bowl.  Place the scraped cobs in a pot and add 16 cups of water.  Bring to a boil while you get on with the recipe.  Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat and add the onion.  Stir and cook for ten minutes or so, until the onion is softened and starting to brown.  Add the flour to the onions and butter and cook another minute, then whisk in the cream or milk.  Continue cooking, stirring the whole time, until the mixture bubbles and thickens.  Turn off the heat. 
After the cobs have boiled for 20 minutes or so, add the cubed potatoes.  Cook for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.  Reduce the heat to low.  Pull the cobs out with a pair of tongs and discard, then stir in the onion and milk mixture.  Add the corn and parsley to the pot and simmer for another ten minutes, then serve!

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