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A corn-ucopia of fresh ideas

August 05, 2010|By LYNNE ROSSETTO KASPER / Scripps Howard News Service

Dear Lynne: Fantastic corn is our passion right now. We're feasting with corn on the cob. So how about getting it off the cob? Haven't fooled around with that. -- Farming in Illinois

Dear Farming: This is one of those "let me count the ways" situations.

First, for saving time, Oxo makes a good tool for getting those kernels off the cob (use the cobs for corn broth -- simmer cobs in water to barely cover for 30 minutes, strain and chill or freeze). That done, the fun just reels out.

Some thoughts:

Sweet corn in corn broth: Cooking the corn in corncob broth doubles its impact. Boil down 1 cup of corn broth in a skillet to about 1/4 cup. Add the kernels from 6 ears of corn and a pinch of sugar. Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat 2 minutes to just heat the corn. Swirl in 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, season with salt and serve.

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Sweet corn salad in Greek yogurt sauce: This no-cook dish combines a constant of eastern Mediterranean tables -- yogurt sauce -- and our distinctively American corn.

Mince a large garlic clove and blend it, in a large bowl, with black pepper, juice of 1/2 a lemon and salt to taste. Let stand 20 minutes. Then fold in 2/3 cup organic whole-milk yogurt, 1/2 cup minced cucumber and 1/4 cup each minced red onion and minced fresh dill leaves. Let stand an hour. Just before serving, fold in raw kernels from 6 to 8 ears of young corn (small kernels), 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon sumac (lemony-tasting dark red Middle Eastern spice), if you can get it. Taste for salt and serve.

For a cold soup, puree half the corn before adding it to the yogurt and stir in about 1 cup corn broth or water. Season to taste as you go.

Sweet corn in summer scrambled eggs: Slowly scramble eggs with small pieces of diced cream cheese and some minced onion. As the eggs firm up, stir in freshly minced basil and lots of corn kernels. Trust your eye for measurements. You want the eggs tender (slow cooking gives you that), with bits of almost-creamy cream cheese, the taste of fresh herbs and lots of crunchy kernels.

Finally, my cohort, Sally Swift, came up with a dish that just sings. Here it is, complete with her notes.

CHARRED GINGER-CHILI CORN



Serves 2 to 4.

20 minutes prep time if using fresh corn; 20 minutes stove time

You know those delicious, over-charred ears of grilled corn you eat at county fairs? If you are like us and request the ones with the most burned bits, this recipe is for you.

Here, freshly cut corn kernels are charred until sizzling and popping in a flaming-hot cast-iron skillet and finished with minced ginger, fresh garlic and chilies. The hardest thing about this dish is learning to NOT stir or fiddle with it while it's incinerating. Serve it as a side to anything green. It's also wonderful with fish, or even wrapped in a corn tortilla with some fresh salsa for a sublime veggie taco.

Cook to cook: The pan is critical. It needs to be cast iron and at least 12 inches in diameter -- the bigger, the better. If using a smaller pan, be sure to scorch the corn in small batches or it will throw off too much liquid to sear properly. The rule for wok cookery holds true here: hot wok, cold oil. Add the oil to the hot pan for best results.

3 tablespoons expeller-pressed canola oil
3 cups fresh corn kernels cut from the cob (4 to 5 ears)
2-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 medium jalapeno chile, seeds removed and flesh minced (about 2 tablespoons)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the skillet over high heat until smoking. Add the oil and let heat briefly. Toss in the corn, spreading it evenly in the pan. It must not be crowded. Do not stir for at least a minute to allow the corn to severely char.

Stir in the ginger and jalapeno, again stirring it very little to allow it to char, about 1 minute. The corn is done when a fourth to a third of the kernels are flecked with brown (depending on your taste). Stir in the garlic and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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