By Barbara Beltrami
If the bins at a farm stand in August were a stage, corn would surely be the star. Occupying a massive spot in the produce limelight, freshly picked ears of corn tumble over each other vying to be selected after ruthless ripping of their husks, a procedure, by the way, that is useless for determining an ear of corn’s soundness and useful only to render it exposed and passed over. More effective is to run one’s hand or fingers lightly up and down the ear of corn to feel for indentations, a symptom most likely of an earworm or borer having gotten to it.
Nothing beats a freshly picked ear of corn, boiled for 3 to 5 minutes, then slathered with butter, salt and pepper. Want something a little different? Read the recipes below for some ideas for cooking with the queen of summer produce, corn.
Fresh Corn Pancakes
YIELD: Makes 4 servings
3 to 4 ears fresh-picked corn
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 level teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons canola, sunflower or vegetable oil
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
DIRECTIONS: Cut kernels from cobs. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, oil and butter. Add flour mixture and corn kernels to liquid mixture; stir to thoroughly blend. Heat a greased griddle or heavy skillet until hot enough that water sprinkled on it produces dancing bubbles. Ladle batter onto skillet, by one-third cupfuls. Cook over medium heat until edges start to brown and bubbles form in batter. With a spatula, turn pancakes and cook about one minute more, until undersides are golden brown. Serve hot with blueberry or maple syrup and bacon.
Corn, Pepper & Manchego Quiche
YIELD: Makes 6 servings
One 9-inch pie crust
1 cup shredded manchego cheese
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups half and half
¼ cup melted butter
Kernels from 2 ears fresh-picked corn
1 small onion, minced
1 small green pepper, diced
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a pie plate or quiche pan with pie crust. Sprinkle cheese evenly over crust. In a food processor, combine eggs, flour, salt, half and half and melted butter until well blended. Stir in corn, onion, green pepper and ground black pepper. Pour over cheese in crust. Bake 45 to 50 minutes until top is golden, filling is slightly puffed and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve with tomato and arugula salad and crusty French bread.
Grilled Corn with Cilantro-Lime Butter
YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings
12 ears fresh-picked corn in the husk
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1½ teaspoons coarse sea salt
¾ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
½ to ¾ cup melted unsalted butter
¹/3 to ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
DIRECTIONS: Pull back corn husks but leave attached at bottom. Discard silks; pull husks back up around ears. Prepare grill for cooking on medium-high heat. In a blender, puree garlic with lime juice, salt, and red pepper flakes until smooth. Add melted butter and cilantro and puree again until well blended. With cover on grill, cook corn, turning frequently, until kernels are tender, 15 to 20 minutes; let stand until cool enough to handle. Completely remove husks and discard. With a sharp knife remove kernels from cob. In a medium-large bowl toss kernels with butter mixture. Serve hot or warm with grilled eggplant, sliced garden tomatoes with olive oil and scallion and crusty bread.