By Beverly Barbour
Cows aren't the only critters that love corn
Corn kernels get no respect in France but they turn to gold on American tables, and rightly so because here corn can travel almost directly from field to door and really ring the tastebud's bell. In France the corn goes directly into the cow and comes out cheese. Either usage is okay with me, just so I can have my fill of juicy, flavorful kernels moving quickly from the kitchen to my incisors every summer.
For me the easiest and tastiest way of cooking corn on the cob is to throw the cobs, still nestled in their husks (with the silk), into a microwave and nuke them. The time will vary with the number of cobs you're cooking. Remove from the oven with padded gloves and peel away the husks and silk. The silk is much easier to remove this way and the corn tastes incredibly fresh.
Straight off of the cob is the easiest way to eat corn but corn can appear at the table in multitudes of costumes, each more appealing than the last and all guaranteed to relieve the lucky diner of boredom. If you have had the corn for more than a day the sugar begins to turn to starch and you may like it better in a recipe rather than eating it directly from the cob.
Rainy Day Corn Chowder
This chowder is very smooth and creamy. It's quite velvety even if you reduce the cream to only 1 cup and add 2 cups of chicken broth. Garnish the bowls with chive spears or with rings of green cut from scallion tops. Or, you could sprinkle edible flowers on top.
4 ears corn, husked
Rinse husked corn. In a skillet over high heat (or on a grill) brown 2 ears, turning as needed to toast all sides, until kernels are speckled dark brown, about 10 minutes. Let corn cool. Cut the toasted corn from the cobs; set aside 1/2 cup of the kernels. Rinse pan and return to high heat; add butter, celery, onion, thyme, and garlic. Stir often until vegetables are slightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add all of the corn except for the reserved 1/2 cup toasted kernels. Also add potato, broth, and cream. Stir to mix, then bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are easy to mash, about 20 minutes. In a blender whirl the cooked mixture, a portion at a time, until smoothly pureed. Rub the puree through a fine strainer back into the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Ladle into bowls and top with reserved browned corn kernels. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Make this the same day it will be served. It loves to cuddle up to crab cakes, fish cakes, chicken or pork burgers and hot dogs.
4 ears fresh corn
Preheat oven to 400 F. Pull back corn husks (but do not pull off). Remove as much of the silk as possible. Pull the husks up over the corn. Put the corn in the oven and roast about 10 minutes, or until tender. Remove corn from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, remove the husks and cut off the kernels by standing the cob on its end and slicing downward at an angle. You should have about 2 cups of kernels. Combine the corn with red, onion, red bell pepper, parsley, olive oil, pepper, salt and vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings. Makes about 3 cups.
Summer Garden Tart
Squash, corn, and sweet onions on a crust made from refrigerated corn bread twists are a beautiful sight. You can use this idea with any assortment of vegetables and any of the refrigerated tube breads.
2 teaspoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 F. Heat oil and add onion and next 5 ingredients, sauté until browned. Heat corn and milk and simmer about 13 minutes, until corn is tender. Unroll dough but do not separate into strips. On a lightly floured surface roll dough into a 12- by 10-inch rectangle. Place dough on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and sprinkled with cornmeal. Crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over crust; top with corn mixture and vegetables. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake 15 minutes or until crust is golden. Let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Makes 6 servings.
Bourbon Creamed Corn
Great with barbecued ribs, chicken, or with pork of any cut.
1 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
Melt butter in heavy skillet. Add shallots and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add red bell pepper, sauté 1 minute. Add corn; sauté until almost tender, about 2 minutes. Add 1/3 cup cream and bourbon. Simmer until sauce thickly coats corn, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add remaining 1/3 cup cream and 1 cup green onions. Simmer until sauce thickens enough to coat corn thinly, about 2 minutes longer. Season creamed corn to taste with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with remaining 1/4 cup green onions. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
It sounds corny, but ain't summer grand?