Summer has officially arrived when ears of corn are piled high at your local market. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been able to eat just one ear of corn. The summer before my orthodontist gave me braces, I ate corn on the cob like a girl on a mission. My Aunt Ruth made an amazing dinner one night and boasted that the farmers’ market had fresh corn so she bought “too many ears for just us”. As it turned out, she bought just enough. My father and I each ate at least six ears at each sitting, much to my aunt’s delight. To this day, I associate corn with the sound of a screen door slamming shut and the feel of plastic-covered furniture. As much as I love buttery corn on the cob, it can be a bit messy. With that in mind, I am suggesting three ways to enjoy corn without the mess.
The sweetness of corn is ideal for a variety of dishes, from breads and puddings to chowders and casseroles. Mary’s Corn Pudding is my grandmother’s own recipe that tastes the same when I make it today as it did when she made it fifty years ago. The only drawback seems to be that every time I make it, my dad shows up at the stove with a spoon! For a refreshing side dish, try Tomato & Corn Salad. It is tangy and cool, which is ideal for a summer meal. When in a plastic container, it travels well so it can also be invited along on picnics or fishing trips. With hundreds of corn soup and chowder recipes in cookbooks worldwide, it is often nice to return to the basics. This column’s Corn Chowder is simple and comforting. It goes well with a glass of iced tea and a BLT sandwich, a recipe that will be featured in an upcoming column.
Just because the best corn is available in summer and early fall doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy these dishes year-round. Each recipe includes the corresponding amount of canned corn as a substitute for kernels fresh from the ear.
Mary’s Corn Pudding
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
6 ears of cooked sweet corn, kernels only (or 16 ounces drained canned sweet corn)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium to large mixing bowl, gently beat the eggs and sugar together with a hand mixer. On a low setting, mix in the salt and flour. Little-by-little, add in the milk while continuing to mix.
3. Using a large mixing spoon, stir in the butter and corn kernels. Once the corn is evenly distributed in the other ingredients, pour the batter into an oven-safe pie/quiche dish or cast-iron skillet. Bake for 1 hour.
4. Serve warm. This dish is an excellent partner for barbecue or fried chicken.
Tomato & Corn Salad
5 ears of cooked sweet corn, kernels only (or 12 ounces drained canned sweet corn)
1 1/2 cups diced Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped cucumber
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon diced shallots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or cilantro, if you want more flavor)
1. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the corn, tomatoes, and cucumber together. Set aside this salad mixture in a cool place while preparing the dressing.
2. Using a whisk or a blender, combine the lime juice, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, pepper, and shallots. Once the ingredients have been blended thoroughally, pour the dressing over the salad mixture. Toss the parsley in with the salad and mix so the dressing coats everything.
3. Cover and chill until time to serve. The flavors are best after resting in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (ideally 1 hour). It goes wonderfully with salmon or crab cakes.
2 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons bacon pieces (omit for vegetarian version)
8 ears of cooked sweet corn, kernels only (or 22 ounces drained, canned sweet corn)
4 cups whole milk
1 cup + 1 tablespoon table cream
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. In a medium-sized stockpot, warm the butter over medium-low heat and add the onion and bacon pieces to sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the kernels of corn to the pot and stir together with the onions. Let the mixture cook for 1 minute before adding the milk. Raise the temperature to medium and warm the ingredients until they are not quite boiling.
2. Add the flour and 1 tablespoon cream to the mixture and blend them together with the warm ingredients. Once blended, stir in the salt, pepper, and remaining cup of cream. Let the contents of the pot warm, but do not boil.
3. Serve the chowder in individual bowls or at the table from a large covered dish.
This post original was published in June 2005 in New Mountain Tribune in my weekly column, Evin’s Cooking Peas & Qs. It is now being reshared on my blog.