Enjoying summer, kernel after kernel

We look forward to corn season all year long. Harvested at the peak of ripeness, corn is great boiled, grilled, sauted or simply raw.

How to choose and store corn

Peeling leaves back to peek at the kernels is not proper corn buying etiquette. Doing this makes the cob become shrivelled and starchy sooner. A good cob can be chosen without disturbing it.

First, look at the top of the husk for tiny brown worm holes. Next, feel the cob through the husk. You want plump full kernels with rows that are close to each other. Check the silk. It should be soft, not dry and black. The husk should be bright green, moist and tightly wrapped against the cob.

Fresh-picked corn is best. If you cannot eat it that day, it can be stored up to two days in the husk in a plastic bag or the crisper drawer. For longer storage, blanch in boiling water for two minutes, shock in ice cold water, drain and freeze.

How to grill corn

Remove outer dry leaves and peel back the others to remove the silk. Push back the leaves to cover the cob and place on a hot grill. Watch carefully and turn as it chars. Serve with soft butter, plain or flavoured. Try these ideas for flavoured butter

1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter with 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 mL) finely chopped canned chipotle chiles and two teaspoons (10 mL) fresh lime juice.

Whisk 1/4 cup (60 mL) vegetable oil, 1/3 cup (75 mL) grated Parmesan cheese, one minced garlic clove, one tablespoon (15 mL) fresh lime juice, one teaspoon (5 mL) ground cumin, 1/4 c. (60 mL) chopped fresh cilantro, 1/2 tsp. (2 mL) hot pepper sauce.

Add chili powder to softened butter, to taste.

Corn Salsa

  • 3 cobs corn, grilled and kernels cut from cob
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed398 mL
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped cilantro 125 mL
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh lime juice 60 mL
  • 2 tbsp. olive or canola oil 30 mL
  • 1 tomato, diced and drained, optional
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced, optional
  • salt to taste

Combine ingredients. It is best if made an hour or more in advance so the flavours come together. Refrigerate until served.

Sweet Corn and Poblano Soup

Poblano chiles are mild with few seeds. Grill over coals until blackened, remove to a paper or plastic bag and let steam until cool enough to handle. Peel off the charred skin, then remove seeds and chop.

  • 3 large cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • vegetable oil for coating garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander seeds 1 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds 1 mL
  • 3 sweet onions
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil 10 mL
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeno chile
  • 2 fresh poblano chiles, roasted and peeled
  • 3 cobs corn
  • 6 c. chicken stock 1.5 L
  • 1 c. heavy cream 250 mL
  • 12 long fresh cilantro sprigs, tied with string
  • 2-3 tbsp. fresh lime juice 30-45 mL
  • 1 red sweet pepper, roasted and peeled

Grill poblano, red sweet peppers and corn over a hot barbecue until peppers are blackened and corn is slightly charred.
When cool enough to work with, remove the charred skin, stem, seeds and ribs from peppers. Coat garlic lightly with vegetable oil and wrap in foil. Cook on the barbecue until soft, about 15 minutes.
In a small heavy skillet, dry toast coriander and cumin seeds over moderately high heat, stirring until fragrant. Grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle.

Chop onions and cook with two tablespoons (30 mL) oil in a heavy Dutch oven until softened. Remove about one third of the onions to a bowl and set aside. Wearing rubber gloves, remove seeds and dice jalapeno. Chop roasted poblanos and red pepper. Remove kernels from the cobs of corn and set cobs aside.
Add jalapeno, one cup of corn kernels to the pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, two minutes. Add ground spices, one-half cup of poblanos. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook two minutes.
Break reserved corn cobs into thirds and add to pot, then add chicken stock. Simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes. Discard corn cobs. Squeeze garlic pulp from skins and stir in. Puree soup in a blender.
Transfer pureed soup back to the Dutch oven, with cilantro and lime juice. Add remaining poblano, onions, corn and red pepper and heat over moderate heat. Add cream and heat to hot but not to a boil. Discard cilantro and serve immediately. It will keep refrigerated for three days.

Tex Mex Cornbread

  • 2 c. cornmeal, yellow or white 50 mL
  • 2 tbsp. all purpose flour 30 mL
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder 15 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/4 c. diced roasted poblano peppers 60 mL
  • 1/4 c. diced onion 60 mL
  • 1/2 c. fire roasted corn kernels 125 mL
  • 1/2 finely diced jalapeno, without seeds
  • 1/2 c. cheddar cheese 125 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. buttermilk 375 mL
  • 1 large egg

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Place a 12-inch (30 cm) cast iron skillet with two tablespoons (30 mL) cooking oil in the hot oven for five minutes.
Combine dry ingredients with chopped peppers and onion. Com-bine buttermilk and egg in another bowl and whisk lightly. Add cheese to buttermilk mixture.
When the cast iron skillet is preheated, mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Mix only until all ingredients are incorporated. Pour into hot skillet and bake in the oven for 12 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes before serving.

Corn and Zucchini Salad with Feta

Squash blossoms wilt quickly so toss salad just before serving.

  • 4 cobs corn, grilled and sliced from the cobs
  • 4 small zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise to make ribbons
  • 8 – 10 zucchini blossoms, torn into large pieces
  • 1/4 c. coarsely chopped fresh basil or mint 60 mL
  • 1/4 c. coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley 60 mL
  • 1/3 c. salad oil 5 mL
  • 1/4 c. tarragon white wine vinegar 60 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes 2 mL
  • 1 c. feta, crumbled 250 mL

Combine ingredients except feta in a large bowl and toss to combine. Top with feta. Serve immediately. Serves eight. Corn can be prepared a day ahead. Cut kernels from cobs, cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using. – Source: Bon Appetit.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: team@producer.com.

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