Cook: Salute the kernel – a love letter to cornby louise fiszer
Except for apple pie, perhaps nothing is as American as corn. It shows up in songs (“I’m as corny as Kansas in August” from “South Pacific,” “Jimmy Crack Corn,” etc.), and its virtues are extolled in American favorites such as corn muffins, corn chips, cornmeal, popcorn, corn flakes, corn syrup and more.
Of course, a steaming hot corn on the cob slathered with butter is the most tantalizing of all, and often the highlight of summer menus. “Cornophiles” will advise about all the best ways to cook corn to maintain its farm-fresh taste. There are those (me included) who cherish the experience of biting into a tender, sweet, raw corn on the cob. If you insist on cooking the corn: In a large saucepan, cover corn with an inch of cold water and cook on high heat until water comes to a boil. Remove from heat and partially cover. Let rest 5 minutes and serve.
Corn was very much part of the New World staple foods and rarely seen on the European table in its field-grown state. Romanian Jews make a cornmeal (ground dried corn) porridge known as mamaliga. With the addition of cheese and herbs, it makes a delicious side dish or morning hot cereal. If mamaliga sounds familiar, think polenta, a traditional and well-loved dish from Italy.
We may not be in Kansas, but now is prime time for corn here at home. Look for yellow and white corn, red corn and bicolored corn, all delicious in the following recipes.
Curried Corn Soup
2 Tbs. oil
1⁄2 small onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs. curry powder, or to taste
1⁄2 tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbs. flour
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 cups corn kernels
salt and pepper
3 Tbs. fresh coriander leaves
In a medium saucepan, heat oil. Cook the onion, celery, tomato and garlic about 4 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, cumin and flour. Cook about 2 minutes or until flour disappears. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the corn, lower the heat and simmer 10 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve.
Grilled Corn with Ginger-Lime Butter
4 Tbs. (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter
1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
2 Tbs. lime juice
1⁄2 tsp. salt
6 ears of corn in husks
Preheat the grill to medium-hot. In a small saucepan, melt butter with ginger, lime juice and salt. Peel the corn husks back and remove the silks. Brush the corn with the melted butter and rearrange the husks over the corn. Place the husks on the preheated grill and cook about 12 minutes, turning every so often.
Fresh Corn and Maple Muffins
Makes 1 dozen
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
11⁄2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1 cup fresh corn kernels
3 Tbs. corn oil
3 Tbs. maple syrup
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients with corn.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs with oil, maple syrup and buttermilk. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix just until blended. Fill muffin tins two-thirds full with batter. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes before removing.
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