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Corn Meal

3 creative ways to use fresh, local corn!

My name is Betsey and I did not grow up loving corn. Phew! Finally got that off my chest. Maybe it has to do with growing up in a big city. Maybe it’s the intense sweetness, hard for a savory gal. Whatever it is, Lancaster, you’ve sold me. I’m right there with you in my worship of fresh summer corn.

 

Sheer laziness allowed me to realize that the best method for grilling corn is to do absolutely nothing to it. No soaking, no shucking and wrapping in foil, no removing sticky silk—heat grill, apply corn from farm stand, turn a few times, and eighteen minutes later you’ve got perfectly cooked corn with a hint of smoky flavor. To balance the sweetness of the kernels, savory flavored butters do the trick. My current favorite is miso butter. Years ago I started adding miso, fermented soybean paste, to summer slaws, and it rocked my world. Miso is an umami-rich food, which simply means a little bit packs a ton of flavor in the same way a little bacon makes everything taste better. It's widely available at our local major grocery stores, and you’ll be amazed and delighted at what a dollop will do to take your meats and veggies to another level. It keeps forever in the fridge, too.

GRILLED CORN WITH MISO BUTTER


Serves 6

Ingredients:

Miso Butter:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 scallions, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons red miso
½ teaspoon wasabi powder

Corn:
6 ears fresh corn on the cob, with husks

1. Make the flavored butter. Place all ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined. Season to taste. Chill until ready to use. Bring to cool room temperature just before serving time. (Make ahead: Chill for up to 2 days.  Return to room temperature before serving.)
2. Cook corn. Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill for direct, high heat (550F).  Place the corn in their husks on the prepared, hot grill. Cover. Turn the corn occasionally, until the husks are charred on all sides, about 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Cool and clean. Remove corn from grill. Let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the silks and charred husks from the corn.
4. Serve. Roll corn in flavored butter. Serve hot with lots of napkins.

 

Corn, potatoes, zucchini and green beans are staples of the summer table, yet they rarely partner in the same dish—sort of.  Replace the green beans with limas, and suddenly you’re barely one step removed from succotash, a Pennsylvania staple that stirs one of two emotions, love or hate.  My version lets the ingredients do the talking, using both fresh and cooked corn enhanced with a handful of herbs, a swirl of fruity olive oil and a healthy sprinkle of salt.

MODERN SUCCOTASH


Serves 4 - 6

Ingredients:
4 thin-skinned potatoes
4 ears corn, husked
½ pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1 medium zucchini, ½-inch half-moons
1 shallot or 2 scallions or ½ small onion, finely chopped
handful fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Get ready. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice-water bath.
2. Cook the veggies. Cook the potatoes until fork tender, about 20 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, add 2 of the corn to the pot and cook 3–5 minutes. Remove corn and add green beans; cook until tender, about 3–5 minutes. Place green beans in ice bath to cool; drain well.
3. Assemble. Cut all corn off cob, both raw and cooked, into large bowl. Slice potatoes and add to bowl with corn. Drain beans and place in same bowl. Add zucchini slices, shallots, parsley and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently toss to coat. Add more olive oil if dry.
4. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

 

My teenage son is a life-long vegetarian who did not naturally embrace vegetables.  Many years ago I discovered that he would happily eat most anything presented in the form of a pancake. (If he had been a converted carnivore, my guess is we’d be saying he’d eat anything in the form of a burger.) Vegetable fritters have thus become a standard on our table; they are nothing more than a raid of the fridge, comprised primarily of the dominant veggie and/or grains, a bit of cheese for flavor and protein, chopped herbs, eggs and flour to form a glue to hold it all together, and spices if I’ve got the energy to be creative. These Middle Eastern-spiced corn fritters are a go-to use of fresh or leftover cooked corn, amped up with earthy spices and an added bonus: I replaced all-purpose flour with chickpea flour which adds flavor, protein, is common in the Middle Eastern pantry and makes these superstars gluten free. Take that, beef burger!

MIDDLE-EASTERN SPICED CORN FRITTERS


Serves 6

Ingredients:
olive oil
2 leeks, chopped
6 ears sweet corn (at least 3 cups kernels)
2 - 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
¾ cup mint and cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
⅔ cup chickpea or all-purpose flour
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 pound arugula, stems trimmed

1. Build flavor. Heat skillet over medium heat; film with oil. Add leeks and cook until softened and beginning to brown. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.
2. Get ready. Preheat oven to 200F. Cut the kernels and press the milk off the cobs.
3. Make the batter. In a large bowl, mix the kernels and corn milk, eggs, cheese, herbs and spices. Add as much flour as can be easily absorbed. Season with salt and red pepper to taste. (Make ahead note: The mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for a day.)
4. Cook the fritters. In a large skillet, melt enough butter or heat a layer of oil to cover bottom of skillet.  Using a ¼- or ⅓-cup measure, carefully drop batter into skillet; repeat until pan is full, leaving a few inches between fritters. Cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels.  Keep warm in oven.
5. Repeat with remaining corn mixture, adding more oil or butter to pan as needed.
6. Serve. Devour warm, topped with seasoned arugula.

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