Sep 22, 2014

Sweet Summer ORGANIC CORN

Fresh organic sweet corn from Kumu Farms
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Nothing is better than sweet summer corn on the cob. Scientists believe people living in central Mexico developed corn at least 7000 years ago. It was started from a wild grass called teosinte. Teosinte looked very different from the corn today. The kernels were small and were not placed close together like kernels on the husked ear of modern corn. Also known as maize, Indians throughout North and South America eventually depended upon this crop for much of their food. 

From Mexico maize spread north into the Southwestern United States and south down the coast to Peru. About 1000 years ago, as Indian people migrated north to the eastern woodlands of present day North America, they brought corn with them. 

When Europeans like Columbus made contact with people living in North and South America, corn was a major part of the diet of most native people. When Columbus "discovered" America, he also discovered corn. But up to this time, people living in Europe did not know about corn. The first Thanksgiving was held in 1621. While sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie were not on the menu, Indian corn certainly would have been. Today, we have a corn plant that produces an ear about the length of a forearm with more than 700 kernels.

I recommend eating Certified ORGANIC sweet corn. It's the only way to protect yourself and your family from genetically modified experimental corn. Under the regulations of the National Organic Program, Certified Organic farmers are not allowed to knowingly plant GMO seed. If you want to grow your own ORGANIC sweet corn, there are many seed companies that sell non-GMO seeds online, like Johnnyseeds.com, or seedsofchange.com, and Eden Organic Nursery Services Inc.Thanks to Kumu Farms, a few local organic gardeners, and some grocery stores here on Moloka'i, we can still enjoy ORGANIC sweet corn without worrying about eating experimental food.


Corn Recipes:

Scrambled Eggs with Fresh Corn, Goat Cheese,
and Oven-roasted Tomatoes

Ingredients:
2 thick slices of tomato (1/4 to 1/2 inch thick)
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 medium ear corn, with the husk still on
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 eggs, beaten
2 ounces goat cheese

Procedure:
Heat your oven's broiler on high. Drizzle the tomato slices with a bit of olive oil, coating both sides, and season with salt and pepper. Put them on a baking sheet and broil in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until beginning to caramelize on top.

While the tomatoes are cooking, microwave the corn (in its husk) for 3 minutes on high. Remove from the microwave and let cool for a few minutes, then strip off the husk and cut the kernels from the cob.

Heat the butter in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the corn, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 1 minute. Add the eggs and scramble (this shouldn't take more than a minute, although if you like your eggs creamy, you may want to lower the heat and cook them more slowly). Turn off the heat and crumble in the goat cheese.

Use a spatula to transfer the tomato slices to a plate, then top with the eggs. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Makes 1 serving.

Spicy Corn Salsa
I love salsa, but this is a real crowd pleaser... and it's easy to make. Great with corn chips, put on top of tacos, or fried fish, etc. You just can't beat this spicy corn salsa.

Ingredients:
1 medium poblano chile pepper, seeded
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears), or 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 tablespoons chopped red onion
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Procedure:
Preheat broiler. Slice stem off poblano and cut pepper in half. Remove seeds. Flatten pepper halves on baking sheet and broil for 10-15 minutes or until charred. Remove from oven and place in a ziploc plastic bag for 15 minutes. Remove and discard charred skin from peppers. Dice poblano pepper flesh and place in a mixing bowl. If you are using fresh corn, cook it in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Mix the corn (if using frozen, add it here) and the remaining ingredients in the mixing bowl with the poblano pepper. Stir and serve.

Polenta Cakes with Anchovies
These little bite-sized savory polenta cakes will surprise you and your guests because they are so good, and easy to make as appetizers.

Ingredients:
1 cup instant polenta
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
salt and pepper
7 anchovies, or to your taste
mozzarella cheese, grated
7 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
14 small basil leaves for garnish

Procedure:
Cook polenta as per package instructions. Stir in butter, grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Pour hot polenta into a lightly greased 8x8-inch square pan which has been lined with baking paper. Let cool completely in the refrigerator for 45 minutes. Cut 14 polenta rounds using a 1 1/2 inch cookie cutter. Top each polenta round with one half of an anchovy filet, half of a cherry tomato, and a little grated mozzarella cheese. Just before you are ready to serve the appetizers, pass them under a broiler until the cheese melts, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish each cake with a small basil leaf which you stick into the melted cheese. Makes 14 savory appetizers.

Black Bean, Heart of Palm, and Corn Salad
Ingredients:
1 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained
1 10-ounce package frozen corn, thawed, drained
1 7 1/2-ounce can hearts of palm, drained, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
2 large tomatoes, seeded, diced
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander

Procedure:
Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. (Salad can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Makes 4 servings.

Dixie Salad with Honey French Dressing
When I was only 6 years old, my father had a restaurant with a German chef. He prepared a salad called a Dixie Salad, probably because the restaurant was in the state of Georgia. I loved it and have been making it all of my life. It's kind of a strange combination of things, but it tastes really good.

Ingredients for salad:
1 firm head of iceberg lettuce
2 cups of cooked fresh corn off the cob, or frozen
2 cups of Honey French dressing (recipe follows)
2 ripe tomatoes
chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Ingredients for Honey French Dressing:
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon salad oil (I use canola oil)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon onion powder, or minced fresh onion
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, or minced fresh garlic

Procedure:
To make the dressing, mix all ingredients in a small bowl, or in a blender. Chill before using. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Remove any wilted outer leaves from the iceberg lettuce, then trim the stem of the lettuce. Cut the head of lettuce into 4 wedges, and put onto salad plates. Pour 1/2 cup of corn over each wedge of lettuce. Cut the tomatoes into bit-sized pieces and place around each plate. Pour the dressing over each plate and garnish with chopped parsley. Makes 4 servings.

Salmon and Corn Chowder
This is a hearty salmon chowder that is wonderfully flavored by fresh sweet corn-off-the-cob. It is so thick and good that it is perfect for company, served with Saloon Pilot crackers and a side salad, on a chilly night.

Ingredients:
1 pound of salmon fillets, skin and pin bones removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, small dice
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, quartered
1 10 3/4-ounce can Campbell's cream of mushroom soup
1 10 3/4-ounce can Campbell's cream of celery soup
3 soup cans of water
4 potatoes (4 cups), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper, or to taste
chopped celery leaves for garnish

Procedure:
In a non-stick fry pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the salmon and sauté just until opaque on the outside, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium-large pot over medium heat, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onions, celery, and mushrooms and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the two cans of soup, and water, stir, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the potatoes. Cover partially and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Finely chop 1/2 of the corn kernels and add this to the chowder. Add the remaining corn kernels along with the garlic, and cayenne pepper. Simmer until the corn is tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the salmon and simmer just until barely cooked through, about 2 minutes. Season with dill and salt and pepper.

Ladle the chowder into warmed soup bowls, garnish with fresh celery leaves and serve immediately. In Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Note: You don't want to overcook the salmon, or it will get tough. Use button mushrooms, cremini, or whatever you like, I even like to use Chinese dried black wood ear mushrooms for this recipe. If you can get fresh dill, use it. The fresh corn is key in this recipe, otherwise use frozen, but it won't be as good.

Coconut Fish Chowder
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 package (10 ounces) thawed frozen corn kernels
1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
1 pound skinless red snapper fillets (opakapaka or ehu)
3-4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Procedure:
Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 finely chopped onion, 1/4 tablespoon red-pepper flakes, and 1/2 tablespoon coarse salt; cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add 11/2 cups water and 1 package (10 ounces) thawed frozen corn kernels. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until corn is tender, 4 to 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer 11/2 cups corn and onions to a blender. Add 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk; blend until smooth.

To pan, add 1 pound skinless red snapper fillets. Simmer until opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. Return corn puree to pan. Break up fish with a spoon; heat until just warmed through (do not boil).

Remove from heat; stir in 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. Serve immediately with lime wedges, if desired. Makes 2-4 servings.

Fresh Corn Pudding
I love this recipe, because it reminds me of a good home cooked meal. The key here is to use fresh sweet corn instead of frozen. This corn pudding would be great served with turkey for Thanksgiving, or with a pork roast or fried chicken. One of my favorite recipes.

Ingredients:
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
5 cups FRESH yellow corn kernels cut off the cob (6 to 8 ears)
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
4 extra-large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup Ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup (6 ounces) grated extra-sharp cheddar,
plus extra for top

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Grease the inside of an 8 to 10-cup baking dish. Melt the butter in a very large saute pan and saute the corn and onion over medium-high heat for 4 minutes. Cool slightly. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and half-and-half in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal and then the Ricotta cheese. Add the basil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the cooked corn mixture and grated cheddar, and then pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle the top with more grated cheddar. Place the dish in a larger pan and fill the pan 1/2 way up the sides of the dish with hot tap water. Bake the pudding for 40 to 45 minutes until the top begins to brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm. Makes 8 servings.

Summer Sweet Corn with Leek
I always look forward to sweet corn in the summer. The Lions Club always sells it by the bag, and my wife and I are usually first in line. Sweet corn is amazing all by itself, but the addition of leek makes it even better.

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 corn cobs)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 leek, white & green parts chopped small
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (from Kumu Farms)
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste

Procedure:
Easy method to shave corn off cob: just stand it upright in a large bowl and run your knife as close to the cob as you can get. The kernels will just come right off.

Heat canola oil under medium-high heat in a frying pan. Add in cumin seeds. When the seeds start to brown, turn the heat to medium and add in the chopped leeks. Cook the leaks for about 3-5 minutes, until they are cooked down. Mix in the black pepper.

At this point, add in the corn kernels and salt to taste. Fry the corn for a few minutes (doesn’t take long to cook). Turn the heat off. Squeeze lemon and mix in the chopped basil. Add salt to taste. Makes 4 servings.

Mexican Style Corn on the Cob
Ingredients:
6 ears corn, unhusked
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 cup grated cotija cheese, or feta cheese if you can't find cotija
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
Juice of 2 limes

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Place corn, in its husks, directly on the oven rack. Roast until tender and cooked through, about 40-45 minutes. Peel down the husks. Rub each ear of corn with 1 tablespoon butter. Serve immediately, sprinkled with chili powder, cotija cheese, cilantro and lime juice. Makes 6 servings.

Bacon-Cornbread Stuffing
This is a wonderful stuffing to serve on the side with roast chicken, or turkey. 

Ingredients:
1/2 cup pecan halves
4 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
4 green onions, chopped
Cornbread, crumbled (about 6 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven. Increase oven temperature to 375°.

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes. (Do not crisp.) Remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in Dutch oven. Sauté diced onion and next 2 ingredients in hot drippings 8 minutes or until tender. Stir in green onions; sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add bacon, cornbread, and next 3 ingredients. Stir together melted butter and broth, and stir into cornbread mixture. Add salt and pepper. Fold in pecans. Spoon dressing into a buttered, shallow 2-qt. baking dish; cover with aluminum foil.

Bake, covered, at 375°F for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and uncover. Transfer oven rack to highest position. Bake dressing, uncovered, 12 minutes or until top is crusty. Makes 8 servings.

Buttermilk & Bacon Corn Muffins
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup fresh corn kernels or drained, canned whole corn kernels
4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Generously grease ten 2 1/2-inch muffin-pan cups.

Mix together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Beat together buttermilk, melted butter and and egg in small bowl. Stir into flour mixture just until moistened. Do not over mix; batter should be lumpy. Stir in corn and bacon. Spoon into prepared muffin-pan cups, filling three-quarters full.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let muffins cool in pans for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pans to wire racks to cool complete. Makes 10 muffins.

Hushpuppies
Hushpuppies
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An African cook in Atlanta is said to have given the name hushpuppy to this food. When frying a batch of catfish and croquettes, a nearby puppy began to howl. To keep the puppy quiet, she gave it a plateful of the croquettes and said, "hush, puppy." Since the name was cut, it stuck. This is one of my favorite southern recipes.

Ingredients:
2 cups white cornmeal
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 cup milk, more if needed
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of garlic powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup cooked fresh sweet summer corn, off the cob
canola oil for frying

Procedure:
In a mixing bowl combine all of the ingredients except the frying oil. Moisten with just enough milk to create a stiff dough. Drop the batter from a tablespoon into deep hot oil (350˚F) and fry for 3 or 4 minutes, or until golden (turn them in the hot oil several times). Don't crowd them in the oil. Drain on paper towels. Immediately sprinkle with salt. Serve hushpuppies warm with fried fish, Island Pork Ribs, or fried chicken, and Asian Coleslaw. Makes 2 dozen.

Polenta Bread
Polenta is the Italian word for corn meal. Basically it's dried corn that is ground down to a rather large meal. It is yellow in color and is usually boiled, then either served soft, or allowed to cool, then cut into squares or triangles and served underneath some kind of meat with lots of gravy. This recipe uses polenta, instead of flour, to make a crusty bread that is great served alongside a rustic stew, chowder, or pot roast.

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup lukewarm milk (105° to 115°)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 1/4 cups lukewarm water (105° to 115°)
About 6 cups bread flour
2 cups polenta (not instant)
Coarsely ground cornmeal, for sprinkling
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Procedure:
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the yeast, sugar and milk. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add the salt, oil and water and mix at low speed for 1 minute. Gradually add about two-thirds of the flour to the bowl, beating constantly. Gradually mix in the polenta. Mix in as much of the remaining flour as needed to make the dough begin to form a ball. Continue to knead for 5 minutes at low speed. Scrape the paddle clean, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough until doubled in bulk, about 8 hours or overnight.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, punch it down and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2 to 3 hours.

Punch down the dough. Knead it on a lightly floured work surface for 30 seconds. Divide the dough in half and shape it into 2 round loaves. Cover a baking sheet or 2 round baskets of the same size with kitchen towels and sprinkle generously with flour and cornmeal. Place the 2 loaves on the towels and cover loosely with clean kitchen towels. Let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

At least 40 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 475°.

Lightly flour a baking sheet and turn the loaves over onto it. Slash the tops of the loaves several times with a razor blade and place in the oven. Using a plant mister filled with water, generously spray the oven roof and walls, then shut the oven door. Spray the oven three more times during the first 10 minutes of baking.

After 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 400° and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until the loaves are dark golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Rotate the loaves as necessary during baking so they brown evenly. Cool the loaves on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing. Makes 2 loaves.

Note: This bread can be stored in a sturdy plastic bag, in the refrigerator, for 3 to 4 days.

Sweet Fresh Corn Crème Brûlée
Ingredients:
3 ears sweet corn
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
8 egg yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup coarse sugar or raw sugar
8 ovenproof ramekins

Procedure:
Remove the husk from the ears of corn and cut the kernels off. Puree the corn and milk in a blender until smooth. Strain the mixture into a pitcher. Add the cream and in a pan cook until start boil.

Preheat oven to 300˚F. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the granulated sugar. Whisking constantly, gradually pour in the hot cream mixture. Add the vanilla and mix. Pour the cream mixture into 8 (8 ounce) ovenproof ramekins, and arrange in a hot water bath. Bake at 300˚F, in the center of the oven until almost set but still a bit soft in the center, 30 to 40 minutes. The custard should "shimmy" a bit when you shake the pan; it will firm up more as it cools. Remove from the water bath and let cool 15 minutes. Tightly cover each bowl with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic does not touch the surface of the custard. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. (Or refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 24 hours.)

Preheat a broiler to very hot (or fire up your kitchen torch). Uncover the chilled custards. Pour as much sugar as will fit onto the top of one of the custards. Pour off the excess sugar onto the next custard. Repeat until all the custards are coated. Discard any remaining sugar. Place the bowls on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan and broil until the sugar is melted and well browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Or brown them with a blowtorch. Let cool 1 minute before serving. Makes 8 servings.
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