Category Archives: Corn

The many paths to corn chowder

http://www.locavorious.com/many-paths-to-corn-chowder

Sweet corn secrets from the Locavorious kitchen crew

The time is now for Michigan sweet corn. The Locavorious kitchen team is going like gangbusters to put up as much of that corn as we can. Even after prepping corn all day, I still feel like stopping at the farm stand again while heading home to make dinner. Corn secret #1 is really no secret – for the sweetest, juiciest, corniest deliciousness, eat or put up fresh corn ASAP. Gardeners and farmers will tell you to get the water boiling first, and then go pick some ears, run back to the house, husking as you go, and toss that corn into the pot as you cross the kitchen threshold. Other folks will tell you that with these new-fangled modern varieties of corn you don’t have to rush to eat that corn right after picking. Maybe they are right. Rena’s corn secret #2 – ignore those folks and rush to eat or put up that sweet corn, no matter what variety, right after harvest.

And now, from the Locavorious kitchen, here are the steps to freeze your own fabulous MI sweet corn for a taste of summer all winter long.

First, find your personal favorites….last year I wandered the farmers markets tasting raw ears of corn, and getting to know what was out there, who was growing what. Corn secret #3 – eat those early harvest sweet corns fresh, and find a longer growing variety for freezing.

Here’s a photo from right behind the corn stand on Geddes Rd at Harris. My not-so-secret-anymore favorite sweet corn for freezing comes from Brookside Farm in Superior Township.

While husking the corn, bring water to boil in a large pot. Set up a large bowl of ice water. Boil the corn for 3 minutes. Sweet corn in the pot.

Immediately remove corn from boiling water and plunge into a large container of ice water. Let the corn chill for at least 5 minutes. Chill, corn, chill.

Cut kernels off of the cob with a knife with a long thin blade. You can try all of those specially designed cute tools for removing kernels off the cob, but here’s my corn secret #4 – a good old knife works best. After removing all the kernels off the cob, use the back of the knife to rub the cob once more all around to milk the cob for the little kernel nibs and the extra sweet creamy juice. Locavorious crew secret #5 – cut the corn & milk the cob right into a large bowl or onto a baking sheet tray to catch the juice. You know it’s good ripe sweet corn if you need a shower when you’re finished.

Try not to eat all the sweet corn in the bowl.

Measure out portions you think you’ll want this coming winter….e.g. 2 cups works well for many recipes, and fits nicely in a little tupperware or quart-size freezer bag. When freezing the corn, be sure not to overload your freezer; a good rule of thumb is no more than 2 – 3 lbs of corn per cubic foot of freezer space.

If you get the corn from field to freezer in a couple of hours, it will be sweet enough to eat for dessert this winter. (And if you don’t have time or space to put up your own MI sweet corn, the Locavorious crew is at your service!)

Corn and goat cheese quesadillas

Frozen corn meets spring onions for a delicious dish. I loved these things! The ingredients are simple, local and the prep is fast. What is not to like?

1 bag Locavorious frozen corn kernels, lightly thawed

~ 5 oz goat cheese

tortillas (4 large wheat or 8 small corn)

~ ½ cup chopped green onions

Tomatillo salsa or salsa verde

Cooking spray

 

Heat a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. (Next, I had to thaw the corn kernels for about 30 seconds in the microwave to get them loosened up.) Add corn to the hot skillet and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes, or just until the corn is starting to brown and stick to the pan. Transfer the corn to a bowl, and add the goat cheese, stirring until blended. (At this point, I quickly rinsed the skillet and got it back on the stove to warm up again.)

Divide the corn mixture evenly among 2 large (or 4 small) tortillas, and spread it out. Sprinkle the corn with green onions, then drizzle with the tomatillo salsa; I probably used about 1-2 tablespoons per tortilla. Top with the remaining tortillas.

Get that skillet hot again over med-high. Spray with cooking spray. Cook quesadillas about 1-2 minutes per side. For the next round, you might have to wipe out the skillet with a paper towel & re-spray with cooking spray. Cut quesadillas into wedges and serve with more salsa. I also tossed on a little chopped cilantro.

How local can you go with this recipe?? The Locavorious corn mostly came from Gardening Angel Organic farm (near Hartland). How about some tortillas from the Ann Arbor Tortilla Company, made right in town, with The City Goat cheese from Zingerman’s Creamery? The spring onions are in at the farmers market! Who made a good tomatillo salsa and put it up for their pantry? (OK, not me….but this summer…I’ll put it on the list.) Otherwise check out these Michigan made salsas – Garden Fresh Gourmet, Little Diablo, American Spoon (actually has a tomatillo salsa), Chuck & Dave’s, and Cherry Republic.

Corn Maque Choux

Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and filé gumbo
‘Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o
Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou.

Some friends invited us to a Cajun dinner party last weekend, and it was big fun, although no bayous were anywhere nearby. They cooked up awesome classics – etouffe, shrimp and ocra bisque, chicken and dumplings a la Paul Prudhomme, and bananas foster. Nothing on fire here, guys, go back to watching the game. We sent all the kids off to the basement and got to really savor the company, food and drink. My husband, a long time devotee of New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festivals, declared everything tasted just perfect. (Chef Valerie – you rock, thank you again!)

Of course I had to bring something from the freezer…finally a good use for that corn on the cob.  Cut it off the cob and make corn maque choux, or for us Michiganders – Corn Mock Shoe!  This recipe comes from Cajun Cooking – Succulent Recipes from Louisiana by Marjie Lambert, a cookbook my husband got as a birthday present back in 1991. It came out really well, reheated fine, and made a great side dish.  Check it out:

1 T butter
2 T vegetable oil
2 cups frozen corn kernels – or kernels removed from 4-6 ears – I used 4 Locavorious frozen corn cobs
½ onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup chopped green onions
½ cup coarsely chopped green or red bell pepper – frozen red pepper strips would work just fine too
1 T sugar
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne
½ cup poultry stock or canned broth
1 T butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup milk

Thaw the corn cobs (most of the way) and remove the kernels with a knife; set aside in a bowl, being sure to keep the milky sweet juice with the kernels.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 T butter with the oil. Saute the corn, onion, garlic and red or green pepper, stirring often, until the onion is limp and transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the seasonings and green onions, and stir until combined. Add the stock and reduce heat to very low and simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, stirring often. (This took ~ 20 minutes for me.) Stir in 1 T butter until melted and mixed in.

In a small bowl, mix together the egg and milk, whisking until frothy. Add to the corn, stirring well, until the mixture is heated through.

Dress in style and go hog wild, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou