The local corn is here … there … everywhere. It’s at our farmers markets, co-ops, grocery stores and vegetable stands along the roads.
How to pick the best? While it’s tempting to peel back a bit of the husk to check the interior, the most reliable clue is its outward appearance. The husks should be plump and bright green. The heavier the corn the better, indicating that the ear has matured so the kernels are now juicy and sweet.
The best way to eat corn? Right off the cob, hot and slathered with melting butter that drips off the fingers onto the picnic table. Night after glorious summer night, we feast on corn until that point in the season (hard to believe) when we’ve grown weary of corn on the cob. When faced with too much of this good thing, try tossing the kernels into a favorite salsa, or scatter them over pizza or gazpacho. Think old-time corn chowder, creamed corn or succotash.
In this kitchen, the vegetable inspires corn cakes. These corn-studded pancakes are less delicate than blinis, lighter than cornbread, satisfyingly tender and crisp. The simple batter of cornmeal and flour can be whipped up in a flash. Dotted with blueberries and raspberries, drizzled with maple syrup and melted butter, these make a fine breakfast on a lazy weekend morning.
But I like them best savory, sparked with chopped jalapeño and sweet bell pepper, topped with bright cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs. You can crown them with a fried egg, shredded sharp cheese or grilled sausage, but I like them best picked up straight off the griddle, summer’s sweet reward.
Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.
Sweet Corn Cakes With Cherry Tomato Salad
Serves 4 to 6 (about 1 dozen 3-inch griddle cakes).
Note: Spicy and sweet, these corn cakes are topped with chopped fresh tomatoes and herbs and a side of salsa. You might also add a fried egg, grated sharp cheese, and sizzled sausage. From Beth Dooley.
• 3/4 c. cornmeal
• 1/4 c. flour
• 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. honey
• 3/4 c. buttermilk or plain yogurt
• 1 egg
• 2 to 3 tbsp. melted butter, or more, for greasing the skillet
• 2 c. freshly shucked corn kernels (about 2 to 3 ears)
• 1/2 c. chopped sweet red or yellow bell pepper
• 1 small jalapeño chile, finely diced
Cherry Tomato Salad:
• 2 c. cherry tomatoes, quartered
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tsp. white wine vinegar or lemon juice
• 1/4 c. minced fresh basil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• Prepared tomato salsa, optional
For the corn cakes: In a medium bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the honey, buttermilk and egg. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients to make a thick batter. Fold in the corn kernels, sweet pepper and jalapeño.
Set a large skillet or griddle over medium heat and grease with the butter. Pour less than 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle. Cook until the bottoms of the corn cakes begin to brown and become firm, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, flip with a spatula and continue cooking until the cakes are cooked through and the edges are crisped, about another 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
For the salad: In a small bowl, toss together the tomatoes, garlic, basil, oil, vinegar or lemon juice, salt and pepper, to taste. Serve the pancakes topped with the tomatoes and a side of your favorite salsa.
Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:
Calories 225 Fat 8 g
Sodium 365 mg Carbohydrates 35 g
Saturated fat 3 g Added sugars 1 g
Protein 6 g Cholesterol 40 mg
Dietary fiber 3 g
Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1 starch, 1 carb, 1 ½ fat.