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by Louise Fiszer & Jeannette Ferrary

Corn is a tribute to one of the basic tributes of human nature: no matter how good it gets, we can always find something to complain about. We used to regret that corn lost its flavor minutes from the picking field. As a remedy, we dragged pots of boiling water to the cornfields to partake of the raw and the cooked simultaneously.

Meanwhile, back at the genetic lab, they were working on a type of corn with a double sugar gene that would taste as sweet as sugar and stay that way for several days after picking. When they were finished, we had our choice of supersweet hybrids like Sugar Dots, Honey and Cream, Kandy Korn and How Sweet it Is. Now some say they're too sweet or sugary.

Corn comes in many fashion colors from white, yellow, red, purple, blue and calico. The cobs range in size from two feet down to two inch miniatures. Corn may be transformed into everything from breakfast muffins to midnight snack crackers; from grilled appetizers to polenta cake desserts. In the form of popcorn, corn is the only vegetable one would eat at the movies. It is indeed, a most American food.

Consumer and Cooking Guide

Market Selection
Yellow, white and calico. Ears should appear fresh, with green husks and silk ends that are free of decay. Peel back a bit of husk and silk to make sure the ear is free of worm infestation. Taste the kernel for sweetness.

June through September.

Store in refrigerator, wrapped in plastic bag or wrap, for up to 2 days.

Flavor Enhancers
Chili powder, lime juice, salt and pepper.

1 large ear = 1 cup kernels.

Nutritional Value
Good source of Vitamin A, 75 calories per medium ear.

Cooking and Handling Notes
To cut kernels from corn: stand an ear of corn upright in a wide bowl and with sharp knife, cut downward rotating the corn until the cob is clean. Separate kernels with your fingers.

Basic Cooking Methods
Cook in boiling salted water 3 minutes. Steam for 4 minutes. Grill over high heat until corn is slightly charred, about 6 minutes.

Curried Corn Soup
serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons flour
4 cups chicken stock
3 cups corn kernels
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves

Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Cook the onion, celery, tomato and garlic for 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.

Corn Risotto
serves 6

2 tablespoons butter
3 ounces proscuitto, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 cups corn kernels
1/2 cup grated dry Monterey Jack cheese
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped chives

Heat butter in a saute pan. Add the prosciutto, onion and pepper and cook about 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the stock and cream and bring to a boil. Add the corn, lower the heat and cook about 10 minutes. Stir in the cheese and taste for salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Grilled Corn with Ginger-Lime Butter
serves 6

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ears of corn in husks

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. 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
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh corn kernels
2 eggs
3 tablespoons corn oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin cups. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) 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.

Jeannette & Louise are Bay Area freelance food writers and the authors of several books including Sweet Onions & Sour Cherries and A Good Day for Soup.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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