July 29, 2015

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Dear friends,

In 30 years of writing about corn on the cob, I thought I had explored every single way to prepare it. Wrong. For two nights running last week, I had some of the best corn I’ve ever tasted and not a drop of butter was involved.

The corn was browned over hot coals on a grill while a lip-licking sauce was seared into the kernels. Is it just me or is this the yummiest corn in the universe? You decide.

The flavors are Thai-inspired, according to Su-Mei Yu, author of “Asian Grilling.” She developed the recipe after tasting corn on the cob for the first time as a foreign student in Kentucky.

The sauce is very simple – thick coconut milk heated, cooled and combined with shredded coconut, cayenne pepper, salt and lemon zest. It is brushed on the shucked ears of corn as they brown on the grill.

The resulting flavor is as rich as butter, with hints of citrus and heat. The toasted bits of coconut that cling to the corn are scrumptious.

Yu grates fresh coconut and makes the thick coconut milk herself. It’s summer and I wasn’t about to do that, so I used unsweetened grated coconut I bought in an Asian store (check the freezer case) and the thick coconut “cream” that rises to the top of can of chilled coconut milk (Thank you, Sue Fogle, for teaching me that trick).

COCONUT-CAYENNE GRILLED CORN
janesnow_corn
•    6 ears corn, husked
•    1 cup thick coconut milk (see note)
•    1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut
•    1 tsp. cayenne pepper
•    1 tsp. sea salt
•    Grated zest of 1 lemon

Refrigerate the corn while heating the grill. It should be very hot.

Meanwhile, heat the thick coconut milk in a saucepan until warm. Remove from heat, transfer to a small bowl and cool to room temperature (I put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes). Stir in coconut, cayenne, salt and lemon zest.

Grill and turn the corn over high heat or hot coals until the color brightens and the kernels  begin to brown. With your hand and arm clad in an oven mitt, brush some of the sauce over the tops of the corn. With tongs, turn that side down to sear sauce into corn. Brush bare side with sauce and after a minute or so, turn again. Continue brushing and turning three to five times, turning down heat or scattering coals if the corn browns too quickly. Total cooking time should be about 12 minutes.

Transfer to a platter and serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

NOTE: For thick coconut milk, chill an unopened can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. Do not shake or turn can over. Open can and scoop out the thick cream, leaving behind the thin, watery liquid.

Adapted from “Asian Grilling” by Su-Mei Yu.

I served the corn with grilled pork tenderloin, sliced and napped with a luscious fresh plum sauce brightened  with vinegar. The sauce would go well with chicken, too.

PLUM GASTRIQUE
•    2 tbsp. butter
•    1 shallot, chopped or 2 tbsp. diced onion
•    1 cup or so peeled, pitted and chopped very ripe plums
•    1 to 2 tbsp. sugar, as necessary
•    2 tbsp. port wine
•    3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
•    Salt to taste

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté shallot until softened. Add plums and sweeten if necessary. Stir in wine, vinegar and salt. Simmer, stirring and mashing plums with the back of a spoon, for about 5 minutes or until plums are soft and the flavors have melded.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

TIDBITS

Kristi Perry, a mainstay of the Seville Farm Market, sent a note about the annual Zucchini Smackdown.  I couldn’t have written it better myself, so here it is in her words:

The Seville Farm Market will be holding its 6th annual Zucchini Smackdown on Saturday, August 15.

The Smackdown is our celebration of the iconic vegetable of summer. Folks are encouraged to enter their favorite concoction either in the sweet or savory category. Entries must be in place by 10 a.m. and judging starts at 10:15. Entries must include the recipe.  Samples of the entries will be available after judging to the public for a donation.

There is also a GIANT zucchini contest. So bring that zucchini that you have been coddling under the bushes and see how it compares to other competitors.

The Seville Farm Market runs from Memorial weekend until the end of September and is at Maria Stanhope Park in Seville, 75 W. Main St. We are open 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday and are the best-kept farmers market secret in Medina County.  Shhhh, don’t tell your friends what great prices we have and no crowds. And, bonus, we are a producer market. You won’t find any produce purchased at an auction house.

MAILBAG

From Marilyn:
Regarding the question about corn chowder, Martha Stewart makes a base stock by simmering the corn cobs after you cut the kernels off. Haven’t tried it, but it sounds like a good idea.

Dear Marilyn: Yes, it does sound like a good idea. It would give the soup more of that earthy, just-picked-corn flavor.

From Alan:
I can’t get my blueberry pies to gel. I tried flour and cornstarch with no success. The pies still taste great.

Dear Alan: Well, it’s complicated. The amount of thickener you’ll need depends on many things, from the ripeness of the berries to the type of pan to whether the pie has one or two crusts. The last word on the matter was written by P.J. Hamel on the King Arthur Flour blog, Flourishes, at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2013/06/21/fruit-pie-filling-no-runs-no-drips-no-errors/.

Hamel tested a passel of thickeners with different fruits and concluded that apples need about half as much thickener as berries, which are juicier. Flour, tapioca and cornstarch all were inferior to the two thickeners she settled on: Pie Filling Enhancer for apple pies and Instant ClearJel for berry pies. Hamel says flour makes the filling too cloudy, tapioca is too gluey and cornstarch is inconsistent – it thickens as it cools.

I’ve seen ClearJel in country stores such as Beiler’s Penn Dutch Market in Uniontown and Acme Produce in Medina County, along with many food stores in Amish country. I had not heard of Pie Filling Enhancer until I read Hamel’s blog post. The King Arthur product is a combination of ClearJell, superfine sugar and ascorbic acid.

Hamel uses 1/3 cup Instant ClearJel  to thicken 8 cups of fresh blueberries. Those who prefer to use flour will need 1/2 cup to thicken the 8 cups of blueberries. That’s way more flour I would have guessed, which explains why my berry pies are always exceptionally – ah – juicy.

Hamel’s blueberry pie recipe is at the bottom of her post.
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