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Corn-tastic ways to enjoy this season's harvest

| Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 8:10 p.m.
Conor Ralph | Tribune-Review
Teriyaki Ginger Basil Grilled Corn on the Cob
Conor Ralph | Tribune-Review
Buttered corn on the cob
Conor Ralph | Tribune-Review
Cheesy Corn Casserole
Conor Ralph | Tribune-Review
Goat Cheese and Herb Butter Grilled Corn on the Cob
Conor Ralph | Tribune-Review
Honey Chipotle Grilled Corn on the Cob.
Conor Ralph | Tribune-Review
Sweet Corn Bisque with Basil Oil
Conor Ralph | Tribune-Review
Corn, Green Bean and Radish Salad
Conor Ralph | Tribune-Review
Cotija Cilantro Chile Grilled Corn on the Cob
Conor Ralph | Tribune-Review
A few piece of raw corn from a local farmers market.
Food Network
Food Network magazine
Food Network
'Fresh Corn 50 Ways' free booklet in Food Network magazine
corn on the cob vegetable
Detail image of corn at the Denny's Sweet Corn sales stand on July 15, 2012 in Salem Township. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

The peak of Pennsylvania's growing season has arrived, and with it, early-harvest sweet corn.

Each July, that first bite of buttery, sweet goodness is as heartening as the first rays of light, golden yellow sun on a perfect summer morning.

Every state in the nation produces one or many varieties of corn. Pennsylvania is the country's 13th largest grower of corn, although more than 30 percent of that is typically harvested as silage.

Every county in the state produces corn for commercial purposes. York, Chester, Franklin and Berks counties account for more than a third of Pennsylvania's corn acreage. Many small-scale farms choose to grow sweet corn, as the initial financial investment is quite manageable and the harvest doesn't require much in the way of special equipment. Sweet corn is also a favorite among gardening hobbyists.

Sweet corn is basically divided into three genetic types: normal sugary (SU), enhanced sugary (SE) and supersweet (Sh2).

The yellow, white and bicolor SU and SE varieties are what's generally grown, harvested and sold as corn on the cob.

The agricultural publication Farm Journal forecasts that more than 80 percent of Pennsylvania's harvest this year will be “good to excellent” in quality. Remember that, as with all produce, the freshest corn is the best-tasting and also the sweetest. Corn that is harvested, shipped and sits in a display for several days will not taste nearly as delicious as corn that's harvested and sold on the same day. So, the best place to buy is from your favorite farmers market.

When selecting corn to buy, make sure that the ears are filled with full kernels reaching to the ends and that the silks are still soft and not dried. It is not necessary to partially shuck the corn while choosing, an action that is frowned upon by most market vendors.

Local corn will be available until late August. Whether boiled, grilled, roasted or raw, fresh corn works well with sweet, savory and spicy flavors and in recipes ranging from casseroles and pancakes to soups and salads. Try something new with your fresh corn this season and make the most of this golden bounty of summer.

Olga Watkins is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Grilling, roasting and broiling enhances the sweetness of fresh corn and adds a rich and primal dimension of flavor by caramelizing the natural sugars in the kernels. There are no limits to how you can season corn after it's grilled. Choose the flavor or flavors that work best with the rest of your meal. The following sauces will add zing to your corn on the cob.


Remove the outer layer of loose husks and the silks from each ear of corn. Do not remove the woody stem.

Soak the ears in cold water for 30 minutes.

Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high heat.

Cook the corn with the husks on for 10 minutes, turning at least once. Put the lid on the grill during this process.

Remove the corn from the grill and cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Cool longer if necessary to plan your serving time accordingly.

Pull the husks back. You can remove and discard the husks at this point or tie them around the stem with kitchen twine.

Return the corn to the grill, again for 5 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until the cobs are grill marked and caramelized to your taste.

Remove the corn from the grill, one ear at a time, and season immediately with one of the following sauces. Move the rest of the finished corn to a higher shelf or the perimeter of the grill to keep it warm while you add seasoning. Serve immediately.

Cotija, Cilantro & Chili Sauce

12 cup mayonnaise

2 limes, one cut into wedges

12 ounces crumbled cotija cheese

14 cup minced, fresh cilantro leaves

2 teaspoons cumin

1 tablespoon chile powder; ancho chile powder, dried pequin pepper powder, other chile powder, dried cayenne or similar will work

6 ears corn

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Whisk together the mayonnaise and the juice of 1 whole lime. Sprinkle the cheese, cilantro, cumin and chili powder together, evenly on a cookie sheet. As you remove each ear of corn from the grill, brush with the mayo-lime combination then roll in the cheese and spice blend, pressing so the cheese sticks to the corn. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve right away with lime wedges.

Makes 6 servings.

Honey-Chipotle Sauce

1 small can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (4- 5-ounce size)

34 cup honey

Juice and zest of half an orange

6 ears corn

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Puree the chipotle peppers in a food processor or blender with the honey and orange. Brush each ear of corn with the mixture as you remove it from the grill. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Goat Cheese & Herb Butter

12 stick unsalted butter, softened

4 ounces goat cheese, softened

1 tablespoons each fresh chopped chives, fresh basil and fresh dill

1 cloves garlic, minced

1 small shallot, minced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 lemon, cut into wedges

6 ears corn

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all of the ingredients except the corn and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and mix quickly with a spoon to blend the flavors. Transfer to the center of a plate, wrap in plastic and return to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until the butter and cheese are firm. You can make this a day or two ahead of time. It is important to mix and wrap the cheese and seasonings before they are fully melted.

Remove the mixture from the refrigerator 10 minutes before you're ready to season and serve the corn.

As you remove each ear of corn from the grill, roll it in the butter, cheese and seasoning blend, covering each ear of corn with a liberal amount of the mixture. Use your hands to press the excess mixture into each ear of corn.

Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Makes 6 servings.

Teriyaki, Ginger & Basil

1 cup mayonnaise

12 cup teriyaki sauce

1 tablespoon light-brown sugar

2 tablespoons grated fresh gingerroot

14 cup fresh chopped basil leaves

1 tablespoons fresh chopped mint

6 ears of corn

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine the mayonnaise, teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, grated gingerroot, basil and mint and whisk. As you remove each ear of corn from the grill, brush it liberally with the seasoning mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Corn, Green Bean and Radish Salad

Salted water

6 ears corn, kernels removed

1 large bunch green onions, thinly sliced on a bias

1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced

2 cups fresh green beans, blanched, cut and chilled

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Juice and zest of one lime

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

1 teaspoon paprika

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

You can use raw corn for this salad if it is very fresh. Otherwise, boil the corn, husks removed, in salted water for about 5 minutes. Remove the corn the ears and run under cold water until they are cool enough to handle.

Remove the kernels from the corn cobs into a mixing bowl. Add the green onions, radishes and green beans and fold together. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice and zest, garlic, dill and paprika. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, add salt and pepper and fold until thoroughly combined. Serve cold. You can also serve this over fresh, mixed salad greens.

Makes 6 servings.

Cheesy Corn Casserole

This is a great recipe for fresh or leftover cooked corn.

4 slices bacon, finely chopped

12 stick of unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

14 cup white onion, finely diced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon dried cayenne pepper

12 cup flour

2 cups milk

12 cup half-and-half or heavy cream

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 ounces American or Velveeta cheese, chopped

2 cups grated, extra-sharp cheddar cheese

1 pinch ground nutmeg

6 ears corn, raw or cooked and cooled, kernels removed

14 cup fresh, diced tomato for garnish

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped chives for garnish

In a 6-to-8-quart saucepan, brown the bacon over medium until slightly crispy. Add the butter. When the butter melts, add the garlic and onions, a pinch of salt and pepper and the cayenne and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the flour and stir until combined.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Add the milk and half-and-half, whisking until smooth. Stirring constantly, bring the milk to a boil, then immediately turn down the heat to a high simmer. Add the three cheeses, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Add the nutmeg and then salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and stir in the corn. Transfer the mixture to a greased casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes.

Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with tomatoes and chives.

Makes 6 servings.

Grilled Corn & Pepper Relish

4 large ears grilled corn, chilled, kernels removed from the cobs

1 sweet red bell pepper, grilled, cooled, diced to 14 to 12 inch

2 jalapeno peppers, grilled, cooled, finely diced, seed removed

14 cup light oil (corn, safflower or grapeseed)

Ice water

14 cup of sugar

12 tablespoons mustard powder

12 cup water

12 cup apple cider vinegar

12 red onion, diced to 14 inch

1 cup of fresh zucchini, peeled and diced to 14 to 12 inch

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Grill the corn according to the procedure outlined above, then allow to cool. Brush the red bell and jalapeno peppers with some of the oil and grill until the peppers are marked and slightly caramelized on all sides. Cool in an ice-water bath or under cold, running water.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, mustard powder, water and vinegar and stir on low heat until the sugar and the mustard are dissolved. Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine the corn. bell and jalapeno peppers, red onion, zucchini, cilantro and dill, and fold until thoroughly combined. Add the dressing and salt and pepper to taste, and fold again until all of the vegetables are coated.

Refrigerate for 2 hours in an airtight container or jar, shaking or stirring occasionally, before serving. Serve as a salad or as a sandwich or taco condiment or as a topping for grilled chicken, salmon, steak or harty fish steak.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Sweet Corn Bisque With Basil Oil

This soup is meant to be served cold. You can also heat it slowly, stirring occasionally, and serve it warm.

For the basil oil:


2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar


1 cup basil leaves

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

12 cup best-quality olive oil that fits your budget

For the soup:

1 sweet red bell pepper, seeded and quartered (reserve 1 to 2 tablespoons finely diced for garnish)

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and quartered

2 green onions, rinsed

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

4 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs

1 can (48 ounces) chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup sour cream (you can use low-fat or fat-free)

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce

Juice of 12 lime

2 avocados, divided

Milk or cream to thin soup

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To prepare the basil oil: Bring 4 cups of water, the vinegar and a 12 teaspoon of salt to a rapid boil. Blanch the basil for 5 seconds then strain and run under cold water. Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree with a pinch of salt, pepper and the olive oil. Strain the mixture through a very-fine mesh strainer and store in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it, up to one week in advance.

To prepare the soup: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lay the peppers and green onions flat on a baking sheet and brush them with olive oil. Roast for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool. You can also grill the peppers and green onions on high for about 5 minutes. Use a blender to combine the corn, peppers, green onions, chicken broth, sour cream, cilantro, turmeric, cumin, cayenne pepper sauce, lime juice and one avocado (peeled and without the seed) until smooth and creamy. Add milk or cream to thin soup to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Chill for 2 hours before serving. Just before serving, slice the remaining avocado and garnish the bowls of soup with a swirl of basil oil, sliced avocado and a few finely diced red peppers.

Makes 6 servings.

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