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Elote Asado (c)2012

I’ve got creative recipes for cooking with sweet corn during summer:

1.  Elote Asado

I just discovered Elote Asado this summer, and I’m completely obsessed with it. This traditional Mexican street food is simply grilled corn on the cob slathered in thick cream, coated in grated cheese, and sprinkled with ground red chile pepper. Rick Bayless includes the recipe for Elote Asado in his book, Authentic Mexican (a must for your cookbook collection). Many versions of this technique can be found across the web, but I’ve found my favorite method is to buy the freshest corn I can get my hands on at the local farmer’s market, remove the husk, brush the ears with olive oil and toss them on a grill for about 12 minutes, turning occasionally, until it’s nicely caramelized. Brush the corn with mayonnaise, roll in grated parmesan, then sprinkle with a mixture of smoked Spanish paprika and cayenne (I like it spicy). The combination of sweet corn, tangy mayo, salty cheese and spicy chile is just fantastic.

2.  Corn on Your Pizza

Jim Lahey includes two pizzas with corn as a topping in his book, My Pizza. The first is Giardiniera Pie, a pizza meant to celebrate the garden without any cheese or meat to distract your taste buds. Tomato sauce is spooned over the pizza dough, along with a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of chili flakes and thinly sliced garlic. The pizza is baked in the oven until the crust is nicely charred. Just before serving the cooked pizza is garnished with plenty of raw corn and arugula leaves. The second pizza is Corn and Tomato Pie, a white pizza sauced with béchamel then topped with Parmesan, mozzarella, garlic, chili flakes, halved cherry tomatoes, fresh corn kernels, and basil leaves. The yellow corn adds something cheerful to what at first glance might look like a pizza margherita.

3.  Corn Soup

A good corn soup lets the subtle flavor of corn shine and employs a flavorful garnish to add sparkle. The beauty of corn soup is that it’s quick and simple, and I like how Melissa Clark add saffron to her recipe for Corn Soup for a hint of the exotic. She uses sweet crabmeat as her star garnish, but shrimp or bacon would be nice too. For a vegetarian topping, sprinkle over fresh tomatoes, scallions, and/or tortilla crisps.

4.  Sautéed Corn

One of my favorite ways to prepare freshly harvested corn is to slice the kernels from the cob and sauté them in a hot oiled skillet with whatever flavorful ingredients I’ve got on hand. The corn only needs a couple of minutes to cook, so keep that in mind and add it at the end if your other ingredients need more time. Start with whole cherry tomatoes and thyme leaves, once the tomatoes are wrinkled and hot through, toss in the corn. Serve the sautéed corn and tomatoes with spicy grilled sausages or with a side of cooling sour cream. Another good way is to start with chanterelle mushrooms and sage, adding the corn once the mushrooms are deeply browned (diced bacon would be nice). Serve the sautéed mushrooms and corn with roast chicken or atop seared fish. Lastly, sautéed corn, oregano, tomatoes, jalapeño, and grilled chicken would be lovely in a corn tortilla.

5.  Corn Cakes

I had a tough time deciding whether to include corn cakes or corn fritters with you on this list, and due to my love of breakfast pancakes, corn cakes won out. I came across corn cakes in Chez Panisse Vegetables, where Alice Waters sealed the deal with this intro, “Serve corn cakes for breakfast with fresh berries…” Sold! Corn cakes are made by whisking together a batter of fresh corn, baking powder, eggs, milk, butter, and flour, and Alice’s recipe is the most straightforward. This more involved recipe for Corn Griddle Cakes from Chef Ed Lee of Magnolia (and Top Chef) looks spectacular, with the orange honey butter and addition of scallions, sausage, and cayenne to the batter. Corn cakes aren’t just for breakfast, pairing well with roast pork or game bird and sautéed greens, or as an appetizer with sour cream and spicy shrimp.

6.  Tomato Salad with Grilled Corn, Shrimp, and Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

There it is again- grilled corn. I can’t help it, I just love the way smoke-infused, charred kernels of sweet corn taste. This week I will be sharing a recipe for Tomato Salad with Grilled Corn, Shrimp, and Chili-Lime Vinaigrette that’s a celebration of the vegetables of summer. It’s full of bold colors and flavors- a variety of tomatoes in red, green, and yellow forms a ripe, juicy base. A scattering of sweet corn and plump charred shrimp is tossed in a bright and fiery jalapeño-lime vinaigrette. You’re basically tossing the bounty of summer on a platter, and it begs to be served to a crowd of friends and family.

7.  Creamed Corn

Sweet corn kernels love to be simmered in heavy cream, so don’t deprive them of this, ok? Creamed corn is a true comfort food, and this recipe from Martha Stewart couldn’t be easier. I prefer the creamed corn just as it is, but you can add some heat with minced chilies or a touch of floral acidity with lime zest and juice. Creamed corn is nice snuggled up to grilled steak or seared scallops or salmon.

8.  Sweet Corn Ice Cream

Sweet corn was made for ice cream- kind of like my beloved creamed corn reincarnated as a frozen dessert. Keep it simple and showcase the delicate flavor of sweet corn with this Sweet Corn Gelato featured on Saveur, or try Rick Bayless’ Sweet Corn Ice Cream flavored with Mexican cinnamon and orange liqueur.

9.  Clams and Corn

Sugary corn and the sweet, briny flavor of clams is a beautiful combination, and in Dinner: A Love Story, Jenny Rosenstrach calls for it in her recipe for Spaghetti with Clams (and Extras). The littleneck clams are sautéed with shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes, flavored with white wine and herbs. After a few minutes the clams pop open and chopped tomatoes are added to the pot, along with a handful of fresh corn kernels. The clams and veg are then tossed with cooked spaghetti and served with crusty bread for sopping up the sweet juices. It’s a rustic, simple meal that tastes even better al fresco.

10.  Polenta and Corn Stuffed Peppers

In this recipe for Polenta-Stuffed Peppers, Martha Stewart fills halved red bell peppers with polenta and bakes them in the oven until the white cheddar cheese topping is golden and the peppers are very tender. The polenta filling is a thick and cheesy mixture of ground cornmeal, butter, cheese, corn kernels, chopped onion and rosemary. The peppers can be prepped ahead of time and baked just before serving, so they’re great for entertaining. I can almost taste the cheesy, creamy, peppery goodness now…

What is your favorite way to cook with sweet corn? Share it in the comments section.