August 4, 2010
Today marks Summer Fest, week two. Imagine how excited I was to learn that this week—my week at the beach—is all about corn. Corn is THE perfect beach house ingredient. I mean, summer corn is always good but, somehow, it tastes sweeter by the beach.
Must be the Jersey shore girl in me. (Not that kind of Jersey shore girl!) I have strong memories of big family beach house meals on picnic tables, eating in my bathing suit so that I could hit the beach one more time before dark, and snacking on corn cobs on the boardwalk. So, though I’ve migrated to the shores of Long Island, I can’t think of a better ingredient to be working with this week.
Well, except for one issue.
When corn is at peak freshness, as it is now, so sweet and delicious that you don’t even need butter (yes, seriously), it’s hard to think of anything better than just cooking it and getting down to the serious business of eating. In fact, we ate two rounds of corn on the cob—just like that, on the cob—before I could muster the will to develop a corn recipe. But then inspiration hit.
We wanted something to go with the Pioneer Woman’s Tequila Lime Chicken (my first time trying this recipe on a grill—nice, but I have to admit that I like using the broiler better), and a grilled corn salad seemed just the thing.
But why stop there?
Corn salad served in a bowl. Good. Corn salad served on corn cakes. Better!
I sauteed fresh corn cut off of the cob, whipped up a batter and threw the two together ahead of time. Then, once the grilling began, I fried up the corn cakes. (Someone else was manning the grill.) By the time the cakes were done, I was handed grilled corn and a charred jalapeno. The rest came together 1-2-3: I cut the grilled corn off the cob, mixed it with the other salad ingredients and tossed it with a (spicy, if you’re me) lime vinaigrette. I topped the cakes with the corn salad, garnished with cilantro and crumbled cotija (or, more likely to be available) feta, and donezo.
So. Damn. Good. Even worth skipping a well buttered and salted (or just plain, if you’re lucky) corn on the cob.
Props to Summer Fest for challenging me to see beyond childhood memories on the Jersey shore. To see beyond the cob.
Don’t forget to check out today’s other Summer Fest contributors. Go here for a full list (umm… how to know when to pick corn, creamed corn with bacon and rosemary, candied corn and more) and an explanation of how Summer Fest works (b/c you can jump in and join at any time!).
Grilled Corn Salad with Lime Vinaigrette on Corn Cakes
(can be adapted to serve kids 6+ mos)*
For the Corn Cakes (makes 12 cakes)
2 Tbsp butter, plus more for frying cakes
1/4 of a red onion, finely diced
corn cut off of 3 ears
salt and pepper
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c corn meal
5 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp sugar
For the Salad
4 ears grilled corn, cut off of the cob
3 scallion, chopped
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved (or quartered if large)
cotija or feta cheese, crumbled
cilantro, chopped, for garnish
For the Vinaigrette
1 jalapeno, roasted (blacken on the grill, seal in a bag, peel charred skin off)
juice of 2 limes
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp honey (use sugar or syrup if sharing with a child under 12 mos)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
salt and pepper
1. Make the corn cakes: Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until translucent. Add corn and saute until soft and onions begin to caramelize. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside. Wipe pan down to use for corn cakes
2. Make the batter by whisking together eggs, corn meal, milk, sugar and a sprinkle of salt. Generously grease the bottom of the hot pan. Fry cakes in batches as you would pancakes, making each about 4-5″ in diameter. Set aside.
3. Make the salad: Mix together the corn, tomatoes and scallions. I mixed some cheese into the salad, too.
4. Make the vinaigrette: Finely chop the grill-roasted jalapeno using as many of the seeds as you like, keeping in mind that the more you use the spicier it will be. (This can be kept fairly mild if you skip using the seeds and veins but, if you’re feeding children sensitive to spicy foods, you may want to skip the jalapeno all together.) Whisk together jalapeno, lime juice, oil, honey, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper. Toss with salad.
5. Top corn cakes with salad. Garnish with crumbled cheese and cilantro. Enjoy!
Note: If you’re taking a liberal approach to food introductions, you can puree the corn salad (undressed or mixed with vinaigrette if it’s not spicy) for kids 6+ mos. Or you can set aside naked corn and puree it on its own. Babies eating finger foods can also eat age-appropriate bite sized pieces of corn cake.