Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Finally - Fresh Corn

Fresh local corn from Brentwood has finally arrived at the farmer’s market this week. When I saw that pile of bright green husks on Sunday, I immediately began to mentally rearrange the week’s menus to accommodate the corn. Five ears for a $1. Summer is here at last.

Corn on the cob is great, but so is variety. I discovered a salad recipe that is perfect for the season – arugula, basil, cherry tomatoes and corn with Parmesan cheese and a vinaigrette dressing. Last summer while preparing it for dinner, I asked Larry to slice the corn kernels off the cob for me since he likes wielding his large chef’s knife at any opportunity. When he was finished, he asked where he should put the tender juicy kernels now in a pile on the cutting board. “Just throw them in the salad,” I replied. He was horrified. “Aren’t you going to cook it? I don’t eat raw corn!” he almost shrieked. “Surprise!” I said. “ You’ve been eating it raw all summer and loving it.”

I also have several corn soups that I make, but this is my all time favorite. I got it from Chef Charles Vollmar in a food and wine pairing class I took at the Professional Culinary Institute. I’ve changed it slightly based on what is convenient for me and adapted it for a smaller quantity (3 main course servings), but he really deserves the credit. Enjoy it with a crisp Fume Blanc. 2007 Dry Creek was his suggestion and I am in agreement. We had the 2008 tonight and it was also just fine. This soup and salad make a perfect patio dinner for a summer evening.

White Corn and Sun-Dried Tomato Chowder with Goat Cheese Crostini
3 ears corn, kernels removed, cobs reserved
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion diced
1 clove garlic diced
1/2 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground tumeric
1/2 Tbsp lemon zest, divided
2 cups low salt chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated in warm water and coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3 oz fresh goat cheese
1 Tbsp minced chives
baguette, cut into diagonal slices

In a heavy-bottomed stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, thyme, cumin, tumeric and half the lemon zest. Saute for 5-6 minutes. Add corn kernels and reserved cobs, chicken stock and wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook covered, for 20 minutes. Remove and discard cobs.

Add lemon juice and creme fraiche.  Using a blender or handblender, puree the soup. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Reheat if necessary. Salt and pepper to taste.

For crostini:
Combine the goat cheese, chives and remaining lemon zest and liberally top the baguette slices with the cheese mixture. Place under the broiler until cheese is slightly browned.

To serve, place the crostini into the bowl with the soup.

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