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Corn season makes for good eats

It’s corn time, right now, so stop what you’re doing, get in your car and get to a farmers market (these are the best places to get fresh corn) or a grocery store and start shucking.

The best, freshest corn is available from June to October and peaks from July to September.

When you’re looking to pick the best ears of corn, you do not have to pull back the husks all the way to the bottom to find out whether they are “good.” Nor do you really need to worry about bugs until late in the season, when the stuff being picked has just been out there since day one. You should look for ears with bright green husks with damp (sticky) yellow to brown silks poking out of the top. If the tassels are black or dry, the corn is old; take a pass.

If for some reason you can’t consume all three dozen ears the day you buy them or you can’t find any fresh corn, you can boost the sweetness of the ears by adding a bit of sugar to the boiling water. Use about 1 teaspoon sugar for each quart of water you boil it in.

Fresh Corn Custard Tart

8 large eggs

1 1/4 cups whipping cream

2 tablespoons maple syrup (use the real stuff)

4 to 5 cups bread chunks (I use French or Italian or challah)

1 1/2 cups corn (from three medium ears)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Grease a 9-by-9-inch baking pan and set it aside. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cream and maple syrup. Mix to combine. Add the bread, corn, tarragon, salt and pepper, and mix to combine. Let sit for 20 minutes. (You can make the custard to this point and let it sit overnight if you want to make it for breakfast the next day.)

While it’s sitting, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until puffed and set in center, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then cut into eight pieces. Serves 8.

Crazy Mixed Up Corn Salad

2 cups corn kernels

2 pounds green beans, trimmed and blanched

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

2/3 to 1 cup black olives, cut in half or slices

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Hot sauce, such as Tabasco (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 head of red leaf or romaine lettuce, shredded

In a large bowl, combine the corn, green beans, bell pepper, onion, olives and basil. Toss to coat. Add the oil, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice and garlic; toss to mix well. Season with salt and pepper (and hot sauce, if you like a little kick to your salad). Place the shredded lettuce in a salad bowl. Add the corn mixture, toss to combine and serve. Serves 8.

Fresh Corn Griddle Cakes

1 egg

1 cup milk

3/4 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon dried tarragon or marjoram (or 2 teaspoons minced fresh)

6 green onions, sliced thin, divided in half

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

2 cups fresh corn kernels

1/4 cup oil

Sour cream or yogurt

In a bowl, combine the egg and milk and whisk together. Add the cornmeal, flour, salt and baking powder, and stir to combine. Fold in half of the chopped green onions, the chopped jalapeño and corn. Mix to combine.

In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Spoon 1/4 cup batter into the hot pan. Cook for 3 minutes; flip the griddle cake over (only flip it once) and continue cooking until it’s golden brown. It should be about 6 minutes total cooking time. Repeat the process with the remaining batter, adding more oil as needed so they don’t stick. Serve with sour cream and the remaining sliced green onions.

– Submitted by Lois Kalet of West Orange, N.J. Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at ztlog@frontier.net or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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