8 quick ways with Corn

by Chris Halpin

2018 May/June

Corn is real comfort food for me, when it sits beside a mound of mashed potatoes, butter melting and a generous amount of salt and pepper – the whole world just melts away. Here are some other corn comfort foods that top my list.

Frozen Corn Made Fresh

Frozen corn can have a funny taste to it, but this can be dealt with and it is easy. In a colander place 2 c. frozen corn, rinse under running warm water until it has thawed, about 2 minutes. Place the corn in a microwavable bowl and cover with cool water, add 1 t. salt and 1 t. sugar, mix to dissolve. Let this stand for at least 10 minute and up to 1 hour. Drain, cover with a plate and heat in the microwave for 1 minute, stir and do a minute more. Drain and serve. Serves 4.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

I find that a lot of people think that fresh corn has to be cooked for a long time. In fact, not true. Grilled corn on the cob in the summer is heavenly and so simple. In your hand place about 1 t. of canola oil and coat a peeled corn on the cob, repeat this 3 more times. Place them onto a hot grill and turn every 2 minutes, until the corn is evenly scorched.
Makes 4 cobs.

City Palate, guide to the good life in Calgary quick ways with 2018-05-06 Grilled Corn on the Cob

Roasted Corn Salsa

I love salsas of all kinds. This one is bright and fresh. Place a skillet over high heat and allow the pan to get very hot before adding 1 c. frozen corn and allow this to scorch. (For this to work properly, the pan must have no oil, be very hot and the corn must be fully frozen.) Once the corn has browned and smells like popcorn, remove from heat. Dice 3 roma tomatoes and blot dry. Rough chop 1/2 c. black beans. Add all 3 into a bowl with 1 t. salt, 1 t. sumac and 1/2 t. ground cumin, 1/4 c. lime juice, 1/2 jalapeño, minced, 1 clove of garlic, minced, 1 shallot, diced. Mix well and serve with chips or over any grilled fish. Makes 3 cups.

City Palate, guide to the good life in Calgary quick ways with 2018-05-06 Roasted Corn Salsa

Spicy Cornbread

This is not a sweet cornbread. It is a lovely accompaniment to stews or soups. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a bowl, put 2 c. cornmeal, 1/2 c. flour, 1 t. baking powder, 1/2 t. baking soda, 1 T. chile powder, mix well and set aside. In another bowl, put 1 egg and whisk in 2 T. oil, then beat in 2 c. buttermilk. Stir in the dry mixture, but don’t over-mix. Spoon into 12 lightly greased muffin cups. Bake in the oven until fluffy and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 12.

City Palate, guide to the good life in Calgary quick ways with 2018-05-06 Spicy Cornbread

Corn and Bacon Chowder

This is a soup that is so quick and satisfying, on its own, but try adding any kind of shellfish and make it your own. In a large pot over medium heat, put 1/2 c. diced smoky bacon and 1 T. olive oil, sauté until the bacon is starting to get crispy, then add 1 large red onion, diced, 1/2 t. each, nutmeg, tarragon and black pepper and sauté 2 more minutes. Add 4 c. vegetable stock, 1 large potato, peeled and grated, 2 c. corn, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Add salt to taste and simmer until the potatoes start to thicken the soup and are tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 c. cream and adjust the salt just before serving. Ladle into 4 bowls and garnish with a little chopped parsley.
Serves 4.

City Palate, guide to the good life in Calgary quick ways with 2018-05-06 Corn and Bacon Chowder

Polenta with Brandy Cream Mushrooms

This polenta will rock your world! Adding the baking soda at the very end makes it fluffy and is transformative. Into a pot, put 2 c. milk, 1 c. cream and 1 t. salt, place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Once this is boiling, stir in 3/4 c. cornmeal. Continue to stir until it thickens completely, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand while you make the mushrooms. In a pan over high heat put 2 T. butter and 6 c. sliced cremini mushrooms, salt and pepper, sauté for about 5 minutes then add 1/4 c. brandy, 2 garlic cloves, minced, and sauté until almost all the liquid is gone, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 c. cream and 1/4 c. grated parmesan. Allow the mixture to boil rapidly until it thickens. Remove from the heat and adjust the salt. Once you see that the mushrooms are just about finished, add to the polenta 2 T. grated parmesan and 1/2 t. baking soda, and stir. Once this is fully incorporated and the polenta is fluffy, stop stirring. Spoon some of the polenta onto plates, then some of the mushrooms, garnish with chopped chives. Serves 4.

City Palate, guide to the good life in Calgary quick ways with 2018-05-06 Polenta with Brandy Cream Mushrooms

Corn Fritters with Sriracha Crème

These corn fritters are a great bite with a cocktail. These can be made ahead of time and quickly heated in the oven. To make the crème – in a bowl put 1/2 c. crème fraiche, 1 t. honey and 1/2 t. Sriracha, mix well, cover, and place in the fridge for later. For the fritters, in a bowl put 1/2 c. corn meal, 1/2 c. flour, 1 T. sugar, 1 t. baking powder, 1 t. Chinese 5-spice and mix well. Set aside. In another bowl, put 1 egg and lightly beat. Whisk in 1/2 c. milk, then stir in the dry mixture then stir in 2 c. corn, thawed. Into a large sauté pan, put enough canola oil to have it 1/2-inch deep. Place this over high heat and let the oil get very hot before starting. Test with a little blob of dough. When it’s a nice golden colour, you are good to go. Drop tablespoon-sized blobs of batter into the fat about 6 at a time. Flip them over when you see a golden ring. Remove from the oil and blot on paper towels. Repeat 3 more times. Serve warm with the sriracha crème. Makes 24.

City Palate, guide to the good life in Calgary quick ways with 2018-05-06

Salted Caramel Popcorn

Salt – caramel – popcorn – umm, what else do you want me to say? This is so good and so easy, you’ll be surprised. Put 10 c. plain popped corn in a large bowl, set aside. In a pan over medium heat put 1 c. salted butter and 1 c. brown sugar, stir until it has all melted and become a smooth bubbling sauce. Allow this to bubble for a minute more, then quickly stir in 1/2 t. baking soda. When the mixtures has gone all foaming pour it over the popcorn and work quickly to get the caramel evenly coated over the popcorn. Spread it out onto a parchment-lined baking pan and allow to cool before serving it. Makes 10 cups.

City Palate, guide to the good life in Calgary quick ways with 2018-05-06 Salted Caramel Popcorn

Chris Halpin has been teaching Calgarians to make fast, fun urban food since 1997 and is the owner of Manna Catering Service. mannaonline.com. Recipe photos by Chris Halpin.