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08/31/2014

~ My Rich & Creamy Baked Sweet Corn Casserole ~

IMG_2529It's Labor Day weekend -- the unofficial end of Summer! 

Here in Pennsylvania, it is also the unofficial end of our local sweet corn and tomato season. We've had a banner year for both this year, and, this past week, I've posted a few of my favorite ways to use fresh corn kernels after they have been removed from the cob:  corn off the cob!

PICT0005 IMG_2128 IMG_2425To learn ~ How to Shave Corn Off the Cob ~, make ~ Creamed Corn ~, & ~ Cheesy Creamed-Corn Dip ~, click on the Related Article links below!

Today, I'm making my corn casserole -- it uses both whole corn kernels and creamed corn, and, if there was ever a side-dish casserole you need in your repertoire, this is it.  I best describe it as simply exquisite.  To quote my son Jesse, "this casserole will change your life".  If you have never tasted a properly prepared corn casserole, there is nothing ordinary about it.  It's a scoop of steamy, creamy, crunchy, sweet, peppery ever-loving goodness.  It's one of the best comfort foods known to sweet corn lovers.  Once you try it, I know you'll be serving it year round at all sorts of outdoor gatherings, and, indoors for family dinners and celebrations.  Year round?  Yes.

IMG_2536You do not need fresh sweet corn to prepare it.  Canned corn actually works very well.  I'm using canned corn so you can see just how easy it is to prepare it that way too.  To make it using fresh corn, substitute:

4 cups whole corn kernels (shaved from 6-8 ears of freshly-picked & blanched corn)

3  cups of my recipe for homemade creamed corn

Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter:  It's Corn-Loving Comfort Food!

Baked Corn #1 (Ingredients)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2  14 3/4-ounce cans cream-style corn

4  15 1/4-ounce cans whole-kernel corn, well-drained

4  jumbo eggs, beaten

2  cups heavy or whipping cream

1/4  cup Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour for Sauce and Gravy

2  tablespoons sugar

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon white pepper

no-stick cooking spray

Baked Corn #2 (Ready for Oven) ~ Step 1.  Spray a 3-quart casserole dish with no-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the cream, flour, sugar, salt and pepper.  Using a large spatula, fold in the corn.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish.

Note:  To this point, casserole can be prepped 6-8 hours in advance of baking.

IMG_8112

~ Step 2.  Bake, uncovered, on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven, about 1 hour.  Casserole will be golden brown and puffed up throughout.

Remove from oven and allow to rest about 15 minutes prior to serving. Can be baked 1-2 days in advance and reheated in the microwave!

Place the casserole, in all its golden glory, on the table,

IMG_8149

scoop some onto your plate,

IMG_2544and enjoy every last bite of Summer all year round:

IMG_2553Creamy Baked Corn Casserole:  Recipe yields 12-16 side servings.

Special Equipment List:  whisk; large rubber spatula; 13" x 9" x 2"/3-quart casserole dish

IMG_2504 IMG_2508Cook's Note:  This recipe can easily be doubled (to make two) or cut in half.  When cutting it in half, bake in an 8" x 8" x 2" square casserole or a 1 1/2-quart au gratin dish (as pictured here).

IMG_8128Extra Cook's Note:  I like to serve this corn casserole with my recipe for ~ Bacon-y Baked Beans ~. You can find that recipe in categories 4, 10, 17, 19 & 20 too.  Both casseroles are extremely quick and easy to prepare.  Both caseroles bake in the same oven, at the same temperature, for about the same amount of time.  How convenient is that.  I call this a real "two for one" special!!!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2010)

08/28/2014

~ Ooey, Gooey, Cheesy, Chile, Creamed-Corn Dip ~

IMG_2425Newsflash.  Depending on the search words you use, as of this morning there are over one million recipes for corn dip, cheesy corn dip and Mexican-syle corn dip for you to choose from on the internet.  Some are published by bloggers like myself, others by celebrity chefs, and even more by scads of manufacturers like Kraft, Green Giant, Old El Paso and Tostitos (to name a few).  Most are really easy and all are guaranteed to make your game-day tailgate a success. One more thing -- they're all pretty darn good -- just not as good or as special as mine!

The secret is my corn:  My homemade creamed corn!

IMG_2399Generic recipes all use canned whole-kernel corn, with frozen corn kernels coming in a close second.  Recipes that "kick it up a notch" do use fresh corn kernels (kernels that have been shaved from cooked or grilled cobs), which improves the end result dramatically, but, past that, in my opinion, they all go awry (amiss, astray, off-course).  Why?  They rely on  cream cheese, sour cream or mayonnaise to give the corn its creaminess.  This works, but, the tanginess changes the entire profile of the recipe.  Most times, the only way you know it contains corn is because you can see the kernels -- the flavor is drowning in a sea of tangy cheesy goodness!  

IMG_2128To me, corn dip prepared in the above manner is equivalent to tacos or fajitas prepared using a seasoning packet rather than making the seasoning.  Sorry to rain on your parade, I tell it like it is.

Meet my recipe for ~ Country-Style Downhome-Delicious Creamed-Corn ~.  Click on the Related Article link below to get the recipe.  

 ~ Step 1.  Make my creamed corn. Do not complain via e-mail or comment on this blog that my corn dip recipe didn't work if you substituted canned creamed corn. Canned creamed corn won't work.

Meet the ingredients list:  My corn & grated Monterey Jack cheddar w/jalapeno chiles.

IMG_2192For every 1-cup ramekin filled to the top you will need (each ramekin serves 2):

1 1/4 cups creamed corn, my recipe, at room temperature

1/4  cup grated Monterey Jack cheddar cheese, preferably with jalapeno chile peppers, for stirring into above creamed corn mixture

2 additional tablespoons grated Monterey Jack cheddar cheese, for topping each ramekin/serving

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing ramekins

diced tomatoes and thinly-sliced green onion tops, for garnish

IMG_2296 IMG_2291~ Step 2.  In a small bowl, using an ordinary tablespoon, combine my creamed corn with the grated cheese.  Do not mash or smash it. Just "smoosh" it.  Less is more.

Note:  Spray 1-cup sized ramekins with no-stick cooking spray.  How many?  That depends on how much of my creamed corn you have!

Note:  I like to make this dip in ramekins because they cook up beautifully.  Feel free to make a larger quantity in one baking dish, but, to insure even cooking through to the center, the larger the container, the shallower it should be, and, it needs to be sized so the mixture fills it almost to the top.  For instance, 6 cups of the corn/cheese mixture fits nicely into a 1 quart souffle dish.

IMG_2305 IMG_2297~ Step 3. Spoon the corn/cheese mixture into each ramekin.  Do not pack it, just lightly spoon it in, mounding it slightly towards the center, making no attempt to make it look any prettier than that.  Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespons of cheese evenly over the top.

Note:  No matter how big or how small your ramekin or souffle dish, this is how it should look before going into the oven.

IMG_2323~ Step 4.  Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes, or until the cheese on the top is melted and the corn mixture is just starting to bubble over the sides.  This is a spoonable dip, not a forkable casserole, don't dry it out by over cooking/browning.

Note:  When I bake several 1-cup sized ramekins, I place them on a baking pan lined with parchment paper.  This makes it easy to place several into and remove them from the oven all at once.  It helps with any random drippy messes too.

Remove from oven and serve hot, garnished with tomatoes, onions...

IMG_2427... and some freshly-fried corn tortilla chips.  Game on:

IMG_2481Ooey, Gooey, Cheesy, Chile, Creamed Corn Dip:  Recipe yields as much dip as you choose to make, however, 1 full recipe of my creamed corn is enough to fill 3, 1-cup ramekins to the top. This yields 6 servings with each ramekin serving 2.

Special Equipment List: medium bowl; spoon; 1-cup ramekins or appropriatly-sized souffle dish; baking pan; parchment paper

6a0120a8551282970b019aff7d96cb970b-800wiCook's Note:  There is only one way to serve this dip and that is with ~ Deep-Fried & Crispy Corn Tortilla Chips (Totopos) ~.  Make a big batch too as they are great snacking for a day or two afterward. You can get my recipe by clicking into Categories 2, 13 or 17!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)

08/25/2014

~Country-Style Downhome-Delicious Creamed-Corn~

IMG_2128School bells are ringing and school buses are running -- kids and parents alike are in the unenviable position of frantically adjusting to the Fall regimen.  This morning, while laying in bed watching CNN at 7:30AM with my three poodles, I heard the school bus pull up to the stop across the street. I couldn't help but "smile a sigh" of relief.  So, what does this have to do with creamed corn?  I started thinking about my favorite Fall after-school meals as a child!

Allow me to briefly reminisce about childhood & creamed corn:

IMG_2169When I was growing up, our family of four had a highly-organized after-school agenda: playtime, dinner, homework, TV, bed.  It changed as we got older, but, in our house there was always a plan and it required everyone to help make it work.  To this day I am an advocate of raising kids to know what to expect, when to expect it, and, show respect for it.  End of speech -- back to creamed corn.  I grew up eating creamed corn out of a can and I loved it -- I still do -- and there's nothing wrong with that either.  It's good, and, for the most part, manufacturers have left the ingredients unadulterated too:  sweet corn, water, salt, sugar and food starch (thickener).

My dad cooked dinner once, sometimes twice a week.  He made and we ate spaghetti and meatballs every Tuesday.  That was that and what's not to love about that.  The other meal he made was "skinny" pan-fried pork chops, and, he made those twice a month, always on a Thursday (mom made meatloaf on the other two Thursdays).  He always served them with baked beans and creamed corn or applesauce and home-fried potatoes.  That was that!

Corn Chronicles #1"Fried Corn" or "Country-Style Corn":  It's all "Creamed Corn".

Creamed corn:  In the Midwestern States,  sweet corn isn't just a crop, it is a lifestyle.  They'll be the first to tell you they grow the best, produce the most, and have invented more creative ways to prepare it than anywhere.    In the Midwest, when you shave corn kernels from a cob of  IMG_2090corn, smash them up a bit to release their milky juices, and, cook them in a shallow pan with fresh midwestern dairy-fresh butter and cream:  your making creamed corn!

Fried corn:  In the Southern States they refer to creamed corn as "fried corn".  It's a misconception that Southerners fry or deep-fry everything, but, the word "fried" didn't get into the phrase "southern-fried" for nothing, and, because creamed corn is made in a cast-iron skillet in the South, they call it "fried corn".  They also make theirs using bacon drippings in place of butter, which is understandable, since, as we all know, pork fat rules the culinary roost down there!

Country-style corn:  We grow a lot of sweet corn and raise a lot of dairy cows here in the rural Northeastern states too.  Here in Central Pennsylvania, more specifically Amish country, you'll find fields of sweet corn growing next to dairy farms throughout the picturesque landscape .  Like many foods associated with the Amish, Mennonite and Quaker communities, "country-style" is the catch-phrase everyone uses to describe their back-to-basics methods of processing and preparing it!

Whatever you call it, it is simply downhome delicious!

IMG_19104  cups fresh, cooked corn kernels, shaved from 8 large ears of blanched corn

2  tablespoons sugar, for sweetening blanching water

5  tablespoons salted butter, cut into 5 tablespoon-sized pieces

1/2  cup heavy or whipping cream

2  tablespoons sugar, for seasoning corn

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2  teaspoon white pepper

2  teaspoons Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour for Sauce and Gravy

IMG_0822 IMG_0837 IMG_0838 IMG_0842 IMG_0854~Step 1.  In an 8-quart stockpot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the sugar to the water. One-at-a-time, lower the corn into the water. When the water returns to a boil, blanch the corn for 1 minute. While the corn is blanching, use a pair of tongs to dunk the tops down into the water.  Do not overcook. Using the tongs, remove the corn to a large plate and set aside until corn can be easily handled with your hands, about 20-30 minutes.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c6ce352f970b~ Step 2.  When the corn has cooled to the point where you can comfortably hold it with your hands, it's time to shave the kernels from the cobs.  This is quite easy.  For details and tips, click on the Related Article link below to read my post ~ How to:  Shave Corn Off the Cob with No Mess!!! ~.  Note: Corn shaving is not a precise sport. Six cobs will yield about 3 cups. Eight cobs will yield a bit more than needed, but, it insures enough.

IMG_1923 IMG_1916~ Step 3. Place 2 cups of corn in work bowl of processor fitted with steel blade.  

IMG_1918Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and  1/2 cup of cream. Using a series of 40-45 rapid on-off pulses, process the corn to a chunky, thick puree.  Set aside.

IMG_1941 IMG_1948 IMG_1954 IMG_1956~Step 4.  In a 3 1/2-quart chefs pan or 10" skillet, melt the remaining butter (3 tablespoons) over low heat.  Stir in the sugar, salt, white pepper and flour.  A thick paste will form.  Increase heat to medium and continue to stir constantly until the roux gets foamy, but not browned.  Add the whole corn kernels (not the puree), enjoy the sizzle, and thoroughly stir them into the mixture.

IMG_1963 IMG_1960~ Step 5. Add and thoroughly stir in the corn puree. Increase heat to medium-high, and, stirring constantly, cook until mixture is steaming and beginning to simmer, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Serve immediately or cover and reheat just prior to serving time.

IMG_1981In my perfect food world, there will always be creamed corn:

IMG_2137Country-Style Downhome-Delicious Creamed-Corn:  Recipe yields 3 1/2-4 cups or 4-6 servings.

Special Equipment List:  8-quart stockpot; tongs;  cutting board; chef's knife; bundt pan (optional); food processor; 1-cup measuring container; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides, or 10" skillet; large spoon

IMG_2529Cook's Note:  For another Midwestern-style sweet corn recipe, click into Categories 4, 10 or 17 to get ~ My Rich & Creamy Baked Sweet Corn Casserole ~.  It is easy to make, and, because you can substitute canned corn for fresh corn, you can enjoy it year round!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)