I was going to begin this story in a different way, but I scrapped that idea because I really want to tell you something useful.
You love corn, right? Everybody loves corn. But removing the husk, and especially the silk, can kind of be a hassle.
Don't worry. I have a solution.
Just cook your corn — still in the husk — in the microwave for four minutes. When it's done, cut off the stem and an inch or two of the ear from the stem side. Then grab the stem-end of the ear with a towel (it will be hot) and pull the husk off the other end.
All of the silk will come off with the husk. The rest of the corn will be perfectly cooked and ready for butter.
Now that I have that out of the way, I should confess that I made corn four different ways this week and not one of them benefited from that method. But still, it's a good technique to know when making corn on the cob.
The ways I made corn this week highlight its versatility and flavor. It's a vegetable that stands on its own but also plays well with others.
First, I used it to make soup, one of the best soups I know how to make and, to be frank, the reason I chose to cook with corn this week. The recipe comes from the famous Rancho La Puerta, just across the Mexican border from San Diego.
It has been described as the first destination fitness resort and spa — it opened in 1940 — and one reason for its enduring fame is its food. Actually, if the only thing they made there was Grilled White Corn Soup with Leeks and Roasted Peppers, that would be reason enough to go.
Though it is fairly hearty, this soup is just as good served chilled as it is hot. The flavor comes mostly from lightly seared kernels of corn, plus leeks and a roasted red pepper. An assortment of aromatics — celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaf — provides a sturdy backbone for the wholesome and satisfying flavor of the corn.
I might love my next dish even more than I do the soup. Corn Pudding Souffle brings you the best of two worlds. It's corn pudding, but it's also a souffle.
It's a savory dish, so there is nothing sweet about it except the corn, which is sweet enough. A hint of sharpness comes from minced shallot, but a luscious creaminess is provided by crumbled cheese. I used feta, with its saltiness providing an extra dimension, but goat cheese or cheddar would work as well.
The rest of the magic comes from eggs. The yolks combine with a roux to beef up the richness, while the whites make the souffle magic happen. It rises up, golden and proud, but because it is also corn pudding it is sturdier than other souffles.
I stumbled on my next dish in a vegetarian cookbook, and was so intrigued I had to try it. To be honest, I wasn't sure it would be good. To be extra-honest, I kind of thought it wouldn't be.
But then I made it. And I am man enough to admit that I was very, very wrong.
You begin with corn cut off the cob. You add it to a sauteed combination of sweet onion, lemon zest, orange zest and thyme, and cook until tender.
Sounds weird, right? But it's weirdly delicious. The citrus zest blends surprisingly well with the assertive thyme, and it all meshes with the familiar comfort of corn. As a side dish, it is well balanced and wholly unexpected.
I couldn't end my survey of corn without delving into elotes, the dish popularly known in this country as Mexican Street Corn. It is said to be typically sold in Mexico by street vendors, but it is gaining popularity in this country as well.
It's easy to see why. You begin with corn cooked on a grill or a grill pan; it creates a deeper, richer flavor of corn. You brush it with butter while it cooks and slather it with either mayonnaise or crema (a Mexican sour cream) mixed with lime juice.
Add cotija cheese or feta and sprinkle it with powdered hot chile pepper. It's an unforgettable way to bring out the best in corn.