Have WE Got Corn!

Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook


General manager of Homestead Gardens, David Hanger, helped his grandpa develop the Kandy Korn


While traveling to many local farm markets, it was clear our corn appears to be abundant. Much gratitude for that as the word is that 20% of the Midwest corn crop may be lost, although much of those crops are animal feed and alternate product use.

Local History

Ever heard of Kandy Korn-with 2 “K’s”? Yup that’s the correct spelling for not the sticky snack concoction, but a special hybrid developed by Dave Hanger’s (general manager of Homestead Gardens) grandfather while working as a geneticist. Dave told me when he was a boy he actually helped grandpa capture the pollen by hand and cover other tassels so pollination would not occur. It was a tedious process, taking many generations of corn to perfect. Here’s a description: A celebrity in the field of sweet corn, Kandy Korn’s tender, juicy, golden yellow 8 inch ears are packed full of good corn flavor. If they are tucked in red-striped husks on 7-7 1/2 foot elegant burgundy plants, make no mistake, it’s Kandy Korn! Burpee still sells the seeds so you’ll have to grow your own to taste it here in the Chesapeake as it is more common in the Midwest where folks love the yellow kernels. We seem to favor the Silver Queen in the Mid-Atlantic.

Many thanks to Calvert Farms of Rising Sun, MD for supplying the tomatoes and corn for this the delicious recipes of this post.

Grilled Corn with Roasted Garlic Herb Butter

Serves 6

The good amount of roasted garlic is rich and creamy which extends the buttery flavor. Fresh herbs enhance the character for a luscious creamy spread.

  • 2 heads of garlic, roasted and brown
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano
  • 1/4 cup chopped tarragon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 large ears of corn, in the husks

Squeeze the roasted garlic into a bowl. Stir in the lemon zest, butter, cilantro, tarragon and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Light a grill. Peel back the corn husks, keeping them attached. Discard the silk. Spread the herbed garlic all over the corn. Fold the husks back over the corn and tie the tops with string. Wrap the corn in foil.

Grill the corn over moderate heat, turning, until the kernels feel tender, 15 minutes. Remove the foil. Grill the ears over moderately high heat, turning, until the husks are nicely charred, 5 minutes, then serve.

Yellow Corn Pancakes with Smoked Salmon

Serves 4

There’s a lot of hoopla going on the web about fresh corn pancakes-and why not? My top inspiration was Bobbie Flay’s recipe (as it was for many others), however the mango creme fraiche sauce was a bit more than I thought necessary. Instead, I actually topped the corn pancakes with a dollop of lebnah (yogurt cheese), which I made by straining thick plain yogurt. A fresh ripe tomato slice, the smoked salmon and some shreds of fresh basil were absolutely perfect. The sauce is included anyway if you want to get snazzy.

Yellow Corn Pancakes

  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 24 paper-thin slices smoked salmon
  • Fresh basil leaves

In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and honey. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and melted butter, add the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined.

Heat a large nonstick sauté pan over high heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Working in batches, drop the batter by spoonfuls to make twelve 3-inch pancakes. Wipe the pan out with a paper towel and spray with nonstick cooking spray between batches. Cook pancakes until light brown on both sides and set aside, stacked and covered with foil.

Place a pancake on each plate, top with a slice of tomato, a dollop of lebnah, smoked salmon and shreds of fresh basil.

or Place a pancake on each plate, spread 1 tablespoon of the creme fraiche over each pancake, and place 2 slices of salmon on top. Top with another teaspoon of the crème fraiche and garnish with a basil or cilantro leaf.

Bobie Flay’s Mango-Serrano Creme Fraiche

  • ¾ cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 or 2 roasted serrano pepper, finely diced (depending on how spicy you prefer it)
  • ½ ripe mango, peeled, seeded and finely diced
  • Honey (to taste depending on how sweet the mango is)
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine the creme fraiche, serrano, mango (honey, if needed) and red onion in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Grilled Turkey Breast with Smoked Tomato Charred Corn Salsa

A local farmer had some turkey breast to offer and I knew this would be an unexpected treat when grilled for summer tasting. First, I cut the bone out of the turkey breast,  brined it in a bath of simply water, salt and sugar overnight in the refrigerator. Then I grilled it. Of course the salsa was the perfect complement.


makes about 3 1/2 cups

  • 1 pound-5-medium vine-ripened tomatoes, red, orange, or both
  • ½ pound smoked tomatoes (recipe below)
  • 2 cups grilled corn on the corn, kernels removed
  • 1 fresh serrano or jalapeño pepper
  • ¼ medium onion, preferably white
  • ½ cup fresh finely chopped cilantro sprigs, optional
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Quarter and seed tomatoes. Cut tomatoes into ¼-inch dice and transfer to a bowl. Wearing rubber gloves, seed, and finely chop the pepper. Finely chop enough onion to measure ¼ cup. Finely chop the cilantro. Stir the corn, chopped pepper, onion, cilantro, and garlic into tomatoes with the lime juice, salt, and pepper. Salsa may be made 1 hour ahead and kept at cool room temperature.

Rita’s Indoor Stovetop Smoking Method 

Here in the Mid-Atlantic, the winters are fairly mild (2010 being a major exception) so I keep my grill active, even through a bit of snow. It always has been my modus operandi to grill year-round. However, with my love of smoky grilled foods, I have also adapted some indoor smoking techniques to create that deep, rich, earthy character without creating a room full of smoke. I used this indoor stovetop technique to test the Hoisin Citrus-Tea Smoked Chicken (page 135), but I originally developed the process for the Stovetop Smoked Tomatoes I prepared on an Emeril Lagasse television show.

My stovetop smoking method is excellent for tomatoes and perfect for a number of veggies, poultry, or seafood. I use a simple wok set-up, a small rack (close to the size found in a toaster oven), heavy aluminum foil, and aromatics, such as green herbs, rice, and white sugar (brown sugar would burn too quickly), for adding scent to the smoke. for the wok:

In a small bowl, create the smoking mixture by combining a small amount of rice, tea leaves, and sugar. Line the wok with a sheet of heavy foil (enough to fit inside the wok) and spray the foil with an olive oil cooking spray. Place the wok over high heat and add the smoking mixture, then add fruitwood leaves and sprigs; make sure not to make the pile too heavy because air circulation is necessary. Cover with a lid.

When small bursts of smoke begin to rise, place the rack holding the tomatoes or other food over the smoke source, cover with the foil—allow a small, gentle wisp of smoke to escape—and cook about 12 minutes on medium-high heat.

Remove the entire setup from the heat, but leave covered an additional 5 minutes or longer to infuse with smoky flavor.