As features editor, one of the things I do is set the Tribune Cooks schedule. So it's ironic that I completely forgot I had a story due to run this week.
Fortunately, my uncles came to my rescue.
I got a call Monday morning from my uncle, Jerry Sweet (or Bob Sweet to those outside the family). My uncle Bob Bollas had picked up some fresh sweet corn, and they wanted to drop some off for my husband Jim and me. So with a dozen ears of corn available, I decided that my recipe would make use of it.
I had recently discovered a super easy way to prepare sweet corn, via Pinterest: pop it in the microwave, husk and all, for four minutes per ear. Carefully take it out, cut off the end and shake the cooked corn out of the husk. Very little fuss, very little mess.
But I couldn't write a whole article about that - I only needed two sentences. So I went back to Pinterest in search of cornbread recipes, which I figured would be easy to make gluten-free and would be a good way to incorporate fresh corn.
I discarded a surprising number of recipes. A zucchini-cornbread hybrid looked promising at first but didn't use fresh corn. A corn spoon bread got bookmarked, but I'd never unpacked my set of ramekins after Jim and I moved last winter, and I didn't relish the idea of digging them out and cleaning them up. A few spicy, cheesy varieties of cornbread were up for consideration - in my opinion, cheese is a food group unto itself - but it just wasn't what I was looking for.
Dorie Greenspan's Corniest Corn Muffins
Yield: 12 regular-sized muffins or 48 miniature ones
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons corn oil
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup corn kernels (add up to 1/3 cup more if preferred) - fresh, frozen or canned (drained and patted dry)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg, if you're using it. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, egg and yolk together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. The batter will be lumpy. Stir in the corn kernels. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes (12 minutes for mini muffins), or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.
From "Baking from My Home to Yours,"
retrieved from SmittenKitchen.com
Eventually, I wandered over to the Smitten Kitchen blog where I found a recipe for the "Corniest Corn Muffins." Simple? Check. Easy to adapt to gluten-free flour? Check. Incorporates fresh corn? Check. And best of all, I didn't need to run to the grocery store to pick up myriad ingredients. All I needed was cornmeal, which Jim helpfully acquired for me.
I was able to mix up the batter in about half an hour, including the time it took to shuck two ears of corn and remove the kernels from the cob. (Two ears of corn provided about two cups of kernels.) I used 1 cup of my Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Mix and a heaping teaspoon of xanthan gum. (Sidenote:?I?recently learned that I might not be using enough xanthan gum in my gluten-free recipes, so I?made a point to use a little more in this one. It would explain why my pie crust still isn't as pliable as I'd like!)?Also, instead of buttermilk, I substituted a cup of milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice to curdle it.
My muffins baked up to golden-brown perfection, almost every bite studded with fresh corn. Though the recipe calls for stone-ground cornmeal, which is fairly coarse, I think I'd use a more finely ground version in the future. The coarser meal makes the muffins a little gritty.
These muffins would be great for a Labor Day picnic, or you can just keep them on hand for snacking. I reheated a couple in the microwave with a little butter for breakfast.