Delivery of fresh corn saves the day

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.

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.