Monday, August 18, 2008

what do you do with fresh corn?

o.k. here we go..week four of the food fest...we have covered zucchini & cucumbers, green beans..last week was tomatoes...and this week..fresh corn.. i knew this would be a tough week for me. every year, when the july and august food magazines are delivered, i read all the corn recipes..i dog ear the pages, copy down the ingredients needed for a shopping list, purchase said ingredients..and then..at the last minute..decide to just boil, roast or grill the corn on the cob..and eat it that way..i have created a number of different corn toppings..and cannot get enough..corn season is so short...so i never actually do the salsa, or succotash, or corn soups, or salads, or corn relish, or pudding, or all the other delicious sounding options..but give me corn on the cob drizzled with olive oil and salt, or pesto and parmesan cheese, or chili powder, salt and lime, or jalapeno olive oil, salsa and cilantro, or barbecued, or vinaigrette and fresh herbs or chipotle and cilantro..the list goes on and on...i mean, c'mon..grilled corn on the cob with one of these toppings...what is more representative of summer?


so...i am sure that i will drool over all the recipes submitted by everyday food or away to garden..and all the participating bloggers..but..for me...the odds of me actually making any of them are slim... but you never know.
i do think i would win the "oddest thing to do with corn" contest..if there was such a thing..cause the one recipe i am going to post i feel pretty sure will be the most unusual...but first....(you know me regular readers)...i must tell a story..
my great aunt lena was an excellent baker..everything she made was delicious..but she was especially known for her cakes...all made from scratch...each one the best tasting cake you ever ate. one cake in particular was considered the gold standard of cakes by anyone who ever ate one..it was a white cake with cream cheese chocolate frosting.. the cake consisted of 8 thin layers..with the frosting thinly spread between each layer..the cake was perfect...dense, moist..perfect flavor..with just the right amount of frosting..not too little..not too much..we actually referred to the cake as "aunt lena cake"..and she made one for every family gathering...as a family, we started referring to cakes as "lenas"..as in "should we have a chocolate or yellow lena for dessert?"

o.k...by now you are probably asking.."why is she blathering on about cakes in a corn story?".. trust me..i need the set up for this...in addition to the "aunt lena cake" we have a very unusual family recipe for chocolate cake that i have never shared publicly....cause it just sounds odd...but it is really delicious..and it is only made in summer..because the secret ingredient is pureed fresh white corn... yes..corn..if you can have zucchini cakes, and carrot cakes..why not corn? when you puree fresh corn, it becomes this milky, frothy liquid that adds a moistness and a lightness that is hard to describe. i have never had anyone correctly guess the "secret" ingredient...but everyone that has ever tasted it, loves it...i really urge you to give it a try..and let me know what you think... now..about the name??...when my sister kathi was little this was her favorite cake...when she was about three, she was told there was corn in the cake..she started dancing around singing.."corny, corny lena..i love corny corny lena"..over and over again..the name stuck..and from then on..it was always referred to as "corny corny lena "

i have updated the recipe a bit...i love dark chocolate..so i now use dark chocolate chips..the original recipe called for milk chocolate...and i always add a bit of coffee when i bake with chocolate..you cannot taste it..but it really brings out the chocolate flavor..this, too..is an addition. my great-aunt and grandmother would have originally used used a mortar and pestle and then strained through a sieve to liquefy the corn..later, a blender..i use a food processor..which is super easy..and really effective.

corny corny lena
cake ingredients
2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp instant coffee crystals
1 cup white corn kernels (usually takes corn from 2 cobs)
1 cup dark chocolate chips

chocolate glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp melted butter
3-4 tbsp boiling water
1/8 tsp instant coffee crystals

for cake

1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. grease bundt pan and dust with cocoa powder to prevent sticking
3. using a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt..set aside.
4. in the bowl of a mixer, beat eggs until a bit frothy. add olive oil, cocoa powder,
sugars and coffee crystals..beat until thoroughly combined. meanwhile, in a food processor, add the corn kernels and process until smooth and liquefied..you should not see any kernels..
5. add the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix just until combined
6. add the corn mixture and mix until combined
7. fold in the chocolate chips until they are evenly distributed.
8. pour into the prepared pan and bake on center rack of oven approx. 50-60 minutes..until a bamboo stick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. cool 10-15 minutes on rack and then remove from pan and let cool on rack. when completely cool, drizzle with the chocolate glaze if desired...or sift powdered sugar over cake top in lieu of glaze.

chocolate glaze
whisk together all ingredients except water in small bowl...add 3 tbsp boiling water and whisk until combined..add the remaining tbsp water if needed. glaze should be just thin enough to pour easily...
this cake is best eaten the day it is made...

we are having a family reunion this weekend...neither my grandmother nor my great-aunt is with us any longer..so i will be making the corny, corny lena...we will eat..share the story for the gazillionth time as to how the cake got it's name..and..when i share this blog story with them..i am sure they will be very, very happy..and very, very proud that the tradition lives on..although i do think my sister kathi will kill me for sharing the naming thing with all of you..oh, well..family stories are the best..don't you think?
so that is my unusual recipe for the month...i made a corny corny lena this week to photograph for this blog post..gave half to my neighbors/friends, bill and vicki..they loved it..(actually said it was "amaizeing") i know, i know...so now this can be my go-to summer cake for neighborhood gatherings.. yeah...
what are some of your favorite dishes that others might think are really different? please share your stories in the comments section of this blog post..
best to all..and have a good week!
diane
napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style"™

20 comments:

Kristen said...

I am so fascinated by that recipe! Interesting.
I love fresh corn... hardly anything better!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks kristin..yes..really different..but really good..check it out and let me know what you think..

ellen said...

I love chocolate. All kinds. I am always looking for new recipes, especially for a new chocolate cake. This one looks delicious And corn? I would have never thought of this. I am going to make it this weekend.
Thank you

Lainey said...

That looks and sounds really good. I'm going to have to try it. I just saw the pic of Mose, he looks like my Lizzie! I love goldens. Hope you are having a good day there!

madrekarin said...

Holy cow!! That looks delicious! I have to try this at once. Darn, no time today. Tomorrow then. Yum, yum!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

ellen, lainey and karen..i am so happy you guys are going to try it..my family will be thrilled. please let me know the results...
best,
diane

willowtreecreek said...

This looks amazing! I'm adding this to my recipe file!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi willowcreek..thank you for adding corny corny lena to your recipe file. please let me know when you bake one..
best,
diane

Divina said...

GREAT!
I have also seen beets uses the same way with chocolate.

Too bad Italians don't eat corn!
they have canned corn on pizza and salads now as a "new thing". But corn here is still used as feed for livestock.

Patsyk said...

That cake recipe has me intrigued! I never would have thought to use corn that way.

amy said...

I really like the food fests you do each week. Keep them going OK?

casalba said...

It certainly does look delicious, but as Divina says, it's not really eaten here.

As tempting as your recipe is, if I did get my hands on some, I'd just eat it fresh and nibble the corn from the cob. Oh, I'm getting jealous now. I've got a tin in the cupboard - a very poor second best, but it will have to do!

Tom Aarons said...

Wow. What a really original and innovative thing to do with an everyday ingredient. And it looks amazing too!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi divina and casalba..i am really curious about the lack of corn in italy. why isn't it grown there? the climate seems perfect..it is just because it isn't traditionally eaten? could you two grow it if you wanted too? please let me know..
best,
diane

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

welcome patsyk and amy..and welcome back tom..thanks for the comments..and let me know if you make the corny corny lena...

Cris said...

Love corn... my kids love corn on the cob, but I love a cake my mom used to make as a kid. Your cake looks soo good!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks cris..let me know if you make the cake. meanwhile..i am going to try your carrot cake..it looks delicious!!

casalba said...

Hi Diane, It is grown here, but you don't find it in it's natural state in supermarkets or street markets.

It's mainly made into polenta flour or as Divina says, fed to cattle.

Strangely, after reading your post and having the strongest yearning ever for some fresh corn, I passed a whole field of it. I was tempted...!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hey casalba..yes! give in to the temptation..i bet if you grew corn, and served to your friends there it would soon become a favorite item in italy..give it a try!!

casalba said...

Now, why didn't I think of that???