The last week has been a late golden surge of summer. After a fairly chilly late August, the little burst of warmth and sun was so welcome, fleeting and fickle though it may be. I always find this time of year a bit melancholy, and it seems this year more than ever. Everything is dying, and though we've still got a few tomatoes hanging on for dear life, our little balcony garden is as good a reminder of this as anything.
The season is in flux at the farmer's market as well. There are a few winter squash popping up, welcome globes of orange and green, and there is still the sunny sweetness of late summer corn.
We buy half a dozen cobs each time we are at the market, even though we are just two. On Sundays we've been steaming them all, and eating a cob each, hot, buttery, and salted. The rest goes into the fridge, the kernels sheared into salads during the week.
I've been playing around with a corn on toast thing for a while and have finally got it just right. I've been craving comfort food something fierce lately, and for some reason the idea of hot corn on toast is pretty much the most comforting thing I could think of.
This recipe has that kind of magic that happens when you make a quick white sauce - there's a little bit of butter and a little bit of flour and a little bit of 1% milk - a simple combination, that when coupled with some aromatics turns into something that's practically perfect.
And when you fold sweet late summer corn kernels into this business and then spoon the whole hot mess over whole grain toast, you've got yourself one fine toast for dinner meal. There's a little heat from a pinch of red pepper flakes, a nice roundedness from mellowed garlic, and the sweetness of the corn, I tell ya, it's practically indulgent.
Although this recipe is a bit more involved than any toast for dinner we've done previously, it can still easily go from idea to into your belly in about 15 minutes. If you can't wait that long there is a shortcut, but it isn't nearly as good. During desperate times, though, simply whisk a couple of eggs, add half a cup of corn kernels and a bit of shredded cheese, and have yourself a corn scramble. It'll do in a pinch.
Corn! Scientifically known as Zea Mays which is a nod to its ancient moniker maize, this late summer grass has a lot to offer. I love corn for the digestive lesson it gives us - what goes in must come out - and those tough little cellulose casings can't be broken down by our digestive acids. So chew your food! Recent research has shown that the fiberous portion of corn can support the growth of friendly bacteria in our large intestine and can also be transformed by these bacteria into short-chain fatty acids, which can supply energy to our intestinal cells and help lower our risk of colon cancer. The fiber : protein combination in corn is helpful for stabilizing blood sugar as it moderates the passage of food through the digestive tract. Additionally, corn is a phytonutrient rich food with a plethora of antioxidant benefits. Of course different colours of corn (yellow, blue, red, etc) will yield different phytonutrients, but the most common varietal of yellow corn is rich in carotenoids. Furthermore, the overall antioxidant protection of corn is linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Let's also note that corn is a good source of niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folate and vitamins B-6, E and K, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. Corn is an industrialized crop which has been heavily genetically modified. Seek out local and organic corn whenever possible.
toast for dinner - spiced corn on toast
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ a medium onion diced
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- ¾ cup 1% milk
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cups corn kernels sliced from 2 cobs of corn or 2 cups frozen kernels
- 2 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- 4 slices whole grain toast
- Set a saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add the butter and let it melt slightly, then add the onions.
- Cook onions until they are translucent and are beginning to take on a bit of colour, about 5 minutes.
- Add the crushed garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Sprinkle the all purpose flour over the top and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the milk and stir well to incorporate the flour. Stir constantly to avoid burning the milk.
- When the sauce begins to thicken, after 1-2 minutes, add the red pepper flakes, corn kernels, and Parmesan.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and allow the sauce to cook for 3-5 minutes more, so the sauce is thick (it should coat the back of a spoon) and the corn is heated through.
- Season with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.
- Toast bread, and butter, if desired.
- Spoon the hot corn over toast, and serve immediately.