Corn on the cob

Corn on the cob is synonymous with summertime. Piles of green-sheathed ears with fine silky sprouts evokes a simpler time, when America was defined by the farming lifestyle and families would sit around for hours on warm summer evenings sharing stories and peeling away husk after husk to expose the sweet yellow kernels below.

Cooking corn on the cob is easy: simply remove the husks and silk and drop into a pot of boiling water for 7-8 minutes. For grilled corn, soak unpeeled ears in water for 15 minutes, then grill over medium heat for another 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally. The process is simple but doesn’t leave too much room for creativity – however you can stretch your culinary imagination by the toppings you serve alongside your steaming ears of corn.

While plain old salt, pepper and butter is a delightful corn on the cob topping, you can lift the level of flavors for new taste sensations with the recipes below. Each makes enough topping for four to six ears of corn.

Herb Butters: Choose your favorite herb: cilantro, parsley, rosemary or basil – and combine ½ cup chopped leaves with 2 sticks of butter. Blend until soft and spread through before topping your corn on the cob.

Sun-dried Tomato Butter: A perky spread with attitude, this butter adds some color to your corn. In a food processor, combine 2 sticks of butter, ¼ teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper and 5 tablespoons of drained, finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil. Pulse until fully blended: butter should be pale pink. Use immediately as a soft spread or for slices, just transfer to wax paper, roll into a log, chill until firm and slice.

Thai Toasted Coconut Mayo: This spicy spread has a soft edge of coconut to calm down the heat of Sriracha, a sweet Thai chili sauce (you can find it at most supermarkets or Asian markets) that is more popular condiment than ketchup in much of the world. Combine 1 cup mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons Sriracha and 1 ½ teaspoons salt in a bowl and whisk until blended. In a skillet on medium heat, toast ¼ cup of sweetened coconut flakes for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring often to make sure they don’t burn. Top your corn on the cob with the spicy mayo and toasted coconut flakes.

Cinnamon Sugar Cream: Corn swings both ways, equally delicious in savory dishes and sweet treats, and this topping will take it straight into dessert territory. In a saucepan combine ½ cup heavy cream, 1 cup milk at room temperature, 1 cinnamon stick and 1 tablespoon of butter. Bring to boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer slowly for one hour. In a separate saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and then add 2 tablespoons of flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until fully combined and slightly browned. Reduce heat, and in ¼ cup intervals, add in 1 cup of milk. Whisk thoroughly the entire time, then increase heat to medium-high and boil for 4-5 minutes. Add both mixtures together, season with salt and pepper and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and anoint your ears with the cream sauce. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar and enjoy.

Image: Panegyrics of Granovetter