It’s not the heat; it’s the corn.
Really. Corn, like the rest of us, sweats. It slurps water from the soil and sweats out its underleaves. Millions of acres of sweating corn increase the humidity. It’s been know to push the heat index past 130 degrees. That’s really hot. And really humid.
“Evapotranspiration” provokes debate, but some climatologists submit it’s changing the weather, causing thunderstorms and tornadoes.
Freaky. Or perhaps a freakishly unexpected side effect of large-scale, high-density agriculture.
On these excruciating summer days, take it easy, keep exertion to a minimum and munch local, organic, low-density corn. It’s crisp, crunchy — and way cool.
Prep: 15 minutes. Bake: 15 minutes. Makes: 2 servings
Butter, for ramekins
2 ears of corn, shucked
1/4 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black or white pepper
1 drop vanilla extract
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Pesto, purchased or homemade, see recipe
1. Prep: Generously butter two (1/2 cup) ramekins.
2. Boil: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop in corn. Cook until shocking yellow and just tender, 6-7 minutes. Pull out corn. When cool enough to handle, cut kernels away from cobs.
3. Swirl: Drop half the kernels into the blender. Add egg, cream, salt, pepper and vanilla. Blend completely. (There will be some lumps.) By hand, stir in remaining corn and the basil and thyme.
4. Bake: Pour into the prepared ramekins. Bake at 400 degrees until puffed, golden and set, about 15 minutes. (Stab with a toothpick; it should come out clean.)
5. Serve: Scoop a spoonful of pesto onto each pudding. Dig in.
Measure 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and several grinds black pepper into the food processor. With motor running, drop 4 degermed cloves garlic down the chute, 1 at a time. Stop machine and settle in the bowl 2 cups fresh basil leaves and flowers (or better yet, 1 1/2 cups basil leaves plus 1/2 cup mixed fresh parsley, oregano and thyme leaves). Pulse to bits. Add 1 small fresh tomato, chopped, and swirl chunky. (I find a tomato cuts down on oiliness.) With motor running, slowly pour in 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Add 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Process smooth. Taste and add a smidge of salt if need be. Makes: 1 cup