Satisfying a Craving
The coo-coo weather we’ve been having here in Philadelphia this week – temperatures in the 60s where the “norm” used to be the 40s – actually succeeded in tricking my brain into thinking it was early autumn again. Last night I had such a craving for sweet corn, I was >this close< to going to the supermarket to see if they had any from California. You see, early autumn yields the sweetest of sweet corn, with small ears that actually aren’t that juicy since the corn’s sugars get concentrated during the cooler nights. I may be the only person in the world that doesn’t like juice dribbling down my chin when I chomp on an ear of corn, but that’s exactly why I like that last few pickings of corn.
My personal preferences aside, I’d all but hopped in the car when I remembered my stash of dried corn. Silly me, almost forgetting! And I even had a new recipe I wanted to try with it that I’d picked up in the tiny bulk foods store near my parents. Half the fun of making a trip home is going to the Walnut Cheese Nook with its rows and rows of spices, flours, grains, sugars, and pastas. And, yes, they ever have dried corn on occasion. Since some shoppers might be hard pressed to know what to do with, say, a four pound bag of wheat gluten, the store is so kind as to offer a pamphlet of recipes and ideas. It’s proven handy more than once.
On this occasion, I thought I’d up the ante a bit by reaching even deeper into my dried preserves larder to use a few oven-dried sweet peppers. I hadn’t done anything other than pop a few in my mouth while I was bagging them up way back in October. My curiosity was getting the best of me, and they seemed like a perfect addition to a savory dish of baked corn.
The dish was delish. So much so I think I might take another batch of it to tomorrow night’s Philly Food Blogger’s Meet-Up potluck. What struck me about this Baked Dried Corn Casserole with Dried Peppers, in comparison to the previous one I had made with dried corn for Christmas dinner, was how soft the kernels were. If I hadn’t made it myself, I would have sworn this dish was made with fresh sweet corn. Only the flavor belied the state of the corn and peppers when they went in the pot – it was a much richer, deeper, sweeter taste.
I am sad though. I only have enough dried corn left for two more dishes. I’ve made a mental note to start tackling the corn drying early next summer so I can have a much larger bin of it. With global warming, there’s surely many more winter days to come with the temperatures of early autumn. No doubt my hankering for sweet corn will likewise rise to the occasion.
Baked Dried Corn Casserole with Dried Peppers
Adapted from a bulk foods pamphlet from Walnut Cheese Nook
1 c. dried corn
2 c. fat free milk, plus 1 c.
2 large eggs, beaten
1 T. melted butter
2 T. sugar
¼ c. dried sweet peppers
Dash of freshly ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Grind the corn in a food process until fine but not powdery. Chop up the dried peppers. In a heavy bottom medium saucepan, slowly heat the two cups of milk until simmering hot. Do not allow it to boil. When milk is hot, add corn and peppers and stir. Let stand for an hour.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Add the remaining ingredients, including the extra cup of milk, to the corn and stir well to combine. Place in a greased casserole dish and bake until done, about an hour. It should be set in the middle and browning on the top. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Leftovers make a good lunch and reheat well in the microwave.