Here’s a corny suggestion: Grab the best of the harvest while you can

Whatever the warm weather outside, we are not stuck in summer but are marching into fall. This brings a warning: Pretty soon, the corn will be gone!

Arguably the most-looked-forward-to item from the gardens in the Garden State is our corn. It vies with the tomato for sweetness, tenderness, must-have at every meal-ness. And now is the time to gobble it up so you can brag all winter to your friends in other states about the wonderful corn you got before the days shortened.

You can freeze local corn, of course, and it’s still wonderful, but nothing offers the happy sweet “Ahhh, Ummm!” of fresh corn. To remove kernels from fresh corn, husk the corn and stand the cob fat-side down, on a large plate. Hold top of cob and, with a sharp paring knife, slice straight down the side of the cob. The kernels will fall off onto the plate and are often still attached to each other. Turn cob and repeat.

FRESH CORN SALAD

All the best of summer-into-fall’s harvest in one dish

 3 Cs raw corn kernels, about 4 cobs

1 medium tomato, chopped, about 1/2 C

3/4 C chopped green onion

1 C quartered and thinly sliced cucumber (preferably medium-sized cucumber)

1/2 C chopped fresh leafy herbs (basil, dill, mint, parsley and/or cilantro work well)

1/2 C chopped radishes

1 medium jalapeño, very thinly sliced (omit if sensitive to hot spice)

1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar, to taste

2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced

½ teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/3 C crumbled feta cheese or 1 ripe avocado, diced

In a large serving bowl, combine the corn, tomato, green onion, cucumber, herbs, radishes, and jalapeño. Be generous with the herbs.

Use a liquid measuring cup or small bowl to combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and several twists of black pepper. Whisk until blended, then pour it over the salad. Toss to combine.

Add most of the feta or avocado (reserve some for garnish), and gently toss. Taste, and add more vinegar for more tang, or salt for more overall flavor. Garnish with the remaining feta or avocado.

Makes 4 to 6 salads. Serve promptly, or chill for later. Salad keeps well for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator, covered.

Note: To make the salad dairy free and vegan, use avocado instead of feta. If you miss feta’s saltiness, add some thinly sliced Kalamata olives.

For sweetness and crisp, raw sweet corn works best, but you could also use frozen corn, defrosted and drained. For more of a smoky flavor, grill corn while on the cob before removing kernels and making the salad.

Leftover salad can be the base for soups, casseroles (add meat or fish if desired) or wraps for lunch or lunchboxes.

CORNY QUESADILLAS

Easy and cheesy, these are also filling

1-1/2 Cs shredded Monterey Jack or pepper jack cheese

1 C fresh or frozen corn

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

4 flour tortillas (8 inch size)

1 tsp. canola oil

Guacamole, optional

Place the first six ingredients in a large bowl; toss to combine. Lightly brush the tops of two tortillas with 1/2 teaspoon oil; turn over. Spoon cheese mixture over the tortillas and cover with remaining tortillas, like a sandwich. Brush tops of “sandwich” with remaining oil.

Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium heat. In two batches, cook quesadillas 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Turn over carefully to avoid spillage.

To serve, cut each quesadilla into six wedges while warm and transfer to plates. For a side dish, if desired, serve black beans and rice. Offer guacamole and/or sour cream as a dip or spread for the tortillas. Makes 3 to 6 servings. Adapted from Simple & Delicious magazine

CORN FRITTERS

3 egg whites

3 egg yolks, beaten

1/4 C sifted all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 dash ground red pepper

6 Tbls good quality vegetable oil

1 2/3 C fresh corn kernels

Beat egg whites in a glass or metal bowl until stiff peaks form. Lift your beater or whisk straight up: the egg whites will form sharp peaks when properly stiffened.

Mix corn, egg yolks, flour, salt, and red pepper in a large bowl. Fold beaten egg whites into the corn mixture.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop corn mixture into hot oil by the tablespoonful in several spots without crowding the pan; cook, turning twice, until browned and set, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter. Let cool slightly and serve. Makes 4 to 6 fritters.

TIP: For a light lunch or guest-worthy brunch serve with:

BUTTER-FRIED APPLES

Place 2-3 generous pats of butter in a clean skillet and heat on medium. When butter is hot, add a large sweet apple, cut into medium slices. No need to skin the apple but remove the core. Add a pinch or two of cloves or cinnamon, or both, and stir apples, frying lightly on both sides until slices are softened. Serve warm. Use one apple for every 2-3 people. They fry up fairly quickly.

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We have a Reader Recipe from Pitman resident, Barbara Coogan, who said this long-time favorite dessert at her house was the recipe of a friend and who declares, “This pie is absolutely delicious.”

She changes the recipe slightly to increase the creaminess, adding, “The only thing I do different is double the ingredients for the chocolate mixture.” The notes in parentheses are hers.

 CREAMY CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER PIE

Simple to make, a yummy pie sure to be a favorite. Thank you to Barbara Coogan

1 C butter

1 C packed brown sugar

1 C peanut butter

12 oz container frozen whipped topping (thawed)

1 9-inch graham crust

2 oz semi sweet baking chocolate (I use 4 oz)

2 Tbls butter (I use 4 Tbls)

1 Tbls milk

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 C butter and brown sugar. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture is smooth, stirring frequently. Refrigerate 10 minutes.

 In large bowl, beat peanut butter and brown sugar mixture at SLOW speed until blended. Increase speed and beat one minute at WHIP speed. Reduce speed to SLOW and add whipped topping. beat one additional minute. Pour into graham crust and refrigerate.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate (I use 4 TBLS) with 2 TBLS each (I use 4) butter and milk. Stir constantly until smooth. Cool slightly then spread over top of pie. Refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.

By Jean Redstone

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