It’s August in New England, and corn is at its peak, so are tomatoes. Currently, my husband Howard eats a minimum of two and sometimes up to four ears a day. My digestive system can only handle one ear a day. Nevertheless, during this brief four to six week window of summer vegetable perfection, corn and tomatoes rule our table. Unlike most of America, we eat our corn plain, with no butter. Certainly that helps make four ears of corn daily seem like a healthy choice.
This is the perfect time for this week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie! And, this recipe was so simple, not really even a recipe, just a new-to-me method of cooking corn on the cob.
Dorie learned this technique from the patron of a vegetable vendor at the Boulevard Raspail market, one of Paris’ organic produce markets. The vendor spent a long time helping the shopper, and Dorie was impatient waiting in line. Fresh corn is not the most popular vegetable in France. It turned out that the woman purchased some tired ears of corn, which the vendor recommended to roast in the oven.
Whole unhusked ears of corn go into the oven, and forty minutes later, caramelized ears are ready to be shucked and eaten. We only sprinkled the ears with salt and pepper to dress them up a tiny bit, no butter.
I’m sure those tired ears were enhanced by this preparation. Certainly, it did wonders for the ideal specimens I cooked. On the other hand, forty minutes is a long time to wait to cook corn, especially for a summer dinner. Usually, our corn spends just a few minutes in the microwave. I’m not sure the difference in taste justifies the longer wait so roasted corn could be a one-hit wonder at my house.
To see what the other Doristas thought of the French market way of cooking corn, check out their links here. We don’t post the recipes, but you can find it in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.
At my house, there are two definitions of August. To me, August = Tomatoes. To the other resident (husband Howard), August = Corn.
Selections for the first two weeks of French Fridays with Dorie were perfect. Tomato-Cheese Tartlets the first week, and Warm Scallop Salad with Basil, Tomato, and Corn. I missed last week’s deadline for the tartlets, but made both this week.
The tartlets were fun to make. The individual tarts were constructed on disks of puff pastry. I had a little trouble with the puff pastry. The package said you could defrost at broom temperature for 20 minutes or microwave for 90 seconds. I went with the quicker approach, but turned on the microwave and walked away. It got a little too soft and wouldn’t unfold. I just rolled it out with the folds making extra layers, but I had some tearing that didn’t mend as forgivingly as pie crust. But I liked the simplicity of cutting out circles and baking until lightly golden.
As with many of Dorie’s recipes, this one was more of a suggestion than a strict recipe. The disks were smeared with a layer of tapenade or pesto. I tried two of each. This is topped with alternating slices of tomatoes and cheese, goat cheese for me. I warmed the tartlets under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese started to melt. A final drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a fresh basil leaf garnish and it was done. We each ate two of these for dinner, but one tart accompanied with a salad would have made a lovely lunch. Sipping a glass of cold white wine on the side is the perfect accompaniment.
The warm scallop salad was another summer treat. The scallops were a bit pricey, but worth it for the end result. I left out the nectarines, but the lightly dressed corn, freshly picked backyard cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil coulis were packed with flavor. The vegetables surrounded the seared scallops which were the star in the center of the plate. Each component was super simple to put together, now that I’ve learned from several Dorie recipes how foolproof it is to pan-sear scallops. I could make this for a weeknight dinner after a long day at work. The final dish was restaurant worthy.
All-in-all, it was a good week for enjoying new recipes spotlighting seasonal ingredients.
Recipes aren’t posted, but are available in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. To read about other home cooks’ experiences with these recipes, check out the Leave Your Link posts at French Fridays with Dorie.