Posts Tagged ‘Corn Recipes’

Centennial Songs and Recipes

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Like most human beings, I like thinking about summer when snow is on the ground outside. So I started contemplating my summer concert this past January when the air was crisp and cold.

I knew that Leonard Bernstein had been born in 1918 and that I wanted to salute him in the concert, particularly because I knew that he had spent some time (well, one summer) down the road from my house, at Singing Brook Farm here in Hawley, Massachusetts.

Leonard Bernstein (center) at Singing Brook Farm in 1949 with his Sister and Brother

I also knew that my voice (which is just fine but not exceptional) wasn’t up for an all-Bernstein concert. It occurred to me that the concert might be expanded to cover a range of musical figures born in 1918.

I did a little research, and it turned out that quite a few American composers and singers came into the world that year: lyricist Alan Jay Lerner, of Lerner and Loewe; Patty Andrews, of the Andrews Sisters; singer/actress Pearl Bailey; crooner/actor Robert Preston, best known as the loveable con artist in The Music Man; and many more.

I wasn’t 100 percent I wanted to make 1918 the focus of my concert until I recalled that my late mother, Janice Hallett Weisblat, was also a 1918 baby.

Baby Janice with her Mother, Clara

Jan, whom I called Taffy, didn’t have a professional-quality voice. In fact, she lost much of her vocal range singing too hard while suffering from a cold one evening when I was a small child. Nevertheless, she adored music and used the range she had left to sing her heart out whenever possible. Singing a couple of her favorite songs seemed like a wonderful way to celebrate her centennial year.

My concert, called “A Century of Songs and Singers,” will take place next Saturday, August 25 (Bernstein’s birthday), at the Federated Church on Main Street (Route 2) in Charlemont, Massachusetts. I will be accompanied by Jerry Noble, a delightful person and musician.

Please join us if you’re in the neighborhood. If you can’t come to the concert, you might like to make a dish or two from 1918 babies, as I did this week on Mass Appeal. I made Pearl Bailey’s Corn Fritters and my mother’s Blueberry Sally Lunn.

The blueberry recipe appears elsewhere on this blog as Blueberry Snap. I share the corn recipe below, along with the videos in which I make the dishes.

Pearl Bailey

Pearlie Mae’s Corn Fritters

Pearl Bailey’s “cookbook,” Pearl’s Kitchen, is pretty vague about the proportions in this recipe so I had to more or less construct them myself. I recommend her book and her music nevertheless. Pearl’s Kitchen shows off its author’s remarkable spirit. She writes:

To cook is to share, and it is as important to me as walking onto the stage to full applause. Cooking is as crucial as anything I do in life, because I like to see the smiles on people’s faces when they enjoy something I have prepared. I cook as I live.



1 cup flour
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 cups lightly cooked corn kernels
butter as needed for frying


In a bowl combine the flour, the sugar, the baking powder, the salt, and the pepper. Make a well in the center of this mixture.

In another bowl or a measuring cup whisk together the milk and egg. Pour them into the dry ingredients, and mix. Stir in the corn kernels.

Put a pat of butter in a frying pan over medium-low heat. The butter should melt and begin to bubble but not burn. Pop in small scoops of the corn batter.

Fry on both sides. “Just let it bubble away until it browns, then turn it over,” said Pearl Bailey. Serves a crowd.

And now the videos:

Pearly Mae’s Corn Fritters

Taffy’s Blueberry Sally Lunn

Alice’s Corn Fritters

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016


During this golden season it can be REALLY hard to visit a farm stand and purchase just one ear of corn. I always end up buying at least two ears of this tempting vegetable—and sometimes four, six, or even 12! Consequently, the Tinky fridge usually features leftover corn in late August.

I have made much more complicated fritters in the past; in fact, I posted a fancier recipe here on this blog a few years back. When I was getting ready to cook on TV last week, however, I wanted something simple.

Luckily, my neighbor (and occasional musical collaborator) Alice Parker offered me the perfect recipe. It concentrates on two main flavors—the corn and BUTTER. You do have to be careful to keep the butter from melting, but your vigilance pays off.

The fritters disappeared fast on Mass Appeal, where I wore a yellow hat to pay tribute to the main ingredient and also to my late mother. (The hat belonged to her.) I wish I had a photo of her wearing it—but at least I have a photo of Alice! Here she is (on the left) getting ready to play the piano at our most recent concert, “Love Walked In.”

Alice and Estherweb

The Fritters


2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more if you like!)
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup flour
2 cups kernels from barely cooked corn
butter as needed for frying (up to 1/2 stick—perhaps even a little more)


Separate the eggs. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. In a medium bowl whisk the egg yolks until they turn a paler yellow. Whisk in the baking powder, the salt, and the pepper. Using a wooden spoon stir in the flour, followed by the corn. Gently fold in the egg whites.

Warm a frying pan or griddle, and melt the butter. When it is nice and hot use a cookie scoop or spoon to form the corn mixture into little clumps, and fry them on both sides until brown, turning once. The mixture will be free form but delicious. Serve the fritters immediately by themselves, with sour cream and dill (my friend Betsy’s idea!), or with maple syrup. Serves 4.

And now the video. Note how fluffy the fritters become!

I’m as Corny as Massachusetts in August….

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

The Augusts of my childhood in Hawley, Massachusetts, were golden, both literally and figuratively.
The landscape was filled with the bright yellow of sunflowers and the duller yellow of hay. The sun seemed to shine every day as we swam and swam and swam.
And corn was consumed every single evening—just before all the neighborhood children rushed from the dinner table to engage in a spirited game of Kick the Can.
I loved corn then. I still do. The act of eating it takes a certain amount of deliberation. With its lovely long rows of kernels, this vegetable stretches on like a perfect summer day or evening.
The freshest corn (and of course we ate and eat only the freshest) is sweet and not starchy, purchased the day of its picking at the farm on which it grew. We still recommend that you verify if the farm produce you’re buying went through pesticide residue and allergen testing to make sure they’re not only fresh but also healthy and safe to eat.
Most of the time I still serve corn as I my mother did when I was young. I quickly boil or grill it and add butter, salt, and pepper.  

I’m a lot less lavish with the butter than I was as a child, of course; in fact, sometimes I omit it altogether.

Once in a while I feel the urge to get go beyond straight corn, particularly with leftover kernels.
My mother’s favorite use for leftover corn is in succotash. She loves to combine it with cranberry beans (those whitish beans with pink stripes that appear in farm stands and stores only at this time of year). As soon as I find some cranberry beans, I’ll post her recipe.
Meanwhile, here is one of my current favorite ways to use leftover corn kernels. It combines the corn with another iconic August food, the tomato.
However I eat it, the texture and flavor of corn always take me back to those August days and nights of my childhood when time stood still, children played and laughed, and the landscape glimmered with yellow.
This post is my own contribution to the Loving Local Blogathon, taking place from August 22 to 28 as part of Massachusetts Farmers’ Market Week.
Hosted by this very blog with help from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and Mass Farmers Markets, the Blogathon celebrates the flavors of the Bay State and raises awareness of the bounty all around us. 

It also raises funds for Mass Farmers Markets, a charitable nonprofit organization that helps farmers markets throughout Massachusetts. Please support this worthy cause if you can; here’s the donation link.

Loving Local Corn Fritters with Salsa Fresca
for the Salsa:
3 medium farm-fresh tomatoes or 5 plum tomatoes
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
3 scallions, finely chopped (white part plus some green)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
the juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt
Core and chop the tomatoes. Using a slotted spoon, move them into a medium bowl. Discard the remaining juice or use it in soup. 

To the bowl add the peppers, onion, garlic, and cilantro. Stir in the lime juice and salt. Allow the salsa to sit at least 1/2 hour so the flavors can meld.

for the Fritters:
1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin (if you want plain traditional fritters, omit this, but I like the hint of spice)
1/2 cup (generous) grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 egg
chopped parsley and/or cilantro as desired
2 cups leftover corn kernels
peanut, canola, or even olive oil as needed for frying
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
In a bowl thoroughly combine the flour, the baking powder, the salt, the pepper, the cumin, and the cheese.
Whisk together the milk, the oil, and the egg. Add the herbs if you are using them. Stir this liquid into the flour mixture. (A few lumps are just fine.) Stir in the corn.
Pour oil into a frying pan until it just about covers the bottom of a frying pan when you swirl it around to distribute it. Heat the oil until it is about 350 degrees. (It will shimmer!)
Pop spoonsful of batter into the hot oil.
Cook the batter quickly, turning as needed, until it is golden brown. Do not crowd the fritters in the pan! They will be idiosyncratic but lovely. Add a little more oil if you really must for frying.
When individual fritters are ready drain them on paper towels and store them in the warm oven until all the fritters have been cooked.
for Serving:
fritters (see above)
salsa (see above)
sour cream or crème fraîche to taste
Top each fritter with a spoonful of salsa and a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche. 

Serves 4 to 6.

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Corn Moon

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009


Last weekend we celebrated not only Labor Day but the Corn Moon–the golden September full moon that marks the height of the corn harvest.
Corn is the perfect late-summer vegetable. Its color reflects the hues of the sun and the goldenrod-filled fields. Its subtly sweet taste reminds us to savor summer’s beauty while we still have it.
A few years back I tasted my first corn salsa, created by Nikki Ciesluk. Nikki’s family runs an attractive, abundant farm stand in Deerfield, Massachusetts, that specializes in sweet corn. Her salsa, which was featured in Yankee magazine, made me want to make some of my own.
Somehow I never got around to making it, however–until this past corn moon. Our dear friends the Kubaseks came to visit and brought farm-fresh corn. Grilling it took a little time and effort, but Bill the Grillmeister was up to the challenge.
When the salsa was finally ready to eat, 18-year-old Jasi said, “This is the best salsa I have ever tasted.” High praise!
A note: like most salsas, this one will vary a bit depending on the heat of the peppers used and the moisture content of the tomatoes. When I made a second batch I used an unidentified pepper from my garden that turned out to be VERY hot. I toned it down by adding a bit of honey to the salsa, but next time I’ll make sure I know what sort of pepper I’m throwing in.
A second note: don’t forget to wear gloves when you cut up your hot pepper!
Bill and Jasi man the grill

Bill and Jasi man the grill.

Grilled Corn Salsa
3 small ears or 2 large ears corn
olive oil as needed for roasting
1 medium-hot pepper (you could go as mild as an ancho or an Anaheim or as hot as a jalpeño, but don’t stray too far in either direction), seeded and cut up
1/2 bell pepper–green, red, or orange–finely diced
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
the juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
a handful of cilantro, chopped
1/2 tomato, diced
Preheat your grill. Brush (with a brush or paper towels) the corn with olive oil and grill it until it begins to brown just a bit (about 12 minutes), turning frequently. Let it cool for a few minutes; then cut the kernels off.
In a bowl combine the peppers, onion, lime juice, salt, and cilantro. Stir in the tomato, followed by the corn kernels.
Serve as a side dish or with tortilla chips. Makes about 2 cups.
grilled corn web