Saturday, August 16

You call it fresh corn buzz-kill, biologists call it peroxidase and catalase

No matter what you call it, be sure to refrigerate, cook or blanch and freeze your cobs allowing the least amount of time to pass following picking. If you don't, enzymes in the corn will eat it for lunch.

Corny Story
Once corn leaves it's stalk, nothing good happens. Enzymes (see title) in the corn get to work converting the delicious natural sugars into starch. After just a few hours, your corn could be well on its way to what my dear old grandma used to call 'horse corn'. Yummmm!

Refrigeration slows the process, but the easiest way to stop it entirely is the boiling point. So if you find yourself with an armload of freshly picked corn, blanch the excess and freeze it rather than leaving of in your crisper drawer (or worse on the counter!)

Blanching Method
Drop shucked and cleaned cobs into boiling water for five minutes. Reomove the corn to an ice bath, cool completely to arrest cooking, then dry, wrap in plastic, bag on a zipper bag and freeze.

Once you've gotten your freezer packed, and whenever you're hankering for the fresh flavor of corn, drop into boiling water for 2 minutes or bring to room temperature and shave off the cob with a knife for fresh kernel flavor. You may be tempted to dekernelize your corn before freezing, but don't, it won't keep nearly as well as freezing it right on the cob.

The Slightly Whackadoo Chemical Method
There's a plan out there for food geeks who don't see the point in freezing when chemicals can do the job. According to Alton Brown in an episode of Good Eats, by adding some lime and a tiny bit of bleach, you can effectively deactivate starchifying corn enzymes right in your kitchen sink. That's all I'm going to say about that for now.

Saturday, August 9

Lemon Cucumber

Never heard of it? Neither had I until it turned up at my local market, the Bi-rite. They're almost the size of tennis balls, and plumply shaped as slightly elongated globes. They've got some tiny black dots on the outside, and they taste like a cucumber except perhaps a bit lighter and less vegetal. 

The great thing about lemon cukes is that you don't have to peel them! I know it seems like a small thing, but it's still a cool thing. The skin is very soft and fully edible. You get an nice cucumber flavor and snap, but the texture is a bit silkier and juicier than the familiar English variety.

Cucumbers with Sesame
Want something new to do with cucumbers? My dad recently went to France came back with this one for me. I made it with the very lemon cucumber shown here in less than 10 minutes. You can also do it with a regular english cucumber, just be sure to peel.

How to Make Sesame Wheels
Take a few tablespoons of sesame seeds and toast them in a pan until light golden brown. They become scented and slightly darker. Take care not to overdo them, once they get to toasting temperature they go quickly!

After the sesame seeds have cooled to room temperature, mix in a bit of salt and blend thoroughly. Next, slice your cucumber and simply press both sides into the sesame seeds. That's it! And it's fabulous and super easy.

Pile them up on a plate, serve with a nice chilled Sauvignon Blanc and you're set for an afternoon of relaxing, sesame adventure.