Corn, Off the Cob

How can anyone resist fresh white corn at this time of year?

Once again, my friend Laura had an overabundance of corn from her farm share. Being the martyr that I am, I grudgingly took it off her hands - you know, just to help a friend in need... Seriously? I could not contain my excitement!

When I got home that evening, I took stock of the ingredients I had on hand. The corn. An avocado. Some flash-frozen Brazilian shrimp from Trader Joe's. A head of butter lettuce. Some leftover saffron mayonnaise. Basil and chives in the garden. Hmmmmm.... With the temperature approaching 110°F (almost 44°C), a chilled salad seemed just perfect.

I got busy shucking the corn, then cooked it the way my mother did - by adding a small handful of granulated sugar to the boiling water. Four minutes is just perfect. While letting it cool, I peeled and deveined the shrimp (reserving the shells for stock), then sautéed the little bugs in some olive oil. I simply tossed the rest of the ingredients together and served it on a bed of butter lettuce.

It was delicious, light and such a perfect vehicle to show off the sweet corn and shrimp with the creamy texture of the avocado.

For dessert, I tried a new sorbet inspired by a recipe in one of my Thai cookbooks, using half a watermelon I got at the farmers market, some kaffir lime leaves from our tree, and some freshly squeezed lime juice.  Again, simple ingredients that come together for a refreshing treat.

Stay cool in your kitchens!

- David

Corn, Shrimp and Avocado Salad

4 ears white (or yellow) corn, shucked
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 Haas avocado
12 large basil leaves, cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
2 tablespoons chopped chives
4 tablespoons saffron mayonnaise (click here for recipe)
butter lettuce leaves, for serving
additional basil leaves, for serving

Bring a large kettle of water to a boil and, once boiling, add a tablespoon sugar to the pot and then add corn.  Return to a boil and cook 4 minutes; drain in a colander and let cool.

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add shrimp.  Season with salt and pepper and sauté until shrimps are done and perfectly pink - about 3-4 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp.

Halve the avocado and remove the pit.  Score the flesh both of both halves vertically and horizontally, then remove with a large soup spoon.

Remove the kernels from the corn cobs using a sharp knife - slicing them off into a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked shrimp and avocado cubes to the bowl, along with the basil and chives.  Add the mayonnaise and toss together gently; adjust seasoning.  Chill salad.

Place butter lettuce leaves on plates and add a scoop of salad to each plate, garnish with basil leaves.

Serves 4.

Watermelon Sorbet

6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup water
4 kaffir lime leaves, torn into pieces
1 pound watermelon flesh, cut into chunks
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon vodka, optional
sprigs of mint, for garnish

Mix water, sugar and lime leaves in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Once sugar has dissolved, remove from heat cover and let steep for 1 hour.

Place watermelon chunks in a food processor and process a few seconds until slushy. Spoon melon into a mixing bowl and add lime juice. Strain kaffir lime syrup into the bowl and mix well.  Chill for 1 hour.  

Stir in vodka, if using, and place melon mixture in ice cream maker and process for about 20 minutes. Scoop sorbet into a container and freeze.  Let sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften before scooping into bowls. Garnish with mint sprigs.

Serves 4.

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