Summer is in full swing, and the corn stalks are stretching towards blue skies everywhere. Sure, often I simply throw some cobs on a grill, even brush them with a little garlic butter, and pile them on a platter — a perfectly reliable side dish for an August gathering. After all, summer vacation is long; by now my creative energy has been depleted by weeks of having to keep three kinetic kids active all day.
But when the occasional summer rains interrupt, I will bring out the board games for the kids and head straight for the kitchen to cook up something warm and comforting. This is one of those dishes that looks and tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen but is actually a breeze to pull together. The puddings are especially flavorful when made with corn that has just been shucked. If you are short on time, just use frozen organic kernels.
To roast the poblano pepper, place it directly over a flame (or on an electric burner) and char the skin until it is blackened on all sides. Transfer the pepper to a small bowl, cover the bowl with plastic, and cool. The skin will steam right off. Rinse the pepper briefly under cool water, removing the stem and seeds (or keep a few seeds if you want extra heat). This technique gives peppers of any type such a flavor boost, you’ll want to keep it in your arsenal.
I like to sprinkle the puddings with cheddar cheese and broil them briefly so they are golden and bubbling. They make a scrumptious side to keep summer around just a little bit longer.
Softened unsalted butter for greasing the ramekins
2 tablespoons corn oil (can substitute grapeseed or canola)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, pulverized
1-1/2 cups sweet corn kernels, fresh or frozen
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light coconut milk
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 poblano pepper, roasted, seeded and finely diced
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare six individual ramekins or oven-proof mugs with a light coating of softened butter and arrange them on a rimmed baking sheet.
2. Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent but not browned, about four minutes. Add the corn and enough water (about 1/2 cup) to cover. Bring the water to a boil, then simmer until the kernels are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.
3. In a medium bowl, stir together the cream, coconut milk, eggs, and yolks. Stir in the diced pepper and reserved corn mixture.
4. Divide the custard among the greased ramekins.
5. Bake the custards for 20 minutes. (Note: the height and diameter of the ramekins can affect the cooking time, so check the custards after 15 minutes to make sure they do not overcook.) They are done when a toothpick inserted in the center of the custard comes out clean.
6. If desired, sprinkle the custards with cheddar cheese and heat under the broiler for a minute or so until bubbling. Serve immediately.
Try more tasty comfort food.