Almost gone are the days of fresh corn on the cob. Our local corn farm keeps pumping out its succession crops that keep us fed from July to nearly November. When most farmers’ corn is old and tough, this farm is still producing young corn, worthy of eating just as is. But as the nights turn cold and frost threatens to harm the harvest, we find inventive ways of using fresh corn — in succotash with seasonal beans, and here in corn pudding served with a harvest of mixed peppers.The old saying, “What grows together, goes together,” typifies this time of year. The entire menu included corn pudding topped with sautéed peppers and onions, rosy yellow heirloom tomatoes with Thai basil, and green salad of just picked baby lettuce and arugula. You could add mild chicken sausage if you’re what my kids call a “meat-atarian.”
Piperade, the Basque version of pepper sauté, is simple. You sauté thinly sliced onion in olive oil, add thinly sliced peppers (I cleaned out my garden and used a variety) and cook them slowly until tender. Add chopped tomatoes and a little smoked paprika, and there you have it. I make a big batch on the weekend and use it in numerous ways throughout the week. It’s great with a poached egg for a quick meal.
Ancho Corn Pudding
4 ears corn
1 ancho chili, stem and majority of seeds removed
2 c milk
¼ tsp paprika
1 tbsp salt
Strip the kernels from the corn (stand a small bowl in a wide and deep bowl and place the stem end of the corn on the bowl, cutting vertically to allow the kernels to fall into the bowl versus scattering about).
Place a large wide saucepan over medium heat and press the ancho chili into the pan until lightly steaming, flipping it once.
Place the corn, milk and ancho chili in a food processor and whir to chop them finely. You probably need to do this in two batches, adding them to the pan as you go.
Add paprika and, over low heat, let the mixture come almost to a simmer. The milk should be lightly steaming. Remove the pan from the heat, cover it and let the mixture steep for 30 minutes or longer.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously coat a 6-cup baking dish with butter. Put a kettle of water on to boil.
Lightly beat the eggs. If the milk and corn mixture is warm, add a little to the eggs to warm them and add to the corn mixture. If the milk and corn mixture is cold, add the beaten eggs straight away. Season with salt. (This seems like a lot of salt but it’s needed.)
Pour into the buttered baking dish and place it into a larger pan, adding hot water to come up the sides by one-third to one-half. Bake for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. The center will be a little loose, but will firm up as the pudding cools.
Serve warm. Makes 6 servings.