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If you're like us, you look to the seasons for what to cook. Get to the market, and we'll show you what to do with your haul.
Today: When you think you can't eat another ear of corn, turn to this. It will prove you wrong.
Seasonality can make a cook a little crazy. We wait and we wait and then we eat eat eat, and then we eat some more, and then whatever we waited for is gone. Sometimes there's denial. There's always a little depression. And it takes us a little time (we just need a little time, okay?) to transition into what the next season will offer.
Corn is one of those things we wait for.
At present, I've eaten so much corn that I've found its silk in my hair. I've run into it on my keyboard. I know I'm not alone: you've probably eaten too many corn salads, too. Maybe you go to the market so often your farmer is a little worried about you, maybe he looks perplexed when you try to slip him a ten for all of the best ears.
Whether it's now or next week, there will come a point when you'll think that maybe there is such a thing as too much corn. And what you need to do, when that happens, is toughen up, buy more corn, and put it in these corn cakes -- because we have to get our fill before it's gone. And because, really, that's the only sensible thing to do.
I first tasted this corn cake at Kerry Diamond's quaintly Southern restaurant Seersucker, where it was strewn with a tangle of raw corn kernels and heirloom tomatoes -- and that's what you should do to it too. (Two seasonal birds, one stone.) The thing lasted a mere 3 minutes on the table, and around minute 1, it occurred to me that this was the only responsible way to navigate corn fatigue: let the sweet, starchy kernels stage a little healthy competition with basil and red onion, and then mellow it all out in a hot, buttered skillet.
If you're wise, you'll top it with a poached egg, like Seersucker does. A fried one works just as well, so long as there's a runny yolk to mediate between flavors, to make them play even nicer than they're told they should.
After this, you might be refreshed enough to go back to eating corn straight off the cob, dripping in butter and salt. But only if you're not busy making a second batch of these.
Summer Corn Cakes
Adapted from Seersucker
Makes eight 4-inch cakes
2 cups corn kernels, divided in half (from about 3 ears)
2 tablespoons butter, plus more for cooking
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup basil chiffonade, plus more for garnish
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt and pepper
For the topping
2 heirloom tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup corn kernels
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 eggs, poached or fried or left off if you're lazy
Photos by Eric Moran