Trivia quiz time! How many kernels does the average corn cob have? Apparently, 800 arranged in 16 rows. I was given this information by an enthusiastic grower but haven’t had the time — nor the inclination — to check this out.
Sweetcorn is at its sweetest when the cobs have grassy-green, tender husks. The silk should be dry but not brittle. This is the perfect ripeness for nibbling the kernels off the cob — a refreshing summer snack. Raw, juicy sweetcorn kernels are also delicious in salads.
Corn can be cooked in its husk in water, or wrapped in foil and barbecued, or wrapped in baking paper and microwaved. Cooking corn in a covering keeps it moist and flavoursome.
Cucumbers are more versatile than many cooks think. They are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables, probably originating in India, where they are served as a refreshing side dish for curries — often mixed with mint and yoghurt— or as a salad combined with sliced onion and tomato.
Cucumbers are also marvellous added to stir-fries. They add crunch and a clean taste. First halve them lengthwise, scoop out the seeds then cut into chunky pieces. Only peel if the skin is tough.
Lebanese cucumbers (about 8cm long) or mini cucumbers are refreshing additions to lunchboxes.
CORN & BACON CRUSTLESS QUICHE
An easy, tasty light meal.
1-2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large corn cob
3 medium rashers side bacon, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, diced
125g spinach, trimmed, washed and chopped
2 cups grated tasty cheddar cheese
1/2 cup each: grated parmesan cheese, milk
5 medium eggs
Preheat the oven to 200C. Lightly oil a 22cm round, 3-4cm deep flan dish.
Remove the husk and silk strands from the corn. Trim the ends. Stand the cob on the thick end and, using a sharp knife, run it down the cob behind the kernels to remove them. You should have about 1 cup of kernels.
Add a little oil to a frying pan and heat. Add the bacon and onion then cook until the bacon is crisp and the onion softened.
Blanch the spinach briefly in boiling water or the microwave. Drain, cool, then squeeze out the water. Chop finely.
Combine with the bacon mixture and cheeses in a medium bowl. Mix well. Spoon evenly into the prepared flan dish.
Whisk the milk and eggs in a bowl and pour over the corn mixture. Season.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and just set. Stand for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve. Serves. 4.
SWEETCORN FILO PACKETS
Indian spices flavour these lightweight vegetarian pies.
3 medium corn cobs
4-5 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 large red onion, diced
2 teaspoons garam masala
juice 1 lime
200g feta cheese, crumbled
8 sheets filo pastry
2 tablespoons sesame seeds.
Remove the husk and silk strands from the corn. Trim the ends. Stand the cob on the thick end and, using a sharp knife, run it down the cob behind the kernels to remove them. You should have about 300g of kernels.
Blanch the kernels in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain. Set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan. Toast the cumin seeds for 30 seconds. Add the onion and cook until softened. Stir in the corn, garam masala, lime juice and feta. Cook for a minute to evaporate any liquid. Cool.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Brush 1 sheet of filo with oil and fold in half lengthwise. Place 2 heaped tablespoons of the mixture on the end of the filo. Fold the pastry over on the diagonal to form a triangle and cover the corn mixture. Continue folding the pastry over and over maintaining the triangle shape. Repeat with the remaining mixture and filo.
Place on the oven tray and brush with more oil. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and crisp.
Great served with plain yoghurt combined with chopped mint and diced cucumber and a fruit chutney. Serves 4.
A raw pickle to serve with grills or salads.
6 Lebanese or mini cucumbers
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 long green chillies
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 large clove garlic, crushed
Trim the ends from the cucumbers. Halve lengthwise and thinly slice on the diagonal.
Place in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix well. Stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Seed the chillies if preferred. Thinly slice.
Whisk the rice vinegar, honey and garlic in a bowl. Add the chillies.
Drain the cucumbers well and add to the vinegar ensuring they are covered. Stand for at least 30 minutes. Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Serves 4.
CUCUMBER GIN COCKTAIL
A very refreshing drink for a hot day. (See pic above)
1 telegraph cucumber
4 thin slices lemon
grated rind and juice 1 large lime
2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup gin
Using a vegetable peeler, shave 4 long slices cucumber. Run the slices horizontally around the inside of 2 medium glasses.
Cut an 8cm piece of cucumber, peel and coarsely chop. Place in a cocktail shaker or similar. Add 2 slices of lemon, the grated lime rind and juice, and sugar. Using a long spoon, muddle until well mixed. Add the gin and fill the shaker with ice. Cover and shake until very cold.
Strain into the 2 glasses, add the remaining lemon slices and top with chilled soda water. Serves 2.