- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 23, 2005

To borrow a phrase from Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, fresh corn fills me with “irrational exuberance.”

This time of the year, when farm stands are piled high with fresh ears of corn, I always get carried away. Corn is so fresh, so alluring. Corn prices, which are always reasonable at this time of the year, are designed for volume sales.

The more ears of corn you buy, the lower the price, which theoretically makes economic sense. However, there’s a catch. Your produce is no bargain if you don’t finish it before it spoils. So, along with my enthusiasm, I’m looking forward to a wealth of corn-based dinners.

One of my favorites is fried corn cakes. My version is rich, but it captures corn’s fresh, sweet taste. I suggest serving corn cakes plain, with sour cream or with a quick tomato-and-pepper relish.

For those of you who are really exuberant about corn, I recommend making an extra batch of corn cakes to freeze.

Place the finished cakes on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Put the sheet in the freezer until the corn cakes are solid, then remove them to a resealable plastic bag and store for up to two months in the freezer.

To serve, thaw and reheat in a 325-degree oven for a few minutes.

Fresh corn cakes

2 large ears or enough corn to yield 2 cups fresh kernels

2 eggs, beaten

½ cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ cup heavy cream or half-and-half

1 tablespoon chopped chives

Dash of hot red pepper sauce

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon butter

Place corn in a large pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, then drain and rinse under cold water.

Pat dry. Remove corn kernels by holding a knife at a 45-degree angle to the corn cob and scraping down the cob so that 2 cups kernels fall into a bowl.

To the bowl, add eggs, flour, baking powder, cream or half-and-half, chives, pepper sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Drop corn batter by 1/4-cup measures into skillet. Fry 2 minutes per side or until golden. Makes 2 servings.

Tomato-and-pepper relish

1 cup coarsely chopped cherry tomatoes

1 jalapeno chili, cored, seeded and minced

1 yellow baby bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped (see note)

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper

In a bowl, combine tomatoes, chili, bell pepper, basil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside 5 minutes for flavors to blend. Makes 2 servings.

Note: If baby bell peppers aren’t available, use 1/4 cup chopped full-size bell pepper.

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