IT IS SAID of souffles that one waits for those fragile creations and that souffles wait for no one.
The same might be said of fresh corn. Fresh corn is shipped from one part of the country to another throughout the year, but because sweetness deteriorates with every mile or minute away from the stalk, there's an obvious advantage to buying what is locally grown and cooking it as soon as possible.
Many states are harvesting corn crops right now and whisking the golden (or white) ears to market with appropriate haste. But suppose you're dealing with a carload of corn sold at roadside?
The first clue to freshness is the appearance of the husks. Color should be a pale to medium green. Silk should be moist. A sample ear should show kernels that are plump, tender and evenly spaced.
Corn lovers are advised that the vegetable is a lot lighter in calories than you might imagine. For 70 calories, the ear of corn gives calcium phosporous, iron, potassium, vitamins A and C and niacin.
How to cook fresh corn? There are abundant theories as to the best method.
Some cooks insist that steaming in a small amount of water for six minutes gives the best results. Other suggestions include covering the corn with cold water, then bringing to a boil and simmering for five minutes; droping corn into boiling water and simmering five minutes, and adding milk or sugar to the water. Experts seem to agree, however, that the water in which corn is cooked should not be salted and the corn should not be husked until just before cooking.
Here are some additional ways to take advantage of the bounty of the season.
FRESH CORNBAKE (6 servings) 4 tablespoons melted butter 1 tablespoon flour 2 cups fresh uncooked, grated corn kernels 3/4 cup milk 1 teaspoon salt Dash black pepper 4 eggs, beaten
Combine melted butter, flour, corn, milk, salt and pepper. Add beaten eggs and blend into corn mixture. Pour into 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Note: If a corn grater is not available, cut kernels with a knife, then scrape knife over cob to get out all the liquid. Skillet corn saute (6 to 8 servings) 6 ears corn 3 strips bacon 1/3 cup chopped onion 1/3 cup chopped green pepper 1 large tomato, diced 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seed 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Husk and desilk corn. Cut kernels from cob. Cook bacon until crisp. Reserve crisp bacon and set aside. To 3 tablespoons bacon fat, add onion and green pepper. Saute for 3 minutes. Add corn, tomato, salt, cumin, and pepper. Sautee 3 minutes longer, stirring frequently. Crumble bacon over top. HEARTY CORN CHOWDER (About 6 cups) 4 ears fresh corn 3 tablespoons butter or margarine 3/4 cup diced onion 1/2 cup diced green pepper 1/4 cup flour 1 quart milk 2 chicken bouillon cubes 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspon oregano leaves, crumbled 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Cut kernels from corn cobs and set aside. In large saucepan, heat butter. Add onions and green pepper, saute for 5 minutes. Stir in flour, cook and stir until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in milk and bouillon cubes. Add reserved corn kernels, salt, oegano, black pepper and Worcestershire. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. CORN ZUCCHINI CASSEROLE (8 servings) 6 ears fresh corn 6 small zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick 4 medium tomatoes, quartered 1 green pepper, thinlly sliced 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced, separated into rings 1/4 cup butter, melted 1 tablesploon flour 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon sugar White pepper 1 teaspoon chili powder
Cut corn off cob with sharp knife. Use tablespoon to scrape cob. Combine corn with other vegetables. In small pan, heat butter and stir in flour until smooth. Add salt, sugar, pepper and chili powder. Mix thoroughly with vegetables and pour intol 2-quart casserole and bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. This may be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated. It can be frozen. CORN RELISH (makes 2 1/2 cups) 1/2 cup sugar 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1/2 cup vinegar 4 ears corn, cooked, cut from cob 2 tablespoons finely chopped celery 2 tablespoons finely chopped green pepper 2 tablesploons chopped pimiento 1 tablespoon minced onion 1 teaspoon turmeric 1/2 teaspoon dry mustart
Combine sugar and cornstarch, stir in vinegar and 1/3 cup cold water. Stir n corn, vegetables, tumeric and dry mustard. Cook, stirring constantly, untill thick and bubbling. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes more. Cover and chill thoroughly NUTTY CORN FRITTERS (4 servings) 2 ears cooked, kernels removed from cob 1 cup milk 1 egg 2 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon salt 2 1/2 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 cup chopped pecans
Combine ingredients, beating well. Drop by spoonful into hot deep fat. Drain on paper towels. Serve with maple syrup. BAKED CORN
Remove husks and silk from 6 ears of corn. Spread with butter, wrap tightly in foil and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until tender. BARBECUED CORN
Remove husks and silk from 6 ears of corn. Spread with butter, wrap tightly in foil and place over hot charcoal for 15 minutes, turning several times. When buttering ears, try sprinkling them with your favorite herb.