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Corn on the Cob

Here are a few corn-on-the-cob tips from Washington Post staff writer Stephanie Witt Sedgwick. We've also included one of her recipes for flavored butter (you can easily create your own variations) and a pudding recipe that is corn heaven.

The first rule: Buy the corn as fresh from the field as possible. Sticking to locally grown corn will help.

Second, cook with care. The traditional way, of course, is to plop the ears into a large pot of boiling salted water. Depending on the size of the kernels, the age of the corn and how tender you like it, cooking will take 2 to 5 minutes. Or try placing the corn in that same large pot with only a few inches of water (essentially steaming the corn; keep the lid on) or roasting it, in the oven or on the grill. For all methods, shuck the ears, removing all of the silks.

To roast, preheat the oven to 350 degrees or preheat the grill. Rinse the shucked corn under cold water. Wrap each ear, still wet, in aluminum foil. Place them in the oven or on the grill with the cover on. It will take 20 to 25 minutes for the corn to cook (it actually steams inside the foil). On a grill, you can unwrap the ears toward the end of the cooking time to let the exposed kernels brown.

Chive-Black Pepper Butter

(Makes about 17 tablespoons; enough for 16 ears)

1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients well. Pack into small ramekins. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Per tablespoon: 96 calories, trace protein, trace carbohydrates, 11 gm fat, 29 mg cholesterol, 7 gm saturated fat, 36 mg sodium, trace fiber

Shrimp and Corn Pudding

(4 servings)

This recipe is from "Beans, Greens and Sweet Georgia Peaches" by Damon Lee Fowler (Broadway Books, 1998).

4 scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus additional for the pan

2 cups sweet corn kernels

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup half-and-half

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper, preferably white, to taste

Cayenne pepper to taste

Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

1 1/2 pounds peeled small shrimp

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring some water to a boil. Lightly butter a 9-inch square or round ovenproof dish.

In a saute pan over medium- high heat, cook the scallions in the butter, tossing frequently, until softened but not colored, 3 to 4 minutes. Off the heat, combine the scallions with the corn, eggs, cream and chopped herbs. Season with a generous pinch or so of salt, a few grindings of pepper, a stingy pinch of cayenne and a liberal grating of nutmeg. Mix until thoroughly combined then stir in the shrimp.

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and place the casserole in the center of a wide, deep pan. Transfer to the oven. Pour the boiling water carefully into the larger pan until it comes about halfway up the outside of the casserole dish.

Bake until the pudding is set and the shrimp are cooked through, about 1 hour. The wider and shallower the pan, the quicker the pudding will cook, so keep an eye on it and be careful not to overcook it, or the eggs will separate and the shrimp will be tough. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Per serving: 405 calories, 41 gm protein, 19 gm carbohydrates, 16 gm fat, 392 mg cholesterol, 7 gm saturated fat, 696 mg sodium, 2 gm fiber

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