Finally an ingredient to celebrate together, it’s time for corn my people!! Here and there, from South to North, everybody is eating corn!!
Well, with such bad weather, maybe here in Chicago it will take more time for corn to kick off. The prices are getting down though and if it’s not possible to grill yet, there’s a bunch of other options we can deal with.
It’s “the” corn time in Brazil too, even though the seasons are totally the opposite and winter is about to start. Actually, stilling corn ears was part of my winter break from school. I used to spend time at my gramma’s house, in a smaller city an hour from home. My aunt Marilda would wake us up very early, me, my sister and two cousins, to walk through the unpaved roads and steal some ears of fresh corn from the fields. I don’t remember what she would prepare with them; of course stealing was way more exciting and that’s what I kept in my head.
As you can see, corn is a big deal for Brazilians too. And it becomes even more important when we talk about “Festa Junina” (June Festival), the annual nativity of St. John the Baptist celebration commemorated nationwide on the entire month of June. The festival can suffer variations according to the location but one thing is certain, there is no feast without pyrotechnics, bonfires and dishes like “curau”, “canjica” or “pamonha”, all of them made from corn or some related ingredient such as corn meal.
So, to be fair and celebrate one more time the two cultures together, I chose two very special recipes: hush puppies and “curau”.
I tried hush puppies for the first time in Mississippi, during a road trip to the South. We ordered catfish and they came together with a few other yum side dishes. But still they were the most memorable items on the menu for me.
I asked the waitress the name of those golden little balls and she stayed silent for a while like “How is it possible? Doesn’t she know what hush puppies are? I understand she is a foreign by her accent but do not know what hush puppies are, that’s too much for me”. She told me anyway, I barely understood and forgot about them for a while ‘til I faced the recipe on the Living magazine July 2010.
A full article on classic corn recipes in America made me finally understand the waitress expression on that day! Hush puppies are an American classic!!!
So, I made them immediately and stick with this recipe since then.
Whisk together corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt and the cayenne. Whisk together egg, buttermilk, and onion. Stir egg mixture into cornmeal mixture. Batter will be as heavy as pancake batter.
Heat 4 inch oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven high heat until a deep fry thermometer reaches 360˚F. Working in batches, drop batter by the tablespoon into oil. Cook, turning occasionally, until cooked through and deep golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. (Adjust heat so the temperature remains constant.) Transfer hush puppies to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Serve warm.
“Curau”, a kind of Brazilian corn pudding is a classic too. It’s sweet and it is not served as a side dish nor as a dessert. It’s a bit rich for it, at least for me. “Curau” is the kind of treat we eat between meals and can be tasted warm or cold, according to your desire.
Remove the corn grain with a knife. Beat in a blender with the milk. Strain the corn/milk mixture and discard the fibrous part of the kenels. Mix sugar, salt, corn starch and cinnamon.
Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes stirring constantly. Divide the cream into four ramekins and sprinkle with extra cinnamon powder. Can be tasted warm or cold, according to your taste.