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Tangy apples and corn pudding

So the apple season has arrived — crisp and tart, mouth puckering. I try to resist the early apples, because they don’t have that biting fall flavor, but rather Paula Reds do the trick. If anyone is out there yet, let me know what varieties do it for you….

Tomorrow I’m going to a friend’s 50th, a local food feast. She’s the neighbor in my upcoming book who named her hens Lucy Liu, Mandingo, Poopy Butt, and May Sarton. I just tolerate her birds and their protector, a rooster named Big Red, but adore their fresh and rich-tasting eggs.

So what do I bring to this local food birthday? Maybe I’ll nab a bag of mixed greens from the Great Barrington farmers market, the lazy locavore’s route. Or should I cook something up with the last of summer’s bounty? Possible choices — corn pudding, a rustic apple tart, squash-cranberry bread or plum chutney…

Savory Corn Pudding with Fresh Tomato Salsa

The browned cheese on the top and soft cornmeal on the bottom sandwich a custard studded with corn. Use an 8 inch square pan for a creamy texture or a larger pan for a firmer result. The accompanying salsa is also a favorite with chips (so double or triple it, if you like.) It leaves the canned stuff in the dust!  (From my first book, now out of print, One Pot Vegetarian Dishes) Serves 4 entrees with salad or 6 side servings

The Pudding

Vegetable spray, or extra butter
1/2 cup cornmeal, preferably stone ground and local
¼ cup shallots (or onions), chopped, whatever is local
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
l tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 pinch dried oregano or ¾ teaspoons fresh
2 tablespoons butter, local if possible
2 cups local milk
1-1/2 cups fresh local corn kernels
3 local eggs
1/2 cup local cheddar or Monterey jack

The Tomato Salsa
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1-1-2 tablespoons chopped shallots or onions
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
l  to 2 jalapenos, to taste, seeded and minced, or 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
pinch salt

l. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray an 8 by 8 inch or gratin dish with vegetable spray or grease with butter.

2. Combine dry ingredients: In a large bowl combine the cornmeal, shallots, baking powder, sugar, salt, cayenne, mustard, and oregano.

3.Combine wet ingredients: In a pot, heat the butter until mostly melted, about l minute. Add the milk, and heat until the milk is hot and the butter completely melted, about 2 minutes.

4. Mix wet and dry ingredients: Gradually pour into the cornmeal mixture, whisking to remove lumps. Stir in the corn, egg, and remaining tablespoon of cilantro.

5. Pour into the baking pan and bake until the top is starting to firm, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle the cheddar on top. Turn the oven to 375˚F, and bake until the pudding is set, about 15 minutes.

6. Serve: Accompany with the salsa, which should be made while the pudding is cooking by simply mixing the ingredients in a bowl.

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