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Carrie’s Kitchen: Corn on the cob is great, but here are three different ways to enjoy this versatile veggie

Fresh corn has been available for several weeks now, but I figured some of you might be looking for more ways to eat it besides straight from the cob. Not that there’s anything wrong with corn on the cob, but there are so many different ways to enjoy this sweet and versatile vegetable.

Like cornbread. How do you enjoy your cornbread? I prefer mine on the sweet side, next to a smoky meat. For a few years I was making a sweet and spicy cornbread with green chiles in it, but my kids don’t like that, so we stick to plain old sweet now. This recipe is for a super-rich cornbread, made with a full stick of butter, a lot of buttermilk, even more mascarpone cheese (though you could probably substitute ricotta) and 3 eggs. That’s a lot of fat, and it’s what makes this recipe so rich. There’s a half cup of sugar, which isn’t too over the top, but there’s also some cheddar cheese, cumin and paprika to give it a little smoky flavor on its own. It’s still probably too sweet for the purists who like it a dry, New England-style, but if you can go either way on the sweet or plain spectrum, I think you will enjoy it.

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Second, a lemon corn chowder. I haven’t tried this one yet, but I could see how adding a light lemon flavor to corn chowder could brighten it and make it a little more refreshing. I also have never tried coconut milk in a corn chowder, but I think that could give an interesting creamy texture as well. This is one vegetarian soup I would be happy to try.

And finally, a good old-fashioned shrimp boil recipe. I’ve been to shrimp boils, but never coordinated one myself. You have to pay a little bit attention to the pot and the timing of each ingredient, but generally it’s fast once you get the boil going, and it creates a flavorful one-pot meal.

Enjoy!

The corniest cheddar cornbread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups cornmeal

1/2 cup super fine sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1 stick butter, melted and cooled

2/3 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup mascarpone cheese

3 whole eggs

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2 ears fresh corn husked and cut from the cob

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese divided

Pre-heat the oven to 400 and generously spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, cumin and paprika together.

In another bowl, whisk the melted butter, buttermilk, mascarpone, and eggs together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk it all together, just until it becomes a batter. Don't overwork it.

Fold in a heaping cup of the corn kernels, reserving the rest. Then fold in half of the cheddar. Pour the batter and spread it out evenly in the pan, then sprinkle the remaining corn kernels and cheddar on top.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the very center comes out cleanly. Let it cool for about half an hour, then cut and serve.

Lemony corn chowder

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, finely diced

2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and ½-inch diced

4 ears fresh sweet corn, kernels sliced off the ear (about 3 cups)

1 (14 ounce) can cannellini beans or Great Northern Beans

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh dill, chopped (reserve several sprigs for garnish if desired)

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)

2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon, plus more for serving)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

1 (13.5 ounce) can light coconut milk

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat a tablespoon of water in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook about 2 minutes or until garlic becomes fragrant.

Add the celery, corn and potatoes, mix well, and cook 5 minutes. Add the celery seed, lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, cannellini beans, broth and coconut milk.

Heat the soup until it almost begins to boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer on medium-low heat until potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes more.

Ladle 3 cups of the soup into a blender and blend on medium speed until just creamy, being careful to allow steam to escape. Don't over blend. Add the blended soup back to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Just before serving, stir in the chopped dill and add a squeeze of fresh lemon into the soup. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh dill if desired.

Shrimp boil

3 lemons divided use

1/2 cup Old Bay seasoning, plus more for garnish

6 cloves garlic smashed

1 onion peeled and cut into 6 pieces

1 pound small red potatoes, halved

4 ears corn on the cob, each cut into 3-4-inch pieces

2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined (leave tails on)

1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces, kielbasa or andouille are preferred

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Cut 2 of the lemons into quarters. Cut the remaining lemon into wedges and reserve the wedges for later use.

Fill a large pot with 12-14 cups of water. Place the 2 quartered lemons in the water along with the Old Bay seasoning, garlic and onion. Bring to a boil.

Add the potatoes to the pot and cook for 10-12 minutes or until just tender. Add the corn and sausage and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the shrimp to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until pink and opaque.

Drain the shrimp mixture from the pot, reserving 1 cup of the broth.

Melt the butter and whisk it into the reserved broth. Pour the broth over the shrimp mixture.

Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon wedges. Sprinkle with additional Old Bay seasoning to taste, then serve.

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