In keeping with my SOS, sustainable, organic, and seasonal, I will start a series of articles spotlighting the amazing produce grown in my home state of Florida. Buying fresh, local, organically grown produce offers the cook incredible quality and savings. In turn, we reward the dedicated hard graft put in by our amazing farmers. However, this is nothing new from me; I have been trumpeting the virtues of local, seasonal, and organic for some time on Blogcritics. Let us get to some new material, shall we, but always keeping in mind the two pivotal questions: What is good? What is in season?
Florida has 43,000 farms, utilizing more than ten million acres to generate fantastic foodstuffs. Dade County, where I live, is one of the most prolific producers of sweet corn in Florida. Sweet corn is in my kitchen almost year round. Commercial production really takes off in October, with the peak of availability in early March through May. When eating sweet corn, leave the cans on the shelves. Corn cut fresh from the cob is best. Simply take a sharp knife, stand the cob up, and cut the kernels off. Use salt only sparingly, as salt makes the corn tough. A pinch of Florida cane sugar goes a long way to accentuate the natural sweetness of the corn. Sweet corn pairs perfectly with seafood, in particularly with Florida blue crabmeat.
Blue crabs are found along Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts. A shallow water crab, it can live in salt, fresh, and brackish waters. Florida blue crabs are prized for their sweet, soft, delicate, and low-fat meat. Right now we are in the peak of the blue crab season, which runs from July through October. To my palate, the combination of sweet corn and blue crab is a match made in culinary heaven. I will share two of my definite favorites. As always, recipes are merely guidelines; investigate, experiment and make them to your liking.
Sweet Corn and Blue Crab Tostada
For the Blue Crabmeat:
Fresh Florida Blue Crabmeat
Pinch of cayenne
Combine ingredients in glass bowl. Gently mix. Do not overwork the crabmeat.
For the Sweet Corn Puree:
Fresh sweet corn kernels
Pinch of cane sugar
In a blender, add the corn, stock, butter, and whipping cream. Blend until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Add a pinch of caster sugar.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Slice the baguette. Spoon some of the corn puree. Then top with the crabmeat. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Garnish with finely chopped marjoram.
Sweet Corn Chowder with Blue Crabmeat & Tarragon Emulsion
For the Corn Chowder:
Sweet corn kernels
In a stockpot, heat the safflower oil over medium heat. Add the onions and leeks. Cook till softened, not browned. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the cognac and reduce until dry. Deglaze with the Riesling wine. Add the sweet corn and water. Simmer. Blitz in a blender and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Return to stockpot and swirl in sweet butter. Check for seasoning. Keep warm.
For the Tarragon Emulsion:
Meyer Lemon Juice
Fleur de Sel
Add the tarragon, honey, lemon juice and half the oil. Process until smooth. Slowly drizzle the rest of the oil. Season with Fleur de Sel.
To plate: Spoon some fresh Florida crabmeat in the center of the bowl. Add the tarragon emulsion.
Gently pour the corn chowder.