When you’ve had your fill of fresh local corn on the cob, you might like to try this corn pudding – a recipe that I keep honing and tweaking and have (hopefully) now perfected. I purée half the kernels, boosting the corn flavor as well as helping to thicken the pudding, then add seasonings, eggs, and a little flour and then cook the mixture some before it goes into the oven. Cheese and cream add richness. It’s a terrific side dish with anything grilled or it can be turned into a substantial-enough main dish by using one of these variations.

CREAMY CORN PUDDING

To cut corn off the cob, stand the ear on its flat end and use a large knife to cut off kernels. A few kernels will no doubt go flying around the kitchen. This pudding is best with fresh corn, but you can substitute frozen corn kernels in a pinch and shorten the pre-cooking by a couple of minutes.

Serves 4–5 as a side dish

3 cups corn kernels (cut from 3 to 4 ears)

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 cup half-and-half

3 large eggs

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 1-quart baking dish.

In a food processor, puree half the corn kernels.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or deep skillet. Add the onion and cook over medium-high heat until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the whole corn kernels and corn purée and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Sprinkle on the flour and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes. Add the half-and-half, raise heat to high, and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes until bubbly and thickened. In a small bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk about 1 cup of the corn mixture into the eggs to temper them, then whisk the egg mixture back into the mixture in the pan. Stir in the cheese and season with the sugar, salt, pepper and cayenne. Scrape into the prepared dish. (Can be made up to 2 hours ahead and held, covered, at cool room temperature.)

Place the baking dish in a larger pan and fill halfway up the sides with boiling water to make a water bath. Bake in the preheated oven until a knife inserted about two-thirds of the way to the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm from the baking dish.

VARIATIONS

Use a Mexican cheese blend or pepper Jack cheese and add ½ cup roasted and diced peppers such as poblanos or Anaheims for a Southwestern variation.

 Spread a thin layer of cooked greens (spinach or any other) in the bottom of the baking dish and add 1 cup diced ham to make a dish with a Southern flavor.

 Use shredded pizza cheese and add a clove of minced garlic, ¾ cup of small-diced pepperoni and 3 tablespoons slivered basil for an Italian twist.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny