Sweet Corn Ice Cream and Corn Flour Madeleines
There does indeed exist a corn castle. Connect to this concept: driving down the freeway; you see giant billboards advertising "come, pick apples!" or "the best fried chicken for the next 200 miles!" "World's largest Pumpkin patch, Next four exits!" And each kilometer that you draw nearer, the signs begin to mount, urging you on, "almost there! almost to the freshest bite of fish you'll ever have!" just around the next bend...it is in this very fashion that i arrived at the corn castle. No not the world's largest structure supported by cob columns, but a road side stop shop decorated dino-land water park style to create a facade akin to a castle of ears filled with--yep, you guessed it; corn. Corn as far as the eye can see. Oh how corny. on y va.
I kid you not, a castle of corn does indeed exist. Three actually, and all on one very long stretch of Brasilian high way. of course i'm still talking about Brasil, get used to it. They are called Castelhinho Pamonha, litterally little corn castle, and they are filled with corny treats. Sweet corn tamales (pamonhas), corn juice (suco de milho), corn cakes (bolos de milho), cuscuz (i have no way of explaining this to you), corn cookies, corn candies, polenta, and finally--what i had requested upon arrival, Sorvete de milho: corn ice cream. I had come across it goggling food gawker one evening, and since i have been stolen by its curious concept: a vegetable in an ice cream? We initially pulled over to pick up a bottle of suco de milho, but as we stepped out of the car, H registered, Ah, we can get you corn ice cream here! Corn ice cream? i thought with a smile, it's nine in the morning. Let's do it. The creamy concoction came out of the machine as a soft serve into the cup awaiting its arrival, two spoons please! Brasilians eat a lot of corn, not to imply that North Americans don't, but Brasilians use it in a much wider array that, well, tastes a hell of a lot better than creamed corn casserole.
The cream of the crop, pun intended, is the sorvete de milho. At least in my opinion, and who could care for anything else? That being the case, i have grown attached to corn, not only for it's gluten-freeness, but because it finally tastes good. Sitting at my desk in Seattle, staring out the window, and longing with every fiber of my being to be back in Brasil with H and the rest of the family, i decide that it is time for the Salty Cod to pay closer attention to this summery warm weather treat. Ice cream is my guilt, or rather my non guilt, never say no to wine, chocolate, or ice cream, and to the ears of any North American, the concept of corn ice cream is slightly repulsive. Therefore, i must break, convince, and enlighten. C'est possible? watch me.
I hate canned corn. But i don't mind it if it's an ingredient, no dad, eggs scramble mash surprise doesn't count. A recipe for ice cream: one cup whole milk, one cup cream, sugar, a pinch of salt, and your ingredients. Let us think. This is Brasilian. So let us proceed: one cup whole milk, one cup heavy cream, one can condensed milk, and 1 cup corn. Maybe a little vanilla. A pinch of cinnamon. This is a Salty Cod confection, after all. It's first tasters: my brother R and Sister K. R: it tastes like ice cream, with a background of corn. K: background? try foreground. Success? Well, they said they would take another spoonfull. It's unexpected, that's all, K continued. Unexpected? Well, the unexpected is the best kind.
Another corny treat; mais mais, eu quero mais! Corn cakes. Very similar to North American cornbread, though less dry and with, gasp! flavor! are very scientific. I decided to honor the teaching of Aunt P, who made my 23rd birthday cake in a blender with milk cups, hand full measurements, and hey you like cheese, let's put some in! Experimental fashion. Ergo, corn cake Madelines reflect the same kitchen daringness--nose goes.
Sorvete de Milho (Sweet corn Ice Cream)
Ingredients: 1 cup whole milk ~ 1 cup whipping cream ~ 1 can corn, drained or one cup cooked and de-cobbed ~ 1 can leite condesado ~ 1 tsp vanilla extract ~ 1 tsp cinnamon
method: 1) in a blender, liquefy drained corn along with the milk 2) strain through a blender, press with a spoon to get all liquid. Discard pulp 3) return corn milk to blender, add cream, condensed milk, and everything else and mix well 4) refrigerate until quite chilly, at least an hour 5) process in an ice cream maker, or if you are doing it old-school style, god speed to you.
Corn Flour Madelines:
Ingredients: 1 cup corn flour ~ 1 egg ~.5 cup sugar ~ .5 cup milk ~ 2 tbsps melted butter ~ .25 cup Parmesan cheese ~ 1 tsp baking powder ~ pinch of salt ~ some vanilla ~ some cinnamon ~ some love. damn it.
method: mix wets. mix dries. combine. spray a madeline pan, bake at 350 for less than ten minutes. please don't burn.
In two months, H and i spent over 32 hours in the car together (we like to travel). So when the sign screams at us 50 kilometers until the best traíra! brandishing a cute little fish holding a trident, we know we're gonna stop. And when we do, and find the place a complete bust on service, but escape with a memory of a tiny red armchair made for 2 year olds that i somehow managed to squeeze my ass into, a parking lot kiss that yes i remember, and a laugh as we wave at the giant crowned fish statue as we pull out, then it was without a doubt, all worth it in the end.
Sweet corn ice cream in my little kitchenaide off in the distance of the pacific northwest; castles made of corn can be home to a fairy tale princess too. Or perhaps, just to a cod-girl. One scoop, spoon, lick of the drip on my finger and my mind is flown body and soul to that car ride, to the corn castle, to the shared cup that numbed my fingers in the car on our way to Sao Paulo. ice cream at nine in the morning. And then a cake, and i am transported one month later (in the car as well) eating Aunt P's corn cakes after the failed king of traíra. Life is a collection of connections, you just have to make them. Corn, ah. I could eat a pool of you. Taste, smell; these memory triggers outlast all others. Distance does not have to be a terrible burden. If you make the right recipes, it can, and only will enhance and make yet greater every memory that causes your saudade. And yes, i'm talking about corn ice cream. So stop off at the cheesy billboard. You may in fact catch a great memory, at least one to keep you warm until you can catch the next one.