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Tricks to Grilling Corn, and Using Nectarines

Jul 03, 2015 08:45PM ● By Jennifer Neys

By Lesley Stiles

 Summer produce has to be one of the best reasons for living in Northern California; it is almost endless. We are blessed with the sweetest fruits, tastiest tomatoes, and hottest peppers. 

As of this writing, it is starting to heat up, translating warm nights to ripening goods in our yards as well as markets. Two of my favorites are local corn and stone fruits. In recent years, both have gotten tooth-achingly sweet. I have a major fondness for yellow corn, but being in the minority creates difficulty in finding it. Usually farmers’ markets come through for a successful hunt. I am equally fond of yellow, sometimes called mango, nectarines at the farmers’ markets. Strong mango nuances invoke balmy breezes and swaying palms while juice drips down arms and chins. These are amazing as grilled accompaniments to any kind of cooked savory meats and are heart stopping alongside waffles or French toast doused with butter and syrup.

Local yellow and white corn’s return to farmers’ markets satisfies a seasonal craving that’s in my DNA. Not happy being a specter at the feast, white corn insists on having summer meals staged around it. Cut it raw off the cob and throw kernels into a salad of chopped cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, sweet red onion sliced thin, basil and feta. Dress with zest and juice of lemon or orange, drizzle with good olive oil and rice vinegar, and toss. This salad ensures lots of party re-invites. For cob gnawers, barbequing corn in the husk is an adventurous treat. Peel back husks and remove as much silk as possible, leaving the husks intact. Mix soft butter, chopped jalapeño, and lime zest together with your hands and spread generously on the corn. Close the husks back up and place on grill out of direct heat for about 10 minutes. This combination of flavors lingers on your taste buds like a good dream. For an amazing final act, throw plenty of raw kernels into your favorite corn bread recipe and serve piping hot with plenty of butter, real maple syrup, and macerated blackberries.

Nectarines are supposedly named after nectar consumed by Olympic Gods, and white nectarines only strengthen that myth. Low acid strips modesty off sugar levels, baring floral nuances and begging to be paired with rose geranium, lavender and well-made prosciutto. Said glorious globes weighing down tables at the farmers’ markets beckon to be immediately consumed out of hand. When that gets old, try a shortcake spin by slicing up nectarines and macerating in Framboise, and then spoon over a fluffy biscuit topped off with mascarpone whipped with lemon curd. (Insert heavy sigh here.) Lay slices over fresh pizza dough and finish with Gorgonzola, lemon thyme, and toasted walnuts baked in a hot oven, marrying flavors for life. Transform cereal with white nectarines, berries, and yogurt, and motivate your taste buds to sing louder than the most talented mourning doves.

Grilled Nectarines w/ Whipped Mascarpone

4 nectarines, split in half and stone removed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1 tablespoon honey 

Brush the cut side of the fruit with olive oil and place on the grill. Brush the skin side for when you turn. Grill on each side about 3 minutes. Remove from grill.

Place mascarpone and honey in a small bowl and whip together.

On a plate, place the nectarine, cut side up, and fill with a dollop of mascarpone. Serves 8.

Nectarine and Blueberry Shortcake

2 nectarines, split, stone removed, and sliced

1 pint fresh blueberries, cleaned

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

4 shortcakes

½ pint whipping cream

½ pint crème fraiche

1 additional tablespoon sugar

 Mix the nectarines and blueberries with 2 tablespoons of sugar and balsamic.

Whip cream to a very soft peak. Fold in the crème fraiche and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Split shortcakes and place on individual plates. Spoon fruit over one side and add a dollop of whipped cream. Place other side on top and dollop a little more cream on top. Serves 4.

Lesley Stiles is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy, sustainable caterer and school garden educator. Contact Lesley at [email protected] net, and visit her new website: www.lesleystilesfoodscom.