Jason and I found our "corn place" at the San Mateo farmer's market when we saw the stand with the long line in front of it. People at this farmer's market do seem to know their stuff -- there's always a queue of people trailing off into the parking lot, all waiting to make a purchase in front of the Crepe and Brioche Bakery truck, and I can affirm that it is worth the wait.
The corn guys sell both white and yellow, 50 cents an ear. I usually go for the white -- I think it's a little sweeter. Usually, the best thing to do with corn is very little -- Jason often roasts it in the husk at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes, and it doesn't even need butter. These corn cakes, though, allow the corn flavor to shine through so well that it's worth the little bit of extra effort to make them. Also, it would be kind of hard to make a mini-sandwich with corn kernels, but with the corn cakes, you can do it: you have the technology.
My recipe evolved from one I found in the August 2007 issue of Sunset magazine. The corn cakes produced by the recipe as written were okay, but I thought they were a little on the eggy side and I didn't like the fact that it asked me to get the food processor and three bowls dirty to make a simple little corn cake. Also, using the food processor meant that the texture of the corn kernels was pretty well obliterated, and I thought that was just plain silly. My recipe uses only two bowls, and the kernels remain intact. All I had to do to get rid of the "eggy" overtones in the original was to simply stir in the whipped egg whites, rather than gently folding them. Again, this makes the cakes even simpler to make.
The photo above shows a pesto variation on the corn cakes -- yes, I know, I'm obsessed with pesto, and I'm comfortable with that. But basil goes really well with corn, and adding the pesto meant that these cakes paired perfectly with a slice of heirloom tomato and a little dollop of ricotta. A few of these little mini-sandwiches makes for a very tasty vegetarian entree, or you could serve the cakes (spread with a little butter, maybe?) as a side dish. As a starter, or trayed up for a cocktail party, you could top them with a wee bit of creme fraiche and caviar -- a nice variation on the classic blini. Heck, make larger cakes and serve them for breakfast, pancake-style, with maple syrup. What I'm trying to say is, these things are good and you should make them, soon. Recipe here.