Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cheesy Corn Squares

I’ve made these throughout the summer to preserve the fresh flavor of corn after an over-ambitious purchase or two.  Fresh uncooked corn can be removed from the ear and frozen in serving portions to enjoy all winter.  Likewise, these cheesy corn squares are easy to pack and freeze in 4-square packets for a quick lunch or dinner with salad. 

Cheesy Corn Squares are based on a cheese squares recipe that uses a easy savory baked French toast base.  This provides a nice puffy platform that crisps around the pan’s edges.  Once you make this recipe, you could add any vegetable.  While corn is still in some farmers markets buy a few extra (this recipe only needs 2-3 ears).  Later in the fall enjoy Cheesy Corn Squares with a bowl of hot soup. 

Cheesy Corn Squares
Yield: about 24 squares

Ingredients
1 loaf Italian or French bread, sliced in 1/2 in slices on the bias
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk (low fat or regular)
2 ears of corn (1 1/2 cups) steamed,  cooled and niblets removed from ear
3 cups grated cheese- Cheddar or Monterey Jack or combination (roughly 8-10 ounces)
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk (low fat or regular)
1 teaspoon hot sauce

Method
  1. Prepare a 9” X 13” baking pan by buttering or oiling lightly.  Preheat oven to 350˚F.  
  2. Pour evaporated milk in a pie pan and dip slices of bread in to absorb liquid.  Press the bread between your fingers to squeeze out excess milk.  Lay dipped slices side by side in the baking pan.  Arrange and tear pieces to cover the bottom.  The bread layer will reform as one platform during baking.  
  3. Spread half the grated cheese over the bread layer.  Next layer corn and jalapeños followed by a last layer of cheese.  
  4. In a small bowl mix eggs, hot sauce and milk to create a savory custard mixture.  Pour custard mixture over top cheese layer allowing liquid to soak into all layers.  Use a wide fork or spoon to evenly press the liquid into the squares.  
  5. Bake squares for 30-35 minutes at 350˚F until browning at the edges and cooked through and puffy in the middle.  
  6. Cool 10 minutes before cutting into squares.  (A plastic picnic knife will preserve your pan.)  
Serve squares hot from the oven as an hors d’ouevre  or pack along for your next tailgate—they taste good at room temperature too. 

Variations
This is the kind of recipe that can serve as a technique for you to build your own favorite.  Think about pizza topping you like or one of these fall-inspired combinations:
  • Mushrooms, Swiss cheese, green onion, (optional cooked sausage meat)
  • Roasted zucchini, eggplant, peppers with a layer of tomato and dried basil.  Use mozzarella and Parmesan for the cheese layers