Vicky Zeph, chef-owner, along with her brother Mike, of Zephs’ Restaurant in Peekskill, New York, makes the best corn pudding I have ever tasted. I like it because it isn’t overly sweet as some corn puddings can be. The only difference between Vicky’s pudding and the tart filling here is that she uses 15 ears of corn (9 grated and 6 with the kernels cut off) for the amount of liquid below. The resulting pudding holds its shape well enough to be spooned onto a plate without running. When I spoke with Vicky about the recipe she agreed that less corn would make a creamier tart filling.
One 10- or 11-inch tart, about 8 generous servings
5 ears of fresh sweet corn, yellow, white, or mixed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 bunch scallions, white part and about half the green, finely sliced
1 small bunch chives, finely sliced
1 small hot chile pepper, such as a jalapeño or serrano, stemmed, halved, seeded, and finely sliced or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large eggs
One 10- or 11-inch tart crust, unbaked, made from Flaky Buttery Dough (see below)
Set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350˚F.
Set a box grater over a shallow bowl and grate the kernels of 3 of the ears of corn, using the large teardrop-shaped holes. After grating the corn, use the back of a knife to scrape away any remaining juices from the cobs into the bowl. Use a knife to cut the whole kernels from the remaining 2 ears of corn.
Stir in the butter, and then the scallions, chives, chile, cream, and salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning and add more salt to taste, keeping the filling a little over seasoned to make up for the addition of the eggs. Whisk the eggs in a bowl, then stir them into the filling.
Pour the filling into the tart crust. Bake the tart until the crust is baked through and well colored on the bottom and the filling is set and puffed, about 30 minutes.
Cool the tart on a rack until it is no longer red-hot and serve it warm. After the tart has cooled slightly, unmold it by removing the sides of the pan.
Serving: This is a perfect accompaniment to baked ham or roast chicken. Or serve it for brunch with bacon or sausages.
Storage: Wrap and refrigerate leftovers and reheat them briefly at 375˚F before serving.
Flaky Buttery Dough
To maximize flakiness and get as much delicate buttery flavor as possible, you need to use enough butter in a dough. If you remember to chill this dough after mixing it and again after rolling it, you’ll enjoy both a superior texture and flavor. To keep from melting the butter and creating an excessively soft dough, this is best mixed in the food processor.
Makes enough for 2 single-crusted pies or 1 double-crusted pie
2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large eggs
Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor; pulse several times at 1-second intervals to mix.
Add the butter and pulse again 3 or 4 times. Use a metal spatula to scrape the side of the bowl and mix the butter pieces throughout the flour.
Pulse again 3 or 4 times.
Using a fork, beat the eggs to break them up, and add them to the bowl. Pulse again until the dough almost forms a ball; avoid pulsing too much, or the pieces of butter needed to make the dough flaky will become too small.
Invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, carefully remove the blade, and quickly press it together.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces, form them into thick disks, and wrap each one in plastic. Chill the dough for a couple of hours before rolling. This dough keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.