Adapted from Sara May
Chef Sara May of Bing Bing Dim Sum in South Philly loves using cultured buttermilk in both sweet and savory dishes. “I love the tang that it gives, the way that the acid in the buttermilk really livens up the flavors of sweet things like fruit or creamy things like custard.”
Even if a recipe doesn’t call for buttermilk, May recommends swapping out part of the milk on the ingredients list with a good cultured buttermilk. “Substituting buttermilk for a portion of the milk that’s called for in a quick-bread recipe is a really nice way to liven up the cake and give a little zip to the flavor and keep it super moist.” May has adapted a favorite recipe from her mother—a savory corn custard—to use cultured buttermilk; it’s become a staple at her holiday table.
6 ears of corn, kernels removed, divided or
4 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed and divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, roughly chopped (see note)
½ cup cultured buttermilk
½ cup whole milk
½ cup shredded mild cheddar cheese (I’m a fan of Clover Creek Cheese Cellar’s mild cheddar in this dish)
1 large red bell pepper, diced finely
3 large eggs, beaten
1 large pinch kosher salt
4–5 twists of the pepper mill
Note: The heat levels of jalapeño peppers tend to vary widely, so be sure to taste a little bit of your pepper before adding to the dish so you can adjust the level of spice to your liking.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Place the kernels from 4 ears of corn (or 3 cups thawed frozen kernels), onion, jalapeño, buttermilk, whole milk and cheese into a food processor. Blend until a smooth paste forms. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in red bell pepper, kernels from the remaining 2 ears of corn (or 1 cup thawed frozen kernels), eggs, salt and pepper, taking care to thoroughly incorporate.
Coat the inside of eight ½-inch ramekins with cooking spray. Divide corn mixture evenly between ramekins, filling only ¾ of the way to the top. Place ramekins in a large casserole dish with deep sides and add enough hot water to the dish so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Carefully place in oven (it’s heavy!) and bake for 40–50 minutes, or until pudding tops are brown and firm. Serve warm.