I was 7 and I still remember the way it tasted and the way it smelled. Corn kernels bursting with every bite. My family sitting around the booth of our second favorite restaurant in Caracas (my grandma’s was #1, of course) under the yellow and white striped awning. I would order the same thing every time we went. Those many dinner dates with my family inspired me to develop this recipe and celebrate summer’s corn. This dish from my childhood would come out piping hot and bubbling, so it needed some lightening up for summer-- cue the cherry tomatoes and basil. Unclear of what this corn in a thick and creamy white sauce lived within the dish many years ago, I paired it with rye crepes in this recipe. The layers of corn bechamel nestled in the rye crepes, perfectly paired with tomatoes and basil is almost too good to be true. I can’t say enough about the rye crepes, I would have them with anything (rye is high in fiber and also rich in antioxidants which help prevent disease-- it's a win-win if you ask me!) Don't worry, it takes a bit of time, but the crepes and bechamel are easy to make. The first bite definitely brought me back to sitting under that white and yellow awning. I hope your mouth waters as much as mine did with the first bite. Enjoy!
rye crepes with corn béchamel, cherry tomatoes and basil
for rye crepes:
1 cup rye flour
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons salt
2¼ cups water
butter, for coating the pan
for corn béchamel:
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, hot
¾ cup parmesan, grated, plus more for serving
salt and pepper, to taste
nutmeg, to taste
cayenne, a pinch
2 cups corn kernels from about 4 ears of corn (save the cobs, put them in the freezer!)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup basil, leaves torn
In a medium bowl, combine flours and salt; whisk to sift. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with water. Whisk in flours to egg mixture and let rest while you make the béchamel.
To make the corn béchamel, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring throughout for 2 minutes. Whisk in the hot milk, bring to a boil and keep stirring as it thickens. Reduce heat back to medium and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir in parmesan and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until thick, stirring. Add 1½ cups of corn to béchamel and cook 5 minutes over medium-low, stirring to prevent sticking (reserve remaining corn for serving.) Please note, if you plan to set aside corn béchamel for longer than the recipe calls for place parchment paper or cling-film directly on top of the béchamel to prevent a film from forming.
To cook the crepes, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add a bit of butter to the pan and melt. Pour in about ¼ cup of crepe batter, and as you pour in the batter rotate the pan to create a thin coating. Cook for about 3 minutes or until golden brown, flip with a thin spatula and cook the other side for another 3 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside on a large plate and continue to cook the crepes until you run out of batter. Stack crepes as they cook and enjoy the process. Once all batter is used, melt a touch of butter and add remaining ½ cup of corn. Cook 3-5 minutes over medium-high heat and season with salt and pepper. Set aside for serving.
To assemble, I like 3 crepes per person but up to you. Place a crepe on a plate and pour some corn béchamel on top, repeat 2 more times to layer crepes with corn béchamel. Top with cherry tomatoes, torn basil, corn and grated parmesan and HOLY MOLY.