Private chef Paige Vandegrift trained at the Cordon Bleu in London, then became demi-sous chef at The American. But it was her stint in the south of France and Normandy that changed her life. Today, what she sees, sniffs, and touches at farmer’s markets inspires her four-course restaurant-style dinners for clients in their homes.
“I’m a cerebral cook,” she says. “I walk around with food in my head.” For the best corn, she goes to City Market, where she finds the sweet bi-color Montauk or Cappuccino varieties from Heck Farms. For greens and tomatoes, she seeks out Thane Palmberg, Nature’s Choice, or Biodynamic. “But Brookside Market reminds me the most of what you’d see in France,” she says. “The organic produce there is so beautiful.”
The colors of this dish attract, but the fresh corn reels you in. Every time.
Kernels from 2 large ears roasted corn, cut from cob
1½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 scallions, thinly sliced
6 strips bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces and cooked (reserve 2 Tbsp. rendered bacon fat)
Salt and pepper
2 tsp. sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large ear corn, raw
1 cup buttermilk
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup stone ground cornmeal
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
Scant 1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. reserved bacon fat
2 green onions, minced
1 egg, beaten
Honey to taste
2 Tbsp. butter
Place corn, cherry tomatoes, green onions, bacon and arugula in a large bowl. Set aside.
For corn cakes, cut off kernels, then scrape the cob with back of your knife to “milk” it. Combine scrapings with enough kernels to measure 1/2 cup (reserve remaining kernels) and purée in food processor with a little buttermilk. Combine puréed corn with remaining buttermilk; set aside. Place dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine; set aside. In a medium sauté pan, melt reserved bacon fat. Add scallions and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and add reserved corn kernels, tossing to coat. Place egg in a medium-sized bowl and whisk in corn-scallion mixture—scraping pan to get all of the fat. Whisk in puréed corn. Pour corn-buttermilk mixture over dry ingredients and fold together to make a batter. Add honey to taste.
Melt butter in a pan over medium-high heat. When bubbling, drop each scant quarter cup batter into pan to form a 3-inch cake. Cook until bubbles form, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until springy to touch, another 1 1/2 minutes.
Keep pancakes warm.
When ready to serve, season salad ingredients. Drizzle sherry vinegar and olive oil; toss to coat. Shingle three pancakes on each plate. Mound a fourth of the salad in the center.