I’m not on TikTok (after spending much of the past decade donating large parcels of my brain to social media, I’m moved to defend the last stake of my sanity), but I still get cooking inspiration from TikTok.
The most recent: corn butter tomato toast, made by a guy named Pierce on a farm in Montauk. The idea – grilled sweetcorn blended with butter, slathered on toast and topped with freshly salted slices of heirloom tomato – is so ingeniously simple that it astounds me that it’s not already a canonical summer dish. Most commenters seem to agree: “CORN BUTTER?! My entire life has been a lie!” “Why am I today years old just hearing about this!?”
Pierce’s version contains just four ingredients – corn, butter, sourdough bread and tomato, plus a sprinkle of salt – and so I started with that, though I couldn’t resist adding fresh basil to the mix. Reader, it was a revelation: the roasted corn edging on caramelisation, the warmly plush butter, the juicy peak-season tomato, the bread suspended between chew and crunch, with just enough char.
In some ways, that version is unimprovable, but I also think it’s riffable. Case in point is this second version of corn butter toast, which takes inspiration from esquites (a Mexican street food staple of char-grilled corn with coriander, lime juice, cayenne pepper and cotija cheese, or, in this case, feta). To add texture, I reserved the kernels from an ear of corn and sprinkled them over as a garnish.
Whichever version you make (I recommend doing both), be sure to serve yours with a glass of Bergecrac Blanc on the side. This delightful white blend is zippy and aromatic but also has pleasing lushness and weight to it. It is a perfect transition-season wine, a ballast while these dog days unfurl into a fitting finale to summer. Besides, it loves that corn butter toast almost as much as I do.
Sweetcorn Butter Toast Two Ways (with Heirloom Tomatoes and Esquites-Style)
Adapted from @pierzza
Makes approx. 8 pieces of toast
For the sweetcorn butter toast:
4 ears sweetcorn
250g plus 4 tablespoons salted butter, softened at room temperature
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf sourdough bread, cut into inch-thick slices
For the heirloom tomato topping:
2-3 large heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, to taste
1 bunch fresh basil, roughly chopped
For the esquites-style topping:
200g feta, crumbled
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
Small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
1. First, roast the sweetcorn (or grill, if you have an outdoor grill). Preheat your oven to 180°C. Shuck the corn and remove any lingering strands of silk. Wrap each tightly in foil, tucking 1 tablespoon of salted butter into each parcel. Transfer to a large baking sheet.
2. Roast the sweetcorn for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove from the oven and, taking care not to burn yourself, partially unwrap each so that one side of the corn is exposed. Turn your oven’s grill setting onto high and place the unwrapped corn underneath. Grill for roughly 5 minutes, or until golden-brown on one side. Remove from the oven, unwrap fully, and leave to cool.
3. Once the corn is cool enough to handle, place a small bowl upside-down in a large mixing bowl and stand one ear of corn on top of it. Using a bread knife, cut the kernels of corn away from the cob, rotating as you go, so they fall into the mixing bowl. Repeat with the remaining ears of corn. Discard the cobs.
4. In a food processor, add the 250g block of softened butter, ¾ of the corn kernels (reserve the rest of the corn for your esquites topping) and the black pepper. Blend on high, pausing to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula if needed, for roughly 4-5 minutes, or until the mixture is spreadable and the corn is well-incorporated (the butter won’t be completely smooth). Transfer to a bowl and store in the fridge until needed.
5. In a toaster, under your oven’s grill, or in a frying pan, toast your sourdough slices on both sides until golden. Generously slather the sweetcorn butter on top.
6. To make the heirloom tomato version, top each piece with an even layer of tomato slices and sprinkle over flaky sea salt and basil to garnish.
7. To make the esquites version, top each piece with a garnish of the reserved corn kernels and crumbled feta. Sprinkle over the cayenne pepper, squeeze over fresh lime juice, and finish with fresh coriander.
8. Serve the toast right away, while it’s still warm.
Claire M Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beer hound and all-around lover of tasty things. You can follow her at @clairembullen. For more recipes like this, sign up to our Natural Wine Killers wine subscription - you'll receive Claire's recipe and food pairings plus expert tasting notes for three amazing wines like this one every month.