My good friend, Corn. How many ways can I praise you? Where, even, to begin?

It’s hard to imagine a more eaten, more useful, more controversial grain. We love it on the cob, in breakfast cereals, luncheon tacos, in our soda drinks and bakery sweets, in adult beverages. Ground into flour, it’s one of the few grains we can cook without strengthening or flavor-enhancing additives. Corn’s history is deep, and its agricultural impact, troubling. Some claim it is toxic, others that it contains gluten (both false). I challenge anyone to honestly state they’ve never eaten it.


Not quite Mexican and not quite French (but the best of both!) these crepes are quick and easy to make and taste wonderful. Wrap them around fish, meats, cheeses or mushrooms (we particularly love them with huitlacoche). If you end up with more than enough, they freeze beautifully too.

Yield: About 10, five-inch diameter crepes.

Time to make: about 20 minutes.

Tools needed: A skillet, a spatula, a way to daub butter onto the skillet. Any well-seasoned frying pan works.

Great-tasting Mexican tortillas and tamales are made with a dough called masa, which consists of specially processed corn. This method, called nixtamalization, intimidates many a U.S. cook. Which is a shame, since it is very easy and absolutely approachable. To do it, one boils hard corn in a mixture of calcium carbonate ("Mexican cal") and water, then grinds the softened kernels in a food processor. Any corn can be nixtamalized, but after many tests we've settled on white popcorn. It's inexpensive, readily available and responds beautifully.

This Mexican classic is a stew of leftover corn tortillas. There are probably as many versions as there are Abuelas who make it, but no matter, all are excellent. My recipe uses fresh tomatoes and stale tortillas, is modestly spiced, and enriched with shredded cheese and eggs. Feel free to improvise wildly, but hold the line at tortillas. Only the best-tasting will do, because that bright flavor of nixtamalized corn is the magic cement holding chilaquiles' diverse sensations in luscious balance.


These cookies are a treat that goes by two names in our house: Rosquillas and No They're Not. To me these soft, sweet, corn-based snacks are the closest thing I've eaten to any Central American dessert, and so I call them what I think they should be. To my wife Leslie, who lived in Honduras for more than a decade, "If your teeth are intact, they're not Rosquillas." Authentic or not, this recipe yields treats that are a cross between corn tortillas and sugar cookies.

This very tender bread captures two of summertime's best savory flavors: corn and wild black trumpet mushrooms, AKA Poor Man's Truffles. Available in many farmer's markets July through September (November through February on the West coast), black trumpets are earthy and intense. Placed into a bread that's designed for post-oven toasting makes a genuine treat.

Yield: One, 22 Oz (610 gram) loaf.

Time to make: 30 minutes plus overnight soak. 25 minutes oven dwell.

A no-fuss, no-maintenance starter can liberate the 9-Grains baker. There's no feeding schedule to keep track of, no commitment to a single flavor, no big deal if the flavor isn't quite what you wanted, no need to discard the leftovers. This recipe is as simple as it gets - a vigorous great-tasting, true sourdough starter made with just flour and water and ready in three days.