A Corny Story

I love sweetcorn. I love cheap and seasonal food. I love being in New Zealand in May when the harvest is coming to an end and there is a glut of corn cobs available everywhere, sometimes less than 20c for each kernel encrusted delight.

Corn on the cob cooked incorrectly can be soggy, waterlogged and tasteless or burnt and dry. I am surprised by the amount of times I have had corn that has been very substandard as it is sooooo easy to cook!

My fool proof way to cook corn on the cob is also very simple and more flexible than a sub prime mortgage company pre 2007. It is forgiving on timing (you can easily double the cooking time if something else isn’t quite ready) and temperature (cook for longer on lower temperatures and less on higher).

When buying corn, choose cobs that feel heavy for their size and are free of mould or insects.

Step 1

Don’t peel your cobs, get the whole cobs and run them under the tap for 5 minutes or so. If you live in an area where water is precious, place them in a sink full of water for a similar length of time.
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Step 2

Put the soaked cobs still in their skins in an oven between 140C and 200C (don’t worry if it is a bit hotter or cooler).

Step 3

If you are cooking at around 160C, cook for around 10-15 minutes minimum to 30 or so minutes maximum. Adjust timings for hotter or cooler ovens. In an emergency (is there really such a thing as a cooking emergency?) after 30 minutes, dip the cobs in the sink full of water again and return to the oven – it should buy you some more time.

Step 4

Peel cobs and dress with butter, salt and pepper (or for a fat free version that is surprisingly good, squeeze lime and sprinkle with smoked paprika).

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Brioche Bread & Butter Pudding with Chocolate

It was my brother in law’s birthday a couple of months ago. Unfortunately for him, the day of his birth, September 11 is now far better known for other reasons, in fact he was 21 the day the planes struck the world trade centre so his special day became a bit of an irrelevance.

However, this year I cooked dinner for him and finished off the meal with a twist on traditional bread and butter pudding. I like how in this recipe there is a great partnership between the buttery brioches, creamy custard, bitter chocolate, sweet prunes and lifted by a far more adult slug of ameretto.

Apologies to my gluten, wheat and dairy intolerant followers (and daughter!) in advance for this recipe…

Serves: 8-10 portions (this is very rich, so small is better!)

Ingredients

1 good brioche loaf sliced or 4-6 small brioches sliced
1/2 a vanilla pod or best vanilla essence
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
350 ml of half fat milk
300 ml of single cream
120g of soft brown sugar
150g of best dark chocolate – 70% cocoa solids or better
Around 10 prunes
A good handful of pecans
A shot of ameretto liqueur
Sufficient butter to butter brioche slices
Sugar to sprinkle on top of pudding.

method

1. Put eggs in a bowl and mix with electric blender until slightly foamy and paler in co our.
2. Melt 100g of your chocolate in microwave with a tablespoonful or two of the milk. Do 15 second bursts and keep checking until just melted and combined with the milk.
3. Pour a little of chocolate in with eggs and combine with mixer. Then gradually add the rest whilst mixing constantly.
4. Put milk, cream, a few pecans crushed and the vanilla pod (or essence) in a large pan and bring really slowly to a simmer. Again, keep a good eye on it, as it starts to boil remove from the heat and let it cool somewhat.
5 Strain milk into egg/choc mixture and combine again with blender – if the milk is too hot and you don’t mix rapidly, then you will have a disaster!
6. Add your slug of ameretto. This is now your chocolate custard to use in pudding.
7. Chop remainder of chocolate, prunes and pecans into small chunks.
8. Butter brioche slices and place in a good size (20-25cm square?) baking dish. Between each layer of brioche, sprinkle in bits of the chocolate/prune/pecan mixture.
9. Once brioche is used or dish is full, pour in chocolate custard over the whole thing making sure the top layer of bread is well moistened with the custard mixture.
10. Sprinkle with sugar and leave for 30 mins or so (longer is fine) before baking.
11. Bake at 160c (fan oven) for 20-30 mins. The baking dish should be placed in a deep baking tray with some water in it to creat a Bain Marie whilst cooking.
12. Serve with some extra thick single cream.