March 17th, 2022
I write a lot of recipes, about 120+ a year at my current rate. As you can imagine that equates to a lot of experimentation – including some fails – throughout the year. My train of (food) thought is heavily influenced by what I am harvesting from my own garden and sourcing from local growers. I have been cooking this way for a long time – some 20 years. I start with fresh produce and build a meal around it, not the other way around. It makes sense, and I think even more so these days as many households lean towards more vegetable-focussed cooking.
I think of this way of cooking as very creative. Instead of being driven by a regular list of produce purchased week on and week out, produce is prepared when at its best and seasonally abundant. Generally speaking, seasonal produce should be of a reasonable price simply because there is a lot more of it in circulation. Of course, this is not always the case, and certain ‘trendy’ or difficult to grow/transport produce will carry a higher price tag. A high price can also be a result of rough weather, if we get a lot of rain (like we did last month) this is going to have a knock-on effect of slower vegetable growth, and if flooding was involved produce may be a complete write-off. This will affect availability and price down the track.
I think of shopping for produce in a similar way to gardening, when there is a lot in the garden, I will cook a lot of the same thing (currently beans and zucchini). And when produce is a good price I buy it more often and that is what we eat more regularly. At the moment we are at the crossroads of fresh summer produce coming to an end and flavourful autumn produce filling our plates. Late-season sweetcorn is still good value although it is beginning to lose its fresh juiciness – when it is best eaten simply boiled – and is now better used in cooking with other ingredients to complement.
Circling back to those 120+ recipes I write each year there are some which get the BIG thumbs up from my family, recipes that I think about for weeks after and make again and again. This is one of them, introducing Grilled Smoky Creamed Corn. Enjoy!
Grilled Smoky Creamed Corn
- 1 red capsicum, stalk and seeds removed, and cut into quarters
- Olive oil for brushing
- 2 tbsp (30g) butter
- ½ red onion, chopped
- 2 sweetcorn cobs, husks removed (or use 2 cups frozen sweetcorn*)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
- Salt and cracked pepper
- 1 heaped tbsp flour - can use gluten-free
- ¾ cup (185ml) milk
- ½ cup (125ml) cream
- 1 cup (100g) grated cheese
- Chopped chives or parsley to serve
- Brush the capsicum wedges with olive oil. Chargrill, skin side down in a hot frying pan until the skin is nicely charred and flesh softened, about 10 minutes.
- Remove to a small bowl and cover with a plate. Set aside for 10 minutes for the capsicum to sweat and loosen the skin so it is easier to remove. Alternatively, use the equivalent quantity of store-bought roasted red capsicums.
- In the same frying pan melt the butter over a moderate heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened.
- Meanwhile, hold a corn cob in a bowl and use a small knife to cut the sweetcorn kernels from the cob. Rather than cutting whole kernels aim to cut smaller pieces to release the starchy liquid. Repeat with the second cob. *If using frozen sweetcorn you will get a creamier dish if you first thaw then blitz briefly in a food processor to coarsely chop - don’t puree.
- Add the sweetcorn, along with the garlic, paprika and chilli (if using) to the onions. Season with a generous pinch of salt and twist of cracked pepper. Saute for 2 minutes then add the flour and stir over the heat until combined.
- Slowly pour in the milk then cream, stirring constantly as the sauce thickens.
- Peel the skin from the grilled capsicum and finely chop. Add to the corn and stir to combine.
- Cook for 6-8 minutes until the creamed corn has thickened and the corn kernels are tender. Add half of the grated cheese and stir through until melted.
- Pour the creamed corn into a 20cm baking dish (or leave in the frying pan if it is oven-proof). Scatter with the remaining cheeses and flash under a searing hot oven grill until the cheese is melted and bubbly. About 5 minutes.
- Scatter with chopped herbs and serve - on toast with scrambled eggs on the side, or as a side to dinner.