Fresh - March Edition

The Sweetest Thing

One of the great things about mid summer is the arrival of locally grown sweet corn, but am I alone in thinking that this year there seems to be an abundance of over-ripened mature corn on the market? These giant cobs are not as juicy and succulent as the smaller more compact 'honey and pearl' varieties and the kernels are often tough. Is this very yellow large-kernel corn a new variety? Maybe it's just that growers need reminding from time to time that big does not necessarily mean better! My disappointment in this year's crop is certainly not linked to a lack of freshness as I have scoured the city looking for perfect specimens, ignoring corn that looks withered or dry, or piles of corn that have been picked over. Like a magnet I am drawn to heaping mounds of fresh corn, especially cobs with green husks and golden, not brown, silks. I guess I'll have to grow my own again next year - although, to be honest, although my homegrown corn is always deliciously sweet, the cobs are usually munted in some way. But perfection is a small price to pay for tender sweet succulence.

Anyway, once you've got a bunch of corn cobs, what can you do with them apart from slather them with butter? My daughter Ilaria doesn't eat butter, so she dresses her corn with a fruity extra virgin olive oil, and the rest of us in the family choose this route sometimes too. It's especially good with a smattering of chilli and squeeze of lime.

We also like them cooked in their husks, on the barbecue. The kernels steam and become tender and the natural sugars caramelise, developing a gorgeously sweet and nutty flavour. You need to unwrap the husks and remove the silks first, and soak them in cold water before cooking them. Here's how to do them: Barbecued corn

While corn needs little more than a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and a little butter or oil, sometimes it is nice to add a few more flavourings. Here's a quick blend of flavours to liven up corn cobs Chilli Lime Butter.

I've got heaps of tips on corn too:
Old Wive's Tales
The Three Sisters
Corn information

I already have a scrumptious recipe using sweet corn on my site Avocado, bacon and corn baps, from my book Sizzle, Sensational Barbecue Food, and here's another great one using corn: Zucchini & corn fritters

For my American friends, who have battled snow and freezing temperatures over the last few months, here's a recipe to warm you up: Green chicken curry with cashew nuts and don't forget to check out the great warming soups I've got on the site:

Pumpkin soup with thyme
Garbure Basque
Chunky leek and potato soup
Pea and ham soup

And remember that all the recipes in my book Never-ending Summer have instructions for cooking indoors, which is nice and practical and it means you can bring a little touch of sunshine to your wintery months.

On to other news...

I will be in Wellington March 14th to host a special brunch at Te Papa (9.00am-12.30pm) as part of the A Day In Pompeii Exhibition

I recently discovered a whole cache of letters I wrote 35 years ago to my family during my travels to and around Italy. These will form the basis of a talk I will give as part of the event. Chef Bernd Lippmann will be making some of my favourite dishes, including grilled aubergine rolls with feta and crunchy potato cakes, from my book Never-ending Summer and serving the brunch in Icon. They're both utterly scrumptious recipes and I can't wait to see how he interprets them. If you're in town, you might like to come and join us for a glass of bubbly, a delicious brunch, my talk, and an exclusive viewing of the A Day In Pompeii Exhibition.

You can book online at

Here's the programme blurb:

Letters from Italy –
Brunch with Julie Biuso
Sunday 14 March 2010
ICON, Level 2
$75 public, $70 Friends of Te Papa
A Visa Entertainment Exclusive

Julie Biuso first toured Italy in 1975. She fell in love with the place, people, and culinary delights. The letters she wrote home while she travelled paint vivid pictures of her experiences.

It was there that she discovered the simple delights of Neapolitan cuisine: tomatoes that tasted of sunshine, buffalo mozzarella cheese that ran like a river over puffed and blistered crusts of pizza dough, and the scent of basil wafting through the streets.

Enjoy an exclusive viewing of A Day in Pompeii, then join Julie for brunch and listen to her read from her letters and recount her experiences.

Thinking about all these events I'm taking part in reminds me that I've got a stack of work to do in getting recipes ready and organising all the details. Hope you've enjoyed all the news, and if you haven't already, check out my new blog on my site, Life Of A Peach - there's a little seriousness there amongst a lot of tongue-in-cheek commentary!

Happy cooking everyone


Barbecue corn

Green chicken curry with cashew nuts