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Amazing maize: Tom Hunt’s no-waste recipe for corn cob ice-cream | Food

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The Mayans, and after them the Incas and the Aztecs, have been cultivating and cooking maize since about 2,000BC. Now, maize provides about a fifth of human global nutrition, and is grown in such quantity that uses have been found for all its byproducts, from aspirin to shampoo.

To get the most from your corn cob, stand it on end and, holding it firmly, cut off the kernels in long strips, then break them up with your hands. Next, use a spoon to scrape all the mushy pulp and milk out of the cob. The milk, scrapings and cob itself are starchy and rich, and make a powerful flavour enhancer in soups, stocks and chowders; the milk and cobs can also be used to make corn stock or today’s surprisingly delicious corn ice-cream.

Don’t waste the husks, either: dry them and use in tamales, a Mesoamerican dish of maize dough wrapped in corn husks and steamed. The corn silks, meanwhile, can be turned into a medicinal tea used for inflammation, diabetes and other ailments simply by steeping them in hot water. It’s an acquired taste, true, but one that’s worth researching.

Corn cob ice-cream

Buy and eat corn as fresh as possible to catch it at its sweetest. Look for maize in their husks and store in the fridge, because that way they will keep fresher for longer. A good fresh cob will yield a good quantity of corn pulp and milk, a starchy, flavourful substance that is traditionally used to boost the corn flavour of all kinds of dishes. To make creamed corn for two, cut the kernels off of a large corn, then scrape out the pulp and milk using a soup spoon. Simmer with 25ml each of cream and water for 10 minutes, until the cream begins to thicken. Season with salt and pepper and finish with a knob of butter.

I think corn works equally as well in desserts, where it adds a rounded, satisfying flavour. This ice-cream uses the spent cobs as well as the pulp and milk, because it, too, holds plenty of flavour. The sweet, subtle flavour of corn infused into this ice-cream is surprisingly delicious.

3 corn cobs, kernels shaved off and saved for another dish
250ml double cream
200ml whole milk
2 eggs
25g unrefined sugar

Scrape the pulp and milk from the spent corn cobs into a heavy-based pan. Cut the cobs into pieces and add them, too, along with the double cream and milk. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar for five minutes, until very thick. Strain the hot corn milk into the egg mixture, stirring constantly, then return the mix to the pan on a very low heat. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes, to thicken, then strain into a container and leave to cool. Churn in an ice-cream machine, or freeze over several hours, whisking every two hours, until set.

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Autumn seems to come later these days – is the climate crisis to blame? | Autumn

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I’ve noticed that trees begin turning colour much later in autumn in recent years, and don’t begin to drop their leaves until late October or November. Our mulberry tree was always “last to come, first to go” but not in recent years; the apple trees are later too. Is this another aspect of the climate emergency? Has anyone else noticed this?

Jill Bennett, St Albans, Herts

Post your answers – and new questions – below or email them to [email protected]


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‘It’s literally the perfect knife’: Dan Hong on the three most useful objects in his life | Food

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How does a chef get through one of the most challenging times the hospitality industry’s ever faced?

For Dan Hong, it’s been a chance to get buff.

The Merivale executive chef – behind restaurants including Mr Wong, Lotus, Queen Chow – hopped on the phone to tell us about the most helpful things in his life right now.

The My Fitness Pal app

Every couple of years I go in phases of gaining weight and losing weight. I first started using this app five years ago. I started going to the gym, I got a trainer and I lost a lot of weight – 12 kilos.

But then, Covid made me gain eight kilos. At first, I was drinking a lot. So, for the last nine or 10 weeks I’ve been on a massive diet and not drinking. I decided at the beginning of July I wanted to lose weight. And the only way for me to really see results is to record every calorie I put in my body – not everyone is like this, but for me, it’s essential.

A lot of people think they’re eating healthy but they’re not. They think “I can still eat olive oil, I can still eat a poke bowl”. You can still eat carbs and oils and stuff, but you have to know when to stop, and recording it really helps.

Of course it’s difficult as a chef, to really commit, because I was always travelling. If I was going overseas or interstate I’d be eating a lot. So this was the perfect time to start, because I knew I wasn’t going to go anywhere.

Kiwi knives

Someone chopping baby corn with a wooden handled blade.
‘It’s so perfect for what I need to do, from julienning and simple chopping and dicing.’ Photograph: PhotoTalk/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Kiwi brand knife is one of the cheapest knives on the market. They’re available at any Asian grocer, and they come in different sizes for no more than $10. They’ve got wooden handles and they’re super sharp and light. We use them at home and when they go blunt, we just buy a new one.

When I was a second year apprentice we had this French-Canadian chef who’d just come back from a stage (an internship) at El Bulli, he told me about them. This was in 2002 and they were $2 each. I’d been spending hundreds of dollars on knives – so this was a revelation.

It’s so perfect for what I need to do, from julienning and simple chopping and dicing. They last quite a while, if you use them every day they stay sharp for a month. Once they go blunt, you can just buy a new one. I’ve used them all through my career. I would always have a box of them in the draw in the office, a stash.

If you go to Thailand, all the street food vendors use them too.

It feels good to have something so cheap that works so well. It’s nothing against good knives. If you look at sushi chefs for instance, you just can’t do your job with a Kiwi knife. It’s the same for butchering. But for simple at home chopping jobs, it’s literally the perfect knife.

Magnesium tablets

I find it hard to sleep every night, especially with the amount of training I’ve been doing. I have aching muscles every now and then, and magnesium really helps to relax them, so I can have proper sleep and a clear mind.

Not drinking helps too. I like this, rather than trying to take melatonin or something that makes you drowsy, because this way you wake up feeling really refreshed.

Taking them is an old personal trainer thing – they always recommend it when you first start working out. Now, it’s pretty much become ritualised for me. It’s not that I notice a big, big difference when I take them, but I do notice I have a deeper sleep and I’m not waking up in the night as much.


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Try sugaring at home instead of waxing

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It helps remove hair using a gel-mix of sugar, lemon and hot water.

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