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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Jane Baxter

Jane Baxter’s budget recipes for American-style sweetcorn

Jane Baxter's squash, corn and bean stew.
Jane Baxter’s squash, corn and bean stew. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura/The Guardian. Food styling: Hanna Miller, Prop styling: Louie Waller. Food styling assistant: Verity Walcott.

Native Americans grew corn alongside climbing beans and squash in a symbiotic planting system known as the three sisters: the corn stalks gave the beans something to climb while fixing nitrogen into the soil, and the squash leaves provided shade. This stew uses all three sisters and is an economical, autumnal bowl of goodness. I’ve listed frozen corn in the ingredients, but you could also use fresh corn, scraping it straight off the cob. The corn fritters, meanwhile, can be served for breakfast with bacon and tomatoes or as a side with a bowl of chilli, ideally with some salsa and creme fraiche.

Squash, bean and corn stew (pictured top)

Prep 15 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
, peeled and chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 pinch ground cumin, to taste
1 tsp smoked paprika
150g frozen sweetcorn
, rinsed
1 butternut squash
, halved, seeds removed, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
200g chopped tomatoes, tinned or fresh
250ml vegetable stock
1 x 400g tin borlotti beans
, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp chopped coriander
Salt and pepper

Put the oil in a large pan on a medium heat, then saute the onion and red pepper, stirring, for about 10 minutes, until soft. Stir in the garlic and spices, cook for a few minutes more, then add the corn and squash, and stir to coat. Tip in the tomatoes and stock, bring to a simmer and leave to cook on a low heat for 15 minutes, until the squash is tender.

Stir the beans through the stew, adding a little water if it seems a little dry, and cook for just a couple of minutes to warm through. Stir in the coriander, season to taste and serve.

Corn cakes

Jane Baxter’s corn cakes with avocado salsa.
Jane Baxter’s corn cakes with avocado salsa. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura/The Guardian. Food styling: Hanna Miller, Prop styling: Louie Waller

Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 4

200g frozen sweetcorn
1 pinch red chilli flakes
, or to taste
½ red onion, finely chopped
125g plain flour
2 tbsp polenta
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
125ml milk
2 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tbsp chopped coriander

Salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 avocado
6 cherry tomatoes
1 garlic clove
, peeled and crushed
1 tsp sweet chilli sauce
Juice of ½ lime

Bring a small pan of water to a boil. Rinse the corn under cold running water, drop into the boiling water, cook for two minutes, then drain.

Put the chilli flakes, chopped onion and drained corn in a large bowl, add the flour, polenta and baking powder, then whisk to combine. Add the eggs and egg yolk, stir in well, then mix in the milk and a tablespoon of creme fraiche. Whisk to make a thick batter, stir in the coriander and season generously.

Put the oil and butter in a nonstick pan on a medium heat. Working in batches, spoon in tablespoon-sized dollops of the batter to make small fritters – do not overcrowd the pan – and leave to cook for two minutes on each side, until nicely coloured. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Stone and peel the avocado, then roughly chop the flesh and put it in a bowl. Roughly chop the tomatoes, add to the bowl with the garlic, chilli sauce and lime juice, and season.

To serve, top the pancakes with a little salsa and a small blob of creme fraiche.

• Jane Baxter is chef/co-owner of Wild Artichokes in Kingsbridge, Devon. Her next book, Recipes for a Better Menopause, co-authored with Dr Federica Amati, is published in October by Octopus at £25. To pre-order a copy for £22, go to

  • This article was edited on 25 September 2023, to clarify that, in the corn cake recipe, the drained corn should be mixed with the onion and chilli before adding the rest of the batter ingredients.

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