When I think about which recipe I want to share on Tuesdays, I can’t help but look for healthy options. After the indulgences of our Chocolate Mondays, we need something redeeming to follow them LOL! Corn cakes are extremely versatile and can be the base for any number of toppings. The simplest is salsa, and given the abundance of tomatoes at this time of the year, is a natural choice.
Corn cakes are essentially fritters, a down-home southern basic that find their way into many meals. You can serve them as a side with fried foods, or create a lovely first course before the main meal. For a change of pace, you could top them with creme fraiche, smoked salmon, and fresh dill, like a blini. Pulled pork or chicken lightly dressed with BBQ sauce and served with some fresh cabbage slaw is one of my favorites. If you make tiny cakes, you can serve them as an amuse bouche or cocktail finger foods.
Adding fresh corn kernels adds a lot of textural interest to the cakes. I like that these are served savory, as most corn cakes are considered a sweet dish. This is yet another way to utilize the bountiful summer harvest. If you wanted this to be a vegetarian dinner, you can make larger cakes and serve with a casual vegetable saute. Combine whatever you love with onions and garlic, add a little olive oil and fresh herbs, then do a quick stir-fry just until everything is al dente. If you want more substance, you can add some cooked pasta or potatoes and a sprinkling of sharp cheese.
These cakes are also a wonderful option for your next brunch. They hold up well on a buffet and can be served at room temperature. The natural sweetness of corn lends itself to a less savory cake if you like which would also complement waffles or coffee cake. I would happily serve them with a side of country ham and some wonderful homemade bread for a fast and easy breakfast when company is staying over.
If you wanted an unusual and fun dessert, make some sweet corn ice cream and serve it in small scoops on these corn cakes. Your guests will be talking about your creativity for many months to come!
If you have never made your own Pico de Gallo (peekoh-day-guy-oh) you’re really missing out on an amazingly easy and fresh delight. Grab a sharp knife, cutting board, big bowl, and chop away! It is as easy as throwing tomatoes, onions, jalapeno chiles, cilantro, and some lime juice together, toss quickly, and serve. And it is soooo much better than anything you can buy at the store. Once you’ve made your own, you’ll never go back!
If you like a smoky flavor in your salsa, the next time you are grilling supper, throw a couple of poblano or Anaheim chiles on the fire. Cook until they are blistered on all sides then carefully remove them with tongs and place them in a bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and let them steam for about 10 to 15 minutes. This give the steam a chance to get underneath the skin making it very simple to peel them. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin, remove the stem and seeds, and coarsely chop the chiles. Use them anywhere you would use fresh chile peppers such as in a fresh salsa, in omelets, meatloaf, or to add a touch of heat to pasta sauce.
In the lingering heat of late summer, when you can’t face a heavy meal, try going vegetarian. These cake take just a few minutes to assemble and cook, then can be served warm or at room temperature. Pair them with a cool salad and you’ve got a meal just perfect for eating outside on beautiful balmy evenings. Enjoy!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Most people cook corn far, far too long. If you think about it, you can eat it raw, so why would you boil it for 20 minutes? The easiest thing to do is put a large pot of water on the stove, bring to a boil, add some kosher salt, and drop the corn in for just 3 to 5 minutes. It will be tender but still snap when you bite it. Absolutely perfect!
Kitchen Skill: Cutting Corn of the Cob
The main danger of cutting corn kernels off the cob is that the cob doesn’t have a flat edge to work with, so you need to create one. Any fruit or vegetable that is round needs to have a solid base to work with. Before cooking, break the cobs in half. Cook in boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, drain and set onto a plate to cool slightly. Working on a clean kitchen towel (to keep the kernels from bouncing too much) stand the corn pieces up with the flat end on the towel. Use a very sharp knife and with a sawing motion, cut the kernels off the cob. When you’re done, gently gather up the towel and deposit the kernels into a bowl.
Summer Corn Cakes with Fresh Tomato Salsa
From Annie Roberts, Head Chef, Robert Mondavi Winery
Yield: 4 servings
Corn oil or olive oil for sauteing and frying
1 tbsp garlic, chopped
3 cups fresh raw corn kernels, cut from about 5 ears of corn (or frozen and thawed)
1 jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and finely minced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp chives, chopped
6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp shallot, chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 jalapeno chile pepper, finely minced
2 tbsp lemon juice or lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Sour cream and additional chopped chives, optional
Corn Cakes: Heat 2 tsp oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic, corn, jalapeno, red bell pepper, and green onions. Cook for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set pan aside for later use.
In a bowl, combine flour, cornmeal and baking powder. Whisk in the egg, cayenne, milk and butter. Pour into the bowl with the vegetable mixture and then add the chives.
Heat saute pan again with a teaspoon of corn oil. Using an ice cream scoop or ladle, drop silver dollar size spoonfuls of batter and saute until nicely browned on each side. Drain on paper towels and serve with tomato salsa and sour cream, sprinkle with additional chives if desired.
Tomato Salsa: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Place several corn cakes fanned out on an appetizer plate, top with a little salsa and if desired, a dollop of sour cream and sprinkling of minced chives. Serve immediately.
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