Sunday, April 20, 2008

Corn Griddle Cakes

I have been playing with pancakes lately. I finally found a good recipe for buttermilk pancakes, and I am happy with them, but I just can't seem to leave anything well enough alone in the kitchen. If something is good, there's always something out there that can make it better, that's my philosophy. And as I've been leafing through cookbooks and cooking magazines, I have been tearing out or earmarking variations on pancakes. Not a few of them have involved corn in some form or another.

My refrigerator is not the biggest refrigerator in the world. There are many times that my eyes are bigger than its shelves. If I get too ambitious on the weekend with what I am going to cook for the coming week, the shelves fill up pretty quickly. Taking anything out becomes a game of musical chairs - something else goes in that takes up the space left behind, and there is no more room for what I had taken out originally. I know this problem is not unique to me and my small fridge. It's just one of those situations where you always end up having too much to fit, no matter how big it is.

Which happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I did not have enough room for all of the containers of food I had put together. Most of them were coordinated and went with other containers for a full meal - protein in one, vegetable in another, carbs in the third, so I couldn't really do anything about those. But there was one container that stood out from the rest like a red watering can in the middle of a blueberry patch.

Ever since I used it in a recipe for my friend Susie's Make-Ahead Oriental Salad (which is totally delicious and super easy and which I will share with you some day), I have loved white shoepeg corn. It is small and crunchy-crisp and sweet. But alas, it seems to be one of those things that is common in the south, but not so well-known up here. For a while I could get it in cans from the jolly green guy, but I must have been the only one buying it because it eventually disappeared, although a visit to their website shows that it is still available. I was disappointed because yellow corn just does not do this salad justice, and I have come to prefer it over yellow corn for everything else as well. And then I discovered that there was a house brand of white corn in the freezer section at my Jewel. Which is doubly good because I have also discovered over the years that frozen corn is much better than canned, so it stood to reason that frozen white corn would be better than canned.

And it is, but not quite as good as white shoepeg corn. I will have to seek it out - I am sure there is somewhere in this city that carries it. Oh goody! A new mission for this lovely spring weather we are finally enjoying!

Where was I? Oh yes, too much food in my refrigerator and white corn. The one orphan container left in the refrigerator was some corn I had seasoned with olive oil, lime juice, garlic and cilantro. And while it was delicious, I didn't really have anything to build around it for a meal and I had only meal components in the other containers. So I started to think about what I could do with it.

And fritters came to mind. I have always loved the idea of corn fritters, but every time I look at the recipe I decide it is too much work, what with separating the eggs and beating up the whites, and too much frying. While I am an adventurous cook and love to try and master all kinds of techniques, the deep fryer is not something that interests me. If I want deep-fried foods I will go out and order them from someone who has mastered the art and doesn't mind dealing with all the clean-up issues. I suppose I could play around with creating something that doesn't have to be fried, but I'm not that intrigued.

I wanted some kind of pancake/fritter recipe, so I went to fooddownunder.com and entered the words "corn" and "cakes" and found several options. The one that fit the ingredients I had on hand was a recipe for Corn Griddle Cakes, which might be from the Two Fat Ladies ("fat" and "ladies" were both in the key words, although the recipe was not attributed to them). There was neither beating of egg whites nor deep frying, so it was right up my alley.

And I made a batch. But I wasn't really hungry, so other than a nibble broken off to see how they tasted, I decided to just put them away and have them for breakfast the next day. So I waited for them to cool off, put them in a storage container and went to bed.

And that was the end of them. I wasn't really thinking about the fact that they had corn in them and they weren't just regular old pancakes. They had turned a dark gray in the center, which concerned me enough that I had to throw them away. I was disappointed, because the little nibble I had taken the night before was very promising, let me tell you.

So last weekend I decided to try again. I did not recreate the oil-lime-cilantro-garlic corn that I had used before; instead I just let a package of frozen white corn defrost and used it plain. I am still playing with King Arthur white whole wheat flour, so I used half of that and half regular all-purpose flour. Even the white whole wheat flour is too heavy to use by itself, I am sad to report.

I wasn't sure how they would cook up, because the batter was a little on the thick side. But I am happy to say that they were light and fluffy. I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to ladle out the batter, which made each cake about six inces wide (I cannot be sure, though, as I did not use a wooden ruler to measure them). The corn kernels provided bursts of flavor interspersed throughout each bite. It was really good with the maple syrup. I don't eat pancakes often, so I do indulge in 100% pure maple syrup. That imitation maple just does not do it for me. Your mileage may vary, of course, but if you haven't used 100% US Grade A Dark Amber, give it a try. Most likely you will never go back to that fake stuff again.
Home Cookin Chapter: Breads and Muffins

CORN GRIDDLE CAKES
Servings: 4

1 cup plain flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
6 ounces fresh sweet corn kernels, cut from the cob
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp melted butter

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Combine the corn, egg and milk, add to the Flour mixture and mix well. Then add the butter. Spoon onto a hot griddle, using 2 to 3 tablespoons of the mixture for each cake. Cook until bubbles show on the surface, then turn the cakes over and cook the other sides until golden brown.

Serve with crisp rashers of bacon and maple syrup.

Recipe 35233 of 281476 from www.fooddownunder.com (key words: fat ladies)

Exported from Home Cookin 5.5 (www.mountain-software.com)

3 comments:

misreall said...

It is me again, worst friend in the world. Those look fantastic, and I never really know what to do with corn, other than roast it on the cob.

Lynda

dejamo said...

Lynda, we can't keep competing for the worst friend in the world award :)

These were really good, and a nice twist on pancakes. They're pretty easy, too.

archibald fontaine said...

two fat ladies. :) have not heard of them for a while...

barefoot contessa makes a great corn salad.

i love these kind of things, i think i'm going to make this one.

totally agree, once you have maple syrup, why would you ever eat the other again. really...

keep up the great work.

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