Friday, June 12, 2009

Savory cornmeal pancakes with warm tomato salad and organic greens



I enjoy adapting recipes to suit my taste and needs. I was flipping through an old Gourmet and saw a wonderful idea for lunch – Corn Fritters with Arugula and Warm Tomato Salad. Corn meal pancakes, slathered with butter and maple syrup or honey, are a favorite breakfast in my husband’s family and he frequently asks for them in the mornings. He loves to reminisce about Gramps, his grandfather, and how he loved to cook. But after Gramps finished, the kitchen would look like a bomb went off. The first time I made corn meal pancakes I messed up every bowl in the kitchen and, when we sat down to eat, I said, “Don’t go in the kitchen, it look like Gramps was there.”

The idea of turning sweet breakfast pancakes into savory ones and having them for lunch intrigued me. The fritters in the magazine recipe turned out dry and had a raw cornmeal flavor. We critiqued them, which we often do with meals, and decided to give a new twist to our old stand-by cornmeal pancake recipe from Joy of Cooking. In Joy’s recipe the cornmeal is covered with boiling water for 15 minutes and looses it raw taste.

The most important addition we made was to add freshly cooked corn kernels, which was not in the Gourmet recipe. The addition of the corn lifted the pancakes to a whole new level. Grilled corn would have given it even more depth of flavor. Since we were making a savory pancake I also reduced the sugar in the original recipe and also substituted canola for the melted butter in the batter.

We served the pancakes for lunch with an organic green salad mix tossed with my house mustard vinaigrette and roasted grape tomatoes that I salted and peppered and baked in a 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes, then sprinkled with chopped fresh basil right before serving.

Our new savory cornmeal pancake version came out terrific, but we had leftovers. We could have eaten the entire dozen between the two of us, but decided to watch our waistlines and experiment with saving the leftovers similar to how we save crepes. The experiment was a success – yielding great left over pancakes. I cut small pieces of wax paper, placed it between each cake and refrigerated them in a covered airtight container. The next morning we reheated the pancakes on a sheet pan in a 250 degree F oven for about 10 minutes until they were warm. They were every bit as good as the originals. Now we have a new savory recipe converted from an old sweet favorite and a great new way to save the leftover pancakes for another meal.

Cornmeal pancakes
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
Yield: Twelve 4” cakes

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon sugar
1 cup boiling water
1 large egg
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup cooked yellow corn kernels
Sweet butter for serving, optional

Combine the cornmeal, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over the mixture, stir well, cover and set aside for 15 minutes.

In a separate bowl beat the egg, milk and oil until combined. After 15 minutes, add to the cornmeal mixture and stir until smooth. Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Stir into the hot cornmeal mixture, then add corn and mix well.

Heat a pancake griddle or 12” lightly oiled skillet until hot. Drop the batter by spoonfuls onto the griddle. When the pancakes begins to bubble in the center and start to dry around the edges, turn and cook until done. The second side takes only about half as long as the first side and never browns as evenly, so serve them first side up.

Remove the cakes and keep warm in a 200 degree F oven while you make the remaining cakes. Do not stack or they will become soggy. When all pancakes are done, serve immediately with sweet butter if desired. Save leftovers as described above.

37 comments:

  1. Great story..and these sounds so good! I love that you've made them savoury!!

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  2. A fabulous recipe: I love corn fritters (we call fresh ears of corn 'mielies' here in South Africa) and I ADORE baby tomatoes. I am definitely going to try this! And well done for acknowledging the source of your recipe: I can't help feeling sorry for food writers who see their original recipes reproduced all over the Internet, without so much as a nod. Juno.

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  3. I love this type of recipe, Sam. A little history, a little experimentation and a final triumphant taste - another success in the kitchen because someone kept at it. This is very nice. Thanks for sharing it with us. Have a wonderful day.

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  4. A little tempting is what I say!

    Give me that with an extra few for my stack of Johnny Cakes sister :)

    M M Good...

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  5. My printer is whirring as I type! These sound wonderful! I may have to add a little goat cheese to mine.

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  6. I love the savory version - these corn cakes sound excellent! Thanks for sharing the story and the recipe!

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  7. I just love cornmeal pancakes, and I really like your bistro-style presentation. It reminds me that I've got some nice organic cornmeal that would work so nicely with this recipe!

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  8. great story - nice cakes and the goat cheese idea has my gears churnin'

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  9. Sam, Good for you for adapting and playing around with this recipe. I will try this because I trust your instinct. Have a good weekend. David gets home on Sunday from his fishing trip. Oh the Stories he will tell.

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  10. I loved reading your story about Gramps and the messy kitchen and the recipe looks wonderful.
    Blessings, Star

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  11. what a fabulous lunch love eating savoury crepes also, its been a while

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  12. Cant recall ever having cornmeal pancakes, they sound so delicious!

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  13. Thanks for sharing your lovely memories!

    I really love the idea of this dish. It's not too heavy. I love that you used corn kernels in the pancakes.

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  14. I bet Gramps was related to my grandfather! Wow, what a mess maker. I love that you have these for a savory dish and I never would have thought to keep left over pancakes. Great idea!

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  15. MMMMMM..the corn cakes look so lovely & tasty!!

    MMMMMMMM....

    About the ginger syrup: i buy my gingersyrup at my Asian market: it is cheap too! easy as well. You also can buy stem ginger balls in syrup, then you could use the ginger syrup from that pot. It is made from a combination of sugar & ginger. It is a great substitute.

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  16. Sam, I so enjoy your blog. We made your Red Beans and Rice yesterday and I referred to you and your recipe on my blog. Thanks.

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  17. Sounds yummy-and just perfect for a busy week night supper. And I always like recipes that keep well for left overs-so thats a plus too.

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  18. Sam,
    This recipe sounds really good. I think I'll try it for our dinner. I'm sure our family would enjoy these cornbread pancakes very much.

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  19. I love corn pancake! It's perfect for lunch or even snack :)

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  20. Sam, as usual, you have created a great dish and a good meal I want to try.
    I grew up eating corn pancakes, but not so nicely seasoned as yours.

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  21. I love the idea of savory pancakes - using them as crepes. Adding in the corn kernels would be simply grand and accompanying them with a fresh salad is truly a summer meal.

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  22. Oh yum!! I love the addition of fresh corn. That's what my grandma used to add to her cornbread, and it always made it a little more special for some reason. Looks delicious!

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  23. I love corn cakes, I have a recipe I use from the Mesa Grill cookbook to make them. Looks like you made a great lunch plate!

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  24. Would have to agree with you on the corns! Love seeing them poking out in my food =P

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  25. Ah, sounds like my husband cooks like Gramps - tornado hits! But it is always worth the fabulous food!

    Those cornmeal pancakes look delicious! This really is a great lunch, the fritters served simply with salad.

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  26. Hi Sam, these do indeed sound fabulous. I'll have to try them. Have you used roasted cornmeal ever, I wonder? I'm thinking it will make great breading for fried okra, but it might be an interesting addition to this, a portion of the cornmeal being roasted. Right now my husband is away and I'm doing NO cooking. He'll be back this weekend, though.

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  27. I love savory pancakes and this sounds like the perfect lunch. Yum!

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  28. I loved the story Sam and I like the idea of pancakes for lunch, especially cornmeal pancakes with a warms salad..it's just so Southern, which translates to elegant to me!

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  29. A delicious blog in every sense. Just reading through these wonderful recipes makes me hungry.

    I thought I joined as a follower last night. Oh well, I am here now and I will visit often.
    Cheers!

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  30. I did not know it was possible to save pancakes, savory or sweet. Thanks for the tip. GREG

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  31. Cornmeal pancakes just don't seem the same if they don't include the kernels. What a lovely meal(s) you've mustered up. Thanks for sharing...

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  32. These delicious-sounding pancakes are similar to the "fritters" using clams or oysters found on the Outer Banks. In fact, today I included the recipe for Clam Fritters topped with Chevre on my Carolina Foodie blog. Like minds think alike? Enjoyed it. Elizabeth Wiegand

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  33. What a simple and great recipe! And I nejoyed the story.

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  34. i'm all about pancakes, sweet or savory. my grandpa grinds his own cornmeal, so cornbread and corncakes have always been special to me. i love your commentary (and recipe). :)

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  35. Did someone say 'pancakes'? I would eat them at every meal if I could and now I can! I love the addition of corn kernels; although this is adapted for a savory dish, I think I may still make it for breakfast. 8-)

    And what a funny story about your husband's grandfather! My mom is the same way - she'll cook up a storm then 'retire' to her room to rest after the meal. But cleaning up is a small price to pay for delicious food . . .

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  36. This is my idea of heaven...corn pancakes, mmmm xv

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Sam