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.
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.