April 19, 2011

Corncakes Rancheros

My goodness I've been terribly absent lately.  It's not because I've been globe-trotting or accepting awards or whatever you probably assumed I was doing.  It's just because the usual stunning DEB meals have not been exciting enough to share with you.  Or have been gulped down too quickly to allow for photos.... It's all coming to an end, though.  There are grocery lists and notes jotted down on various receipt-backs and stuffed into my purse that are waiting to be referenced over the next week.  My planner is once again serving its ultimate purpose as a place for meal-planning, leaving dentist appointments and lunch dates woefully forgotten.  But all in the name of good eats!  

Here's a dinner we had a few months ago that I never got around to sharing with you. This is one of those perfect meals for the end of a long week day, or a quick brunch on an impromptu sunny Sunday. It was a classic DEB meal, and is actually quite representative of how we've been eating lately (quick, easy, low-planning type of meals).  Some fresh produce, a can of beans, and a few minutes at the stove gives you a good dinner with plenty of time left to relax in the backyard... by which I mean "do laundry and yell at the dogs to stay out of the garden." 

Basically, you start with a base of several soft corncakes with just the right amount of crunch at their edges.  You top this with some canned refried or black beans, seasoned with a touch of cumin, salt, and chili powder.  You can sprinkle shredded cheese over the beans, or some sauteed onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Then, top it off with a fried egg, probably with a slightly runny yolk.  Finally, scoop a small pile of avocado-pico onto your plate.  I would recommend keeping it simple, so as to ensure you really taste the corncakes, but you could certainly add salsa or sour cream or something. 

Once you've tried these corncakes, you'll probably want to make them again.  Next time I might try just topping them with a salty cheese and some salsa, or sweetening them up and covering them in maple syrup. For those of you who are wondering why these little pancakes don't have the added crunch and sweetness of actual corn in them, especially since we'll be heading into fresh corn season at the farmer's market soon, it's not because it would be a bad idea.  It's not because I don't think it would taste great, or because you shouldn't take the time to add in one more ingredient.  It's because I find myself absolutely mentally tormented by the sight of loose corn kernels.  It's something I understand to be irrational, and work to correct whenever the opportunity presents itself. But until such time as I can Get Over It, I won't be ruining a perfectly good corncake with actual corn.  You, however, are highly encouraged to try a half cup or so of fresh corn in these delightful golden cakes. 
1 large egg
2 cups milk or buttermilk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
1.5 cups cornmeal
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Mix the wet ingredients together in a large bowl.  Mix the dry ingredients together in a smaller bowl, then stir into the wet ingredients.  (If you want to add corn kernels, stir in at this point.)  Let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes.  

Heat a pan to medium and melt butter.  Add about 1/4 cup of batter per cake, keeping about 1-2 inches between them.  Cook until browned on each side.  If they aren't done in the middle when they're done browning, turn your heat down a bit for the next batch.  Repeat with remaining batter, keep corncakes in the oven set at lowest temperature until ready to serve.

1 avocado
1 small tomato
1/2 white or red onion
handful of cilantro leaves
1 clove garlic
1 lime

Cut the avocado in half, remove pit, dice, and scoop into a bowl.  Dice the tomato and onion, lightly chop the cilantro, and mix it all with avocado.  Finely mince (or microplane) the garlic, and stir in.  Squeeze one half of the lime over the bowl. If it's a good, juicy lime, that should suffice. If not, add the juice from the other half.  Finally, sprinkle with salt and a dash of cumin, give it one last stir, and allow it to marinate for 30 minutes before serving. 

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