Corn cakes made with the kernels of fresh or frozen corn are an easy step up from the basic pancake. Once made, you can top the silver dollar-sized pancakes with all sorts of things.
- 1 and a half cups of corn kernels, fresh or frozen. (If fresh, cut from three ears of corn)
- half cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 tbsp. of butter
- half cup of flour
- half cup of corn meal
- 2 tsp. of kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. of black pepper
- ¼ cup of chopped chives
- ½ tsp. of oil
If using fresh corn from the cob, cut the kernels off the ears using a sharp knife. Stand the ear on end and cut down along the side, using a slight seesaw motion. Don't cut too deeply into the cob -- you want the tender top and middle portion of the kernel.
Cutting corn is inevitably messy. Do the work on a big cutting board or in a wide, shallow bowl. Place the corn kernels in a food processor with ¼ cup of milk.
Pulse the food processor two or three times so you begin to break up the kernels. Keep it chunky. Pour into the processor bowl the remaining ¼ cup of milk, two whole eggs and two egg yolks.
To separate eggs, crack the egg on its side and gently break open. Use your thumbs to gently split the shell in half. Pass the yolk back and forth between the two shell halves until all the egg white falls away from the yolk. Do this over a bowl or the sink. Melt 4 tbsp. of butter in the microwave or in a small pan placed on low heat. Pour the melted butter into the processor bowl. Pulse the processor two or three times to mix.
Transfer the corn mixture to a 4-quart bowl. Sprinkle in 2 tsp. of kosher salt and ¼ tsp. of black pepper. Mix. Spoon the ½ cup of flour and ½ cup of corn meal into the mixing bowl. Begin incorporating the dry ingredients into the wet. Move slowly and cautiously. Don't stir vigorously. You want to mix in the flour without developing the gluten that would make for a sticky corn cake. Add the ¼ cup of chopped chives to the batter. It's OK if the batter is somewhat lumpy. The consistency may be loose. If so, add a tablespoon or two of corn meal to the batter.
You want the batter to be thick enough so that if you drew a spatula through it you'd be able to glimpse the bowl underneath. Think of it as parting the Red Sea. At this point you can refrigerate the batter until ready to use. Just remember that it contains butter and will thicken in the refrigerator's chill. Let the batter warm back up to room temperature before using.
When ready to cook, heat an electric frying pan to 350 degrees or place a skillet on medium heat. When the pan is hot, pour in ½ tbsp. of oil (if using an electric fry pan, trace the outline of the heating coil with the oil. That's the hottest part of the pan and where you want to place the batter.) Take a tablespoon and scoop up some batter. Drop gently into the pan. You'll hear the sizzle of the batter as it lands in the hot oil. Cook the corn cakes for 20 to 30 seconds on one side or until the sides of the cake begin to brown and the surface of the pancake begins to pock and form holes. Flip the cakes over using a spatula and cook 20 seconds more. Touch the cooked corn cake with you finger. It should feel lightly spongy and be colored a yellowish gold. Using a spatula, remove the cooked corn cakes to a plate lined with paper towel.
Continue adding batter until all the corn cakes are made and cooked. Subsequent batches might take slightly longer to cook, up to 40 seconds per side, because the cooking process will lower the pan's heat. Keep the finished corn cakes warm in an oven turned to 200 degrees until ready to serve. Top with whatever strikes your fancy.
Makes about 24 1- to 2-inch cakes