Minnesota

Shenanigans

Spring never slowed down. At all. If anything, it ramped up and yelled in my face for weeks on end. Most of what I was doing was not, honestly, all that interesting. But there were a few exceptions. I like to think this little contribution to the fine food zine Put A Egg On It was one of them:

Minnesota
minneapolis

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Swedish meatballs. On a stick.

Three years ago my best friend from high school, my son, and I went to the Deerwood Summerfest. My friend and I saw that this small town street fair was happening on our way to pick up my son from day camp. To be more precise, my friend saw that it was happening. What I noticed was a table from which Lutheran ladies were selling Swedish meatballs. On the way back to the cabin, we stopped, got out of the car, and walked around; I with single-minded plans of scoring some of those Swedish meatballs.

We got to the table that had had Swedish meatballs on it. It was empty. There was a woman there packing up the sodas (well, actually, she was packing up the pops because if you call soda soda in Minnesota it takes people a minute or two to know what the hell you’re talking about; if it’s fizzy and it’s in a can or bottle and it’s not beer, it is pop). I asked her what happened to the Swedish meatballs.

“Oh, well now,” she said, “those were only for sale until four.”

“What time is it?” I asked, thinking that it was, maybe, barely four o’clock.

She looked at her watch and sharply drew in her breath, “Oh, yeah, it’s four-oh-three.”

“Oh,” I said, clearly disappointed and adopting my native accent, “and so I guess you’re all out then?”

“Well I don’t know about that,” she said, “but it’s four-oh three.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is an interaction that has haunted me for three years. Three years of three minutes keeping me from my dream of Swedish meatballs made by small town church ladies. And you just know those Lutheran church ladies of Deerwood, the town in which the hardware store sells not one but two models of lefse makers, know how to make a Swedish meatball right. A lady who was that judgmental about my thought that she might sell me meatballs just because there were meatballs left to sell when the sign plainly stated “10-4″ is just the kind of lady who is going to know how to make a Swedish meatball. She is going to make it old school and there will be plenty of cream in the mix and butter in that gravy because that is how you make them, cholesterol and newfangled ideas be damned. These meatballs will be bought and eaten by her neighbors and she knows what she would think about them if they didn’t make the very best meatballs possible, so she’s going to make that extra effort to make sure the meatballs are perfection. Church-centric cooking and baking in Minnesota are competitive sports as much as charitable activities.

So when my mom and I took my son to Deerwood Summerfest last week you know I was looking for those meatballs. We walked past the Lutheran church and my heart sank. Nada. No table, no church ladies, no meatballs Swedish or otherwise.

Luckily my son wanted to play the carnival games in the park, a spot from which we could see that there was something going on behind the church. While my mom got my son a corn dog, I hightailed it to the tented tables in the parking lot of the Salem Lutheran Church, traded my cash for tickets, walked right up to the lady overseeing the crockpot, and came into the possession of two Swedish meatballs on a stick, a small cup of gravy for dipping, and a baggie full of homemade lefse – not to mention change from the five I handed over to pay for the lot of it.

The meatballs were tender and moist and light. The gravy tasted as much of butter as it did of browning meatballs, just as it should. The lefse was still warm and thin enough to see through plus I managed to snag one that hadn’t had Parkway margarine out of squeeze bottle smeared all over it.

Best of all, and this goes without saying to all the transplanted Minnesotans out there, was, of course, that the meatballs were served on a stick. As every Minnesota State Fair goer knows, putting food on a stick, while seemingly just a practical way to serve food to people who are aimlessly milling around, has the unintended consequence of making said food taste better. Is it the woodsy flavor imparted by the stick? The attention one needs to pay while eating to make sure the whole thing doesn’t tumble onto one’s clothes? The knowledge that food-on-a-stick means you’re at a fair of one sort or another? These are questions I leave greater minds to answer. All I know is that now that my food fantasy of scarfing down Swedish meatballs on the mean streets of Deerwood has been fulfilled my next Minnesota food goal is to try some of that walleye-on-a-stick at the ballpark everyone is talking about. That fish has got to be delicious.

Minnesota
lefse
meat

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Wild rice breakfast

I’ve been enjoying a shorter-than-usual and yet still decadently long visit to northern Minnesota. There has been real sticky summer heat. There have been thunderstorms. There have been tornado warnings and watches. There has been walleye. There has been walleye eaten while playing bingo. There have been dives into cool fresh lake water and long swims along the shore. There have been bug bites so itchy they wake you up and ice cream cones licked while speeding over deep blue water in a fast moving boat. Fish and frogs and toads have been caught and released. A guitar was played and songs sung. Many many things have been grilled.

There was a breakfast at the Birchwood Cafe in Aitkin (home of the Gobblers!). It was a fine breakfast. Standard, quality diner fare except for two very Minnesotan touches.

First, and most delightfully, when the server confirmed that I, indeed, would like some coffee, she promptly brought me a thermal carafe full of the stuff to the table.

Second, and most charmingly, the Birchwood Cafe also offers “hot wild rice” as a side on the breakfast menu (it also puts it in the Great Northern omelet). A cup or a bowl, your choice.

I was in an eggy-hashbrowny mood that morning, so I did not order the wild rice. It got me thinking though. Planted a seed of wild rice for breakfast that grew into the wild rice porridge dish you see above. Leftover wild rice, heated up with a bit of milk, topped with toasted chopped nuts, a bit of maple syrup, and a drizzle of browned butter. Some dried blueberries would have been good, too, I’m sure, if I’d had them in the house.

Minnesota
breakfast
wild rice

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Kransekake and gravlax

I am usually lakeside, at the family cabin, for this holiday weekend. Circumstances happy (a wedding) and, shall we say, inconvenient (knee surgery but 2 1/2 weeks ago) kept me in unseasonably sunny San Francisco this year. There have been many ice cream cones (the ridiculousness of debating where go to—Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, Bi-Rite Creamery, Humphry Slocombe, or St. Francis Fountain, all of which are to greater and lesser degrees in what we consider our neighborhood living, as we do, betwixt and between the Mission and Potrero Hill—does not escape us and we are well aware of this bounty of riches) and a wee bit of grilling, but my relative immobility has kept me pretty much out of the kitchen.

So I was going to write about missing being at the cabin, and how much I itch to be diving into the cool northern waters this time of year. My connection to northern climes was highlighted even more, however, with the news that my grandfather died yesterday.

It is sad because death is always sad and we loved him dearly, but I count myself beyond lucky to be mourning a grandparent when I am in my forties.* He was a funny, independent, good-looking man who died with his mind and his head of thick hair remarkably in tact. He had a strong Norwegian-Minnesotan sensibility, as best evidenced by the fact that he always told me that he checked the weather in San Francisco everyday to see how I was doing, the two things being, to his mind, inextricably linked. I might miss most how his strong Minnesotan accent pronounced my name, with a nice long o in the middle. Accents that strong—remember the guy shoveling his driveway in Fargo? for a moment there in the theater I thought the Coen brothers had somehow recruited my grandpa for the role—aren’t too common anymore.

I’m very glad I once made him the kranskake, an almond Norwegian ring cake served at weddings and other festive occasions, pictured above. He teared up when I carried it into the room on Christmas Eve.

On the one hand, it would be fun to make a kransekake today and I have the ring molds; on the other hand I also have two filets of wild Alaskan salmon in the fridge just waiting to be turned into gravlax, an equally fitting tribute. I’m going to go ask my dashing husband to set me up with a stool at the counter, strap an ice pack on my knee, and get to work.

* There are a lot of long-lived people in my family. I had three great-grandparents into my teens; my grandparents all lived to see me to at least 27. My grandfather’s grandmother lived to be 95, her father to 94, his grandfather to 93.

Minnesota
salmon

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Harissa and how to swing it

There is usually a jar of harissa – the top assiduously covered with a fairly thick layer of olive oil – sitting somewhere in my fridge. It sits waiting for me to make couscous (the dish not just the teeny tiny pasta), at which point I remember to pull it out of the fridge and dollop it on dinner.

Alas and alack, I am at the family cabin and there is no jar of homemade harissa sitting in the fridge. There are about a dozen jars of jam, four of which are strawberry. There are plenty of bottles of hot sauce, three of which are Tabasco – not even, I feel the need to add, different types of Tabasco; just three bottles of Tabasco so if, say, three people were eating they could each have their own bottle of Tabasco at the ready in case something remotely bland went down. There are eight different jars of mustard opened and ready to spread on sausages.

There are, in short, plenty of condiments. We lack not for condiments here on our little bit of Northern Minnesota. But is that good enough for me? Absolutely not. So I made some homemade harissa. Since I knew we would use the whole batch, I made it fancy, with herbs. It was crazy delicious.

Homemade harissa

If you like things hot, quite hot, toss a few arbol chiles in with the larger red ones.

2 ounces of large dried red chiles (ones labeled “New Mexican” work well here)

4 cloves garlic

4 stems of flat-leaf parsley

16 large mint leaves

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles. Put them in a medium bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let that all sit for about half an hour. Lift the chiles from the water and put them in a blender or food processor (let some of their soaking liquid cling to them). Toss in the garlic, parsley, mint leaves, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Whirl this into a relatively smooth paste-like sauce. You can add a few tablespoons of the chile-soaking liquid to thin it, if you like. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice, if you like.

Now what to do with it. Dollop it on stuff you want to taste hotter and more delicious. Steak, chicken, and vegetable stews are some of my favorites. Or, and this worked out quite well, use half of the above batch as a marinade for 1 1/2 pounds of chunks of leg of lamb, letting it all sit together for a few hours or overnight, and then grill those lamb chunks until browned and cooked medium rare. Serve with the reserved harissa.

Notice how the lamb is not all jammed onto the skewer. Notice how each lamb piece has a little room to breath. Please feel free to mimic this skewering method.

Minnesota
chiles
grilling
harissa
lamb
mint

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Sour cherry turnovers

My plan was to use the sour cherries – something I never ever see in California – I bought at Clancy’s in Minneapolis and use the rest of the insane amount of blueberries my parents had brought up to the cabin and make scads of turnovers. These turnovers would be gorgeous and delicious and I would distribute them amongst our kind neighbors here at the lake – some of whom coughed up some Benadryl and Benadryl cream when my son got stung by a bee and others of whom are just jolly welcoming folks to whom I find myself driven to give turnovers.

So I made two batches of pie crust, tossed fruit with sugar and flour, and started rolling out circles. It ended up being 14 circles – six sour cherry turnovers and eight blueberry turnovers. Here’s the thing. Whether browning meat or rolling out pie dough, I like to take it to the limit. The limit is where really good stew becomes mind-blowing, where a nice pie becomes sublime. The thing with the limit, though, is it is the actual limit. Go beyond it and… things fall apart quickly. Good meat is burned. Perfectly ripe fruit boils into a mess of crust-less nonsense.

I went too far. I reached for the sun and my wax wings melted. That turnover dough wasn’t strudel-thin, but it was too thin for turnovers. Once in the hot oven the fruit just burst right out of those weak little casings and bubbled into a sticky, almost-burnt raft on the pan. The turnovers were still edible, but much of the juicy essence of the fruit ended up soaking in the sink.

They tasted fine, but only a few looked remotely gift-able. (The skillful use of a knife to cut off the burnt fruit dripping out of the sides saved the ones below for their photo shoot.) The Benadryl-giving neighbors (hey Rollins!) ended up with a turnover apiece. The other neighbors (hey Carlsens!) will get something nice soon. I have plans. Big plans.

Sour cherry turnovers

The sour cherries were awesome in these. Use any fruit you like, though, just cut the sugar back by about a third for fruit that isn’t mouth-puckeringly sour. This recipe makes six not-too-thin turnovers; increase at will if you have the gumption to roll out the dough.

1 recipe pie dough (for a one-crust pie)

1 pint sour cherries

1/3 cup sugar

a scant 2 tablespoons flour

Make the pie dough, divide it into 6 pieces and pat each piece into a 1/2-inch-thick disc. Wrap in plastic and chill at least an hour and up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 350. Pit cherries. Have a large baking sheet ready. In a large bowl toss the cherries, sugar, and flour until some juice from the cherries and the sugar and flour form a sort of wet sandy mixture around the cherries.

Roll out each disc of dough into a 5- to 6-inch circle. Put 1/6 of the cherries on half of each circle, fold the dough over the fruit to make a half-moon shape, and crimp the edges. Put turnovers on the baking sheet, cut a vent or two or three in the top of each turnover, and bake until fruit filling is bubbling and the crust is the color of a wooden cutting board, about 50 minutes. Let cool.

Eat with coffee. I find they really taste best at breakfast. Turnovers are, after all, the original Pop-Tart.

Minnesota
blueberries
cherries
desserts
pies

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Grilled mussels

The fishmonger at Lund’s grocery store in Minneapolis did not want to sell these mussels to my mom. She tried to buy them a week earlier and arrived up north at the cabin only to report that the guy wouldn’t sell them to her if she wasn’t going to cook them that same day.

WTF? I mean, ideally, yes, you eat any shellfish two seconds after you take it from the sea, but you don’t have to. Bivalves, in particular, tend to close themselves up and can hang out for a bit before things get ugly. Plus, you can tell when mussels aren’t good anymore – either they are open and won’t close before you cook them or they won’t open when you do cook them. Either way, things are clear.

I asked Mom to go back, to not involve him in the schedule, to slyly ask how often they got fresh mussels into the store and when the mussels she was buying had arrived, and to please bring me some mussels (my love of mussels is long-standing and pure) – I would worry about whether they were good or not.

It ends up Lund’s gets mussels in everyday. That means the mussels I grilled on Friday night, that my mom bought Thursday afternoon, had most likely been out of the water for less than 48 hours.

My dad lit the grill. I picked over the mussels. We threw them on the hot grill and took them off as they were ready. My dad, my dashing husband, my son, and I proceeded to eat them one after the other as they came off the grill, happily burning our fingers on the hot shells. I insisted on grinding fresh black pepper over them as they cooked, but I’ll admit it was gilding the lily just a bit.

And my mom, who so nicely ran the mussels maze on my behalf? She doesn’t care for shellfish. Even mussels, hot of the grill.

Grilled mussels

The recipe for grilled mussels is this: put mussels on a hot grill and cook until they open up and are cooked to your liking. “Your liking” can cover anything from those who like their mussels barely cooked – still tenderly raw and soft – to those who prefer to leave them on the grill until they get almost smoked, their meat condensed and the edges almost crisp. Experiment, taste, and see what you like best. How many should you grill? That depends on how many you want to eat. About 1/2 pound per person makes a nice little snack. If they are the main event, however, you’ll want closer to 2 pounds each.

Minnesota
grilling
mussels

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Raspberries, wild raspberries (and buttermilk panna cotta)

Hunters, venison cooks, venison fans of Northern Minnesota! I am hear to deliver some good news. There are many many deer about. Many. And they are as dim as the bottom of a Eurasian milfoil-infested lake. As I mentioned last time, they are strolling down paths past bedrooms filled with humans. One earlier today stood, stark still in that way that they have, about 10 feet away from me on a back road that wasn’t untraveled enough for a deer on the edge of it to think a human was no threat at all.

I grew up in a family of hunters. But not deer hunters. My family are bird-hunting people. Ducks. Pheasants. That’s our game. I have a strong, visceral memory of being put to work plucking feathers at the age of about 5. We all sat around my uncle’s garage with large cardboard boxes between us, plucking, my great-grandparents leading the pack.I realize now, of course, that the adults had all had a cocktail or two, and that just might have contributed to their high spirits in face of this onerous task.

Deer hunters always struck me, and I mean no disrespect here although much will be taken I’m sure, as taking the easy hunting road. You put out a salt lick. You climb into your post. You sit. You drink. You wait. A deer comes along and you shoot it.

These deer I’ve been encountering? I have a sense I could walk up to them a give them a slap if I were so inclined. I want to yell at them to be afraid of me. To run. To save themselves. I want to warn them that fall is coming and the hunters will be out and this “I’m standing still so no one can see me” thing is not going to serve them well.

Yet these deer are really messing up my berry-picking. So the small and evil part of me that loves berries more than Bambi can’t help but think “yeah, stand still, M-Fer, your time will come soon enough.”

Of course, that time does me no good. The berries will be long gone by then and I will be back in San Francisco where neither wild deer nor wild berries occupy much of my thoughts most days.

Above you see a sample of the wild raspberries I covet and which these ample deer are snarfing down whenever I turn away. They are pictured alongside their larger, cultivated brethren. The wild ones we pick along with back road… well, 30 seconds into picking them and you see why someone who wanted to make a living growing and selling raspberries might start working on some hybrids and crossings and whatnot. These berries are so small that it takes 3 or 4 to equal a regular, already pretty darn small raspberry. They are so delicate that they often fall into separate drupelets as you pick them, so it’s best to hold the container or your hand underneath the berry as you pull it down off the bramble if you don’t want to lose any precious fruit.

Of course, for all their smallness and tenderness they are also sweet. And they taste of raspberries. Of pure, solid, amazing, fabulous raspberries.

We eat them plain. Or with some cream or yogurt. Or, if I feel like spending a bit of time in the kitchen, with buttermilk panna cotta.

Buttermilk panna cotta

I can’t think of a better way to put it than my dad did: “Honey, this white stuff is really good.”

1 3/4 cups cream or half-and-half

10 tablespoons sugar

1 package (1/2 oz.) gelatin

2 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (the good stuff shines here!)

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream and sugar to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar and taking care not to bring the cream to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl or 4-cup measuring cup, dissolve gelatin in 2 tablespoons of cold water. Let sit 3 to 5 minutes.

Whisk cream mixture into the bloomed gelatin. Add the buttermilk and vanilla.

Divide mixture evenly between 8 small ramekins (6- to 8-oz. each). Put ramekins on a baking sheet for easy transfer (although there is rarely room enough in my fridge to do this – instead they end up here and there and all around the place and I find one a few days later and feel very lucky indeed) and chill until set, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

To serve, unmold desserts by dipping ramekins into a bowl of very hot water and inverting panna cottas onto plates. You may need to slip the point of a sharp knife along the side to loosen the edge and allow the mixture to release from the ramekin. I find a bit of pounding and shaking at this point helps things along immeasurably. Hey, the worst that can happen is this:

Serve buttermilk panna cotta with fresh berries, if you possible can, although shavings of chocolate, some preserved cherries, and orange sections are all lovely, too.

Minnesota
buttermilk
desserts
raspberries

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Paul Bunyan leftovers

whitefishsalad
Before we left the cabin in Minnesota we had what may have been the champion of leftover dinners. Fridge and freezer and cabinets were raided to create the semblance of a meal. Want to hear the truly crazy part? We invited guests.

My mom defrosted the smoked whitefish she put in the freezer after we couldn’t eat the entire fish my mother-in-law hand-carried from Zabar’s last Christmas. It was a little tough. So I scraped it and mixed in some mayonnaise, some mustard, a spring onion a neighbor had dropped off from their garden the day before, and the two mini sprigs of dill my mom managed to scrounge from her own garden. Plenty of freshly ground black pepper later and we had a pretty tasty dish.

While I was doing that, my mom put the last bits of cheese on what was left in an open box of lavosh crackers for a little appetizer:
burntcheesecrackers
As you can see, they got a wee bit burnt. We used some nasturtiums from the garden to distract people from the burnt sections and put them out anyway. Guess what? They were pretty good. Good enough so I had to swipe them off the table to get a picture. Good enough so we had to stop Ernest from snarfing down all of them himself.

Along with these delights were some beet greens, a warmed-up baguette, a salad with an avocado vinaigrette (thus using both the remaining lettuce and the half avocado in the fridge) and some ears of corn that hadn’t made their way into the pot the night before (or perhaps the night before that?) or the sweet corn pancakes. It wasn’t at it’s best. It was tough instead of tender, starchy instead of sweet, and the Minnesotans, who know from corn, just let it be:
uneatencorn

Was the whitefish salad actually good? Were the crackers really edible? The uneaten corn is an argument in their favor, but as a whole we were a hungry crowd who were likely to eat most anything put in front of us. We’d had a big day. You see, my mom, aunt, uncle, and I took Ernest to Paul Bunyan Land. It’s a rite of passage for youngsters in the Brainerd Lakes area. I have an intensely clear memory of the giant talking statue welcoming “Molly and David Watson from Minneapolis” when my brother and I went as kids and wondering how on earth he could possibly know our names. I continued to think this even as I turned around to ask my mom how he knew our names and she was lagging behind us, having obviously whispered our names to the ticket-taker as we went ahead. But I had an impressive ability to allow myself to believe what I wanted to believe as a child (Santa Claus? I was fully on board with that in the third grade. The third grade people!), so I ran ahead to the first ride instead of connecting the dots.

Paul Bunyan Land has a new owner and a new location since I was a kid. It is less grand than I remember, has fewer rides, and is on a pasture between a corn field and a junk yard a few miles outside of town instead of on a concrete-slabbed brightly lit lot in Brainerd proper. It is bleak yet charming, a tricky combination that is partially achieved by staffing the place with a carefully maintained balance of surly teens and cheery retired guys. The whole thing was, to quote my aunt, “a hoot.”

Ernest liked the rides –

paulbunyanair

And my uncle liked the various Paul Bunyan-inspired sculptures –

paulbunyancart

But Ernest did not like the creepy giant statue saying his name. In fact, he didn’t like the creepy giant lumberjack statue sitting in a tree at the entrance at all. He didn’t like it so much that he refused to eat at a table near it. So we sat to the side while Ernest ate a hot dog, the grown-ups picked at a shared order of nachos, and everyone sipped a soda. I mean a pop. We were in Minnesota, after all.

Minnesota
leftovers

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Corn pancakes

dfcornpancakes

“You’ll never believe what they served at Commons this morning,” my best friend my freshman year of college said as I took the seat next to her at our Humanities 110 lecture to which I stumbled recently awoken with a cup of coffee in hand, and to which she arrived worked out, showered, groomed, dressed, and breakfasted.

“What?” I asked, waiting for another horror story. We were both vegetarians and considered ourselves connoisseurs of good food. We found the college cafeteria predictably yet disappointingly lacking on both fronts. I had become disenchanted to the point where I was living on a steady diet of coffee and bagels from the coffee shop where I could spend un-used meal credits for a fraction of their cafeteria value.

“Corn pancakes,” she said, “made with leftover corn from last night. The corn was just thrown in the pancakes. It was horrible.”

I sighed. I shrugged. “But that’s what corn pancakes are,” I explained.

She looked at me incredulously. “I thought they’d have cornmeal in them or something, not leftover corn.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “you’d think, but corn pancakes are just pancakes with leftover corn in them.”

That, after all, was what life had taught me. Sometimes on a summer weekend morning when the whole family was up at the cabin at the lake from which I write this, my grandmother would announce that she was making corn pancakes. The first few times I heard this I’d get excited. I liked corn. I liked pancakes. Sounded like a sweet combination.

Then the platter would come out. My grandmother – maker of excellent pot roast, chef of Brie souffle, baker of “death bars” (so sweet and good they almost killed you), a lover of great good and tasty food – used to scrape the kernels off any leftover boiled corn-on-the-cob, mix up a batch of Bisquick pancake batter, stir the kernels into the batter, cook the pancakes, and act like we were supposed to be grateful. The kernels were tough by then, somewhat flavorless after a night in the fridge. They stood out like watery little nuggets in the fluffy cakes. There wasn’t even any cornmeal to serve as a conceptual bridge between the cake and the corn.

Then I went to camp and was served corn pancakes the morning after we’d had corn-on-the-cob for dinner. Corn pancakes, I learned, were nasty, horrid things.

I’ve since made more batches of cornmeal pancakes – crispy on the edges with a bit of body to fight the texture-destroying properties of maple syrup – than I can count.

And I’ve made dozens upon dozens of sweet corn cakes, in which I purée sweet corn kernels into the batter to great effect.

So when my dad and my son returned from a run to get the morning paper the other day with “a dozen ears of Minnesota corn” and my mom rolled her eyes and showed him the dozen ears she’d already bought, I decided to get busy and fix the corn pancake problem that had haunted me for so long.

It worked. If you find yourself buying a bit more corn than you really needed at the market this weekend, set aside a few ears to make sweet corn pancakes.

Sweet corn pancakes

Like all sweet, corn-y things, these pancakes have a particular affinity for blueberries – fresh on the side, as a syrup poured on top – but maple syrup works too.

About 4 medium ears of sweet corn

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

2 eggs

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 tablespoons butter, melted – plus more for cooking the pancakes

Shuck the corn and cut off kernels. You should have about 2 cups of corn kernels – a bit more or less won’t matter too much, but if you find yourself going over 2 1/2 cups, either stop cutting off kernels or reserve the extra for a salad or other use.

Heat a griddle or large frying pan to medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.

In a blender or food processor, whirl the milk and 1 – 2 cups of the corn kernels until fully pureed (purée all the corn kernels for smooth, corn-flavored pancakes; purée half the corn kernels if you want to reserve some to add whole to the pancakes).

Add the eggs and oil to the milk-corn mixture and whirl until blended. Add flour mixture, 1/3 at a time, and whirl until smooth after each addition. Add the butter and pulse a few times to incorporate it into the batter. Stir in the reserved corn kernels if you chose kernel-laden cakes.

Coat the griddle or pan with a bit of butter or spray oil. Pour the  batter in about 3-tablespoon amounts to make 3- to 4-inch pancakes. Cook until bubbles appear over the entire surface, about 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook them until they’re golden brown on the second side and cooked through, about 1 minute. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Like all pancakes, serve these hot with butter and berries or maple syrup.

Minnesota
corn

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