Fresh Corn Cakes with Avocado Tartare Sauce

Summer 2012
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food and drink

BY: Monda Rosenberg

This is the time to take advantage of our all too-short local corn season. Nothing beats devouring corn straight off the cob; just add a couple of extra cobs to the pot to be used in this recipe the following morning. Designed for easy entertaining, these cakes can be sautéed a day or two ahead then simply popped in the oven for warming. Top with a creamy avocado tartare sauce that can also be prepped ahead right to the point of adding the avocado. It’s so addictive you’ll find yourself making it to slather on grilled chicken, sliced tomatoes or even in sandwiches

CORN CAKES
2 to 3 ears of corn on the cob
1 tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped jalapeño or hot red pepper (optional)
1 green onion, thinly sliced
¾ cup (175 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tbsp (30 mL) granulated sugar
½ tsp (2 mL) each of baking soda, baking powder and salt
1 egg
½ cup (125 mL) buttermilk
1 tbsp (15 mL) melted butter
½ tsp (2 mL) vanilla
Canola oil for frying

AVOCADO TARTARE SAUCE
¼ cup (60 mL) finely chopped dill pickle
1 tbsp (15 mL) capers, drained
¼ cup (60 mL) regular or light mayonnaise
1 small avocado, peeled and pitted
Pinch of salt
Pea sprouts, coriander leaves or chives for garnish

1 For cakes, boil corn until kernels are very soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Slice kernels from the cob and place in a bowl, separating kernels with your hands. You should have about 1½ cups (375 mL). Stir in the jalapeño and green onion until evenly distributed.

2 In a large bowl, use a fork to stir flour with sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk egg. Whisk in buttermilk, then melted butter and vanilla. Whisk into flour mixture. Stir in corn mixture.

3 Generously cover the bottom of a medium size skillet with oil. Place over medium heat. When hot, scoop up about ½ tbsp (7 mL) of batter. Drop into the hot oil. Gently press down to form a thick flat cake. Repeat with 3 more cakes. Cook 35 to 40 seconds, until the bottom side is golden. Using a firm spatula, turn and cook until the other side is browned, another 35 to 40 seconds. If cakes are rapidly browning, lower the heat because you want them to cook through in the centre. Remove to a baking rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more oil to the pan when needed and stirring the batter from time to time.

4 Cakes can be served right away or when cool. Stored in a covered container with layers separated by waxed paper, they will keep well in the refrigerator at least 2 days. Reheat on a baking sheet in a 400°F (200°C) oven until hot, about 4 minutes a side.

5 For tartare sauce, place chopped pickle in a bowl. Finely chop capers and add along with mayonnaise. If making ahead, cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Just before serving, coarsely chop avocado and add to the mixture. Generously sprinkle with salt. Use a fork to mash avocado into the sauce. It should be slightly chunky.

6 To serve, place warm or room-temperature corn cakes on a platter. Top with a dollop of the avocado tartare sauce. Garnish with pea sprouts, coriander leaves or snipped chives.

Makes 32 cakes and 1 cup (250 mL) sauce