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It was a true marvel when we first saw corn at the farmers market. Staring at the piles of golden ears, we envisioned night after night of grilling corn to eat fresh off the cob. A few weeks and a few sticks of butter later, our relationship with corn has waned. But come November, we'll be craving its sweet, firm crunch once again -- only to have to wait what will seem like an eternity for warmer weather.
So let's make the most of the remaining spurt of fresh sweet corn. We'll blend it down to a purée and use it in a savory pancake batter -- a welcome respite from fresh corn salads. Pair the cakes with a serrano ham and green bean salad filled with bites of sweet, plump apricots, and take pride in the fact that you're eating pancakes for dinner.
Serves 4 (makes 12 to 14 cakes)
6 dried apricots (or fresh, sweet ones)
1/3 cup small green grapes
1/3 Granny Smith apple, skin on
One 1/8 inch-thick slice Serrano ham or prosciutto (about 1 1/2 ounces)
3/4 pounds haricots verts or thin green beans, only tops trimmed
1 tablespoon sliced chives
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup masa harina
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 ounces chopped green chile (half a small can) or 1 roasted, peeled, and chopped poblano
3 tablespoons chopped scallions
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
We're assuming you have salt, sherry vinegar, olive oil, all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and ground cumin. If not, be sure to add those to your list, too.
1. Prepare the ingredients for the green bean salad. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, if you're using dried apricots, place them in a bowl and pour over 1 to 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar and 1/2 cup boiling water (yes, you can take it from the pot of boiling water!). Let the apricots sit and plump while you thinly slice the grapes and cut the apple into 1/8-inch cubes. Do the same with the Serrano ham. Add the haricots verts to the boiling water and cook until tender but still crisp in the center, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain (but do not run under cold water) and transfer to a large bowl.
2. Finish the salad. Drain the apricots, and cut each one into 6 pieces. (If you're using fresh apricots, pit them and chop each into small pieces.) Sprinkle them into the green beans, and add the grapes, the apple pieces, the sliced ham, the sliced chives, 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Use your hands to toss well, then taste and add more vinegar and salt as needed. Set aside.
3. Make the lime crema. Combine 1 cup of sour cream, the zest and juice of one lime, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then stir to combine. Cover and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
4. Make the pancake batter. Whisk together the masa harina, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Put eggs, 1 cup of milk, the remaining 2 tablespoons of sour cream, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and 3 tablespoons of the corn kernels in a blender and blend on high until liquefied. Combine with dry ingredients and add enough additional milk, a tablespoon at a time, so that the batter comes together but is still fairly thick. Stir in grated cheese, chopped green chile, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, scallions, and cilantro.
5. Fry the cakes. Spoon the batter onto a heated griddle and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of corn kernels on each cake before turning. Remove them when they're well browned.
6. Serve the finished cakes with the lime crema and green bean salad.
Photos by James Ransom