Thursday, March 4, 2010

Batter up

We are big fans of non-traditional pancakes around here. These savory, Indian-spiced little numbers had a few sources of inspiration: mainly a fondly remembered brunch at Treat, but also the cachapas venezolanas at Maria's Café in Minneapolis, the pan-fried smoked pork cakes at Ed's Potsticker House, and Kenny Shopsin's macaroni & cheese pancakes. I'm officially calling this another home-run improvisation by Melvin; make these and I guarantee you'll forgive us for being such sporadic bloggers.

Mel's Corn Pancakes

1 white onion
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. anchovy paste
pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

3/4 c. white flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. sugar
pinch salt
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. coriander
pinch cumin
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 c. milk
3/4 c. roasted corn kernels (Trader Joe's frozen is what we used)
1/3 c. finely grated sharp cheddar cheese

First, caramelize the onion: slice thinly, then chop the slices into thirds, more or less. Heat the oil to medium-high, then add the anchovy paste and red pepper flakes. Let them sizzle for a minute before adding the onions, salt, and pepper. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir intermittently until nicely caramelized. You can mix the batter while they cook. When they're done, scrape them into a bowl and return the pan to the stove.

For the batter: Combine the dry ingredients (flour through cumin) then stir in the wet ones (egg, butter and milk). Don't overmix, but make sure everything's incorporated. Stir in the corn.

Heat the oven to low, so you can keep your finished cakes warm.

Increase the heat under the former onion pan to medium. Add small pats of cold butter and, as they sizzle, pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto each of them. (Our pan holds two cakes.) As they set up, sprinkle some of the onions over the batter, followed by some of the cheese. As the cakes get dry around the edges and large bubbles appear in the surface, flip them and let the onions and cheese sear a bit.

Serve with Nueske's bacon and, if you like, maple syrup.

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