blue cornmeal+sweet corn cakes with tomato+fennel relish

To those of you who made your way over here from Mike’s post at the Mixoloseum blog, welcome! He promised I’d have a recipe for you, and here it is. One thing I’ll make note of is that while this recipe made a dozen smallish corn cakes, the right size for a light starter with our Seelbach cocktails before dinner, you could definitely scale the size of your cakes up or down, making one-bite minis for a party hors d’oeuvre, or larger cakes to serve for lunch or a light dinner. Use the freshest sweet corn you can, and if you can’t find blue cornmeal, regular yellow or white cornmeal should work just fine.

Blue Corn Cakes with Tomato and Fennel Relish

For the corn cakes:
1 cup stone-ground blue cornmeal (we like Kenyon’s)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ tbsp baking powder
1 teaspoon of kosher or sea salt
1 cup water
1 cup fresh corn kernels, stripped from the cob
¼ cup diced red onion or shallot
oil, butter, or other fat for frying (I used rendered fatback for the flavor and the higher smoking point, but feel free to use whatever you like)

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (cornmeal through salt). Using a fork, gently stir in the water a little at a time, adding more if it’s too thick (it should have body, but be pourable like a pancake batter). Add the corn kernels and onion and stir to incorporate. Heat a couple of tablespoons of the fat in an iron skillet, griddle, or other frying pan, and ladle out 3 to 4 ¼ cup portions of batter. Cook on one side until the cake releases easily from the pan, adding more fat if necessary, then flip. Continue cooking until the second side is browned, then remove the cakes to a tray lined with paper towels. Repeat until you have used all of the batter. You can keep these warm in a low oven until you’re ready to serve them, or serve them at room temp.

Tomato and Fennel Relish

kosher or sea salt
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup diced fennel bulb
½ pint small grape, pear or cherry tomatoes, diced
fennel fronds for garnish

Whisk the sea salt and lemon juice together in a small bowl until the salt is dissolved, then whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Add the fennel bulb and tomatoes, toss gently, and let sit briefly before spooning onto the finished corn cakes. Garnish each dressed cake with a few feathery fennel fronds before serving.

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