fresh corn cakes (WHB#346: green chili)

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weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchensummary: recipe for fresh corn cakes; information about green chillies and Weekend Herb Blogging; click on images for larger views and more photos

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB)#346
Green Chillies (Capsicum frutescens)

corn cakes A few weeks ago, Tanna (My Kitchen in Half Cups) posted about fresh corn cakes made with fresh corn and just the barest hint of flour. When I saw her corn cakes, I knew we too HAD to try them.

And did we go out immediately and get corn? Silly us. We didn’t.

And when we did get corn, did we immediately try these corn cakes? Once again. Silly us. We didn’t.

But when the corn on the cob last night tasted just a little too ripe, I suddenly remembered about Tanna’s corn cakes. I showed them to T and he agreed with me that we HAD to try them.

So today, we did just that. Clever us!!

corn It’s a little labour intensive. But not really. From start to finish, it took about half an hour. And some of that time was spent in figuring out which implements to use.

The recipe calls for the corn to be slashed vertically then scraped “not cut” into a bowl to release the corn milk fully. At first we tried using the back of a knife. That worked after a fashion but the edge of one of our metal measuring cups was much much better.

eggwhites The other extra bit of labour is having to separate the egg and whip the egg whites into stiff peaks. But could we really consider that labour? We got to use our beautiful copper bowl!

Tanna put a jalapeno pepper into her corn cakes. We didn’t happen to have any jalapeno peppers on hand but we did have some fresh cayenne (at least I think they’re cayennes) chilis from the garden. They’re insanely hot this year – perhaps because it has been such a hot summer – so we decided to use just one chili.

corncakes While T was folding in the eggwhites, he decided the batter was just too loose. So he sprinkled in a little more flour. And then it was time to spoon this beautiful light batter into hot oil in our cast-iron pan.

Next time we’ll use the griddle and a little less oil. And when will that next time be? Why just as soon as I hit the “publish button”. (Yes. These corn cakes are that good.)

Here’s what T did to make these delicious corn cakes:

Fresh Corn Cakes
based on Tanna’s take on the recipe for Beatrice Vaughan’s Green Corn Cakes in King Arthur Flour’s “Baking Sheet Newsletter”, Vol. XXIII, No. 4, Summer 2012 issue

serves 2

  • 2 cobs of fresh corn
  • 1 egg, separated
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large green chili
  • 3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
  • vegetable oil
  1. Using a sharp knife, score each row of corn vertically down the center of each row.
  2. Holding the cob over a bowl, scrape (do NOT cut) all the corn from the cob. A deeper bowl helps to contain the corn and corn milk that spits out in all directions as you scrape. We used the rim of our metal measuring cup to scrape off the corn kernels. (We started with the back of a knife but that was too hard.)
  3. Cut green chili into small coins. Set aside.
  4. Whisk the egg yolk into the corn mixture.
  5. Add flour, salt, pepper and green chili coins to the corn mixture. Whisk well to mix.
  6. Beat egg whites into stiff peaks. Gently fold into corn mixture.
  7. Heat a cast-iron frying pan or griddle to medium high. Add a splash of oil. Spoon the batter onto the hot oil.
  8. Turn when golden brown on the bottom. Cook an additional couple minutes until both sides are golden.

Serve immediately. These were delicious with bacon but we’re thinking they’d be great for dinner with ham, potatoes, green beans, etc. The King Arthur Flour newsletter suggests serving the corn cakes with fried chicken. Ooooh, I bet that would be good too!


Because there is so little flour called for, it looks like these corn cakes would lend themselves well to becoming gluten-free. If I were going to make them gluten-free, I would be inclined to try using chickpea flour and maybe a tiny touch of arrowroot flour as well.

corncakes I was so excited to see our copper bowl being used! It’s so amazing how quickly the egg whites are beaten into stiff peaks. Is it the copper?? Does it really make a difference?

And I was even more excited when I tasted these corn cakes. They are spectacular. I loved the sweet taste of the fresh corn and loved even more the occasional flash of citrus heat from a green chili coin. Sure, these corn cakes could probably be made without the green chili and they’d still be pretty darn good. But as long as we have these great chilis, I’m going to insist that they be included.

Thank you for a wonderful new dish, Tanna!!

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB#346)
Green Chillies (Capsicum frutescens and/or Capsicum annuum)

weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchenGreen Chillies We love green chilis so this year I planted them (in pots) in 4 different spots in the garden. Two of the plants are doing quite well and two are doing very well. This one by the composter, from a plant I rescued and brought indoors last fall to overwinter under lights in the basement, is producing chilies galore. By the way that the chilis are standing straight up, I believe this is a Thai chili plant. (The other ones had “Cayenne” labels at the garden center.)

And our garden chilies (whether they are Thai or Cayenne) are hot! Yet through that searing heat is the most wonderful citrussy flavour.

According to the Scoville scale, cayenne and Thai chillies are 7-8 out of 10. I don’t know if our garden chillies are 7s or 8s. But if they are, I don’t think I want to try a 9 or 10 chilli.

Chilis are really easy to grow. They prefer lots of sun but they will grow in partial shade as well. They just don’t produce as many chilis. And of course, make sure they are watered – especially when it’s particularly hot outside.

Please remember that chilis are susceptible to tobacco mosaic and should not be in contact with the lovely and fragrant flower nicotiana.

Almost all the books I’ve read about handling chilis caution people to wear gloves. I confess that I don’t. I don’t wear contact lenses though. If I did, I would definitely wear gloves when chopping chilis.

I am careful to wash my hands with soap afterwards but even so, the oils of the chili are quite tenacious. I’m almost always careful not to rub my eyes but every so often I forget. Ow. Times infinity.

Here’s what I found about chilis in the various books we have on our shelves:

[W]e now believe that chiles were probably among the first crops domesticated in the New World, along with beans and avocados. […] [L]eft on their own, chiles crossbreed furiously. […] Chiles can grow in any part of the United States or southern Canada, and, […] they thrive in areas with cool nights and warm days that don’t become unbearably hot. For reasons that are still not understood, virtually any stress – poor soil, high night temperatures, too much rain, too little rain – will cause a chile plant to increase capsacinoid production. Take the same strain of seeds and plant them in the same garden, year after year, and some years the harvest will be noticeably hotter than others.

-Susan Hazen-Hammond, Chile Pepper Fever – Mine’s Hotter Than Yours, p.36, 105, 107

Today, there are hundreds of pepper varieties grown around the world, ranging from sweet to searing. […] The hot peppers (Longum Group are called chiles. […] The piquancy of peppers comes from the capsaicin, a volatile phenolic compound found in the placenta, the fibrous white ribs that secure the seeds. […] Hot is not only pleasurable in the mouth; it works wonders in the body. Capsaicin is an expectorant, prompting the release of fluids that clear bronchial passages and lungs of congestion. Hot pepers certainly clean out the sinuses and, some doctors believe, help prevent chronic respiratory problems. Hot pepper is also a local anaeshtetic.

-Turid Forsyth and Marilyn Simonds Mohr, The Harrowsmith Salad Garden

One of the wonders that Christopher Columbus brought back from the New World was a member of the Capsicum genus, the chile. Now this pungent pod plays an important role in the cuisines of many countries including Africa, China (Szechuan region), India, Mexico, South America, Spain and Thailand. There are more than 200 varieties of chiles, over 100 of which are indigenous to Mexico. They vary in length from a huge 12 inches to a 1/4-inch peewee. […] Their heat quotient varies from mildly warm to mouth-blistering hot. A chile’s color can be anywhere from yellow to green to red to black. […] As a general rule, the larger the chile the milder it is. Small chiles are much hotter because, proportionally, they contain more seeds and veins than larger specimens. Those seeds and membranes can contain up to 80 percent of a chile’s capsaicin, the potent compound that gives chiles their fiery nature. Since neither cooking nor freezing diminishes capsaicin’s intensity, removing a chile’s seeds and veins is the only way to reduce its heat. […] Chiles are cholesterol free and low in calories and sodium. They’re a rich source of vitamins A and C, and a good source of folic acid, potassium and vitamin E.

-Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst, The New Food Lover’s Companion

Fiery chilli ‘peppers’ are a very ancient spice, their cultivation stretching back 10,000 years. […] In many tropical areas chillies are used with the same frequency as true pepper is in Europe. Their uses are numerous and diverse

-Arabella Boxer, A Culinary Guide to Herbs, spices and Flavourings

Starting [chili] plants from seed – easy in any warm, bright indoor spot – opens the door to garden-grown fire. Hot peppers grow just like sweet ones, except that they produce more prolific crops of smaller fruit on somewhat larger plants.

-Patrick Lima, Harrowsmith Illustrated Book of Herbs

Peppers are tender perennials, usually grown as warm-weather annuals. Start and grow them as you would eggplants, but give them less nitrogen, as too much favors leaf growth over fruits. […] Once peppers get full size, you can pick them at any color stage, but they have more flavor after they ripen. Cut rather than pull, the peppers.

-Rosalind Creasy, The Edible Asian Garden

Please read more about chillies:

This week’s WHB host is Susan (The Well-Seasoned Cook). The deadline for entering WHB#346 is Sunday 12 August 2012 at 15:00, Utah time (GMT-7). For complete details on how to participate in Weekend Herb Blogging (recipes or informative posts where people can learn about cooking with herbs or unusual plant ingredients) created by Kalyn (Kalyn’s Kitchen), please see the following:

edit 13 August 2012: Susan has posted the roundup. Please take a look at all the other wonderful WHB#346 entries:


Related Posts:


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7 responses to “fresh corn cakes (WHB#346: green chili)

  1. Susan

    It’s getting late now this Sunday night and dinner’s been over for some hours now, but I would still like to whip up a batch of these for a little snack. Very tasty use of one of summer’s very best fresh ingredients.

    Thanks, Elizabeth, for contributing to WHB! The round-up will be online tomorrow night.

    Thank YOU for hosting, Susan! These corn cakes really are delicious. And come to think of it, with the sweetness of the corn, they’d be perfect as a late dessert! -Elizabeth

  2. Simona

    Wow! These corn cakes are indeed very appealing. I usually roast corn and make bread or soup or salad with it, but now you show me something I may want to try.
    Your copper bowl reminded me of the copper pots in my aunt’s house. The story I was told as a kid was that copper pots and pans used to hang from a wall in the house were my father’s extended family lived. Unfortunately, most of them were confiscated and melted during WWII. Copper is so pretty.
    On a different topic: I got some annatto. I had a choice between ground and seeds and went with the latter. The color is beautiful. I can’t wait to use it :)

    What a shame that your family’s copper pot collection was destroyed, Simona. It is indeed pretty. And it works so well for beating egg whites! I hope you do try these corn cakes. They’re quite amazing, not at all like regular pancakes because they are so light. -Elizabeth
    How wonderful that you found annatto seed! I can’t wait to hear what you think.

  3. Simona

    Addendum: I ended my comment with a smiley icon and I am not sure what I see now corresponds to my intention. Please, let me know.

    Ha. It’s because I have a horror of those sideways smiley faces so I substituted the icons. Your smile was transformed into a rope skipping sheep which is what appears when people type : followed by ) , so yes, I think it corresponds to your intention. -Elizabeth

  4. Rachel @ The Crispy Cook

    Now that’s an informative post; so much great information about corn cakes, chilis and cookware….This recipe looks like a keeper.

    It is definitely a keeper, Rachel. And I’m pretty sure that it could be successfully transformed into a gluten-free keeper. Do let me know if you make them AND what you think. -Elizabeth

  5. Tanna

    Happiness is these corn cakes on my breakfast, lunch and dinner plates … No I don’t think that’s excessive nor will I get bored with them soon. They are that good!

    They really are, aren’t they, Tanna? We just can’t stop eating them! WHAT are we going to do when corn season ends? -Elizabeth


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