Corn Pancakes with Spinach, Goat Cheese, and Maple Balsamic Syrup

Think about a kernel of fresh corn. Imagine its coolness, its glassy surface and small firmness. The sweetest corn is just pale of butter yellow, so plump it wants to explode. You manage to wrangle it out of its dormancy within its stalk, shucking the papery peels into a brown bag on the front porch. All of the tiny tendrils keep cloying to the cob, refusing to relent this beautifully symmetrical art form to you. You finally get it as clean as it’s going to get, and you run your fingers down it because it’s as nice and easy as the warm evening all around. And think of the subtle pop this small entity makes when your teeth hits it; a tiny spurt of sugary juice, the crunch, the final realization that the tension of spring has finally burst and summer wants to melt all over you.

I couldn’t get corn out of my mind, succumbing to the smell of it at the farmer’s market or at roadside stands. My friend Ashly made a corn and walnut soup last week, and the taste of it lingered on my tongue for days. Tonight, I had to have corn. And Alice Waters had the perfect recipe for this cloudy evening. Taken from her cookbook Vegetables, the corn cakes offer inspiration for both sweet and savory dishes.

I opted for savory and made a meal of it. The fluffy egg whites made the pancakes soft and light, a perfect complement to the denser fresh kernels inside. Using fresh corn is the only option; don’t even think about canned.

After making the pancakes (see below), surround them in a bed of wilted spinach, top with crumbled goat cheese, and use a sparing amount of Maple Balsamic Syrup. Other options include topping the pancakes with jam, dousing them with honey and butter, or eating them plain.

Hot off the griddle

Corn Cakes (from Vegetables, by Alice Waters)

1 1/2 cups corn flour

1 1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

2 eggs

1 T honey

1 cup milk (soymilk works great too)

4 T unsalted butter (I only used 1 Tablespoon and the pancakes were still delicious)

2 ears sweet corn

Remove kernels from uncooked corn. Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. On the stovetop, heat butter, milk, and honey until butter is all the way melted. Separate egg yolks from whites. Whisk the yolks into the stovetop mixture, and then pour the whole mixture into the dry ingredients. Add the fresh corn.

Whip egg whites until they form soft peaks, and then fold into the corn batter. Ladle onto a lightly oiled medium-hot griddle, making 2 inch pancakes. Makes around 18.

Maple Balsamic Syrup

  • 2 T Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 t Maple Syrup
  • 1 T sweet hot mustard
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • a pinch of cayenne

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Nick’s Angel Peach Pie

An untraditional take on the peach pie, this recipe has become a Sylva family classic (and a new favorite of mine). The success of the pie relies on the ripeness of the peaches, which are served uncooked, so make sure to make it during the right season. A perfect balance of sweet, nutty, and creamy, the meringue and whipped cream make this dessert taste a little like floating on air. Great for warm summer nights. 

***Note: Good news for those with dietary concerns–this dessert is completely gluten-free and could be dairy free if you substituted the whipped cream with coconut milk ice-cream. 

From Better Homes and Gardens circa 1950’s, adapted by Helen Romig

  •  3 egg whites
  •  dash salt
  • 3/4 C sugar
  •  1 1/4 C coconut flakes toasted
  •  1/3 C sliced almonds toasted
  • well buttered 9″ pie plate, glass preferred
  •  2-3 C peaches
  • heavy whipping cream

For meringue

 Preheat oven 350 degrees

1. With electric mixer beat egg whites with dash of salt, slowly adding sugar until stiff peaks are formed

2. Fold in 1 C of coconut and all almonds

3. Spread into pie pan, pushing up sides to form pie crust like shape

4. Bake for 30 minutes, turn oven off and let cool on rack with door ajar

 To serve

 After meringue has cooled completely, whip cream and slice peaches. Cut out slices of meringue and top with peaches, whipped cream and remaining toasted coconut