With many thanks to Julie Delio.
This post originates on my new blog: Channeling Helen.
Many moons ago, when we had fewer children and animals to husband, Hubby and I treated ourselves to the occasional brunch at Kiva Grill. This upscale New Mexico-style restaurant across from the no-longer-new Marriott in the La Jolla/UTC area of California featured amazing cuisine unfamiliar to me at the time. Amongst the delicious blue corn tamales, the red or green chiles, the posole, and the pork adovada, lay a hidden yet simple gem, Mexican Sweet Corn Cake. Not quite a pudding but not a bread either, it's sweetness provided the perfect foil to the spiciness of its accompaniments.
Note from Helen: "I don't like spice. All that pepper makes me choke." Coughs for emphasis.
We loved the sweet corn cake. We emptied multiple chafing dishes of sweet corn cake. Because of that love, The Kiva Grill went belly up as their corn cake costs became too high to stay in business. I may be slightly exaggerating but they did, in fact, close down and I, in fact, had babies and sat on the bed for a year with a pillow on my lap practicing the football hold while nursing twins and never went to brunch again. But I digress.
Years of fun and chaos passed with nary a thought to the aforementioned corn cake until a recent sojourn to Texas, state of great cuisine in which each and every Anglicized/mispronounced city demands in its charter that a Tex-Mex and a barbecue restaurant must exist for every 10,000 people at a minimum. The lovely and gracious Julie Delio served as hostess and, on my last day there and after an interesting tour of downtown Fort Worth, the cattleyards, and the barrio, we ended up at an upscale New Mexican restaurant serving Sunday brunch. And there, there amongst 10,000 salsas and meats aplenty, a beacon from my past shone. Right in front of me, Sweet Mexican Corn Cake. I did my Meg Ryan in Harry Met Sally impression right then and there but I was not, repeat, I was not faking it.
Home, I searched the internets and tubes and discovered the following recipe. Today, I tried it. What follows are my thoughts and critiques.
Recipe was submitted by Lee Ann Clarke to the allrecipes.com website.
Sweet Corn Cake
Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook Time: 1 Hour Ready In: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
"Corn flour, or masa harina, is available at many larger grocers. Here it blends with corn meal, sugar, butter and cream in this luscious pudding-cake."
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup masa harina
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
DIRECTIONS: 1. In a medium bowl beat butter until it is creamy. Add the Mexican corn flour and water and beat until well mixed. 2. Using a food processor, process thawed corn, but leave chunky. Stir into the butter mixture. 3. In a separate bowl, mix cornmeal, sugar, cream, salt, and baking powder. Add to corn flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour batter into an ungreased 8x8 inch baking pan. Smooth batter and cover with aluminum foil. Place pan into a 9x13 inch baking dish that is filled a third of the way with water. 4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven F (175 degrees C) oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Use an ice cream scoop for easy removal from pan.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2010 Allrecipes.com
What I did right: I didn't try to "healthy-up" the recipe. Helen always said "Butter makes it better and, pounds schmounds, she was dead right. I used polenta instead of regular cornmeal which I think gave it more bite and I used half and half because that's all I had and I was too lazy and unshowered to drive 16 miles to the grocery store.
What I did wrong: I prepared it in the Kitchenaid stand mixer which was overkill, not enough batter for such a large bowl without the handy dandy scraping beater blade that I don't own. Next time, I will use one medium and one small bowl, my right hand, a fork, and a spatula. I suppose one could use a hand mixer if creaming butter with bare hands makes one squeamish. Personally, I need the extra moisture. Also, I did not use hot water in the water bath which prolonged the cooking time.
What I thought of it: After I clean the corn kernels from behind my ears and in between my toes because I felt compelled to bathe in it, I'll let you know. In other words, Meg Ryan in Harry Met Sally all over again. And again without the faking it. How I'll tweak it next time: I don't need to do a damned thing to it but I might add chopped hatch chiles or bacon bits to add a little salt and spice but, as Helen was wont to say, that would be gilding the lily.
BTW, another wonderful discovery in Texas? Shiner Bock. Which I could also bathe in but, for now, I think I'll drink some and watch football. It is Sunday, after all.