These little cakes were confounding to my boys. They didn’t think they’d like them, so they didn’t enjoy their first half-hearted nibble. But after some drama and persuasion, they both decided they liked them and ate almost all of them. David and I liked them. They were crunchy out, soft in, with a nice balance of earthy flavors. They were a bit dry, though, as baked goods made with cornmeal alone tend to be, so eat them with a sauce. This little salad or salsa was lovely! I don’t know why I’d never thought of mixing avocado and cucumber before, but they’re really perfect together! Fresh and green and soft and crisp. I kept the seasoning simple – salt, pepper, lime and cilantro, which made the whole thing bright and clean, and just the perfect accompaniment to the cornmeal cakes.
Here’s Wildwood Flower by the Carter Family, because they say “Yes, he taught me to love him and call me his flower That was blooming to cheer him through life’s dreary hour.” No dreary hours!! We’ll have no dreary hours!!
2 packed cups kale, cleaned and trimmed
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 t oregano
1 t sage
1 t red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 can black beans, rinsed and well-drained
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 t salt
1 t cumin
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 cup beer
2 cups grated sharp cheddar
handful of cilantro leaves – to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 and generously spread a baking sheet with olive oil.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the kale 8 – 10 minutes, until quite soft but still bright. Drain. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out most of the water, and chop well.
Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, oregeno, sage, and pepper flakes and cook for about a minute, till the garlic starts to brown. Add the beans and cook, stirring frequently, until the pan is quite dry. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine the cornmeal, salt, bp, bs, black pepper and cumin, and mix well. Stir in the eggs, one at a time. You’ll have a dense, unstirrable mixture! Add the beer, and beat well until you have a light, smooth batter. It will still be quite thick. Stir in the kale, beans, cheese and cilantro and mix well. You might need to mix with your hands at this point.
Make the batter into 8 patties and place them on the oiled sheet. Turn each over so they get oiled on both sides, and press down lightly with a spatula.
Bake twenty to twenty-five minutes until golden and puffed. Serve with avocado cucumber salsa (below) or a simple spicy tomato sauce, or any kind of sauce you like.
AVOCADO CUCUMBER SALSA
1 small cucumber partially or completely peeled, cut in quarters lengthwise, and then into 1/2 inch slices (or however you like it cut!)
1 avocado, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
small handful cilantro leaves, chopped
1 t capers, chopped
juice of one lime
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
Combine the cucumber, avocado, tomatoes, cilantro and capers in a bowl and mix lightly. Squeeze on the lime juice, season with salt and pepper, and serve.