Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Culinary "Little Black Dress"

We all have those tried and true recipes that we are super comfortable cooking and that allow us to relax and improvise as we go along. This morning's dish, Chilli Corn Cakes is one of those for me. I have cooked it for many years and in many incarnations. No matter how I serve it, it always gets the thumbs up. Both vegetarians and carnivores can be catered for and it can go from breakfast to cocktail food with no problem at all. My Chilli Corn Cakes are served this morning as breakfast with an avocado salsa and a poached egg.

Once you know the basic recipe, you can make this dish anything you want it to be. Top it with grilled chicken or fish for a beautiful fresh tasting lunch, scale down the size a little and top with fresh prawns or grilled asparagus and you have a snazzy entree for a dinner party. Downsize them even more to 50c piece size, top with a little sour cream and salmon and you have a gorgeous cocktail canape. Mix some fresh crab meat or shredded duck right into the salsa mixture for more canape options. Play around with the fresh herbs too - you don't like coriander? Use fresh parsley, basil or chives instead. Make a hearty, spicy dinner by adding lots more chilli and topping the corn cakes with some grilled Chorizo or Italian sausage. See what I mean?

I think of this recipe as the culinary equivalent to the little black dress - it suits everyone, can be dressed up or down and is always appropriate :) It is also a great option to have up your sleeve if you are on a budget. It can be as basic or as fancy as you like, but you can be sure that however you serve it, everyone will want seconds and think you are fabulous ;)

So, here it is.......

Chilli Corn Cakes with Avocado and Tomato Salsa

And this morning's breakfast version.....

You will need: (For the corn cakes)1 egg, 1 cup plain flour, about 1/2 cup milk, 2 pinches baking powder, pinch salt, pepper, splash of tabasco sauce, 1/2 cup cooked corn kernels (I use frozen ones for convenience, but you can also use tinned ones or cook your own fresh kernels),
1-2 finely chopped chillies, 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander, 1/3 cup finely sliced spring onion.

You will need: (For the salsa) 1/2 finely chopped red onion, 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, 1-2 small red chillies finely chopped, 1 avocado diced finely, 2 large tomatoes with the seeds removed and finely chopped (I like to use Roma/Egg tomatoes as I think they have a superior flavour), squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice, splash extra virgin olive oil, dash of tabasco, salt and pepper.

Method: Start with the corn cakes - In a bowl, whisk the egg and milk together with salt, pepper and tabasco. Gradually whisk in the flour and baking powder to form a reasonably thick, smooth batter. It should be the same consistency as pancake batter. Add more milk or flour if you need to. Set the batter aside to rest for 15 mins. Stir through the corn, chilli, coriander and spring onion.

In a another bowl, gently combine the salsa ingredients. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Cook the corn cakes in batches in a hot, lightly greased pan (today I used a dessertspoon of mixture per corn cake) Serve with the salsa. Makes about 12 small corn cakes and serves 4 people as a breakfast or main meal.



  1. great recipe..very practical! i like it.

  2. Awesome! What a fantastic post - you rock!

  3. Thanks ladies! Everyone needs a "no brainer" recipe that can do lots of things, this one is definitely mine. Glad you like it too :)

  4. Very nice,,,,easy clean and looks too cute! Thanks