sweeeeet corn tamale cakes

in my new apartment with my new (amazing) roommates, we decided that since all of us like to cook, we’d have apartment dinners twice a week on tuesday and thursday nights.  the four of us switch off so we each end up cooking once every two weeks.  it saves each of us some money and is a fun tradition we have together.  for my night the other week, i decided to make sweet corn tamale cakes with a few delicious salsa toppings, along with spicy black beans.

the inspiration for this meal was a cheesecake factory appetizer that my mom and i loveee to order every time we go.  there are countless websites that try to copy the myriad of dishes that they have on their menu, so i looked this one up and tried it out.  the corn cakes are just a softer version or cornbread and the pico de gallo and green tomatillo salsa on top are a perfect complement to the creamy cake.  i wanted something spicy on the side so i made up a pot of delicious black beans.  the meal is a little time consuming to prepare, but i made the cakes a day ahead of time, and just had to pop them in the oven and whip up the salsas just before dinner.  but this meal is worth the trouble, i promise!

first for the cakes, here’s what you need.  this makes 12 cakes (2-3 per person)
-4 1/2 cups frozen corn
-6 tbsp. sugar
-1/2 c. butter, softened
-1/2 tsp. salt
-4 tbsp. flour
-1 1/4 c. masa harina (which is corn flour)

take the frozen corn and in a food processor, grind it down nice and fine.  do this in batches so that the corn doesn’t thaw before you grind it (its much easier when its frozen).  here’s what you’re looking for:

in the mixer, add all the corn, butter, sugar and salt and pulse until everything is combined.  at this point, the corn will have defrosted so your mixture is going to be more liquidy.  pour the corn mixture into a large mixing bowl and stir in the corn flour slowly.  sprinkle in the flour at the very end only using as much as you need to tighten up the corn cake dough.  mine looked like this:
with your dough complete, you can either form the cakes and put them right on a greased baking sheet, or place them between wax paper to refrigerate.  i made the corn cakes about 2/3 inch thick and about the width of a soup can.  after i formed each cake, i dusted them with flour so they weren’t as sticky.  these are pretty rustic, so don’t worry if they aren’t perfectly shaped!
bake these at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flip, and bake for 5-7 more (or until golden brown).  be careful not to overbake these or they will get tough!  here are the beauties when they come out of the oven:
and now to the toppings:
check out one of my old posts for a recipe for my pico de gallo salsa.  
for the green tomatillo salsa, i used three large tomatillos (these papery tomatoes if you haven’t heard of them!), sliced and added to a food processor with 1 4 oz. can of mild (or medium) green chiles, a handful of cilantro leaves, 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, and a chopped green onion.  blend until combined and mostly smooth.  this salsa is incredibly bright and fresh– perfect with the rich corn cakes.
lastly, the spicy black bean side dish.  this is my own creation made up as i went along, and it turned out deliciously.  its super simple, here’s what you need:
spicy jalapeño black beans:
-2 cans black beans, rinsed
-1/2 can of fire roasted tomatoes
-1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
-1/2 vidalia onion, diced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-2 tbsp olive oil
-chili powder
-salt and pepper

in a little bit of olive oil, sauté down the onion, garlic, and jalapeño until they are soft.  then, add the drained and rinsed black beans to the pot along with half a can of the fire roasted tomatoes.  stir until combined.  when warmed through, add 1 tsp or so of cumin, 1 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp of chili powder.  cook until all the flavors are combined (about 10 minutes or so).  the wonderful thing is that the black beans start to break down a little and the final product is a nice mixture between refried beans and baked beans.  here’s what it looks like:

to assemble the final meal, my suggestion is to put the tomatillo salsa on the bottom of the plate, two corn cakes next, and then the pico de gallo right on top.  serve with a dollop of sour cream (or make it fancy with some fancy chipotle mayo or sour cream!) and a nice serving of black beans on the side.

these were perfect for a light mexican dinner and totally worth the trouble!  i hope you enjoy them as much as we all did!