Latkes in September and made of corn? What gives? Latkes are supposed to be for Chanukah, a holiday that may come as early as Thanksgiving but has never come in September, nor will it ever, as far as I can tell.
And although latkes can certainly include other vegetables besides potatoes, the central ingredient in the ones my Eastern European family considers traditional, using corn seems far-fetched to me.
But when I tinkered with a sweet corn cakes recipe and ended up with a spicy variation that went beautifully with sour cream, I couldn’t help calling them “corn latkes.”
It all began with my assignment for the Secret Recipe Club. (My husband calls it “blind date blogging.”) Every month club members are paired with another blogger. We read our partner’s blog and choose one of her or his recipes to blog about.
My partner this month is Kate of Thyme for Cooking. Her delightful, eclectic blog centers on the dishes she has prepared during sojourns in Ireland, Andorra, and France. I envy her travels and love reading about her life in a restored French farmhouse.
Many of her simple but flavorful recipes use fresh vegetables. I was immediately drawn to the series on potatoes, as my husband is a huge fan of potatoes no matter how they are prepared. Potatoes Anna and Potato Gratin with Sage particularly caught my eye. Mashed, grilled, broiled and braised – she has got them every which way. But in the end, staring at several ears of corn from my CSA, I stumbled onto Sweet Corn Cakes and the rest is history.
I love the concept of Kate’s version of corn cakes. It begins with corn and doesn’t go far afield. With excellent corn (preferably summer corn, but really good frozen corn in a pinch), you need only the “glue” of egg, bread crumbs, and a bit of grated cheese for a lovely result. Whether you call them corn cakes, fritters, or latkes hardly matters – corn kernels are the stars of the show.
Her cakes/latkes have a distinctly smoky taste, from a fair amount of smoked paprika. I decided to go spicy instead, with minced jalapeno pepper. Either way, using sour cream or Greek-style yogurt as a garnish makes for a side dish worthy of your end-of-summer feast.
If you want to make them in December when Chanukah rolls around (or for a Christmas or general holiday buffet), just use good quality frozen sweet corn for a slightly out-of-season, but still wonderful, plate of corn cakes/latkes.
When you check out the photo of the ingredients below, you may notice that I had one brown egg and one white one. That was just happenstance – and you do know that there is no taste or nutritional difference between them, don’t you?
If you’ve got corn on the cob, you’ll want to use this handy trick (pictured below) for scraping the kernels off the cob. It was life-changing for me. Maybe that’s just a wee bit of an exaggeration, but it certainly did lower my ratio of kernels-dropped-on-the-floor to kernels-kept-clean-and-ready-to-use!