With the end of corn season drawing to a close, you may be thinking what else could you make with freshly picked maize? Sweet corn is the most common variety of maize eaten directly off the cob. The ear is picked while the endosperm is in the “milk stage” so that the kernels are still tender. How about Mexican Sweet Corn Cake?
For starters, it is only slightly sweet, moist and nothing like cornbread, which is denser and cornier. The texture is softer and more velvety than cake. A hint of corn flavor, but less than you expect and a suggestion of sweetness without being sweet. Interested now?
According to Milk Street where we found this recipe, this simple baked treat is ubiquitous in Mexican food markets, street stalls and restaurants. Its texture lands somewhere between cake and cornbread while hinting at custard. In Mexico City, it’s commonly served for breakfast, but finished with a dusting of powdered sugar, it also makes a casual, homey dessert.
Fresh Mexican corn used for making this type of cake is starchier and drier than the fresh corn available in the U.S., so a bit of cornmeal is added here. If you have more than 250 grams (1½ cups) corn after cutting the kernels from the ears, it’s best to save the extra for another use rather than use it in this recipe; the additional moisture may make the cake too wet. Yellow corn yields a cake with a warm golden hue, but white corn also works.
Don’t use frozen corn kernels—it results in a dense, gummy texture. Made with fresh corn, the cake’s crumb is much lighter and softer. After adding the flour mixture to the corn puree, don’t whisk vigorously. Gentle mixing, just until no pockets of flour remain, will minimize gluten development so the cake bakes up tender.
3 medium ears fresh corn, preferably yellow, husked
¼ cup fine yellow cornmeal
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
½ cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
Powdered sugar, to serve
Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position.
Mist a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Using a chef’s knife, cut the kernels from the ears of corn. Measure 1½ cups kernels and add to a blender; if you have extra corn, reserve it for another use. To the blender, add the cornmeal, condensed milk and yogurt, then puree until smooth, 15 to 20 seconds, scraping down the blender as needed. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
To the blender, add the whole eggs and yolks, and the oil; blend on low until smooth, 5 to 10 seconds.
Pour the puree into a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and whisk just until evenly moistened and no lumps of flour remain.
Transfer to the prepared cake pan and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a paring knife around the pan to loosen the cake, then invert directly onto the rack and lift off the pan. Re-invert the cake onto a serving platter and cool completely, about 1 hour.
More fun than the American classic, the Mexican take on the dish has a whole lot more personality, so says Cook’s Illustrated. Cóctel de camarón offers an incredible mix of flavors and textures: plump, tender poached shrimp; crisp bites of raw onion and cucumber; and cool, creamy avocado are all coated in a tangy, spicy-sweet tomato sauce.
“Eaten ice‑cold with a spoon and saltines, it’s like a festive, shrimp‑packed Bloody Mary or gazpacho.”
V8’s blend of tomato and vegetable juices and lack of added sweeteners give the dish a welcome savory balance. To round out the dish, cut a ripe avocado and half an English cucumber into bite-size chunks. For savory crunch, add finely chopped red onion to the mix. Finally, a smattering of chopped cilantro contributes freshness.
For a fun presentation, I served the cocktail in margarita glasses accompanied by a long handled spoon and a basket of nacho chips. Son David and girlfriend Vikki joined us for dinner that evening and absolutely loved their appetizers. They scarfed it down in no time!
If you don’t have margarita glasses, another serving option would be a martini glass. In the end, no matter what you serve the shrimp cocktails in, your guests will gobble them up!
1 ¼ lbs. large shrimp (26 to 30 per pound), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
¼ tsp. table salt, plus salt for cooking shrimp
1 cup V8 juice, chilled
½ cup ketchup
3 Tbsp. lime juice (2 limes), plus lime wedges for serving
2 tsp. hot sauce, plus extra for serving
½ English cucumber, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into ½-inch pieces
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Saltines (or tortilla chips or thick-cut potato chips)
Bring 3 cups water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Stir in shrimp and 1 tablespoon salt. Cover and let stand off heat until shrimp are opaque, about 5 minutes, shaking saucepan halfway through.
Fill large bowl halfway with ice and water. Transfer shrimp to ice bath and let cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Once cool, cut each shrimp crosswise into 3 pieces (or more if using larger shrimp).
Combine V8 juice, ketchup, lime juice, hot sauce, and salt in medium bowl.
Add cucumber, onion, and shrimp and stir until evenly coated. Stir in avocado and cilantro.
Portion cocktail into individual bowls or glasses and serve immediately, passing saltines (or chips), lime wedges, and extra hot sauce separately.
Why did I never think of this before? Fajita Quesadilla—a win-win! In this case with red meat, but you could also substitute chicken, fish and/or other veggies. This particular combo, sizzling spiced steak, onions and peppers paired with gooey cheese certainly got my attention. We dubbed them QUESAJITAS.
It was our first dinner party since we began the COVID lockdown the beginning of March (if you can call four people a party—but then, I can be a party of one!) And to be honest, it was the first warm, dry weekend we’ve had since the spring season began; so we were beyond ready for some socialization—that included of course, great food and adult beverages.
We were well on our way in prepping everything in the morning, when unexpectedly our kitchen touch-faucet went on the blink. 3 1/2 hours later, without success in getting the automatic touch feature to work, The Hubs disconnected it—but at least got it to work manually.
Now back to that party. What’s nice about this recipe, and our side of Purple Tex-Mex Slaw, is that all of the prep can be done ahead of time. So you’ll only be standing in front of the stove, or over a grill for an abbreviated period of time. Lucky for us, we had enough leftover for the two of us for lunch a couple of days later. This recipe can easily be cut in half.
And because I’m feeling generous today, I’ll throw in my famous Holy-Moley Lynn’s Great Guacamole recipe. It’s chunky style and packed with fabulous flavor while providing a perfect accompaniment for those Quesajitas!
Salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and Mexican hot sauce, for serving
In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and 2 tsp. salt. Rub the steak all over with the spice mixture. It’s best to do this a few hours ahead of time if possible.
Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, or alternatively, heat an oiled grill to medium high (400°F to 475°F). Cook the steak, flipping once, until rare, 4 to 5 minutes.
Transfer to a cutting board. Let rest 5 minutes, then thinly slice across the grain. Repeat if necessary with another steak.
Return the pan to the heat, and add more oil if dry. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the pan, season generously with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and the peppers are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; set aside. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels; set aside.
Put the tortillas on a work surface. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of the cheese over half of each tortilla. Evenly divide the steak and vegetables over the cheese.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the steak and vegetables. Fold each tortilla in half so that the empty side covers the filling.
Heat 1 tsp. of the oil in the skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add 2-3 of the quesadillas, and cook until golden-brown and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes per side.
Transfer to a clean cutting board, and then repeat with the remaining oil and quesadillas in as many batches as necessary. Cut the quesadillas into wedges, and serve with the salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and/or hot sauce.