These easy, cheesy corn cakes with sharp cheddar and scallions are the perfect whole grain appetizer, snack or base to hold more food!
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This month’s recipe redux challenge was to recall our earliest culinary memories. I immediately thought about summers spent shelling butterbeans and shucking fresh corn on the porch with my Grandma, then packing it to freeze and eat through the winter. On most weekends she’d make the handmade biscuits using White Lily flour, buttermilk, and shortening. During the holidays, the kitchen would be filled with rows of fragrant pineapple cakes. I’d get really excited to see her roll out dumplings on the same table where we’d eat chicken and dumplings later that day. So many memories flooded my mind as I took it back to the first time I remember cooking with my Grandma.
As I narrowed down what I’d make, I realized the recurring theme was seeing my Grandma at the kitchen table with some sort of cornmeal or flour in her hands. She’d make flour bread to sop up molasses or stewed fruit or cornbread “flitters” to go with greens. Yes. She called them “flitters.” At some point, I realized she meant fritters but now just saying that makes me smile.
I had to go with cornbread fritters. Today is the last day of summer and I’m definitely ready for fall. As such, I wanted to pair these with greens – since that’s the way we’d eat the cornbread fritters – but I just didn’t have time make a proper pot of greens.
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I’m sure she used the stone-ground cornmeal because she’d always complain when she could only find the white one. I’m not sure if it was self-rising? Probably not – but that’s what I used. Unfortunately, I don’t have her actual recipe. I don’t think she used one. And my Mom doesn’t really cook. I had to consult Google.
I spent an afternoon (then evening) playing with cornmeal. The recipe below included a bit of sugar and whole wheat flour and tasted like a light and fluffy corn pancake. It was good and I may share the recipe on the blog later but it was not what I was going for. But those edges? Yeah… was definitely going for that!
Back to the actual recipe. It was special to be able to use one of Grandma’s cast iron skillets. But my first batch stuck to the pan. And you know what that means? It means my cast iron is not properly seasoned and THAT means I’m falling off my Carolina girl cooking game. The thing is this little pan is easily 50 years old and I don’t know how to clean it properly. I’ve read a million and one articles on the Internet about how to clean cast iron but this is the result.
Eventually, I got it together and landed on these light, cheesy corn cakes with green onions. And I couldn’t be happier with the results. I ate a couple last night straight from the griddle then popped a couple in the toaster oven for breakfast this morning with scrambled eggs.
In summary… I made a slightly elevated hoecake. That’s the other name you’ll find these under. A traditional hoecake is simply cornmeal and hot water with melted butter or some kind of fat – usually bacon grease. There are many stories about how hoecakes earned the name but no matter where your mind wandered, the most common explanation is that “hoe” was a colloquial term for griddle back in the day. You’ll also hear them called johnny cakes but those recipes usually include flour. My Grandma’s corn cakes never included flour. They were dense in a good way and incredibly simple to make.
Here’s my take…
Cheesy Corn Cakes
- 1 - 1¼ cup boiling hot water
- 1 cup self-rising yellow whole grain cornmeal
- ¼ cup green onion , finely chopped
- ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- Preheat a griddle (cast iron is recommended) until hot. You can also use a large cast iron skillet.
- In a mixing bowl, add the cornmeal then 1 cup of hot water. Mix until combined. Add the green onion and cheese. Stir until just combined. The batter will be a little thicker than pancake batter. For thinner corn cakes, add more water, a little at a time.
- Add the coconut oil to the hot griddle. Brush or swirl it around to coat the pan.
- Drop ¼ cup portions of the batter onto the griddle. Cook about 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and the cheese is crisp. Serve immediately or reheat the next day in a toaster oven.
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