Sunday, July 15, 2012

Corn-Avocado Salad, Tamale Pancakes, Mexican Crabmeat

Hi Everyone! It’s another Food Matters Project Monday and this week’s recipe was chosen by Jenn of Vanilla Lemon, Corn-Avocado Salad (with a Little Something Seared on Top). I was so mad at myself when I got home from the farmer’s market last Friday and realized that I did not check the FMP recipe for this week so I can get the needed ingredients. As fate would have it, I happened to buy corn, which is an important ingredient… all the rest of the ingredients for the salad like the bell pepper, tomato, avocado, and orange are always staples in our refrigerator. Lucky me! Thank you Jenn for picking a recipe that has all the ingredients that are right up my alley.

It took me a while to figure out what to do with the recipe since we didn’t have any of the “something special” ingredients (no scallops, chicken, shrimp, squid, pork chop, steak, nor tofu) that Mark Bittman suggested to sear and place on top of the salad. We didn’t have any corn tortillas to throw in either. After some mulling, I decided to use canned crabmeat to pair with the salad and make my own corn tortillas. The crabmeat happened and it was awesome. The corn tortilla however was initially a disaster. 

Once in your lifetime you come across a special person who still loves you even after you have a meltdown over corn tortilla dough that is not coming together. He stops doing an important task that he is attending to, patiently opens a cookbook, tries to find an alternate solution, tells you to calm down and stop yelling at the food, and gives you advice.

What started out as a plan for homemade corn tortillas turned into tamale pancakes. Not sure what that really is but that’s what I’m calling these pancakes. Desperation and frustration followed by some talking through with your better half is the mother of invention. These pancakes are slightly sweet, delicious, grainy, and heavy! Perfect cure for meltdowns… Who cares about corn tortillas? These pancakes rock!

Tamale Pancakes

2 cups corn meal
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
3 pinches of salt
2 ¼ cups water, lukewarm
1 tbsp honey

butter for greasing the skillet

Whisk the corn meal, flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the water and stir until well combined. Stir in the honey until well incorporated. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Using a wooden spoon, grease the skillet with a generous pat of butter. As soon as the butter sizzles off, drop ¼ cup of the batter into the skillet. When the batter starts to form holes, carefully flip the pancake and cook the other side for a couple of seconds. The pancake is done when the underside turns golden.

Jenn has the original Mark Bittman recipe for the salad, so hop on over to her website to see it. This corn-avocado salad is fresh, summery, and sweet! It would go great with a lot of stuff: tortilla chips, tacos, nachos, or just as a side salad for barbeque dinners. I made very few modifications with mine, here goes…

Corn-Avocado Salad
Adapted from Mark Bittman, The Food Matters Cookbook

1 small Walla Walla onion, chopped
corn kernels from 2 ears of fresh corn (slice the kernels off the ears carefully so the kernels don’t fly everywhere)
3 mini bell peppers, chopped
½ tsp chili powder
1 tomato, chopped
1 tbsp dill chimichurri (*see recipe below*)
juice of half an orange
1 avocado, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

generous amount of butter (about 1 tbsp)

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, melt the butter. Cook the onion for about a minute and then throw in the corn kernels. Stir every now and then for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables turn brown. Toss in the bell peppers and cook for about a minute. Turn the heat off and move onions, corn, and bell peppers to a bowl.

Add the chili powder, tomatoes, chimichurri, and fresh orange juice. Stir everything together until well mixed. Gently toss in the chopped avocado and season with salt and pepper.

Alrighty then, hope you are all still following here… This crabmeat was my something special to go along with the salad. Canned crabmeat is nothing fancy, but guess what? It is hassle free and if done right can turn out pretty well. Just make sure you buy the real, wild caught, canned crabmeat, ok? The blend of spices and splash of lemon makes this crabmeat really awesome… easy, simple, and delicious!    

Mexican Crabmeat

olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup canned crabmeat, packed
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
lemon wedges

Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the garlic until it turns golden brown. Add the crabmeat and stir for a minute or so before adding the cumin, cayenne, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes and turn the heat off.

Serve with lemon wedges. Lemon juice brightens up the crab meat and masks the crab taste that some people are not fond of. 

Parsley and dill are great together! This recipe yielded about 2/3 of a cup and I am planning on adding this chimichurri a tablespoon or two at a time in sautéed vegetables later this week. If you have salmon, this would go really well with it… yum! I currently have a chimichurri addiction and it started with this FMP recipe. Since I had a bunch of dill waiting to be used, I figured it would be great to use it in a chimichurri… and I am very pleased with how it turned out.  

Dill Chimichurri

1 cup fresh parsley, mostly leaves
¼ cup fresh dill, stems cut off
juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large clove of garlic
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Place the parsley, dill, lemon, olive oil, and garlic together in a blender. Blend until everything is reduced to a sauce. Add the red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper and blend for a few more seconds. Transfer chimichurri into a bowl and serve with vegetables or meat. If you don’t plan on using it right away, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

This turned out to be one of our best summer dinners! Give it a try…

P.S. Don’t forget to check out what other FMP members did with this recipe. Everyone’s creativeness never ceases to amaze me!   


  1. Awesome save on the tortillas! I KNEW there was a reason why I've never attempted to make them at home. And really a delicious meal all-around! It screams summer eating. :)

  2. Very creative-it sounds very tasty.

  3. Haha, I love how sometimes when you try making one thing and it doesn't turn out quite the way you like it, it still turns out great. Yeah, I think I would call those pancakes too ;) This all sounds super delicious!

  4. Glad to hear others have meltdowns while cooking too! I had one yesterday when I had planned our dinner for 14 to be outside and our hot sunny weather suddenly turned to cool and cloudy. Luckily the sun came back when our guests arrived and we were able to eat "al fresco"!

  5. Haha this is so sweet. I can totally relate to the 'kitchen' meltdown. I've learned that even when I think something is 'disastrous' it usually ends up being edible and in fact, pretty delicious. I'm always trying to let go of that 'perfectionist' side that I have. Tamale pancakes sound fabulous!

  6. So creative Margarita!! I love a good recipe save :)

  7. The pancakes look de-lish! Who needs corn tortillas any way?!

  8. Hi Margarita,
    I just finished off with dinner but I am starving seeing these photos. Looks incredible! I will definitely give this recipe a shot soon. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Glad to hear everything turned out delicious in the end! Gotta love significant others- what would we do without them? I'm always thankful that Sam will eat anything I cook for him, he's never said "it doesn't taste good"! =)

  10. I was laughing as I read about your other half's reaction when you had a meltdown - my boyfriend has seen me through lots of cursing and tears in our kitchen. I think he goes into adrenaline mode, as though he's witnessing a car accident. Agree with Evi about the value of someone who's willing to taste test, and he always makes sure to give me honest constructive criticism, strategically sandwiched between two compliments: "This is very good, very authentic tasting... maybe a touch less paprika next time... but the texture is perfect!"

    Glad you were able to recover and discover something amazing!


Let me know what your thoughts are... Your comments always make my day!