February 11, 2014

Pasilla Corn Waffles with Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraiche

I learned this recipe this when I worked at Mustard's Grill in Oakville, California where I was fortunate enough to have one of my first restaurant jobs. My first job in the Mustard's kitchen was working in the pantry. The pantry cook plates or takes part in the preparation of salads, appetizers, various side dishes, and desserts. It is the basic starter position on the cooking line where there are cooks working the grill, saute, and otherwise. Making the batter for and griddling the  very tasty Pasilla Corncakes was one of the many jobs I undertook while on pantry duty, and the recipe is imprinted on my brain to this day.

Mustard's Grill is culinary institution in the Napa Valley that still thrives after nearly 30 years today because everything about it is fantastic. The food is delicious, the service is friendly and professional, and the atmosphere is fun and unpretentious. It also has got to be one of the very best places to learn how to cook professionally as it is incredibly busy with a steady stream of food loving customers from opening until the doors close 7 days a week. The chef and proprietor, Cindy Pawlcyn, is without a doubt one of the greatest chefs in America and her spirit is ever present in her kitchen and dining room making sure that the quality of the food and service are up to her demanding standards. The savory golden corncakes topped with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and fresh herbs were but one of the many favorite dishes I learned to make at Mustard's Grill, Truck Stop Deluxe. I thought it might be fun to cook the batter in my heart shaped waffle iron for Valentine's Day to make it into an appetizer that would be easier to prepare in advance for guests, but making them as dollar size pancakes is still wonderful.

Pasilla Corn Waffles or Pancakes with Smoked Salmon

Makes about 6 waffles.

For all ingredients, please consider using that are grown organically.

Adapted from memory and the Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook by Cindy Pawlcyn

 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
 4 scallions, thinly sliced, white parts only
 1 pasilla pepper, seeded and finely chopped
 1 ear corn, kernels only
 1 cup yellow cornmeal
 1/2 cup all purpose flour
 2 tablespoons sugar
 1 teaspoon salt
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
 1 egg
 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons canola oil or other neutral oil (for waffles only)
10-12 ounces smoked wild salmon
 1/3 cup creme fraiche, sour cream, or greek yogurt
 3  tablespoons chives, snipped with a scissor or chopped

Warm the olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the prepared scallions, pasilla peppers, and corn and cook for about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool while preparing the batter.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg and buttermilk. Add the oil only if making waffles.

Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the vegetables to the batter and stir.

At this point you can refrigerate the batter for 2-3 days or use immediately.

Prepare the batter as you would any other waffle batter being sure to not overfill the iron.

For pancakes, cook about 2 tablespoons of batter that will be about 3-4 inches in diameter.

Both pancakes and waffles are best served immediately, but can be rewarmed in the oven at 350 F.

Serve topped with sliced smoked salmon, creme fraiche, and fresh snipped chives.


Categories: Breakfast & Brunch, Snacks, Nibbles & Finger Food

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