Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mexican Corn Cakes

Mark Bittman has a new cookbook out about his eating philosophy, Vegan Before 6.  Now, I have to be honest, I find Bittman to be more than a little annoying at times.  I think he's spent so much of his life centered around food writing and the food industry that he doesn't really 'get' normal people.  For example, in the section on recommendations for people who don't like to cook, his advice is to just spend an hour a day cooking in the kitchen.  Hm.  Well, I love to cook, and I don't even spend that much time in the kitchen every single day.  For most people, it is simply not realistic, and it's certainly not necessary for a healthy diet!   I honestly also find the whole obsession with veganism being equated with healthy eating to be off-putting.  For some people, that may be what works for them (and more power to them!).  But, I completely fail to see how a chicken breast, a piece of salmon, and some low fat milk in your coffee are not completely healthy options for everyone else.  Okay, rant over!

That said, VB6 does have some tasty, healthy, and easy recipes in it, so it's worth having for that aspect.  These corn cakes are a great example.  The cakes themselves are vegan, and you can dress them up with any Mexican toppings you like - or, some fresh fruit and yogurt would be great as well for a sweet option.  I was impressed at how well the corn cakes held together without any egg to bind them, and I loved the bits of fresh corn in the cakes to keep things interesting.  We had this dish for brunch, but depending on the toppings you use, I think this could work for pretty much any meal.

Mexican Corn Cakes (adapted from Mark Bittman's VB6)
Serves 3-4

1 cup polenta
1/2 cup whole grain corn flour (such as Bob's Red Mill brand)
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Boiling water (at least 2 cups)
1-1/2 T olive oil
Spray oil
1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels
To finish: refried beans, sour cream, avocado, and green onions

1. Heat the oven to warm (or whatever the lowest setting is).
2. Combine the polenta, corn flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Gradually whisk in 1-1/2 cups of boiling water.  Let the mixture sit until the cornmeal absorbs the water, 5-10 minutes.  Stir in the oil and more boiling water, until the mixture forms a loose batter (I used about 1/2 cup more, your mileage may vary).  Stir in the corn.
3. Put a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  When the pan is hot, spray with a little oil.  Working in batches, spoon the batter into the pan.  When the bottoms are brown, carefully flip (the cakes are somewhat fragile).  After the second side is browned, transfer to a plate and stash in the oven until all the cakes are cooked.
4. Serve topped with refried beans, sour cream, avocado, and green onions - or your favorite Mexican toppings.


  1. I'll have to try these out, they look great! I agree with you on Bittman being annoying sometimes. However, I've been trying out VB6 for the last month only because I want to eat more fruits and vegetables. I'm with you - I don't think a lean piece of meat or some lowfat milk will do any harm. So I definitely have days where I "cheat" a little. But, while trying to structure my days around a VB6 lifestyle, I HAVE started to eat a lot (A LOT!) more fruits and veggies. But, I think everybody is different, and everybody has to do what works for them. And tell people who don't cook to cook an hour a day is a losing battle, Bittman :)

    1. Yay, I'm glad it is working for you! I definitely don't think they are *bad* recommendations, maybe just a little too "do it my way!" for me without enough humility on his part that what works for him might not be perfect for other people, you know?

  2. So is his premise that you should be Vegan before 6 and then you can eat anything you want for dinner?

    I actually am totally making this for one of my lunches next week - I think my SIL would love it too - thanks for the idea!

    Hope you have an awesome weekend Sara!!

    1. Not quite - it's vegan before 6pm, and then "meat as a side" type cooking for dinner (i.e. a stir fry that focuses mostly on veggies but has some meat in it rather than big steaks). Hope your weekend is fantastic as well, and hope you like the corn cakes...I will be excited to hear how they turn out for you! :)