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Corn Cakes with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche

Corn Cakes with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche
The crisp acidity of many dry sparkling wines is a refreshing counterpoint to the saltiness of smoked salmon. It also cuts through the richness that comes from frying these corn cakes and then serving them with crème fraîche. The accent of the corn adds an implied toastiness, which is a hallmark of many French Champagnes. Dependable: nonvintage French Champagne. Daring: off-dry Riesling from Germany or the United States.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups white or yellow corn kernels (from
      about 2 ears)
  • 1/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
     and cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup melted clarified unsalted butter or
      peanut oil, or as needed
  • 16 small slices smoked salmon
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives

Directions:

Place the corn kernels in a food processor. Using on-off pulses, pulse just until a coarse puree forms. Do not overprocess. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the cornmeal and flour until smoothly incorporated.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter and eggs until blended. Add to the corn mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the salt and pepper. (The batter may be prepared up to a few hours before cooking; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.)

Place a large nonstick or well-seasoned griddle or sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, brush with the clarified butter. Using about 2 Tbs. batter for each cake, ladle the batter onto the hot surface and spread to form cakes about 3 inches in diameter. The batter should sizzle when it hits the pan. Cook until golden on one side, about 3 minutes. Then turn and cook until the other side is golden and the center is set, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and keep warm until all the cakes are cooked.

To serve, place 2 corn cakes on each warmed individual plate. Top each corn cake with 2 slices of smoked salmon, a generous drizzle of crème fraîche and a sprinkling of chives. Serve immediately.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Food & Wine Pairing, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1999).