Patties Galore – Sweet Corn Cakes

Sweet Corn Cakes with Pineapple syrup

Corn Flour Patties Stuffed with Black Beans and Potato (Gorditos)

Ecuadorian Potato Patties (Llapingachos)

I don’t know what it is, perhaps some subliminal message sent to me via Sponge Bob Squarepants, or the fact that I have only a two-burner hot plate for cooking, but I have patties on my brain. First I made Gorditos stuffed with potato and black beans, then I made Ecuadorian potato patties, called “Llapingachos,” and today big fat corn cakes with fresh pineapple syrup. Sauces and salsa are an easy-to-make accompaniment.

The Gorditos reminded me a little of tamales, and with Christmas upon us,  I thought it would be fun to make a sweet cake in the same manner. I intended to stuff them with little bits of pineapple, but figured Max would like them better without fruit pieces inside. I opted instead, to make a pineapple syrup with sugar, lime zest and juice. Of course there is no microzester here in Condolandia, so I resorted to using a paring knife – oh, the things we take for granted!

Pineapple Syrup:

  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • zest and juice from one lemon or lime
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • splash of water

Simmer on the stove for a few minutes until the syrup starts to thicken.


  • 4 cups Maseca tortilla flour
  • About 5 cups warm water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • canola oil in a bowl for finger dipping

Directions: Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, and add water until the dough is soft and doesn’t break apart.

Forming Sweet Corn Cakes

Take a ball of dough about the size of your palm and flatten it out. Once the fat tortilla is formed, place it on a dry skillet on medium heat and cook until browned. Turn it and brown the other side as well. The gorditas take quite a long time to cook, so it’s not a bad idea to keep them warming in the oven until they are all prepared. They reheat easily in the microwave as well.


Pineapple Salsa


Does anyone in Minnesota grow pineapple? I didn’t think so. This chip topper is far from local, but a real crowd and kid pleaser. The only thing local, in fact, is the cilantro and jalapeno. This one tips over my 80% local goal!

Pineapple Salsa Recipe


  • 2 cups pineapple chunks
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • dash of salt


This is a zinger. Toss everything in the food processor and pulse, pulse, pulse. The only thing I would caution is if you plan to feed this to kids, check the heat of your jalapeno. I have found that organic jalapenos tend to be pretty hot. I’m not sure if that’s due to the producer or what. My trick for testing the Scoville level is to cut off the stem and a little of the pepper. Then I give the cut part with all the capsaicin a quick lick. With that test I know if I need to remove the seeds or if it is safe enough for my easy method – throw the whole darn thing in!

Roasted Pineapple and Black Bean Salad

Roasted Pineapple and Black Bean Salad


Beans may very well be at the center of many people’s food psychosis. Often bean consumption can cause anti-social behavior, anger management issues, or even severe emotional response to deep-seated traumatic childhood bean experiences. Many people refuse to eat beans for fear of gas while others refuse to eat beans because they are a pain to make. Every time I make beans I have to work through the trauma of the day the lid blew! Growing up, my mom used the pressure cooker method to prepare beans, and I remember avoiding being indoors while the beans softened under extreme pressure. I always feared the pot. The pot that looked somehow militaristic with its’ gauges and locks and submarine-looking lid – the pot that induced talk about whether there would be an explosion or not. These were scary images and ideas for a little girl and I’m surprised not to have permanent psychological scars.

Even though I was traumatized, it ended up being the pot that caused the fear for me and not the beans, so I have spent much of my adult life fine-tuning the cooking of the bean without using the pressure of a militaristic submarine. There are a couple of tricks I have discovered. You know how on the bag of beans they tell you to wash them? Well, not only does this remove little bits of dirt, but washing them helps eliminate some of the gas inducing enzymes. Wash away your fears!

How you wash a bean is important, too. I use a colander and the cooking pot. I put the beans in the pot and cover them with water. Then I swirl them around with my fingers to break up little clumps of dirt and force any spoiled beans to float to the top. I remove the damaged legumes and then dump the good beans into the colander. I repeat this process two or three times until I am sure the beans are clean. Check under the colander for dirt or debris. Then I cover the beans with water and bring to a boil. I usually let them cook for about ten minutes and again drain the water, bathe and rinse. This wash is to help eliminate gas. Finally, I fill the pot again and let the beans cook until they are done – here they get a final wash and rinse.

By now I’m sure you have discovered my other trick to cooking beans: cook in large volume! Cooking beans is a time-consuming process, so I never make a paltry little pound. I usually cook four pounds in a large stock pot, and once I complete the final wash, I divide the beans into freezer containers and have many easy meals to come! It’s worth it. If you go through this process, you will not only avoid the gas found in canned beans, but you will also save money as dry beans are very inexpensive. Once new healthier habits and behaviors are formed, you will forget you ever had a bean psychosis!

Now on to the salad.


1/2 fresh pineapple cored and diced

4-6 cups black beans

1 red pepper diced

2 cups corn cut from cob

5 scallions thinly sliced

1 bunch cilantro chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

2 hot peppers minced

1 tsp. salt

2 limes juiced

3 Tbs. olive oil


Dice and slice the red pepper, scallions and pineapple. Place the pineapple on an oiled cookie sheet under the broiler. Let the pineapple brown on one side, turn it and let the chunks brown on the other side. Meanwhile, start a pot of water on the stove to boil the corn. Once the water is rapidly boiling put the cobs in and time it – two minutes is all they need. Remove the cobs and run under cold water to cool. Slice kernels from the cob. Mix beans, corn, peppers, scallions and pineapple together in a bowl. Next, mince the garlic, cilantro and hot peppers in a food processor and add to the salad. The salt, lime juice and olive oil can be added directly to the salad and mixed well. I like this salad to have at least an hour to marinate and bring all the flavors together.