Jonnycakes or Johnny Cakes are a forgotten or at least overlooked part of American Cuisine today. Claimed by the state of Rhode Island as an official state food, the humble Jonnycake is as much a part of New England's culinary history as Clam Chowder or Boston baked beans but somehow they have been relegated to the back burner ( no pun intended).
Jonnycakes are perhaps the precursor to the national obsession with Pancakes which are more widely know and celebrated. But the Jonnycake was one of the first things the Pilgrim's probably made in the new world with the ingredients they had on hand, namely the new vegetable corn. In their original form they were probably nothing more than corn meal, water, salt and fat for frying. They are still made almost that way by cooks in Rhode island, who continue the tradition of the Jonnycake today.
In researching this recipe I was struck by the simple nature and the structure of these cakes. And how today since we as a foodie nation and are seeking to eat foods in their most pure and simple fresh varieties, this dish was right on target. Thus I believe it is time for the humble Jonnycake to make a return to the food stages of the American Chef's table. And I want to be among the first to jump on that band wagon!
What also struck me how these cakes could be conjured up in various ways to be eaten. I think that they could indeed be dressed up in a variety of ways. Dressed up for dinner with components from the sea or from the farm. Dressed for breakfast with salty and sweet notes. Or dressed in a cute manner as to be a nibble for a cocktail party. But today I am feeling the Sea and I am feeling New England. And what is more New England than lobster!
Now I know that lobster for most of us is an indulgence. At $21 a 1/2 pound cooked for meat it can be very pricey. But this dish which is for four is $5.25 for the lobster and the rest makes it about $9 per person. So before you go on turning your nose up at lobster remember making things at home fancy is fun and special, but for $36 dollars you couldn't get one entree at a restaurant with Lobster in it!
Plus the star here is not the Lobster, it is a garnish if you will, the star is the Jonnycake. So with that i give you my version of a New England classic. Enjoy Ya'll!
New England Biscuit Style Jonnycakes with Lobster Corn and Savory Cream Sauce
For the Jonnycakes you will need:
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup white corn flour ( not corn starch)
1/1/2 teaspoons baking powder
good pinch of salt
6 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried tarragon leaves
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
In a small pot melt the butter and add the tarragon and let the spice bloom for a few minutes over very low heat.
In a bowl add all dried ingredients
Add the butter
Add the milk
Stir gently until smooth with a spoon but don't beat or whisk.
On a hot greased griddle or pan slowly drop 4 tablespoons of the batter ( the idea here is to make a silver dollar sized pancake about 4 inches in diameter
Cook until the edges are browned and the middle shows bubbles
Flip and cook another 2 mins till done, then reserve in a low warm oven till ready to serve.
For the Lobster and Corn you will need:
1 pint lobster meat fully cooked and roughly chopped into 2 inch pieces
3/4 cup fresh ( or fresh frozen corn)
1 small onion diced
2 scallions diced
1 small red pepper diced
5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoon sour cream
For the Lobster saute in 3 tablespoons of butter till just warmed
For the Corn:
Saute the onion and red pepper till soft add the corn and sour cream and hold warm.
For the lobster sauce you will need: ( makes 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup heavy Cream (at room temp)
2 tablespoons Lobster base
1 1/2 cup seafood stock warmed
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 tablespoon brandy
pinch of cayenne
Place the flour, butter and lobster stock base in a pan and melt together
Add the tomato paste then the seafood stock whisking slowly in till thickened.
Add the seasonings
reduce temperature to a low simmer
Add cream simmer slowly whisk till thickened add brandy and cook 10 mins stirring occasionally
Cool down and hold warm covered
fresh chives finely chopped for garnish
To Assemble dish:
Take three of the Jonnycakes
In a shallow bowl or pasta dish place one cake down
Place a little bit of the corn and pepper mixture on top
Then a spoonful of sauce
Place next cake on top and repeat till third cake is placed
Mound 1/4 of the lobster meat on top and around the stack
Make all four stacks quickly
Pour sauce to liking over the lobster cake stacks and serve at once garnished with the chopped chives