corn flour

batter fried apple rings

by Stevie on October 24, 2011

This is not something that I’ve ever tried before: deep frying apple rings in a corn flour batter. I read about it in the New York Times Magazine recently. The article had a dozen recipes for apples. Of course, I was only drawn to the deep-fried section 😉 Aside from this one, they recommended a way of making tempura-style apple rings, which sounded great but looked more complex; plus the more widely-known apple fritter.

batter fried apple rings

batter fried apple rings

This dish calls for corn meal, but I didn’t have that, so I used corn flour instead. I made this for breakie, though I think that it could be a fun sweet-treat, especially served à la mode with vanilla ice-cream. If you’re feeling particularly frisky, then add hot fudge or caramel sauce and some whipped cream. Now that sounds good!

batter fried apple rings

2 medium apples—I used Granny Smith
½ cup flour
½ cup corn meal or flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/8 tsp cayenne
Canola oil to fry with

Peel and core apples. Cut into about quarter inch thick rings. Soak in the buttermilk.

Mix dry ingredients together. Toss apples into flour mixture. Fry in hot oil until golden brown. Let drain on paper towels. Serve warm.


fries with eyes AKA manjuba

by Heguiberto on November 16, 2009

fries with eyes AKA deep fried smelt

fries with eyes AKA deep fried smelt

This weekend we went on a fish eating binge. On Friday we dined at Sanraku before seeing the new movie, “Precious.” The movie was excellent in a very disturbing way. And as per usual, the meal was divine! We had a beautiful sushi a la carte comprised of taco (octopus), albacore tuna, yellow tail, uni (sea urchin) and nasu (eggplant) nigiri. We also ordered a few rolls: cucumber, fried oyster and wasabi. The wasabi roll was a surprise with its intense heat blasting through your nasal cavities. Some people say this is a pleasing sensation? Every time I overdose on wasabi, after the suffering, I start laughing at my own foolishness. I’ve only myself to blame for the delicious, excruciating pain. I always promise not to do it again, yet the very next time I OD once more. This ordering of the wasabi roll was Steven’s idea but I could have said no. Well my point is that after indulging in fish on Friday I was still not completely satisfied, so for Saturday dinner we had seafood again!

fresh smelt

fresh smelt

That afternoon we went shopping in the Mission at Sun Fat. I got some clams to make them in white wine sauce, essentially the same way as I made the mussels in Chablis. By chance, while browsing around the shop, I saw that they had fresh smelt. I immediately thought about summertime on the beach in Brazil. There this tiny little fish is called ‘manjuba.’ A perfect day at any Brazilian beach, as far as I’m concerned, includes baking in the sun with friends and family, drinking watery beer and caipirinhas, and eating deep fried fish. I’ve been home sick lately. I guess this cold weather makes me want to migrate South with the birds. (I can’t wait for my upcoming trip there in January!) I simply had to get them!

It is a bit naughty eating this because it’s deep fried. We don’t do much deep frying at home, but every once in a while I think it’s okay. The smelt turned out pretty delicious. I served them with tartar sauce.

Oh, I’m borrowing the name of this post from a similar dish from a restaurant I went to a couple of years ago. They thought that the fried smelt looked like French fried potatoes with eyes. It’s a cute name that’s catchy. Though, I think that the fried fish are much more interesting looking than mere fried potato. Anyway, here it is:

Fries with Eyes AKA Manjuba

1lb smelt (manjuba), rinsed and patted dried with a paper towel
1 cup corn flour
black pepper
¼ tsp chili pepper
oil for frying (canola, corn, or grapeseed)

deep frying smelt

deep frying smelt

For the tartar sauce:

2 tbsp mayo
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 tbsp buttermilk
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped

In a medium pan heat enough oil to fill the pan about ½ inch. Mix corn flour, salt, pepper and chili pepper together. Transfer smelt to corn mix. Shake off excess flour. Add smelt to pan, frying them in batches about 3-4 minutes per side on medium-high heat. Do not over crowd pan. Remove from pan and let fried fish rest on a paper towel to remove some excess oil. When all of the frying is done, arrange on a platter and serve with tartar sauce and lemon or lime wedges.

For the tartar sauce, mix all ingredients together and serve.

We’re not in Brazil here so instead of beer, we had our “fries with eyes” as an appetizer with a beautiful bottle of inexpensive white Bordeaux, Chateau Ducasse 2008. I used the same wine for the clam dish that I served as the main course, accompanied by olive bread for dipping. Mmmm! I do love seafood!

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corny coconut corn cake

corny coconut corn cake

We ran out of bread yesterday and I forgot to stop by Whole Foods to get some more on my way home. By the time I did get home, I didn’t want to go out again for anything! We’d have been forced to have oatmeal for breakie the next day. But Steven is constantly driving me crazy with complaints about oatmeal! When will he ever learn?!

Sometimes when I’m feeling ambitious I end up making granola or another version that I call “wet granola” that is very popular in this household, but I was so not feeling it.

Steven suggested that I make a cake, but turns out that we used up all of the wheat flour. We did have the flocão that I purchased last time I went to Mercado Brasil, a store that sells Brazilian products in the Mission district here in San Francisco. Flocão is a sort of corn meal. It looks something like corn flakes and couscous at the same time. It is made by grinding yellow corn coarsely, soaking it in water, followed by baking and turning it into flakes by rolling a stone over it. Flocão is a staple in the north eastern part of the country where they steam and eat it much like couscous with smoldering savory or sweet sauces. It is pretty good. Another way to enjoy flocão is by turning it into a cake. And that’s what happened.

Whenever I do make cakes, I try to reproduce the ones I used to eat during my childhood. The first that I remember were baked by my mother. Later, my homemade cake memories come from inherited recipes elaborated upon by my older siblings: Pedro, Ana, Dora, Tinha and Nelson. They are all very talented cooks! Every time I am in Brazil I indulge myself with their amazing foods. Cheers to all you guys!

This cake has an intense coconut and corn flavor. It’s also very moist. I just love it.

Here’s the recipe:

Corny Coconut Corn Cake AKA Bolo de Flocão

2 cups of flocão (Brazilian coarse corn meal)
1 cup sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 & ½ cup soy milk
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs (1 yolk only)
1 cup dry grated coconut
1 tbsp baking powder

How to:

Grease baking pan (nine inch round glass dish) with canola oil and dust with flour (I used chickpea flour because we’d run out of wheat.)

Place flocão, sugar, salt, oil and one cup of milk in a pan, and cook the mixture on medium heat stirring constantly till thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it rest for about an hour or so till it has cooled completely.

Heat oven to 350F.

Add remaining soy milk, coconut and baking powder to batter. Using your electric mixer beat egg whites and one yolk for a couple of minutes till peaks form. Fold beaten egg into batter. Transfer to baking pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or till a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Towards last five minutes increase temperature to 375F to brown the top of the cake. Serve with a good cup of black coffee or tea. This is great in the morning but also is sweet enough to make a delightful dessert.


Corn bread in Brazil is sweeter than the American version, and normally it’s eaten for breakfast, instead of with lunch or dinner. Brazilian corn flour, called fubá; though ground coarser than wheat flour; is finer than American corn meal. I grew up eating a lot of these corn cakes in the Brazilian hinterlands.

Looking back it seems that at all times there were shortages of something or another. Flour was one of those staples we could not produce ourselves. Temperate weather crops, like wheat, did not yield well enough in the tropical lands of South America. Wheat flour was used parsimoniously, really as a treat instead of an every-day thing. My mother mixed it with other types of flour, mainly corn and cassava (aka, yucca if you please).


Refrigeration was another issue. We did not get electricity until 1972! Milk would go “bad” very frequently; turning into yogurt. For some reason my mother never liked it, except when she used it to make her famous bolão azedo. Otherwise that goodness would become a feast for the pigs. I know they liked it because I was the one who fed them! If we only had known how to make Prosciutto de Parma, we’d have become rich! Well here I am reminiscing about my hometown, Olegário Maciel …. but wait, I need to go back to my cake!

The cake is made just plain and simple with corn flour and yogurt, often times flavored with whatever spices that might be available from our dispensa (pantry). These additional items might include: fennel seeds, cinnamon, dried coconut, guava paste, etc. Yesterday I made the cake using all of the above and it turned out really good. Steven and I loved it, and I hope that you do too. You can find guava paste and fubá at Brazilian stores or sometimes in specialty food stores. So in belated honor of mother’s day, here’s the recipe:

key ingredients

key ingredients


1 ½ cups corn flour (fubá)
½ cup wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 egg whites
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp grated coconut
1 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1 cup yogurt
1 cup guava paste, cut into cubes and dusted with flour
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 pinch ground cinnamon

How to:

Preheat oven to 350F
Grease and dust with flour a baking dish (14’’ X 9””)
Mix together eggs, oil and sugar for a couple of minutes.
Mix in yogurt and coconut
Mix in corn and wheat flours, and salt, fennel seeds and cinnamon. Add baking powder and mix again.
Pour over greased and dusted baking dish, scatter guava cubes over cake, bake it for 35-40 min or till a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

finished corn cake

finished corn cake

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