Hoecakes with California Avocado, Black-eyed Pea, Cucumber Chopped Salad

I always struggle with knowing what to serve for brunch.  Do I serve something savory or sweet?  Pancakes or quiche?  I always feel like some of the traditional choices just feel like I’m serving breakfast too late.  So I’ve tried to come up with some options over the years that are a bit more outside of the box.  One of my favorites is hoecakes.  Hoecakes are the precursor to Southern-style cornbread.  I’m talking the real cornbread.  Not the sweet, almost-cake version of cornbread—not that there’s anything wrong with that!  No, I’m talking about the savory, coarse, dense cornbread that is perfect for eating with hardy things like barbecue and collard greens.  Hoecakes look like pancakes, but are just like their Southern cornbread relative.

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For my brunch take on hoecakes, I made them small, using about 2 tablespoons of batter for each hoecake.  I like to make things a bit more elegant for brunch and these small golden hoecakes fit the bill!  Making the hoecakes is easy.  The batter is made by whisking the dry ingredients together and then stirring in the wet ingredients, then spooning it onto a hot griddle or frying pan and cooking each hoecake until a light golden, brown.  You can make the hoecakes up to a day in advance and then reheat them when you are ready to serve brunch.  Anytime I can cook part of a meal in advance, I call that a win!
 
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To top the hoecakes I whipped up a savory chopped salad, inspired by southern flavors, with black-eyed peas, cucumbers, and of course, California avocados, now in season!  The combination is light and refreshing, but still filling.  Happy brunching!

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Hoecakes with California Avocado, Black-eyed Pea, Cucumber Chopped Salad Recipe

Makes 5 Servings

Ingredients:
For the Hoecakes:
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup non-dairy milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice added and allowed to sit for 10 minutes)
1 large egg, beaten (or 1 flax egg)
1 tablespoon neutral flavored oil
 
For the California Avocado, Black-eyed Pea, Cucumber Chopped Salad:
1 (15.5 ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
2 ripe California avocados, chopped
1/2 English cucumber, chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Fresh cilantro, to garnish
 
Instructions:

  1. Make the hoecake batter.  Whisk the cornmeal, sea salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a medium bowl.  Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk, egg, and oil, and mix together until the batter is smooth.
  2.  Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat.  Ladle the batter on the hot griddle (about 2 tablespoons of batter per hoecake) and cook until a light, golden brown, then flip with a spatula and cook the other side.  When finished, move the cooked hoecakes to a plate lined with paper towels and repeat with the remaining batter.
  3.  While the hoecakes are cooking, gently toss all of the chopped salad ingredients together in a bowl.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.
  4. To assemble, place several hoecakes on each plate and top with a generous portion of the chopped salad and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.  Serve immediately.

*Recipe Notes: The hoecakes can be cooked a day in advanced and then reheated in the oven or microwave.  If you wish the chopped salad to have a bit more heat, add more hot sauce or a finely chopped jalapeno.

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