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Cheesecake Factory Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes

By Todd Wilbur


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Menu Description: "Topped with sour cream, salsa, avocado and salsa verde."

Nestled between slick full-page ads on page 7 of the huge 17-page spiral-bound menu from The Cheesecake Factory, is a long list of fabulous appetizers that includes this Southwestern-style crowd pleaser. Hand-formed tamale cakes are arranged on fresh salsa verde, topped with sour cream and creamy Southwestern sauce, with a fresh avocado and cilantro garnish. It's happiness on a plate. And, while the ingredients listed below may seem intimidating at first, the three sauces are very simple to make, and your crew will no doubt be impressed with the results. The flavors in the sauces develop after sitting for a bit so you can prepare them all in advance and let them chill in the fridge until chow time. If you get anything short of a standing ovation for this dish, coax out the kudos by waving the pages of this recipe in front of everyone while wiping your brow. Sometimes you have to milk it.

Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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Salsa Verde
  • 2 tomatillos, chopped (remove papery skin)
  • 1 4-ounce can mild green chilis
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Tomato Salsa
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced Spanish onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced, fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/2 small fresh jalapeno, minced
  • Pinch ground black pepper
Southwestern Sauce
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspooon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • Pinch garlic powder
Cakes
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen sweet corn
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup masa harina (corn flour)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
On the side
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coarsley chopped, fresh cilantro
  • Do This
    • Restaurant/Brand
      Cheesecake Factory
    • Instructions

      1. Prepare the salsa verde by combining all the ingredients in a food processor on high speed. Cover and chill.

      2. Prepare tomato salsa by combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill.

      3. Prepare Southwestern sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill.

      4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

      5. Prepare the tamale cakes by chopping 1 cup of the frozen corn in a food processor until it's coarsely pureed. Combine pureed corn with softened butter, sugar, and salt. Blend well with electric mixer until smooth.

      6. Add masa and flour and blend well. Mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of frozen corn kernels by hand.

      7. Measure 1/2 cup portions of the mixture and form it into 3-inch wide patties with your hands. Arrange the patties on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cakes are browned on the bottom. Carefully flip all cakes with a spatula and bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until other side is browned.

      8. While the cakes are baking, spoon a portion of the salsa verde onto a plate or platter (you may want to heat up your plate in the oven for a bit to help warm the sauce). You'll need to use enough salsa verde to coat the entire plate—it should be about 1/4-inch deep. Arrange the tamale cakes side-by-side on the salsa verde. Spoon a dollop of sour cream onto each tamale cake. Drizzle the Southwestern sauce over the cakes in a criss-cross pattern (use a squirt bottle if you've got one—see Tidbits). Spoon some tomato salsa over the cakes, followed by the chopped avocado. Finish off the plate by sprinkling the coarsely chopped cilantro leaves over the top.

      Serves 4.

      Tidbits: Save your empty plastic mustard or ketchup bottles to use in recipes such as this one. Use the squirt bottle to drizzle the southwestern sauce over your dish to give it that slick professional look. And if you want to cut out some of the fat in the sauce, you can easily substitute light mayo for the regular stuff. You'll find tomatillos in the produce section, usually near the tomatoes or peppers. Be sure to remove the papery skin before using them. Masa harina, or corn flour, is found in the baking aisle by the other flours or where the Mexican foods are stocked.

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