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Pancakes take a lemony Hawaiian twist

Recipe: Lemon-coconut corn cakes with coconut syrup

Garnish these Hawaiian-inspired pancakes with lemon and coconut.

Garnish these Hawaiian-inspired pancakes with lemon and coconut.

Debbie Arrington

A recent trip to Kauai inspired this twist on an old favorite – including the corn part.

While vacationing on the island’s south shore, we met a corn expert from Iowa. His company was working on new corn hybrids, developed on the island’s western slopes. Since most of the Hawaiian Islands never experience winter (as we mainlanders do), corn can grow year round – making it an ideal place to test new varieties.

Likely story, I thought when I heard his occupation while grilling at our beach-side resort. Who wouldn’t want to escape Midwest snow to monitor corn on Kauai? But when we ventured to the west side of the island past Hanapepe and Waimea, we discovered – sure enough – vast cornfields where sugar cane once grew, all part of ag-science research.

4 pancakes, 1 brown and done, other 3 with bubbles
Flip the pancakes when bubbles form.

That got me craving corn cakes, but with an island twist. I wanted something as sunny as those western slopes with a little taste of the tropics, too.

When I got home to Sacramento, the combination of lemon and coconut worked beautifully in these corn cakes, lightened with lemon yogurt. The result was similar to a lemon-polenta cake. Coconut syrup was the perfect topper. Who knew that corn cakes could be tropical, too?

Lemon-coconut corn cakes

Makes 10 to 12 corn cakes


½ cup cornmeal

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ cup lemon yogurt

½ cup low-fat milk

1 egg

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter, cooled

½ cup flaked or shredded coconut plus more for garnish

Butter for griddle


6 pancakes on a griddle
Don't press on pancakes when they're cooking.

In a mixing bowl, sift together cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, mix together yogurt and milk. Beat in egg. Add lemon juice, zest and baking soda.

Add yogurt-lemon mixture to dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Add oil or melted butter. Fold in coconut.

Heat griddle and melt butter. Ladle batter onto griddle, spacing cakes apart; corn cakes will almost double in size. When bubbles form on top (about 2 or 3 minutes), flip cakes. Cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from griddle and keep warm.

Serve with butter and coconut syrup. Top with shredded coconut, if desired.

Coconut syrup: In a small saucepan, combine ½ cup coconut milk and ½ cup sugar. Over medium heat, bring to boil, stirring often. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Store in refrigerator.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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