Market Fresh Cornbread

MS Cornbread1

Up until now, there are only two cornbread recipes that I’ve ever used. Just two.

The first default choice is my grandmother’s recipe, which is one I’ve shared on the blog before. We use it for the ‘bread’ part of every family dinner that we have, and also use it for the base of our special family dressing that we make every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Keeping it true to our Southern roots, it’s non-sweet, mainly cornmeal based and rather crumbly in texture. There is a very simple explanation for this: it’s friggin marvelous.

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The second recipe that I’ve used and actually been pretty satisfied with, is one I found on Allrecipes.com. It’s a ‘Northerner’ recipe that’s rather sweet with a more even ratio of flour to cornmeal. As a result, the crumb is more finer than my grandma’s. It’s pretty tasty I’ll admit, and when I’m trying to aim for a cornbread that caters to my more “Northern” tastebuds, I’ll throw it together on the quick.

And just in case you were wondering…no. I don’t do Jiffy Mix. It’s nothing personal, I don’t even think Jiffy Mix tastes that bad. But…no.

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I’m stuck up when it comes to my cornbread guys. The truth is, most of the time it’s a hit-or-miss game. And I can think of very few other things that are  more depressing to me than cornbread that is a big fat ‘miss’.

I really didn’t think I’d ever be saying this, but with my recent Christmas gift of Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s newest cookbook “Marcus Off Duty,” I think I’ve found a third cornbread recipe that I’m actually going to be willing to keep on my super exclusive roster. The almost immediate appeal to me was finding out that this is the recipe for the cornbread that is served at Marcus’ Harlem restaurant Red Rooster- a place that is on my Food Bucket List to attend before I buy the farm.

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Word of warning for my Southern friends: this is not exactly what we think of when it comes to ‘cornbread’. In the first place, it’s extremely moist, almost to the point where it melts in your mouth. Secondly, us folks used to Dixie cornbread- and likely some Yankees too- will at best give a double take at the inclusion of ginger, cardamom, chile powder and paprika in a cornbread recipe. At worst, we’ll start a riot.  But just hear me out- I was skeptical too. But it works. It really does. The spices aren’t overpowering at all, and they somehow work REALLY well with the inclusion of the sharp cheddar cheese.

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Oh yeah- and did I mention there’s fresh corn baked into the batter? Cause there is. And it was a really good idea. It gives a special ‘chew’ to the bread that is absent in most other recipes that can result in a bland one-note texture. None of that here, I can assure you.

I think my favorite part of cornbread is the crust that forms on the top and sides while baking. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you’re doing the ‘cornbread’ thing wrong and you should rethink your entire life. This loaf’s crust baked up perfectly.

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All of that being said, I do intend to stick with just these three cornbread recipes for both the near and distant future. Life shouldn’t be TOO complicated. Some things need to be kept simple and stream-lined.  Am I right or am I right?

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Market Fresh Cornbread

Recipe Courtesy of Marcus Samuelsson

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Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp. chile powder
  • 1/8 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cu grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels, including the pulp scraped from the cobs (cut from about 1 large or 2 small ears of corn)

 Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. and generously butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

2. Put the butter, ginger, cardamom, chile powder, paprika, and sugar into a small pot over medium heat and cook until the butter is melted and the spices are fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes.

3. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk and spicy butter together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the cheddar and corn, then fold in the scallions if using.

4. Scrap the batter into the loaf pan. Set the pan on a baking sheet, slide it into the oven and bake until a skewer stuck in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Turn the loaf upside down onto a rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Then lift off the pan.

Curried Chicken Sandwiches

Curried Chickeen Sandwich3

I’m always a little wary going through a drive through or a sit down restaurant and ordering a sandwich. Why? Because I know that unless I’m able to be standing right there and watching them make my food, there’s a pretty good chance that someone working there is going to get my order wrong. And fewer things tick me off more than someone making a sandwich for me that is made ‘wrong’.

I’ve always been pretty picky when it comes to my sandwiches guys- I’m not like most people.

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In the first  place, I absolutely can’t stand mayo or miracle whip. Never have, never will. To this day, I don’t know how people eat that stuff. The smell alone triggers my gag reflex, which is why I make a special point of requesting it left off any sandwich I get anywhere. In the past I’ve received sandwiches where they put the mayo or miracle whip on anyway. Regardless of the fact that I could have scraped it off, regardless of how much I paid for the food- if they put mayo or miracle whip on it, I WILL throw it out completely. No amount of scraping off can get rid of the smell or the slight, tangy after taste. Just thinking about it is grossing me out, so I’m moving on.

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Another pet peeve of mine is when businesses lay on the condiments that I do like too thick, like oil and vinegar. I understand you want me to taste it, but gol-ly: the bread should not be soaking wet by the time I get back so that it literally ‘squishes’ when I take a bite. That’s gross. My favorite deli place never fails to do this to me so I’ve learned to just leave off any wet condiments at all when ordering and just waiting until I get home to sprinkle my own vinegar on it just the way that I like it.

I usually have to repeat myself in asking for ‘no cheese’ on a sandwich too- it catches a lot of people off guard. Apparently cheese on sandwiches is a pretty popular thing.

I hate those huge tomatoes. Don’t try to put one on my sandwich. I will throw you major shade.

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Come to think of it, usually the only things that I order on most sandwiches is just the meat, lettuce, and MAYBE a few veggies. It’s weird I know, but that’s just how I roll. Having said all that, this recipe may seem to be missing quite a few key components that most people would put on a sandwich. That’s only because it’s made the way that I would like it- don’t take it personally. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you what the right kind of cheese would work well with a chicken curry sandwich so I didn’t try. I didn’t include a recipe for a yogurt raita or a mayonnaise based condiment; I’m not a fan of either. I’m giving you guys a sandwich with the bread meat, lettuce, onion and roasted red pepper because that’s exactly how I ate this thing. And to me, that was pretty darn perfect all on it’s own.

Curried Chickeen Sandwich2

However, feel free to add cheese, tomato, raita, mayonnaise to your heart’s content if that’s your thing. I’ll just be over here with my plain sandwich.

Broiled chicken is really underrated. It can take the plain, ordinary chicken breast and elevate it to the level that it really deserves giving that flavorful, dark char on the outside that looks and tastes really good. So instead of grilling the meat like Bon Appetit did, I broiled it in my oven.  It made the cook time super quick and easy, with wonderful results. The chicken was moist and flavorful from the overnight buttermilk brine that really packed a punch.

(Me and the grill still don’t get along in case you were wondering. )

I’ll be taking these sandwiches to the Fiesta Friday #61 party hosted by Angie and co-hosted this week by  Selma @Selma’s Table and Margy @La Petite Casserole. See you guys there!

fiesta-friday-badge-button-i-party

Curried Chicken Sandwiches


Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit.com

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Ingredients

Curry Brine

  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric

Sandwiches

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 pound), halved horizontally
  • 1/4 recipe Curry Brine
  • 4 large or 8 small slices country-style bread
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 roasted red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped romaine lettuce

 Directions

1. For Curry Brine: combine the buttermilk, kosher salt, black pepper, curry powder, cumin, turmeric.

2. Add chicken and refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours.

3. Preheat broiler and spray broiler pan with non stick cooking spray.

4. Broil chicken until golden brown and slightly charred and juices run clear. (Inner temp of chicken should reach 160°-165°)

5. Layer bread with chicken, onion, red pepper and lettuce. Serve. 

Pulled Chicken with Cherry Chile Barbecue Sauce

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*taps mic*

Is this thing on?

Yeah? So we’re live now? Ok, great, thanks.

Umm…. So.

Hiiiii.

Joker

Assuming that there’s even anybody still left out here, just…hear me out. Cause I can explain my little unexpected blogging hiatus that absolutely came out of nowhere and I gave you guys absolutely no warning for.

I think.

See, what had happened was…

Hey! Have I ever told you all about that time I fell off a merry go round on the playground? No? Story time then.

(Don’t worry, I do actually have a point.)

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It was lunch time ‘recess’ and one of the games that a group of me and my buddies did was to cram as many of us on the merry go round as we could get. The boys would take turns cranking and spinning the wheel (because it was pretty packed and heavy) as fast as the laws of physics would allow. The ‘object’ of the game really was to stay on the merry go round at all costs- because if you didn’t hang on tight, your behind was gonna get pushed off- the ‘other’ part of the game.

Looking back on it, the game sounds pretty dangerous to me now. I mean, any number of unfortunate things could’ve happened; broken limbs, bloody noses, concussions- just to name a few.

But it was very amusing to us at the time. There’s something about being a kid where you literally just don’t conceive of anything like that being able to happen to you.

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I’m somewhat curvalicious now that I’ve reached my adult years, but lemme tell you guys, when I was young, I…wasn’t curvy. At all. My stomach was a garbage disposal and since I had the metabolism of an Olympic athlete, I was just really skinny. I say this to emphasize that during our dare devil game on the merry go round, I was able to really maneuver my way on to the center of the wheel and literally wrap myself through the crannies and bars on the surface, in true contortionist-style. In short, I just usually didn’t get thrown off.

But y’know…all good things eventually come to an end. The fateful day came where I wasn’t able to scramble my way to the center of the merry go round and entangle my limbs around the bars, having to content myself with grabbing a spot on the edge of the wheel. It was stupid of me. I shouldn’t have even bothered joining in the game that day.

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But I did. And I paid the price for it.

In case you guys didn’t know: falling off a rapidly spinning merry go round onto a bed of wood chips really, really, really hurts. And it’s also rather embarrassing when you get laughed at by a playground full of other kids for it.  Just putting that out there.

Where was I? Oh yeah. My point. See the thing is, I’ve been pretty good at maintaining a regular blogging schedule for a while, or so I thought. So long as I was putting out around 2 posts a week, I felt like I was on the right track. Kinda like how for a while, I was pretty good at staying on the merry go round on our recess game back at my old school.

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But the day came where I just wasn’t as good at the game as I had been before, and I fell off the wheel. Just like I’ve fallen off the blogging horse for the past three weeks or so. I fell off, and I fell hard. It sucked. It was embarrassing. The truth is, I don’t even have a straightforward answer or explanation for you guys as to why it happened. I’ve still been cooking. I’ve still been taking pictures. I’ve put together some new recipes I’m actually rather excited to share. But I just…I just couldn’t get out a friggin post. It just would not happen for me. I’d sit here and stare at my computer screen like an idiot until I finally closed out my WordPress dashboard in self-disgust and clicked over to my Facebook or Twitter tab. I’ve still been keeping up with my Blog Reader feed though: I’ve still been seeing all you beautiful people and all your beautiful posts. And that helped.

So here I am. Back with more food. This recipe’s pretty straight forward; chicken breasts you throw in the crockpot with a homemade barbecue sauce of fresh cherries and adobe chiles. It’s your perfect blend of sweet and spicy, and dish you can make when you just don’t feel like being bothered with life. Or you’re a derelict food blogger that needs to get back on the blogging horse…or shall we say, the merry-go round?

(Someone should put that on a t-shirt)

Happy Fiesta Friday #60 to my friends at The Novice Gardener, especially this week’s co-hosts Tracy @Scratch It Cook and Nancy @Feasting With Friends. Big thanks to Angie for getting us our own place too- it looks GREAT 🙂

fiesta-friday-badge-button-i-party

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Pulled Chicken with Cherry Chile Barbecue Sauce

Recipe Courtesy of Epicurious.com

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Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots (about 1 large)
  • 1 tbsp. peeled chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh jalapeno (seeds and membranes removed)
  • Scant 4 cups dark sweet fresh cherries, pitted and de-stemmed (3 cups afterward)
  • Two 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes (no salt added; You’ll only need 1 1/2 cans, save the rest for later use )
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. chipotle chile from a can of adobo chipotle chiles
  • 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard, divided
  • 1 1/4 tsp. chile powder, divided
  • 2 tsp. coarse salt, divided
  • 15 grinds of black pepper, divided
  • 2 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 3lbs. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed (about 8)

 Directions

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shallots, ginger, and jalapeño and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the cherries, tomatoes, molasses, vinegar, chipotle, 1 tablespoon mustard, 3/4 teaspoon chile powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 5 grinds pepper, and bring to a boil over high heat.

2. Reduce to a simmer over medium heat, and cook until aromatic and thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully transfer half to a blender; purée until smooth, about 20 seconds. Purée the second half until smooth (you should have about 5 1/4 cups). Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, mix 2 tablespoons mustard, 1/2 teaspoon chile powder, 1/2 teaspoons salt, 10 grinds pepper, and the brown sugar in a large bowl; add the chicken and mix well with your hands. Put the chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker and pour 1 1/2 cups of the barbecue sauce on top (reserve the remainder for serving and extras). Cover and cook on low until the meat is cooked through and tender, 4 to 4 1/2 hours.3. Use tongs to transfer the chicken to a cutting board and carefully use a fork to separate the meat from the bones, discarding the bones (you should have about 4 cups meat).4. To serve, stir together 1 cup of the remaining sauce and the shredded meat, and reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.