Friday, September 16, 2011

Chili Autumn Days? Bake Some Cornbread...

It's cool and sunny in Buffland today, perfect chili weather. And to my mind, you CANNOT have chili without a nice bread alongside, and my choice 99 times out of 100 is cornbread.

There are so many recipes I've tried, but after a couple decades I haven't found one better and more adaptable than Marilyn Moore's Buttermilk Cornbread. It shifts as it needs to fit my mood, my pantry leftovers and the soup or chili I'm serving it with... my only problem is, there's hardly ever any left for the next day! And it's a huge hit with vegheads and meatheads alike.

Buttermilk Corn Bread

Adapted slightly from The Wooden Spoon Bread Book by Marilyn Moore

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9x12-inch glass baking dish*. Sift together and set aside:

2 C unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

Beat together in a large bowl:

2 eggs
3/4 C sugar
2 C buttermilk
1/4 C (half stick) melted butter, slightly cooled
1 C stone ground yellow cornmeal (I like Bob's Red Mill Medium Coarse Grind)
2/3 C cooked & drained or fresh corn kernels, optional

Sift the dry ingredients into the buttermilk mixture. Mix gently, fold in corn kernels. Turn into prepared pan. Bake at 400 F for 25-30 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm or room temp with chili, soup or salad**. Makes 12 servings.

*I use a 10-inch iron skillet or a square pan and some muffin tins.

This recipe works almost no matter what you do to it-- out of buttermilk? Use milk/soymilk with some a tsp of vinegar or lemon juice in it, or mostly milk and a little yogurt or sour cream. You can use oil instead of butter, too, but butter is the BEST.

You can cut the sugar by 1/4 C without problems. As is, it is slightly sweet and very moist. It keeps well if airtight for a couple of days.

Add fresh herbs and a little chopped tomato, scatter small cubes of cream cheese on the top. Or grate 1/3 C carrots or zucchini or apple into it, and add some spice if you like. Add grated cheeses and oregano. Substitute 1/4 C Whole Wheat flour for an equal amount of unbleached. Or forgo the corn kernels, add chopped nuts and a little maple syrup, and decrease the sugar a little. It is just a delicious and easy to make cornbread.

[NOTE-- I don't sift, personally, just stir the flour before measuring and then lightly spoon it into the cup.]

**I remember when the old Buffalo Rome restaurant at Elmwood & Hodge used to have an unsweetened, Southern style cornbread on the menu-- they served it with fresh tomato salsa and raw sliced moons of red onion. It was dynamite, and this bread tastes good served the same way, even if you don't decrease the sugar.

Whatever way you try it, it's satsfying and 1000 times better than the boxed mix stuff. And it's quickly put together-- I'm making it now, and going out to PeopleArt Coffeehouse for this season's Open Mic night later.

I wish a you beautiful fall evening! Peace, Mari

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