Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rosemary Honey Cornbread

It is sometimes difficult to convince Alfred to eat a vegetarian meal. In his defense, he has (after considerable persistence on my part) become less adversarial. One vegetarian meal that always goes over well is pinto beans and cornbread. How could anyone not like this southern favorite! It's also easy on the pocket book, and although the beans take a while to cook, they are very easy to prepare. On the other hand, it has taken me a while, and some experimenting, to come up with a cornbread recipe that I really love.

I (and plenty of others) have decided a couple of things make for great cornbread:
1) Buttermilk - it imparts a flavor and texture that regular milk just can't. I have had good results with powdered buttermilk - for those who don't use buttermilk very often this is a good option.
2)Stone-ground cornmeal - this whole grain cornmeal is much coarser in texture than the finely milled degerminated kind (this is the typical cornmeal) and it has a much cornier taste. Like other whole grains it is more nutritious, but it can easily go rancid, so you should store it in the fridge. Bob's Red Mill is a good brand.
3) A touch of sweetness, preferably from honey - this is a matter of much debate and it really comes down to personal preference. I don't like my cornbread to taste like cake (think Jiffy), but I find that a little sweetness really compliments the corn flavor. My granny would strongly disagree!
4) A preheated baking pan/skillet - Unfortunately I do not have a cast iron skillet. The traditional method for making cornbread requires that you heat up a cast iron skillet with some oil (typically on the stove top), then pour the batter into the very hot pan and bake. This ensures you have a nice crust. Instead I coat a round cake pan with a little oil and put it in the oven to preheat while I make the batter. Then I pour the batter into the hot pan. I will be the first to admit that my crust would be better if I had a cast iron skillet, but I have found this method to be the next best thing.

Here's my latest favorite recipe - while I rarely have cornbread without beans, this would also be a nice addition to your Thanksgiving bread basket!

Rosemary Honey Cornbread
1 Cup Flour (give White Whole Wheat a try!)
1 Cup Cornmeal (preferably stone ground)
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
11/2 teaspoons Rosemary (optional - but really nice!)
11/4 Cup Buttermilk
1 Egg
3 Tablespoon Honey (again optional)
1/4 Cup Canola Oil

1) Preheat Oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a round cake pan and put it in the preheating oven.

2) Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, soda, salt, and rosemary

3) In a separate bowl (or large liquid measuring cup) combine the buttermilk, egg, honey, and oil.

4) Gently combine the wet and dry ingredients (preferably using a rubber spatula).

5) Pour batter into the pan you've been heating up in the oven. Bake 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Enjoy one of the simple pleasure of life!

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