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Cornbread Two Ways

December 22, 2010 matkonation No Comments

By: Deanna Linder

Something major is happening on the Israeli culinary scene. If about five years ago, the scene was blooming with fancy, gourmet restaurants, big named chefs and extraordinary ingredients (truffles, foiegras…), today it’s taken a turn. It’s been a slow process, but I believe that we are truly seeing a return to “basic” localized cuisine.

Arriving a little late- farmers markets have now taken over every big city in the center of the country. Different from the age-old shuks (Carmel in Tel Aviv and Machne Yehuda in Jerusalem), these markets focus on what I call “specialty produce”. All locally grown, this type of produce is the type that’s hard to find elsewhere- varieties of potatoes and carrots, limes, fresh sweet corn, just to name a few.  With the opening of the new indoor farmers market (a must visit for tourists and locals alike), which is open Monday-Saturday, you no longer have to hunt down the closest farmers market open on that particular day.

I’m really enjoying this change in the local scene. Don’t get me wrong- I very much still enjoy dining at the fancy spots (to my husband’s dismay), but when I’m cooking at home, for my friends and family, I prefer to feed them with hearty, local produce, that is of abundance in this soil-rich mini country.

A package of the sweetest corn I’ve ever tasted (known as Gilli’s Corn) that I bought at the famers market left me no other choice than to make one of my favorite dishes: cornbread.

Cornbread is deceiving for Israelis, who every time I have served it say me to me “this is not bread”. It’s not bread, more like a muffin, but that’s what it’s called. It can be served as a side dish at dinner, or as a dessert, or just made to have around the house to snack on- your call.

Cornbread Muffins

The classic cornbread recipe- but I added the fresh sweet corn, and it makes all the difference!

Ingredients for 12 muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup brown sugar

1 cup finely ground cornmeal

1½ cups buttermilk

1 large egg

½ cup olive oil

2 cups fresh sweet corn (you can use frozen if you must)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Butter a 12-muffin tin or line with baking cups.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and brown sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the cornmeal, buttermilk, egg and olive oil.
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the buttermilk mixture, and mix until smooth. Fold in the fresh corn.
  5. Evenly divide batter into the muffin tin, filling each ¾ full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden.
  6. Serve warm with soft butter.

Jalepeno-Cheddar Cornbread

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Although I love the classic cornbread- after tasting this one, I’ll have a hard time going back to the basic. Jalapenos can be found at specialty shops or at most supermarket chains now. You don’t need much cheddar for this recipe, so I would invest in a good one.

Ingredients for a ten-inch (25 cm.) cast-iron frying pan or round baking pan:

1 cup finely ground cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tbs. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

¼tsp. cayenne pepper

¼cup sugar

¼ cup finely chopped jalapeño peppers

¾cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 stick (2 oz./60 grams) butter, melted

Preparation:

  1. Preheat an oven to 400°F (200ºC). Butter a 10-inch cast-iron fry pan or a round baking dish
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne, sugar, jalapeños and cheese. Make a well in the center.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and melted butter until just blended. Pour the egg mixture into the well in the cornmeal mixture and fold gently until the batter is blended and no lumps remain.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the corn bread comes out clean.
  5. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Cut the corn bread into wedges and serve.

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