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Month: March 2018

Southern Cornbread

Makes one 8″ skillet of cornbread. Double this for a 10″ skillet.

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon melted butter (or 4 tsp bacon drippings)
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup boiling water
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 450°. Place 8″ cast iron skillet with oil & butter (or drippings) in heating oven.

If you use butter, you will need to keep a close eye on it or it will burn even with the oil tempering. You can also just add the butter to the skillet right when you take it out of the oven to put the batter in.

Measure 1/3 cup cornmeal into a medium bowl. Mix remaining 2/3 cup cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside.

Pour boiling water all at once into the bowl with 1/3 cup cornmeal; stir to make a stiff mush. Whisk in the buttermilk gradually, breaking up lumps, until smooth. Whisk in the beaten egg.

When the oven is preheated and skillet very hot, stir dry ingredients into the mush mixture until just moistened. Carefully remove skillet from the oven. Pour hot butter/fat from the skillet into the batter and stir to incorporate, then quickly pour batter back into the heated skillet.

Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and instantly turn cornbread onto a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes.

Winter Minestrone

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 ounces pancetta, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
2 carrots, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
2 cups butternut squash, chopped (½ inch cubes)
1½ tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
¼ to ½ cup dry white wine
28 ounces canned chopped/crushed tomatoes
6 to 8 cups chicken stock (beef broth works very well too)
1 (1-ounce) Parmesan rind
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 fresh rosemary sprigs (or Italian seasoning)
1 bay leaf
15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
¾ cup dry tube pasta, like macaroni or ditalini, cooked & drained (about 1 ½ cups cooked)
6-8 ounces baby spinach
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh chopped parsley.

Note: This works well with heartier greens, like Swiss Chard. Trim the stems and leaves sliced. Add these greens earlier in the soup, when you add the tomatoes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the pancetta and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add the onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, and thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add wine and scrape the bottom of the pan.

Optional: Add half of the tomatoes, half of the beans, and 1 cup of stock to a blender and puree.

Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the chicken stock, the bay leaf, parmesan rind, salt & pepper, crushed red pepper, and herbs to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Discard the bay leaf, rosemary stems, and rind. Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through, about 2 minutes. This is a thick soup, but if too thick adjust with extra stock. Just before serving, stir in the spinach and cook just until the leaves are wilted. Check for salt and pepper seasoning. Serve with grated Parmigiano cheese and parsley.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

1 pound Brussels sprouts
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts or walnuts
3 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 lemon (zest and juice)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Thinly slice leaves of Brussels sprouts into a medium bowl with a mandolin (a food processor slicing blade works well too). Add nuts and grated cheese. Finely grate lemon rind into bowl; halve lemon, and squeeze juice into bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. You can make the salad up to 20 minutes in advance.