Posts Tagged ‘cornbread’

Seeing as I am putting myself through (what I call) the Alton Brown Culinary School of Good Eats, I would be remiss if I did not write a little bit about the day I had yesterday. I was awoken at 5:07 am by my adorable Coonhound, Hitcher, who was suffering from one of his occasional fits of morning sickness. While I stood in the dark kitchen, waiting for him to finish grazing in the back yard, I decided to make a quick check of Facebook, or Twitter, or one of the other online giants. Staring back at me from the feed of none other than Alton Brown was a pair of latitude and longitude coordinates for the location of an autograph signing he would be having in Spokane at noon. The coordinates were for the Spokane Convention Center.

After a few more hours of sleep, I had to decide whether to do my planned 15 mile run, or to try to meet Alton; I split the difference, ran 8.5 miles, and dragged Ted to the Convention Center with me, along with our giant metal spoon and my Alton Brown cookbook. Somehow, I don’t think Ted looked too out-of-place on Spokane’s downtown streets with his spoon, as I think of the gentleman I used to always see, riding a bicycle with a huge Finding Nemo hat. We ended up waiting in line for about 45 minutes, briefly met Alton, had our photo taken with him, and got a few autographs. I will somewhat shamelessly admit how stoked I was about this. Secretly, I think Ted thought it was pretty cool too.

Ted and me with Alton.

Ted and me with Alton.

My custom Alton post-it.

My custom Alton post-it.

To cap off the day, we took my parents to see Alton perform his Edible Inevitable show. Though I did not know what to expect, I knew I would enjoy the show, but it far exceeded my expectations. I cannot remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did last night. Seriously, if you have the chance to see Alton perform live, you really should take that opportunity.

In a Cranberry Jam

Last November, I cooked an early Good Eats Thanksgiving dinner for my parents and us, following it up with a Thanksgiving dinner with Ted’s parents on Thanksgiving day; that meant we had two Good Eats turkeys in a matter of days. I wrote about the early Thanksgiving dinner here. When I wrote about the Thanksgiving special, I failed to realize that the 32nd episode of the show would entail making recipes with the leftovers from the Thanksgiving special. So… we had Thanksgiving dinner again in February. Last Thursday, I again made Alton’s Tart Cranberry Dipping Sauce, Sweet Corn Bread Pudding, and the Good Eats Roast Turkey.

A February Good Eats turkey.

A February Good Eats turkey.

Sweet corn bread pudding.

Sweet corn bread pudding.

After a Thanksgiving-like dinner Thursday, I made Alton’s recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers on Friday, the first of which was for his cranberry jam. This recipe is really simple. To make it, you combine 2 C of leftover cranberry dipping sauce with a cup of sugar and a half cup of ginger ale.

Ingredients for cranberry jam:  leftover cranberry dipping sauce, ginger ale, and sugar.

Ingredients for cranberry jam: leftover cranberry dipping sauce, ginger ale, and sugar.

The mixture is cooked over low heat until it reduces to the consistency of loose jam, which took a couple of hours for mine.

Dipping sauce, ginger ale, and sugar in a saucepan.

Dipping sauce, ginger ale, and sugar in a saucepan.

Reduced cranberry dipping sauce.

Reduced cranberry dipping sauce.

Finished cranberry jam.

Finished cranberry jam.

The resulting jam was really delicious, and we have since used it for turkey sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and our morning toast.

Sandwich made with leftover turkey and cranberry jam.

Sandwich made with leftover turkey and cranberry jam.

The jam is tart-sweet, has a rich red color, and is easily spreadable. I liked the cranberry dipping sauce the first time around, and being able to make this jam from the leftovers makes it even more worthwhile. I will be making this one again.

Turkey Re-Hash

What better thing to eat for breakfast than Alton’s turkey hash? This recipe utilizes both the leftover turkey meat and the leftover corn bread pudding.

Ingredients for turkey hash:  breakfast sausage, onion, jalapeno, bell pepper, cooked red potatoes, black beans, leftover corn bread pudding, leftover turkey, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

Ingredients for turkey hash: breakfast sausage, onion, jalapeno, bell pepper, cooked red potatoes, black beans, leftover corn bread pudding, leftover turkey, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

To start, Alton tells you to heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Since we have a brand new smooth top range, I opted not to use cast iron, as I have heard that it can scratch a smooth top range. Instead, I used a heavy non-stick skillet. Once the pan is hot, add a half pound of breakfast sausage and cook it until it renders some of its fat; I used a spicy Italian sausage.

Sausage rendering fat.

Sausage rendering fat.

To the sausage, add half an onion and half a jalapeno, chopped.

Onion and jalapeno added to pan.

Onion and jalapeno added to pan.

When the onion is translucent, add a half cup of chopped red bell pepper and cook for a minute or two.

Bell pepper added.

Bell pepper added.

Next, add 1.5 C of cooked, cubed red potatoes (Note: I cooked my potatoes the night before by simmering them in salted water until tender). To get some good brown color on the potatoes, increase the heat to high.

Potatoes added to hash.

Potatoes added to hash.

Then, add a can of black beans, drained and rinsed, followed by a couple cups of the leftover corn bread pudding, cubed.

Black beans in the pan.

Black beans in the pan.

The addition of leftover corn bread pudding.

The addition of leftover corn bread pudding.

Stir everything and add a cup of cubed turkey meat.

Leftover cubed turkey added.

Leftover cubed turkey added.

Season the hash with some cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.

Seasonings added to the hash.

Seasonings added to the hash.

The completed hash.

The completed hash.

Turkey Re-Hash.

Turkey Re-Hash.

Serve hot. This hash was good, but not mind-blowing. It really was a perfect leftover recipe, as you could easily make this your own, adding whatever you have in the house. We rarely eat hot breakfasts during the week, so that was a treat in itself. The hash had a nice medley of textures and a pretty good level of heat, which we really like. This is a recipe I wouldn’t seek out, but I will not be surprised if I end up making a version of this again in the future with the leftovers we have on hand. Next time, though, I will likely make Alton’s mentioned additions of a couple of eggs and some cheese. Even better!

Bird to the Last Drop

Alton’s last Thanksgiving leftover recipe is for turkey soup. Allow a few hours for making this soup, as it will be better if it has longer to cook.

Ingredients for turkey soup:  vegetable broth, turkey carcass, frozen vegetables, rice, cubed turkey, Old Bay, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Ingredients for turkey soup: vegetable broth, turkey carcass, frozen vegetables, rice, cubed turkey, Old Bay, thyme, salt, and pepper.

To make it, combine two quarts of vegetable broth with the remains of your turkey carcass.

Broken down turkey carcass.

Broken down turkey carcass.

Turkey carcass and vegetable broth.

Turkey carcass and vegetable broth.

Cover this and simmer it over low heat. While the online recipe tells you to cook this for an hour, it will only be better if you can cook it longer. I simmered my bones for 2.5 hours.

Turkey carcass after simmering for 2.5 hours.

Turkey carcass after simmering for 2.5 hours.

After a good simmer, add 10 ounces of frozen vegetables (I added 12 oz), 1/2 C of rice, 2 C of cubed turkey meat, 1 t of Old Bay Seasoning, 2 t of dried thyme, salt, and pepper.

Addition of frozen vegetables.

Addition of frozen vegetables.

3-2-15 038

Addition of rice.

Addition of rice.

Addition of leftover turkey meat.

Addition of leftover turkey meat.

Salt, pepper, and thyme added to soup.

Salt, pepper, and thyme added to soup.

Simmer the soup for an additional 20 minutes, remove the bones, and serve.

Turkey soup after final 20 minute simmer.

Turkey soup after final 20 minute simmer.

Turkey soup after fishing bones out.

Turkey soup after fishing bones out.

I made the soup a day prior to serving it. We returned home Saturday, after doing a mountain bike race in Oregon, and this turkey soup was the perfect meal to come home to. It was the epitome of comfort food, with a super rich mouthfeel, a variety of textures, and the flavor of a slow-cooked stock with lots of thyme.

Finished turkey soup.

Finished turkey soup.

We thought this turkey soup was great, and I will surely be making this with our future turkey leftovers. Delicious and easy! The richness of the soup makes it a meal in itself. Keep this one in mind for Thanksgiving this year, or should you need an excuse to make a Good Eats turkey at any time in the year!

 

My husband spent many years in DeKalb, Illinois, a.k.a. “Corn Country.” It also happens that our youngest “fur child” was coincidentally born in DeKalb (long story), and her name, Brixie Maize, is an homage to her origin among the corn fields. Her mother was actually found “knocked up” in Kentucky, but a nice Coonhound foster mom in DeKalb took her in. So, while a couple of my family members have strong ties to corn, I cannot say the same. I do, however, have very fond memories of the white sweet corn my mom would buy in the summer from some Mormons who set up a tent along good ol’ Thain Road. My dad would grill the corn for family dinners on the deck, and there really was nothing like a fresh ear of corn with butter, salt, and lots of black pepper, freshly ground, of course.

Better Than Grannie’s Creamed Corn

The 27th episode of Good Eats is about corn. I know, I know… I totally hit this episode at the wrong time of the year, as a truly fresh ear of corn is nowhere in sight. Sticking with my project, however, I felt that I had to proceed to the best of my ability. Alton’s first recipe in this episode is for creamed corn. For this recipe, ideally you want to use fresh ears of corn. I was able to find some corn at my grocery store, but it was from Mexico, so who knows how truly fresh it was?

When selecting ears of corn, Alton recommends looking for ears that have moist husks, are firm, have a gold, sticky tassel, and sport no spots on their cut ends. You can store corn, wrapped in plastic, for a couple days in the refrigerator. I, for one, have been known to keep corn in the refrigerator far longer than a couple of days. Alton, of course, has a solution for longer storage too. To keep ears fresh for up to two weeks, shuck them and place them in an ice water bath for 15 minutes, along with one drop of lemon juice and two drops of Clorox bleach (per gallon of water). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate. The combination of the lemon juice and the bleach serves to decrease microbial and enzymatic reactions.

Back to the creamed corn. Sweat half an onion in some butter, along with Kosher salt and bruised Rosemary.

Chopped onion.

Chopped onion.

Butter in the pan.

Butter in the pan.

Sweating onion with salt and Rosemary.

Sweating onion with salt and Rosemary.

Meanwhile, shave the corn off of your corn cobs. The best way to do this is to place a paper bowl upside down in a wide, flat pan.

Overturned paper bowl in a wide, flat pan.

Overturned paper bowl in a wide, flat pan.

Standing the cobs on the overturned bowl, shave the corn off the cob, holding your knife parallel to the ear. Once the kernels are all removed, flip your knife over and scrape the milky fluid out of the kernel pockets (this fluid is the endosperm).

The freshest corn I could find.

The freshest corn I could find.

Corn cut off of the cobs.

Corn cut off of the cobs.

FYI:  you can freeze the cobs and use them in place of wood chips for smoking on your grill. Add the corn to the onion, increase the heat, and add sugar and turmeric.

Corn added to the onion.

Corn added to the onion.

Turmeric and sugar added to corn.

Turmeric and sugar added to corn.

You want to stir this mixture until there is no visible fluid in the bottom of the pan.

No visible liquid in bottom of pan.

No visible liquid in bottom of pan.

Then, whick in some cornmeal, preferably stone ground, which will help to thicken the corn.

Cornmeal sprinkled in.

Cornmeal sprinkled in.

Add heavy cream, whisk, and cook for a couple of minutes. When your corn has a consistency that will stand up on a plate, remove the Rosemary and add freshly ground pepper.

Cream added to corn.

Cream added to corn.

Cooked until thick enough to stand up on a plate. Freshly ground pepper added.

Cooked until thick enough to stand up on a plate. Freshly ground pepper added.

Finished creamed corn.

Finished creamed corn.

Creamed corn with lots of texture.

Creamed corn with lots of texture.

We had our creamed corn as a side dish, and we both thought it was great. I tend to think of creamed corn as overly sweet, yellow mush. Alton’s creamed corn, however, has just the right amount of sweetness that contrasts nicely with the heat of the black pepper. Hints of the Rosemary come through, and the texture is far from mushy. Instead, you really get the texture of the individual corn kernels. I will definitely make this one again, even if I have to use frozen corn. I look forward to trying it with truly fresh corn in a few months.

Creamed Corn Cornbread

The second recipe in this episode is for cornbread, which happens to use some creamed corn. While you could use canned creamed corn, it is better to use homemade creamed corn. I saved some of my creamed corn from the first recipe to use in this one. To start, you heat a cast iron skillet in the oven.

Cast iron skillet heating in the oven.

Cast iron skillet heating in the oven.

While the skillet heats, you whisk together stone ground cornmeal, Kosher salt, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.

Dry ingredients:  stone ground cornmeal, Kosher salt, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.

Dry ingredients: stone ground cornmeal, Kosher salt, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.

In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, and creamed corn.

Wet ingredients:  buttermilk, eggs, and creamed corn.

Wet ingredients: buttermilk, eggs, and creamed corn.

Combined wet ingredients.

Combined wet ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until it is pourable. You may need to add more buttermilk if your mixture is not thin enough, but mine was good to go.

Adding dry ingredients to wet ingredients.

Adding dry ingredients to wet ingredients.

Cornbread batter.

Cornbread batter.

Pour two tablespoons of canola oil into your hot skillet, dump in your batter, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top bounces back when gently pressed.

Canola oil for the hot skillet.

Canola oil for the hot skillet.

Batter in the hot pan.

Batter in the hot pan.

Finished cornbread.

Finished cornbread.

Cornbread with lots of texture.

Cornbread with lots of texture.

Cornbread wedge.

Cornbread wedge.

My cornbread was done in less than 20 minutes. We had the cornbread last night as a side dish to soup, and Ted ate it again for breakfast this morning. The bread is quite different from the sandy, overly sweet, fat-slathered cornbread I remember eating in Catholic elementary school. Conversely, this cornbread is a combination of sweet and savory, and has a variety of textures. It is slightly crumbly, crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and has textures of both whole corn kernels and stone ground cornmeal. This is one we will be making again for sure, and it was so easy and fast. If you are stuck in a rut with Jiffy cornbread mix, try making this and you will not go back.

Microwave Popcorn

The last recipe in this episode is not found online, but it is for Alton’s version of microwave popcorn. We occasionally have microwave popcorn in our house, as Ted cannot say no to the Cub Scouts who sell it in the grocery store. It had never really occurred to me to attempt making my own microwave popcorn. To do it, put 1/4 C of popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag. Add 2 t of olive oil, a pinch of Kosher salt, and whatever seasoning you may prefer; I opted for a dill pickle popcorn seasoning I found here.

Popcorn in a brown bag.

Popcorn in a brown bag.

Fold the top of the bag down and seal it with a couple staples.

Bag sealed with staples.

Bag sealed with staples.

Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, or until there are ~5 seconds between pops.

Post-microwaving.

Post-microwaving.

Homemade microwave popcorn.

Homemade microwave popcorn.

I ended up cooking my popcorn for 3 minutes, and the insides of a few kernels were slightly charred. Next time, I will microwave it for a shorter time. I also wonder if a different oil might be better – one with a higher smoke point. Still, the result was perfectly good microwave popcorn. I will be trying this again, experimenting with different seasonings, oils, and cooking times.