Thursday, December 18, 2008
Want Some Dinner?
It's snowing in Seattle. If you are not from around here, that may not sound surprising. You look at a map of the United States and see that Seattle is north. North like Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Maine, etc. It snows in all of those places but it doesn't usually snow here. Our fair city is in the middle of two mountain ranges, so the clouds come off the Pacific, dump a bunch of snow in the Olympic mountains (the range to the west of us) and warm up as they move over Seattle. We get a bunch of rain and then the clouds move East and dump a bunch of snow in the Cascade range. At least, this is how I used to explain it to college friends when they asked me if we got a lot of snow.
Because we are usually snow-less in Seattle, and because this is a very hilly city, snow wreaks havoc on us when it does come. I think our entire city has three snow plows so the only roads that get cleared are the highways and very major arterials. You are a fool to try and drive - or you are my husband who pooh-poohs all the fuss and will most likely get stuck downtown tonight.
Thursdays are a food delivery day for me. I was proactive yesterday (as I always try to be) and made everything but the salad dressing for tonight's dinner. Because I will not be delivering, I now have enough chili and cornbread to feed a small army. Any takers?
Let's talk about cornbread. Cornbread is one of those things that used to be a disappointment for me. I love the idea of it, but always found the actual thing to be dry and tasteless. Then I found the recipe in the original Moosewood cookbook and decided that cornbread was a necessity when making things like chili or black bean soup. From there, I moved on to the recipe in the Joy of Cooking which is that much more moist and the one I still use when I want something more on the plain side. If you want to jazz it up, make this one. It is incredibly moist and rich and savory. I use three (seeded) jalapenos which gives it a little kick but not so much that it hurts the tongue. This cornbread freezes beautifully so make a whole batch even if you don't plan to eat it all in one sitting. Also, I have made it in muffin tins and mini muffin tins and it turns out great.
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home
Makes 12 very large pieces
3 cups flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 sticks butter, melted and cooled slightly
8 oz. Cheddar cheese, grated and divided
3 scallions, chopped, plus extra for garnish
2-3 seeded and minced jalapeno peppers
Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter with a whisk. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated cheddar, the scallions, and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13x2 baking pan.
Pour the batter inot the preapred pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares.
UPDATE: Do not, under any circumstances, decide to reheat this bread in the oven. We ended up taking the whole dinner to a friends' house and decided to warm up the bread. I stuck the whole pan in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes and it just turned into soup in the middle. I think that much butter, cheese, and milk wasn't meant to be reheated.