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Monday, December 14, 2015

Spicy Mexican Corn Bread

Cornbread is a popular item in Southern cooking enjoyed by many people for its texture and aroma. Cornbread can be baked, fried or, rarely, steamed. Steamed cornbread is mushy, chewier and more like cornmeal pudding than what most consider to be traditional cornbread.
Cornbread is a common bread in United States cuisine, particularly associated with the South and Southwest, as well as being a traditional staple for populations where wheat flour was more expensive.
In some parts of the South it is crumbled into a glass of cold milk or buttermilk and eaten with a spoon, and it is also widely eaten with barbecue and chili con carne. In parts of the southern and southwestern United States, cornbread, accompanied by pinto beans, has been a common lunch for many people. It is still a common side dish, often served with homemade butter, chunks of onion or scallions. Cornbread crumbs are also used in some poultry stuffing; cornbread stuffing is particularly associated with Thanksgiving turkey.
In the United States, northern and southern cornbread are different because they generally use different types of corn meal and varying degrees of sugar and eggs. Southern cornbread has traditionally been made with little or no sugar and smaller amounts flour or no flour, with northern cornbread being sweeter and more cake like. Southern cornbread traditionally used white cornmeal and buttermilk. 
Cornbread is occasionally crumbled and served with cold milk or clabber (buttermilk), similar to cold cereal. In Texas, the Mexican influence has spawned a hearty cornbread made with fresh or creamed corn kernels and jalapeƱo peppers and topped with shredded cheese. Cornbread is typically eaten with molasses in the southern states and honey in the northern states.
This Zesty spicy corn bread can be served with any soup or chili, or can be enjoyed plain as this is not typical of very dry corn bread. 
You can make this in cup cakes molds, but I wanted to make about 20 squares to I baked it in a large silicone 10 x 14 pan. It came out very dense and moist, which I prefer over the regular dry corn bread that you get in restaurants.
As I mentioned I wanted to make this in large quantity but if you just want to make it for family of four you can  cut the recipe in half very easily  by cutting the quantities of ingredients in half.
  • Two 8 oz packs of Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 2 (15 4/4 oz) cans of whole kernel corn 
  • 2 cups of Homemade corn and black bean salsa (recipe on this blog) (optional)
  •  If you are not adding salsa, then you may add 1/3 cup of chopped cilantro, 1/2 cup of chopped green or regular onions, and 1 can drained black beans and finely chopped  one red and one green peppers and fresh 1-2 jalapeno peppers.
  • 2 (14 3/4 oz) cans of creamed style corn
  • 1 stick of butter melted
  • 2 eggs (optional)
  • 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups of shredded hot pepper jack cheese
  • 1 (16 oz) container of fat free or low fat sour cream.
  • 2-3 tables spoon of vegetable oil to grease the pan
  • 1 - 1.5 cup of chopped pickled Jalapeno peppers 
  •  Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F
  •  Mix both shredded cheeses together.
  • In the  mixing bowl of electric mixer, whisk butter and eggs together.
  • Stir in creamed style corn, mix at slow speed.
  • Add sour cream and kernels of corn.
  • Mix together at slow speed.
  • Add muffin mix.
  • Mix at medium speed
  • Add salsa, fold in chopped Jalapenos and half of mixed cheddar and pepper jack cheese.
  • Set the other half aside to sprinkle on top.
  •  If you are not adding salsa, you may add chopped cilantro, chopped green or regular onions,  drained black beans and finely chopped  red, green and fresh Jalapeno peppers.

  • Generously grease the pan with vegetable cooking oil.
  • Pour the batter in to the pan.
  • Bake at 350 for 65-70 min or until bread is golden brown and edges are receding the pan and the toothpick comes out clean from center of bread.
  • Take the bread out of oven.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top evenly.
  • Bake additional 10 min in oven at 350 degrees F or until the cheese is melted.
  • Let it stand for 10 min to cool or until you can cut squares without falling apart.
  • Best when served warm as a side dish with your favorite meal, or soup or chili.

    Corn Bread info source:
    Recipe and Photographs by Surekha
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    Sunday, December 6, 2015

    Homemade Sourdough Pita Bread

    We have a local Mediterranean restaurant, where they serve fresh pita bread right off the oven to its patrons. Food is good and ok like any other Mediterranean restaurant but having a fresh Pita right out of oven is a treat. As you know from my previous post that I love Sourdough bread, so I thought why not make sourdough pita bread.  This is how it all started, first I started perfecting making the sourdough starter. Now that I have good sourdough starter, I started experimenting with making Sourdough pita bread with white wheat flour and with all purpose flour.
    I must say not so healthy as it sounds, I preferred the pita bread with All purpose flour better.  If you don't like the sourdough bread you can make the plain Pita bread following the same recipe, just omit the sour dough starter. You may have to add little more water to knead the dough, that's it. 

    You will need following kitchen items :
    Mixing bowl
    Rolling pin
    Cast Iron skillet or a baking stone (if your bake the pita in oven, I tried it bothways baking it at 450 * F in oven one heated stone for 3 min, can bake 2-3 pita at same time, but I had better results on skillet. This could be due to fluctuating temp when opening and closing the oven to place the pita on stove and removing cooked pita)
    You can decide how you want to do it, but here I have the recipe using skillets.

    You will need following ingredients:
    3/4 cup of Sourdough starter (recipe on this blog)
    1 cup of warm water (not hot or boiling)
    3 cups of all purpose flour
    2 teaspoon of instant yeast (one packet)
    1 teaspoon of sugar
    1 and half teaspoon of salt
    2 tablespoon of olive oil. (I like my pita to be soft, if you like it little chewy, you may cut down the oil to 1 tablespoon or totally omit it)

    To make dough, mix sugar in some of the warm water and add yeast. Mix well, let it till it is dissolved.
    Take 3 cups of flour in a bowl, add salt and mix well, add oil and sour dough starter and mix until a shaggy dough is form.
    Then add rest of the warm water and knead the dough for 5 min. You may sprinkle little flour on the kneading surface so the dough does not stick  to your fingers. 
    Transfer the dough in the bowl and cover brush a little oil. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 2 hours or until it doubles in size.

    When ready to make the pita, deflate it and transfer it on rolling surface with oil and gently roll it. Divide the dough in to 10-12 balls.

    Place the ball on a rolling surface with some flour on the rolling surface and around the ball.
    Flatten each round and roll it with rolling pin to 8-10" circle and to desired thickness (not very thin).

    Roll each ball and place the rolled pita on a nonstick surface with some flour sprinkle on it, I used Silicone baking sheets.
    Let them sit for 5-10 min, you can heat the iron skillet on stove in the mean time on medium to high heat.
    Drizzle little oil on heated skillet and immediately wipe it off with paper towel.

    Once you have rolled all the balls and skillet is hot you can cook the pita one by one on skillet in following manner:

    Place the rolled pita on heated skillet cook for 30 seconds until you see bubbles forming.
    Flip the pita and cook the other side for 1-2 min until light toasted spot appear on other side.  Flip it again and either cook it on the skillet by gently pressing with towel until pita bread puffs or cook it on open gas flame. You will have hold it gently with a tong and keep lifting and rotating it so it does not burn.  .
    Either on skillet or on open flame, if you see air skipping from the puffed pita, you can gently and carefully close the hole with clean dish towel on skillet,  or with  tong on open flame for pita to puff fully.
    You need practice with this and I must say my Indian cooking skills came in handy in doing this, as I must have made thousands of chapatis in my life time.

    Don' t get disappointed, if all of your pita do not puff . You can use the puffed pita for pocket sandwiches and rest you can use for sandwich rolls or for dips. Problem of pita bread not puffing has to do with the temp of oven or skillet. It may not be hot enough.
    Pitas are best when eaten fresh. Keep the cooked pitas covered with a clean towel while cooking other pitas.

    Recipe and Photographs by Surekha
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