Innovation. Inspiration. Instruction.
It was my very first time and boy was it spicy!
I’m talking about making cornbread here people.
I can’t believe it has taken me nearly three decades to make my first cornbread. However when the opportunity arose (a chili cook-off) I knew just what I wanted to make, I just needed to find the right recipe. And so began the Google searching, but to no avail. Everything I found had too much sugar or butter, or too little peppers. Others had such huge portions of baking soda, which I found questionable. Very few had positive reviews and way too many were reported to come out dry. All in all, I was not impressed. So I decided to pull a “Dad” and pull those with the best reviews, mix the recipes together, put on my own twist on it and create a ‘Monica Recipe’.
First off, to be a ‘Monica Recipe’, it has to include lots of veggies because this is how I roll.
Secondly, a ‘Monica Recipe’ has minimal superfluous ingredients. I want a recipe with a base I can remember by heart, yet one with enough flexibility that I could vary it based on my mood (and the ingredients in my house!) I like simple things and simple recipes. Ones I could repeat again and again with consistent results but also won’t mess up if I decide to change it up a bit. (*Funny story…)
And lastly, its got to taste good. I mean really good.
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup butter (chopped)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk (1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon white vinegar + 5 min)
3/4 cup cheese, plus extra to sprinkle on top. See notes. (I find that a shredded ‘Italian Blend’ works really nicely, but so will a mild cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella or Parmesan. Sharp cheddar seemed a little strong but it’s your choice.)
Veggies: Onion/Peppers/Sweet Corn/Herbs and spices to your liking.
Feel free to vary based on your own tastes and preferences. I tend to use the following:
1/2 onion (red adds a nice sweetness)
2 cloves garlic (smashed /minced)
1/2 red pepper
1 large jalapeño
2-3 green chillies
1 hearty dash of Cayenne pepper (vary based on heat of the other peppers)
1 twig fresh rosemary (or a teaspoon of dried/crushed)
1 cup canned or frozen corn (unsweetened)
Salt, to taste
Preheat the oven at 375.
Cut up all the veggies into thin, 1-2 inch strips. Saute in skillet with a little olive oil on low heat until the veggies start to soften. 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally. Start by adding the onions, then work your way down the list as you get them chopped. (I recommend using a lid so that you don’t get too much of the pepper heat into the air.) Once the vegetables are soft, add in the corn, herbs and spices.
In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Cut in your butter with a pastry blender or your hands until coarse. Add your eggs, then oil and buttermilk. I never seem to have any buttermilk on hand, so I usually mix one cup milk with a tablespoon of vinegar and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then add in the all wet ingredients, cooked veggies, cheese and mix together.
In a lightly greased pan, pour in the contents and place into the preheated oven for about 35-45 minutes. Use a toothpick or knife to see if the cornbread is ready (utensil should be clean). Allow to cool for 15 minutes before cutting.
*Ok here is the funny story, I made this recipe one time for a potluck and couldn’t figure out why is was so different and taking forever to cook. It wasn’t until I got to the office that I realized I forgot to add the flour! My office still loved it. It was grainier and wetter than the original, but still full of flavor.