Saturday, March 28, 2015

Old Fashioned Buttermilk Cornbread (Gluten Free)

Like many people out there I have a spouse who is wheat sensitive. This cuts a lot of foods out of the rotation,  but one bread does get to stay. Buttermilk Cornbread is a Southern staple and one of the first things I learned to bake as a youngster. The gluten free advantage is an advantage these days, for me and many others. It doesn't take a lot to be successful in baking cornbread and requires few tools that you probably already have (or should have).
   One of the more necessary items to make cornbread is a seasoned cast iron skillet. This is the perfect implement to make cornbread in, as well as other foods) and is something every kitchen should have. That's about it for implements. See?
   Let's take a second to talk about the star of the show, the cornmeal. Just about any cornmeal will do, but the Southern go to for cornbread is white cornmeal. It is lighter than yellow and produces a better product in my opinion. Personally, I like a nice stone ground and unbolted (also called Old Fashioned) cornmeal. Unbolted cornmeal is unsifted and has a grittier texture and a slightly larger grind. It also contains all of the grain, leading to a tastier cornbread. If your local market doesn't carry unbolted, stone ground cornmeal, don't worry. Any white cornmeal will do. Or you can order online through any number of sources, like Amazon. (I like the folks at Weisenberger Mills in KY. I've used their products many times over the years). Just don't get confused and use a cornbread mix. These all contain wheat flour.
   While you can use vegetable shortening as your fat of choice, I prefer lard. It's moderately healthier than most vegetable shortenings, but it adds an extra layer of flavour to the finished product. Taste is everything.

Buttermilk Cornbread

2 1/4 Cups White Cornmeal
2 Cups Buttermilk
1/4 Cup Lard or Shortening
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 Eggs
1 1/2 tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place skillet in oven to heat up while preheating.
Add dry ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisk together.
Beat eggs into buttermilk.
Remove heated skillet from oven and drop lard into hot skillet, allowing it to melt.
Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk till blended. Add 3 Tbs melted lard to mixture and whisk till incorporated, (keep at least 1 Tbs of the melted lard in the pan to help the cooking).
Pour ingredients into still hot pan and give a short shake to even out the mixture.
Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes or till golden brown.
Remove from oven and remove cornbread from skillet to a plate.
Cut and serve!

Makes 8 single servings.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

New: Barilla Pronto Pasta

First, let it be said, I am not receiving anything from the good folks at Barilla for this post. I just like their products and think this new one is rather interesting.

   Barilla has come up with a new pasta, (in a variety of shapes), called Pronto. It doesn't require quarts of boiling water to make. Just a pan and up to a couple of cups of water. It supposedly cooks to al dente doneness and then you can just add sauce and viola,  pasta.
   I must admit, I find this kind of cool. It would certainly make things a bit easier in the kitchen to be able to let my big pans take a rest from pasta duty and get things down to a much smaller pan. And the time savings is not minuscule. I think I'll definitely be giving these a try at some point and will report back, (even though I'm not a huge pasta fan). I'd love to know what they've done differently with the pasta to make it cook in less water. The science geek in me is curious.
   If you've tried it leave a comment and let me know how you liked it.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Smoked Trout Salad

One of my favourite appetisers that I have made over the years is Smoked Trout Salad. It is a nice start to any evening or just a great snack for anything you're doing. It's pretty easy to put together and keeps quite well, so you can make it well ahead of time and it will be ready when you are. It can be served over any nice cracker or flat bread, but I really think it shines when served on fried Won-Ton wrappers lightly dusted with Old Bay seasoning.

Trout Salad

2 Smoked trout fillets, skin removed.
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
2 green onions chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 teaspoon capers, drained and roughly chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise


Won Ton wrappers, cut into triangles
Old Bay seasoning

Remove skin from trout fillets and flake or chop. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Cut won ton wrappers into triangles and fry in oil till crisp. Remove to paper towels and allow to drain. Dust lightly with Old Bay Seasoning. Top wrappers with trout salad and serve.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Dak Jim (Korean Chicken And Vegetables)

Many folks can remember their first cookbook. Mine was the Peanuts Cookbook, way back in the early 70's. But, the first cookbook that I actually went out and bought when I was old enough to actually get some use out of it was Foods of the Orient: Japan and Korea. I bought my copy a couple of years after it came out, while I was in South Africa. This cookbook has followed me all around the globe and it has provided many a great meal. While I was already familiar with Japanese cuisine, having lived in Japan, this opened my eyes up to a number of dishes I wasn't familiar with and allowed me to cook them myself.
  I have many favoured recipes from this well worn book, but my hands down, absolute favourite is the recipe for Dak Jim (Steamed Chicken and Vegetables). I have looked at and tried other versions of this recipe, but I always return to the one from this cookbook. It is the best I've run across. Now, I'm going to share it with you. This version of the recipe is in American measurements. All the recipes in the book come in two versions, Metric/Imperial and American. That makes this cookbook an international multitasker. Sadly, it is long out of print, but is available in the used market.

This recipe scales up quite easily if you need to make more, which I have had to do at times. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

Dak Jim (Korean Steamed Chicken and Vegetables)

1x 4lb chicken cut up into 8-10 pieces
2 carrots, cut into thin strips  (I use a peeler and shave them)
3 dried mushrooms, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes, drained and thinly sliced
1 bamboo shoot, sliced (or 1 can sliced)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbs. soft brown sugar
1 Tbs. roasted sesame seeds, ground or crushed
salt and pepper

Garnish (Optional)
2 eggs, seperated

Put the chicken pieces in a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours, or until chicken is tender. Drain and reserve the stock. When the meat is cool enough to handle, cut the chicken into bite sized strips.
   Put all the remaining ingredients, except the garnish, into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir in the chicken strips and reserved stock, cover ans simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked but still crisp.
   Meanwhile, make the garnish. Beat the egg yolks and whites separately until they are both well mixed. Lightly oil a frying pan and heat it over moderate heat.Pour in the egg white and spread over the bottom in a thin layer. Cook until the bottom is firm, then turn over and cook until the other side is firm. Slide on to a warmed dish and cook the egg yolks in the same way. Cut the cooked eggs into strips.
   Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a warmed serving bowl and scatter over the garnish before serving.

Serves 6 

Preparation and cooking time: 2 1/2 hours

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Wonderful Paste, Hummus!

Well, I said I would put up a recipe for this wonderful food and here it is. I ran across this recipe a few years ago and adapted it for my own use. It is a truly good recipe and well worth the time it takes to make. Easily the equal of anything you can get at a Middle Eastern restaurant or even in the Middle East, and certainly better than anything you'll get from a grocery cooler. If you have access to a Middle Eastern store , (like our local grocery/eatery, Al Basha, in Fishers, IN), I would encourage you to get your ingredients there. Especially if they carry good quality ingredients from the Middle East. It will make a difference in the final product. I use a Syrian tahini and a Turkish olive oil and am fortunate enough to have access to Al Basha's great fresh baked pita. Terroir makes a difference in almost any recipes. So, without further ado, here you are.


1 cup dried chickpeas
1/2 cup tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp cumin
1 Tbs plus 1/4 tsp baking soda
Salt (to taste)
Olive Oil
Fresh Italian Parsley
Paprika (optional)


Rinse chickpeas in cold water to remove any dirt or dust. Place chickpeas in  2 qt. pan and cover with water, adding 1 Tbs of baking soda. Let soak overnight.
Drain soaked chickpeas and rinse.
Return to pan and cover with water. Add remaining baking soda. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 1-1 1/2 hours, adding more water, if necessary. Cook till chickpeas are soft and easily squashed. Drain, reserving a portion of the cooking water. Give chickpeas a quick rinse to remove any foam or skins. Let cool to room temperature.
Place cooled chickpeas in a food processor and pulse till well chopped.
Add lemon juice, tahini and cumin. Mix all ingredients. Taste. Add salt to taste and mix till smooth. If the paste is too thick add some of the reserved cooking water and mix till the desired consistency is achieved.
Remove hummus to small plates or bowls. Create a small, shallow well and add olive oil. Garnish with chopped parsley or paprika. Serve with pita bread and olives or your favourite scooping food, (some folks in the Middle East like to use onion petals). Enjoy!

Sunday, January 04, 2015

The Beautiful Paste

Here's one from the always amusing Remy, on that most luscious of pastes...Hummus. I think I'll have to post the recipe for the worlds best Hummus here very soon. Until then, enjoy the lyrical and funny musings of Remy!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Bub's Burgers

This past Friday we took ourselves out to visit a place new to us, Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream in Carmel, Indiana. It's located in the heart of downtown Carmel, right along the Monon Trail. When we arrived the place was already busy and we had a wait of about 25 minutes, (a bit longer than we'd usually put up with). Being as we wanted to try the new place we sat down and enjoyed the view of all the people passing by.
After our wait was up we were seated inside the restaurant and ordered our food. I wanted to try their 1/4 lb. elk burger and I split a large order of onion rings with the kids. My wife had the same. I also ordered sweet tea which turned out to be a mistake. The food arrived in a decent time and was served on tin pans. Every burger comes with lettuce, tomato and onion on the side and the bun is buttered and grilled. I like that. Condiments are on the table. If you want sides, those are extra.

My medium rare elk burger was good and cooked just as I had ordered it. Tasty, with a nice char grilled flavour from the flames. Definitely one of the better burgers I've had in a while. The onion rings were a tad greasy, but tasted pretty good. I'm not the biggest fan of beer battered anything, but these rings weren't shabby. The kids certainly liked them well enough. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for their sweet iced tea. Whoever made that was afraid of using too much sugar so they erred on the side of too little. Next time I'll either bring my own sugar or order something else. All in all it was a good experience where the food was concerned.

One drawback to the inside dining area is that it is quite noisy. Be prepared for that. It's difficult to talk with people at your table without raising your voice and is pretty hard to hear any responses. If you can get past that (or eat outside) you'll likely enjoy your meal, I did and we'll likely return at some point in the future.