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.