Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Brown Sugar Buttermilk Cornbread

One of my projects for this summer is perfecting my skillet cornbread recipe. I recently came upon a stray All-Clad skillet, belonging to one of my friend's ex-girlfriend who ended up dropping out of school, moving to another school, and becoming a lesbian. No one was very surprised, and needless to say, she wasn't coming back for her kitchenware. (She also left a Professional Kitchenaid mixer, which I gladly claimed). The pan is somewhat of a mystery. I know that it is the bottom part of a Braiser, used to sear before putting the top on to, well, braise. But alas, I don't have the top, quite a shame. Ok, so the mystery part. The skillet part seems to be coated in a non-stick material. This is all well and good except, I can't find that a non-stick braiser even exists on the All-Clad website. So I'm just going to assume, that I have a genuine, one of a kind, non-stick, bottom half, of an All-Clad braiser.

This pan, just happened to be the perfect size for skillet cornbread, inspiring the proceeding recipe. Now I know that the sweetness of cornbread is debated across the states, and I, in true Northerner tradition, like my cornbread on the sweet size. Not Boston Market sweet, but something that lends itself well to butter and honey. This recipe produced a nicely browned but moist cornbread with a hint of sweetness to it. It's gonna be hard to top for the rest of the summer.

Brown Sugar Buttermilk Cornbread
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar plus 1 teaspoon for topping
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (14 oz. or so) can cream-style corn

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sift together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, scramble together eggs until uniform. Add in buttermilk, eggs, and 2 tablespoons of the oil to the dry ingredients. Gently fold in creamed corn till evenly incorporated. Coat an ovenproof 9-10 inch ovenproof skillet with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and put in preheated oven for about 5 min. Carefully remove from oven and quickly pour in batter and put back in oven. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until cracked on top and browned around the edges. Cool slightly and sprinkle the top with remaining 1 teaspoon of brown sugar. Serve warm.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I'm just preparing for domestication...

With my class schedule free, and my inability to sleep this Tuesday morning, I decided to make a day out of my current love affair with my Kitchenaid. It started with finishing off my Key Lime Meringue Pie from last night.

If you've never juiced 30 key limes in a row in your life....well, you're not missing much. Well, except the fact that the scent of citrus will forever be absorbed into your pores. The only advice I can really give is to roll the limes against a surface with the flat edge of a knife to make them easier to squeeze. (You could do this with your hands too, but trust me, they will be feeling arthritic after half the limes) I found that by quartering them length wise, they took much less effort.

For the sake of simplicity, I used a pre-made graham cracker crust, but you could always opt to do it the hard way (more dishes, rather).

Key Lime Filling
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh Key lime juice (from about 20-30 Key limes)

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk together the egg yokes and the condensed milk (reserve the whites for the meringue). Add the lime juice that you worked so very hard for. Whisk till throughly combined and pour into pie crust.

Bake in center of oven for 15 min. Cool pie completely, then chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

Meringue topping
6 egg whites
1 cup sugar

Bring a medium saucepan filled with 2 inches of water to a simmer. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar, set the bowl over the simmering water (double-boiler style), and whisk over low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot to the touch. Transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with a whisk and beat at medium-high speed until the whites are stiff and glossy, about 6-7 minutes.

Spread evenly over pie and refrigerate. To get that nice browned top I, lacking a torch, stuck mine under the broiler for about 2 minutes, which turned out fine, don't you think?

Let me answer that question for you, it turned out awesome, and tasted as good as it looked. I served it to a Key Lime Pie virgin who wholeheartedly agreed with me. This recipe is definetely going in the "Keep" pile.