Archive for: cornmeal
Fresh berries aren’t great ingredients to use when baking a batch of cookies, even when it seems like those flavors would be perfect in a batch of classic chocolate chip dough. This is because fresh fruit adds a lot of moisture to cookie dough and you can end up wit a cookie that is a little more soggy than chewy. This is especially a problem when you want to bake a big batch of cookies, because that fresh fruit means that the cookies aren’t going to keep that fresh-baked texture as well as other cookies will. Freeze dried fruit is the perfect solution because it allows you to add a berry (or other fruit) flavor to a batch of cookies without changing the consistency of the dough.
These Raspberry Cornmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies feature freeze dried raspberries for a bright berry flavor alongside rich dark chocolate chips. Raspberries go well with chocolate in many desserts, and these cookies are no exception. The freeze dried berries get stirred into the cookie dough with the chocolate chips, no special treatment necessary. They’re also stocked at many regular grocery stores these days (I found mine at Trader Joe’s), so they’re fairly easy to find.
This cookie dough is slightly unusual because it contains cornmeal. I find that cornmeal adds a subtle crunch to the cookie dough and, while you won’t end up with a cookie that tastes like cornbread, you do get the smallest hint of corn sweetness in the dough. The dough is fairly dry for these cookies, which makes it very easy to work with; the dough can easily be shaped by hand into balls before baking.
The cookies end up being crisp around the edges with just the right amount of chewiness in the center, and a little extra crunch and texture from the cornmeal. They store very well for several days when kept in an airtight container, and you can easily substitute other dried fruit into this basic recipe for other flavor combinations.
Although cornbread can be a fairly hearty food, I find that I often bake it during the summertime. It is easy to make a batch of cornbread – so you don’t need to spend a long time in the kitchen, or have the oven on for hours – and it can be served with just about anything.
I like cornbread a little bit on the sweet and tender side of the spectrum, mostly because I think adding a little bit of honey, sugar, maple syrup or other sweetener to cornbread can highlight the sweetness of the cornmeal. These Honey Cornbread Muffins are just right for me. They’re not particularly sweet when you compare them to blueberry or other fruit muffins, but there is a noticeable hint of honey in every bite. They’re very moist and tender, with a fluffy crumb that has a hint of coarseness from the cornmeal in the batter. The muffins offer a great balance for rich or spicy dishes, like a batch of bbq ribs or some homemade chili. A coarse or medium ground cornmeal is going to be ideal for this recipe, and while I usually use yellow cornmeal, using blue cornmeal can add some great color to a batch.
I typically make these muffins plain – excluding the optional corn kernels that are listed in the recipe – because I find them to be the most versatile that way. I can slather the muffins with butter and jam in the morning, and dunk leftover muffins into a savory soup at night. Fresh, sweet corn will add some extra corn flavor to your muffins and they also add a nice texture, but as sweet as the corn is, I find that adding corn (I usually slice it fresh off the cob in the summer) makes these a bit more savory.
As much as I love homemade bread, I have a very strong affinity for biscuits because they allow me to get that homemade bread feeling and flavor in just a few minutes without waiting around for yeast dough to rise and proof. Yes, biscuits are a type of bread, but they are a quick type of bread and I can always appreciate that on a busy day.
Biscuits are easy to make in just a couple of minutes, either by hand or in the food processor. This biscuit recipe includes some ground cornmeal in the biscuit dough. This does give the biscuit little bit more flavor and texture – particularly a crisper top – than some other biscuit recipes produce, but the main thing that the cornmeal does is make the biscuit tender. As a result, these biscuits have a lovely blend of flakiness and tenderness, as well as a great buttery flavor from both butter and buttermilk. They are perfect for pairing with any topping – butter and honey, jam – or with any dish – from a salad to a stew.
The butter should be cut into biscuit dough by hand, literally rubbing pieces of the dough into the flour until you have a sandy mixture with relatively fine particles of butter, or by pulsing everything together in a food processor a few times. Once the dough comes together, turn it out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead it a few times, turning and folding the dough as you go. This will help make the biscuits flaky in the end. Cut them out with a round cookie cutter – mine was about 2-1/4 inches, but you can vary the size – and bake, then you’ll can enjoy the biscuits as soon as they’re out of the oven.
If you think that the name I gave this cake is long, let me assure you that it could have been longer. It almost makes me wish I was the sort of person who could come up with short, cutesy names for my creations, like “Mary Sunshine Cake” or something. Alas, I am not and so we are all stuck with a long name.
Names aside, this is a really good cake. I’ve been thinking about incorporating cornmeal into a cake for some time now but I really wanted to avoid the dense texture that so many cornmeal-heavy cakes have. I wanted to keep a hint of the crumbly, rustic texture that cornmeal offers, though.
This recipe seems to have come out just as I imagined. It has a noticeably different texture from an entirely flour-based cake, but is still very cake-like. The best way I could describe it is to say that there is the tiniest hint of crunch in the crumb. It is moist and very tender, yet isn’t heavy at all. The only thing more that you could want is flavor, and this cake has plenty of that, too.
I used buttermilk to add a bit of richness and a generous amount of lemon zest to get the lemon flavor into the cake. I happened to have some Meyer lemons, but ordinary lemon zest will work perfectly well, too. The only thing is that you really must let it sit, well-wrapped, overnight. If you don’t, the cake will be good, but it will be a bit cornbread-like because the texture will be slightly more coarse on the first day. After sitting overnight, however, it is perfect.
I highly recommend this cake. Try it with blueberries instead of raspberries if you prefer, or for something with a bit more fall flavor (or if you like slightly tart desserts), try using chopped up cranberries.
I love my new belgian waffle maker. As a brief product plug, it’s the Villaware Classic Belgian Waffle Iron. The waffles come out in a great shape, you can adjust the darkness (like a toaster) and I have had no problems at all with sticking, which is definitely a plus for a waffle-maker. The other thing I like about it is that it has an alarm that beeps when the waffle is done. Sure, it’s annoying, but it also means that I can go off and do other things while my waffle cooks. Like drink coffee. Or blog.
Getting back to the waffles, these were great. I adapted them from the Lark Creek Inn’s (in Northern California) recipe for Blue Corn Waffles with Lavender Cream. I’m not a big fan of floral flavors, nor cream on my waffles, so I omitted the cream entirely and opted for regular cornmeal instead of blue. Since I had gone yellow with the color of the waffles, I decided to add some lemon zest to the batter as well.
Initially, I assumed that maple syrup would not be a good pairing for these waffles because of the lemon flavor. I thought that they might be best with just sugar, or perhaps butter. I was completely wrong. They were fantastic with maple syrup. The waffles were crisp on the outside and moist within, with a great texture from the cornmeal. They were filling, but not heavy in the least. The lemon flavor was able to cut through the maple syrup and, instead of clashing with it, brighted the entire dish. I really, really liked them.
If you’re interested, the waffles are also excellent plain and can be refreshed in the toaster if made in advance.