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Posts tagged ‘cornbread muffins’

Cleaning out the Freezer & Cornbread

We ate the last quart of frozen berries about six weeks ago and freezer pickings are starting to get a bit slim, as they should be. I am equally as keen on filling that freezer in summer and fall as am to emptying it by late May when the berries in Oregon start arriving. I’ve gotten better at managing quantities of things to freeze based on my families likes and dislikes, my style of cooking and what holds up best in this format. The only thing I miscalculated this year was on roasted Anaheim chilies. I still have a LOT of those left. It may be they are a bit too spicy for my five-year-old or that I just haven’t remembered them at the right time when I was making chili or some other suitable dish. So this week I will be dicing them and adding them to cornbread (recipe below) and savory bread pudding and rice and anything else I can think of.  If you have favorite ways to use these Anaheims or some roasted Poblano chilies please share!

Roasted chilies, tomato jam, pesto, applesauce and roasted tomatoes.

I managed the quantity of my frozen, roasted tomatoes well this year since with our cool, wet spring we won’t be seeing tomatoes in the market for a good while. I have enough for a few more sauces or soup bases and for quesadillas and sandwiches.

As I canvas the nearly empty freezer I am reminded of the privilege of “going shopping” in the basement freezer and how that one last jar of pesto will mean dinner can be on the table in 15 minutes or that tomato jam that’s a little spicy, savory and sweet will grace some “Daddy Patties” or a hamburger next week. All that incremental work of stocking in small batches as I have extra in the peak of the season is rewarded over and over again.

I have gotten better at labeling frozen items over the years, though last week, a container marked rhubarb compote, that I had been saving for dessert for a recent cooking class turned out to be cooked Pinto beans. So while the freezer has turned up a few surprises like that its contents have mostly served as constant inspiration, reminder of summer flavors, and in-house grocery store.

And this time of year, as the new growth of spring gains traction I will start “shopping” more in the backyard for things like this, that pair nicely with the dregs of the freezer.

Lettuce, arugula thinnings, parsley, chives, mint, and carrots.

Chili and Cheese Cornbread Muffins
–adapted from Fields of Plenty by Michael Ableman

I make this for dinner regularly. It’s very quick and nothing beats warm cornbread for dinner. It’s really best within a few hours of baking but it never lasts long around here. This version has chopped, roasted chilies, sharp cheddar and black pepper in it. However, if you omit those, you get the plain, traditional one I love too and typically make in a cast iron pan. You can certainly make this version in a cast iron pan too and skip the muffin tin.

5 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 ½ cups cornmeal (I use a fairly course/polenta grind but medium grind is fine too)
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 – 1/3 cup chopped, roasted Anaheim or Poblano chilies
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
pinch or two of cayenne (optional)
1 egg
1 ¼ cups milk (preferably whole)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter and let cool slightly. Combine cornmeal, flour, baking, powder, salt, pepper and cayenne (if using) and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk the egg and milk together in a small bowl. Add melted butter and milk mixture to dry ingredients along with cheese and chilies and stir quickly. Do not over mix.

If you’re making muffins, brush the tin with melted butter (the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons) and fill the cups 3/4 full and bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. You really don’t want to overbake these.  Or heat a 9 or 10-inch cast iron frying pan over med-high heat. Add the remaining 1 ½ Tbs butter to the pan. When the butter is melted and foaming pour the batter into the skillet. Bake until the corn bread is golden and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, between 15 and 18 min. Serve hot out of the oven.

Corn muffins with roasted chilies and cheddar.


Salad, Salad, Salad. . .

Say (curse, shout, whine, cry) what I will about this unbelievably rainy spell we’ve had, the lettuces and greens are glorious and bountiful. We have salads every night these days, the greens picked minutes before dinner. They are tender, sweet and addictive. Right now I have lots of arugula (not going to seed nearly as quickly as usual), mache (also known as corn salad, lamb’s lettuce or Feldsalat) and red oak leaf, and variety of green lettuces.

And speaking of salads and before I forget, my next cooking class is Saturday 6/19 and will feature salads (and a guest chef!) and other fabulous dishes. Still spots left – sign up at Cook With What You Have!

A few nights ago the salad needed to be the main gig for dinner. I had hard-boiled a few eggs earlier in the day since I like to have them on hand. I had some lovely  new carrots from my CSA and a few beets. I scrubbed them well and without peeling either–I gave up peeling carrots years ago but more recently have quit peeling beets too, unless less their on the big side when the skin can get a bit tough–cut the carrots on the bias into nice chunks, the beets into small wedges and spread them out on a sheet pan. I sprinkled them generously with salt and olive oil and roasted them in a hot oven (425) for about 20 minutes until tender and slightly caramelized around the edges.

Meanwhile I washed and dried the greens, roughly chopped 3 hard-boiled eggs and made a dressing. Dressing was green garlic finely minced (of which I also have a lot in the garden and since I want the garden space for other things I’m pulling it all up now), fresh thyme, dijon-style mustard, lemon juice, salt, pepper, olive oil and a few teaspoons of my reduced apple cider. More on that later.

I tossed the greens with the roasted veggies, eggs and dressing and we sat down to a meal of this beautiful salad and warm cornbread muffins made extra good with sharp cheddar, chives and some chili flakes in the batter. Cornbread recipe to follow soon. And if you can’t wait, it’s an adaption of a recipe from Michael Ableman’s Fields of Plenty.

It was the perfect late spring dinner . . . at least my husband and I thought so. My son ended up eating a deconstructed version that looked like this:

Try as I might, dressed green salads have yet to enter his repertoire.

On a final note, it is supposed to dry out and warm up, albeit after yet another few days of rain, so next week I’ll have a pizza recipe, yes, with greens for you all!

Happy Cooking and Eating!