Thursday, December 17, 2009

DG's Corniest Corn Muffins, Kicked Up!

I live with guilt, dear readers. I guess I'm not as cynical and jaded as I pretend to be. Currently, I feel guilty about taking this long to put up this recipe for cornbread muffins, when I clearly mentioned that they are the perfect partner to the Go-T0 Beef Chili in my previous post. That was days and days ago. You are all a resourceful bunch, and I'm sure a lot of you already have your own cornbread recipes to fall back on - BUT what if there was a blogger out there like moi? Someone who relies on the generosity of others to fulfill their foodie ambitions? What if someone out there is waiting on pins and needles to make this honest-to-goodness wonderful chili and cornbread combo, but cannot because I haven't been able to get off my lazy ass and post the second half of it?!

For those precious few, rest assured that I was wallowing in guilt.

Not anymore though. Because here it is, folks. The credit for this goes to the indomitable Dorie Greenspan, as this recipe is the very first one in her classic cookbook Baking: From My Home To Yours.

I suffer in the same way that Ree, The Pioneer Woman, does when she has a lone jalapeno lying in her fridge - I must use it pronto or else!

Corniest Jalapeno-Cornbread Muffins
Makes 12

Click here for printable recipe

1 cup AP flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
6 tbsp sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 cup buttermilk
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tbsp oil
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup corn kernels (if using frozen or canned, drain & pat dry)
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded & finely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter or spray the 12 molds of your regular sized muffin pan.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.

3. In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, egg and yolk together. Pour over the dry mixture, and quickly but gently stir to combine.

4. Stir in the corn kernels and jalapeno. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

5. Bake for 15-18 mins. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 mins before popping out each muffin from its mold. Serve these warm or at room temperature, with or without butter.
These rose more than the ones in DG's cookbook. Mine look like mini volcanoes ready to erupt with corny goodness. And that was the corniest line I've ever typed.

Verdict: Fresh from the oven, these are almost impossible to resist. I ate two right off the bat. The jalapeno leaves a lingering heat on your tongue that is soothed by the sweet butter you can slather on these things. I'd make these for breakfast too, but perhaps leave out the jalapeno, so that I can also put jam on them. They take less time to make in the morning than biscuits, and are really fool-proof. They keep well in the fridge, in an airtight container, for a few days, but obviously lose their crispy edges. If you're lazy like me, just zap them in the microwave OR to bring the crispiness back, warm them in the oven or toast them.
Adorned with a squidge of buddah.

Or pair them with that sexy chili I told you about.

This has been cathartic. I have now been cleansed of my guilt. I no longer have to punish myself. After all, I am writing this before eating any breakfast. And missing the beginning of "Live With Regis & Kelly". Must go remedy both situations right now. Especially breakfast.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chili To Take Away The Chill

I am always looking out for recipes that cater to a crowd, can be made ahead of time, and preferably all in one pot! Come to think about it, it's not like I entertain much (mostly keeping to the bare minimum to be considered a part of polite society), but when I do, my guests are almost always big eaters. So as much as I love and admire all the fancy-schmancy dinner recipes, where individual portions are works of art that formal guests can "ooooo" and "aahhhhh" over, currently my family and friends need serious quantity and quality, with minimum fuss. Which is why I was really happy when this recipe for simple, satisfying chili turned out to be one that's sure to be a crowd-pleaser.Chili is such a staple in most American households, that it's almost ridiculous to even have a proper recipe for it. Every family has their own favorite recipe, and will happily proclaim theirs as the "best". But chili is a new animal for me. Coming from a Pakistani background, this humble dish is like nothing I'd ever had before I came to this part of the world oh-so-many years ago. Probably the first time I ever had chili was on top a hot dog (don't knock it, I'm still crazy about a great chili-cheese dog!). It did the job of spiking my interest in chili, and since then, I'm always trying out different versions of it (loved the venison chili I had in Snoqualmie, WA). Winters in Connecticut are nothing to laugh about, so I figured that now is the perfect time to try and hone my chilli skills, especially when I know I have a bunch of guests planning to stay over at my place for the holidays. This recipe will keep them warm in toasty from the inside out.

My Go-To Beef Chili (inspired by Jessica's recipe)
Serves 4-6

Click here for printable recipe

1.5-2 lbs ground beef
2-3 medium onions, diced
3-4 celery stalks, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 can of red kidney beans, drained (you could also use 2 cans - will feed more people!)
1-2 fresh jalapeno peppers, finely minced
3-4 tbsp chili powder
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp salt

1. Heat up a couple of tsp of oil in a stock pot and brown the onions and ground beef, breaking up large chunks as you go along. I like to really get in there with the stirring, evaporate all the liquid and get some good caramelization on my meat.2. Next, add the rest of your ingredients and stir to combine.
3. Add six cups of water to the pot and stir again. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then cover and simmer over a low heat for 2 to 2.5 hours. Serve with bowls of shredded sharp cheddar, sour cream, diced fresh tomatoes, diced onions and chopped cilantro. This way people can personalize their individual portions.
Verdict: This is such a fun dish to eat, me thinks. All those layers of flavor are a party in my mouth - so much so that I was humming to myself while shoveling this down. Of course, it helps that it's so warm and filling; perfect for my Connecticut winter. DH, on the other hand, experienced some growing pains with this dish. He's a little more old school than I am, so wasn't too thrilled about the idea of eating this with a spoon. So he improvised - he had it like a curry, with hot parathas! And he loved it! Even I have to admit, it works really surprisingly well that way (I sneaked in a few bites when he was distracted). So will I be serving this to future guests? You better believe it. If you're wondering what to serve on the side ...

Mmmm, delicious Corniest Jalapeno-Corn Muffins look like a good match! Recipe to follow in my next post.