Lengthening days foretell the coming of spring. The sunny faces of the first daffodils remind how a nephew, at age four, took to calling them laffodils.
And just a few days ago, a seventy-degree Sunday brought forth Easter-festive dresses at church and then kids in shorts on bikes, dog walkers, strolling families, even a few winter-plump joggers.
But the forecast is for winter white: flurries for tonight and a possible ‘big winter event’ within ten days.
So even in sunshine, today’s afternoon air holds an insinuating chill, one that triggers dusting off the woodpile’s last logs for supper by the fire.
What to cook? Like the fire, tonight’s meal must warm within and without.
Chili is an easy answer, beanless since that would require a trip to the grocery store, but redolent with roasted peppers from the freezer. And a simple cornbread deep from the recipe box, made just once more than ten years ago.
What a great re-discovery! SKILLET CORNBREAD calls for on-hand ingredients, makes up in a few minutes, tastes great and is healthful besides!
With fireside suppers like this, winter is welcome to keep its grip a few more weeks.
Time to table: 35 minutes
Makes 8 generous wedges
- 1-1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons skim milk
- 5 tablespoons non-fat yogurt
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1-1/3 cups yellow cornmeal, preferably stoneground
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon table salt or 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 egg whites
Whisk together buttermilk, milk, yogurt and corn syrup in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold whites gently into corn mixture.
TIP for NEW COOKS: The trick to beating egg whites is to prevent fat, including the yolks’ fat, from touching the whites. Make sure the mixing bowl and beaters are clean. A glass or metal bowl is better than plastic. You may use a metal whisk rather than an electric mixer but the beating will take longer -- your wrist may suffer! Crack one egg and carefully drop its white into one small dish, its yolk into another. (If the yolk breaks, reserve it for an omelet then proceed with another egg and a clean small dish.) Transfer the first white into the mixing bowl; this way, if the second yolk breaks, it won’t contaminate the first. Repeat with the second egg. Beat whites until peaks form and fall over like the tip of a soft-serve ice cream cone.
Grease a nine-inch cast iron skillet with butter or bacon fat. Pour batter into skillet and gently distribute evenly. Bake at 450F for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden.
• I've substituted sour cream, Greek yogurt, keffir and even ricotta for the yogurt.
• These days, I substitute honey for the corn syrup with wonderful results. When baking for a diabetic, I use low-glycemic agave or Whey-Low Gold (an all natural brown sugar substitute). I suspect that Splenda would work too. These last three, mix into the dry ingredients.
• I've also started to put the ungreased cast-iron skillet into the oven as it preheats and while I mix the cornbread batter. When it's plenty hot, I grease the pan (carefully since it's hot) and pour in the batter. This creates an especially crispy crust.
• My notes say that stone-ground cornmeal is important but honestly, I haven't found it necessary for the last two batches. While stone-ground cornmeal is whole-grain, plain yellow cornmeal makes one very good cornbread.
• For a little bit of heat to complement the corn's natural sweetness, stir in a small can of green chile peppers.
More Bread Recipes
Soup & Cornbread, Yes?
Preparing for Easter
What a Big Winter Event in Spring Looks Like
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