Southern Seasons Cooking School – Cornbread


I have never been much of a cornbread fan, I think because more times than not, when I have eaten it I have found it to be dry and lacking flavor (with the exception of my grandmother’s hoecakes of course). I know many Americans hold a special place for these quick breads in their heart so when I saw Cornbread on the list of classes at the Southern Seasons Cooking School, I decided to broaden my horizon and see what I have been missing.

Menu:

Hushpuppies with Caramelized Onions

Cornbread Cakes with Pork Carnitas

Cornbread Panzanella with Black Eyed Peas, Spinach, Corn and Tomatoes

Spoon Bread with Shrimp and Lemon Cream

Buttermilk Pie with Cornmeal Crust

The class started out with an offering of water, tea and Ouro Verde Vinho Verde wine.  Not a fan of white wine but this one I could definitely sip on once in a while. Class instructors Marilyn Markel and Willard Doxey opened up the class with a conversation on cornbreads, the menu and their differing opinions on cornbread. Willard stood by his love for soft and sweet cornbreads while Marylin defended her love for crusty and savory breads. After a short debate the class gathered around the large cooking table to begin to put the dispute to the taste test.

The group assembled around the table like a home economics class for adults and tackled the dessert first as it would require the most cooking time. I have never made my own pie crust so it was interesting to see it done and this took some of the mystery and the intimidation factor out of it.

Cornmeal Pie Crust

Ingredients:

¼ cup cornmeal

¾ cup flour

Dash salt

1 stick cold butter, cut into cubes

2 tbsp cold buttermilk

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 375° F

2. Pulse the flour, cornmeal and salt in food processor. Add butter and pulse to a course meal.

3. Add buttermilk and pulse until a ball forms. Chill the dough for 15 minutes.

4. Roll out and place in 9 inch pie pan. Chill.

5. Add foil and weights then bake about  20 minutes until partially baked. Cool and add filling.

Buttermilk Pie

Ingredients

1 Partially baked 9 inch cornmeal pan shell

Juice of 1 large lemon

1 ½ cups sugar

4 large eggs

3 tbsp fine white cornmeal

Small pinch salt

¾ cup buttermilk

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven 375°

2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then the cornmeal and salt. Stir in the buttermilk and lemon juice.

3. Pour the custard into the prepared crust and bake it in the center of the oven or ten minutes, then reduce the heat to 325°. Bake until the pie is set, about 45-55 minutes. Cool it on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator.

Marilyn’s Cornbread Cakes with Pork Carnitas

Next the groups got to working on Marilyn’s Cornbread which is made into a cornmeal batter and fried in a cast iron skillet with bacon fat. Seeing this done brought back memories of how my grandmother and aunts made hoecakes for Sundays and holiday gatherings, using old bacon fat to pan fry them. Carnitas translates to “little meats” in Spanish and is braised or roasted pork that is the shredded and can be served  on a taco, tamale, tortas or burritos. Considering how they are normally used in Mexican cooking I thought it was a fitting stroke of genius to marry southern American and Mexican cooking and place the Carnitas on top of southern style cornbread.

Spoon Bread with Shrimp and Lemon Cream

This class was my formal introduction to Spoon Bread which is of course a cornmeal based dish. Although bread by name it had a consistency similar to soufflé or bread puddings that I have eaten. This dish gave Willard a chance to show his love for the sweeter side of cornbread. It was topped with an excellent lemon cream and shrimp. Without the shrimp this dish could almost pass for a dessert and the lemon cream was a nice touch. The instructors advised that the lemon cream could also be used in pasta, I made it at home and poured it over a fried pork cutlet.

Southern Cornbread Panzanella

Panzanella was another culinary term that was new to me. It is an Italian salad consisting of  soaked stale bread and tomatoes. The southern version of this dish substituted a batch of Marilyn’s Cornbread cubed instead of the stale bread and added southern staple black eye peas. Again I thought this was a great way of taking a dish from another region and recreating it with a down south feel.

Outer Banks Hushpuppies

Hushpuppies are another huge southern mainstay that is normally served as a side at bbq and fish joints. I eat them all the time but never thought about where they got their name. From what I can find, fisherman and hunters would take the cornmeal that they were breading and cooking their food, make a mixture then fry it to throw the dogs to quiet or hush them. Its said that during the civil war they were given to the confederate dogs to avoid giving away their position to Union Solders.

Ingredients:

1 cups cornmeal

2 cups self-rising flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp sugar

½ cup water

½ evaporated milk

1 eggs

1/3 cup finely chopped caramelized sweet onion

 Instructions:

1. Preheat oil to 350°

2. Mix dry ingredients well. Lightly beat eggs and combine with the other wet ingredients. Stir wet into the dry. Add onions and mix until just combined. The mixture may be lumpy.

3. Drop by heaping tablespoons into hot oil and fry until golden and floating (about 3-4 minutes total). Drain on paper towel and serve immediately with lots of butter.

I walked away from the class with a new respect for cornbreads and fresh idea what to do with it them. The Cornbread class will be offered again at Southern Seasons on October 17th and to find out about other classes being offered click here

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Categories: Events, Recipes

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One Comment on “Southern Seasons Cooking School – Cornbread”

  1. December 18, 2014 at 2:50 am #

    Reblogged this on ForThoseILove.

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