Jalapeno & Cheddar Cornbread

Jalapeno Cheddar CornbreadWhen I think of cornbread, I can vividly see the image of worn hands draped in cornmeal dust, kissed by sticky bits of egg and butter. I smell the thickness of buttermilk’s tang waft beneath my nostrils. There’s natural sunlight piercing through the grease stained windows where laundry drapes from the twine in the distance. There was a little shed out back that was attached to a chicken coop where my sister and I once collected eggs from the rustic piles of hay, leaves and cotton, that were sewn into works of art where the eggs lay. jalapeno cheddar cornbread

It almost seems like a lost cause to bake something attached to so many warm thoughts. My grandmother never made jalapeno cheddar cornbread. It’s a treat that I’ve developed a fondness for over time. The hint of spicy warmth on that sweet corn backdrop and the kiss of that nutty cheese to bring it all together is something enchanting if you let it be. When I reminisce with friends about simple southern staples like cornbread as pertaining to my childhood. It entails that of a Lodge cast-iron skillet, a chipped coffee mug, hot cornbread, buttermilk and a spoon. You talk about heaven’s dessert. I’m not sure if it was dessert? Or maybe it was breakfast, or a snack? Either way, it seduced the soul and calmed the spirit far more than any prescription drug nowadays. You should give it a try.

This recipe is simple in nature and lends itself to interpretation depending upon how creative you want to be. No mind what the ‘traditional southern purists’ may say.

I’m contemplating adding pimento cheese to appease the masses, because who doesn’t love pimento cheese?

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
½ pound room temperature(2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (leave some to grease pan)
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers (2 to 3 peppers)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with a couple tablespoons of butter, set aside.
2. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl(dry ingredients always want to runaway). In a separate bowl mix the minced jalapeno, eggs, milk and butter. add your dry mixture by the cupful one at a time into the wet mixture and combine using a wooden spoon until all ingredients are combined. Be careful not to over mix and its ok if little specks of butter are still present. Then, fold in the grated cheese using a rubber spatula until fully combined.
3. Pour batter into your greased cast-iron skillet and bake for 25-35 minutes depending upon your oven. I recommend allowing it to cool for a few moments but not all the way, its best when warm.

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits

The introduction to fall has been an interesting one. I mean typically, I don’t even pay attention to the change of the seasons until I become annoyed by the reaction of my allergies to the first pollen breeze, chill of wind upon my face or warmth of sun upon my car seats. All of these things an indication that the season has changed and we are walking into a new cycle of life. One where our blankets fall from the attics and our heaters blow the dusts of summers neglect away. Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local Forkful

Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local ForkfulPumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local ForkfulI have to admit there is a soft spot in my heart for the fall. I adore the quilt of colors brought to us by the leaves aging. The rustling and crunch of your feet in the grass conjuring yesteryear’s thoughts of s’mores and diving into mountains of raked leaves.

I was sitting in the waiting room while my wife was in surgery when I thought of these biscuits. Her parents and I fretting on the inside but doing our best not to let it show. I was holding on tight to a cup of hot chocolate mixed with coffee that I swear never left the cup no matter how much I drank. Oh, hospitals and those small styrofoam cups that remind you so coldly of where you are. When will they ever learn?  Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local Forkful

Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local ForkfulJenna’s been having an ovarian cyst issue that required moving along with some other abdomen problems due to a botched surgery from our past. We were told post-surgery that they found scar tissue from that surgery and a couple of fibroid that needed to be removed. If that wasn’t enough the doctor with this look of discontent said, ” if we were thinking of having children we would need to do so sooner than later.” (Well, good morning to you too.) was the initial thought that jumped into my head, but this wasn’t the doctors fault and we were already aware that the road to having children would not be that of an easy one. And this is OK with us. God has his own divine timing and though we are often impatient in waiting for things to unfold. We’re good with just enjoying each others company until then.Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local Forkful

Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local ForkfulDon’t ask me what the correlation between scary waiting rooms and biscuits have to do with each other because I honestly don’t know. But I knew I had no idea of what to take to Nashville Food Bloggers CSA Potluck the following Sunday. And maybe this is what my brain does when in uneasy situations. It goes directly to the chamber of comfort foods I have stored away in my mind. These biscuits were practically an experiment of sorts.

I found the recipe on a farmgirl’s dabbles for Pumpkin Biscuits with Candied Ginger. And I’m not good at simply making a recipe without a few minor changes, not always for the better, but you gotta try. So any-who, once I put my spin on them, they were no longer the same. If you make these biscuits you’ll get a heartier biscuit that’s somewhere between sweet and savory. Which I believe will make them the perfect appetizer, bread with dinner or even dessert with a little bit of your favorite flavor of cream cheese. Also recommended by the original recipe, a little honey butter, I concur.Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local Forkful

What are some of your favorite fall baking recipes and how do you keep them interesting? I’d love to hear from you.

Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits
adaptation via A farmgirl’s dabbles

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 T. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. Kosher salt
6 T. chilled butter (cubed)
1/2 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. canned pumpkin puree (not pre-spiced)
3 T. Honey
2 T. chopped candied ginger
1/2 c. chopped apples
1/2 c. dried cranberries

Method

1.Preheat oven to 375 and spray or butter cookie sheet. set aside.
2.Add flour, baking powder, salt, and spices and whisk together. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Place in the refrigerator to chill about 15-20 min.
3. Combine apples, cranberries, pumpkin, buttermilk,and ginger in a bowl and combine. Add this mixture by the heaping spoonfuls until you have a tacky dough that forms a ball.

Side Note: it is essential that you do not move too fast. Slowly work the dry and wet ingredients together without over-mixing the batter. This is the key to happy, fluffy biscuits.

4. There is no kneading or rolling unless you want the perfectly shaped round biscuits. I went with the drop biscuit method. I used a 3/4 fluid oz scoop which will roughly be about an ounce of dough per biscuit.
5. Leave a 1/2 an inch of space between the biscuits. Bake for about 6-8 minutes. Due to their size they won’t take long to cook, but like I always say. “No two ovens are the same.” so you be the judge. I hope you enjoy.

Side Note: In the photos you’ll see that I sprinkled brown sugar on a few and some kosher salt on others. Just for a bit of added flavor.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Summer lamentations & Tomato Jalapeno Jam

I’m not sure where the time has gone but it left with no note on the night stand or a tepid wave. The summer time is officially gone and some of us never gave it the chance to leave with our pumpkin cookies, souffles and cakes. Even I was guilty of whipping up a batch of pumpkin, apple and cranberry biscuits for a food blogger gathering.Tomato & Jalapeno Jam: Recipe by The Local ForkfulI can’t help but to pause and think of all the fresh bounty that I never even tapped into. I think the wife and I will try tackling the company of a CSA box now and again. It would definitely assist in the rounding out of our diet which is simple in the least. At the end of the summer there’s always one last bunch of something that you come across and tell yourself you need. And thanks to the extended warmth this year we were blessed with more tomatoes than we knew what to do with at our fingertips. I had a bag of tomatoes sitting on the dryer that were on their last leg and so I decided to make jam. Most of our tomatoes met their demise with a clenched fist and a salt shaker but not these. They were destined to meet my favorite Cusinart pan with a little sugar, vinegar and salt. Not to mention a kiss of warmth from some jalapeno I had. I told myself many a time I was going to make Foodie with Family’s candied jalapenos which sound fantastic and I never got around to it, but it is still on my to-do list.

Tomato & Jalapeno Jam: Recipe by The Local ForkfulIt seems like yesterday the wife and I were making plans for the summer. No doubt, most of it would be consumed by work and the mundane details involved with being an adult. And now that I think about it, we never even made it to the pool once this summer. That’s an epic fail for us. But nonetheless, I was able to attend many farmers markets for the summers harvest and heirloom tomatoes were in plenty this year.

There were so many recipes that I wanted to blog but I knew I’d never get the time with working two jobs and the balancing act of marriage and blogging. Of course, marriage always comes first and I like it that way. Regardless of what sh!t food blogger says, this jam won’t sit in the fridge and rot. I’ve already knocked one jar off on crusty baguette and have plans to use more on a seared salmon dish, coming to a post near you. 
Tomato & Jalapeno Jam: Recipe by The Local Forkful
I grabbed a couple of jalapeno when I snatched these tomatoes from Bradley’s Farm stand and they sat on the counter for a couple of days before they were utilized in this jam. One of them began to turn a shade of red and while I was familiar with this I never questioned as to how this changed the flavor of the pepper itself. It turns out the heat actually becomes milder and you might say well the heat is in the veins. And Yes! This is true, but the fruit itself packs a little kick and what is there slowly dissipates with the deepening of the red and the color is quite the eye catcher. Tomato & Jalapeno Jam: Recipe by The Local Forkful

Tomato & Jalapeno Jam: Recipe by The Local Forkful

I can’t help but too pause and think of all the fresh bounty that I never even tapped into. I think the wife and I will try tackling the company of a CSA box now and again. It would definitely assist in the rounding out of our diet which is simple in the least. At the end of the summer there’s always one last bunch of something that you come across and tell yourself you need. And thanks to the extended warmth this year we were blessed with more tomatoes than we knew what to do with at our fingertips. I had a bag of tomatoes sitting on the dryer that were on their last leg and so I decided to make jam. Most of our tomatoes met their demise with a clenched fist and a salt shaker but not these. They were destined to meet my favorite Cusinart pan with a little sugar, vinegar and salt. Not to mention a kiss of warmth from some jalapeno I had. I told myself many a time I was going to make Foodie with Family’s candied jalapeno which sound fantastic and I never got around to it, but it is still on my to-do list.

Ingredients
adaptation via A Cozy Kitchen

3 lbs rough chopped tomatoes
2 medium jalapeno minced (optional)
1/2 cup of granulated white sugar
1 oz. red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon of tomato paste

Method

1. First, rinse, core and chop your tomatoes into 1/4″ x 1/4″ cubes. Does not have to be perfect shapes. You can even rough chop the tomatoes. set aside.

2. Add sugar, vinegar, salt and tomato paste to your medium sauce pot over medium heat. Stir until all ingredients become a syrupy paste. Add your tomatoes. Let the mixture cook for about an hour over medium heat. Make sure to come back and stir the mixture often. You really shouldn’t leave the mixture for long periods of time so grab a magazine or two.

3. 45 minutes into cooking your jam should have reduced by 2/3 and be thicker with a nice sheen. At this point, add your minced and seeded jalapeno to the mixture. Allow to cook for another 15 minutes or so to allow the flavors to meld together.

4. Turn off the heat and transfer jam into a bowl (preferably stainless steel or glass) that is a good conductor of heat/cold. You are going to make an ice bath and set the bowl with the jam into the bowl that contains your ice/water mixture. Stir until the mixture is cooled down and the mixture has become jam consistency. The mixture should cling to the spoon. Transfer to a storage container and enjoy on crackers, bread, fish or chicken. Get creative.

When I thought about doing this post I remembered that jam doesn’t boil down to a whole lot. And since I don’t work far from a Williams Sonoma, you know I couldn’t resist these Weck Jars. Enjoy your jam and let me know what you’ve done with the end of your summer’s harvest? Though I know it isn’t over for everyone.

Weck Jars from Williams Sonoma via The Local Forkful

Alain Ducasse’s Gougères

Alain Ducasse Cheese Gougeres     First things first! Who doesn’t love cheese? and if you’re allergic to dairy, moment of silence, because these things are fluffy little balls of heaven. They’re easy to make and the best part is you can make them ahead of time and they hold over well at room temperature. Not to mention, you. can. freeze them. Yaaay! you can make them in bulk and when that unexpected guest comes over who raves about how good you cook. You can pull them out of the freezer and throw them in the oven. Instant entertaining snack with the accompaniment of some butter cubes, pepper jelly or even preserves. You’re Welcome!

     I was looking for a quick snack to prepare one day for family meal, as mentioned here, and came across these gougeres from the man himself, Alain Ducasse. The world renown French Chef with the esteemed Benoit Restaurant in New York and Le Ralaiz in Paris. There are a few changes I made which didn’t affect the outcome in the least bit. I used Pecorino Romano as opposed to Gruyere, and there’s the addition of white pepper instead of  fresh ground.

The man knows food in a way that most will only aspire to. And I assure you that once these come out the oven. You will be reluctant to share.

Ingredients

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Large pinch of coarse salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
3 1/2 ounces shredded Pecorino Romano or Cheddar(1 cup), plus more for sprinkling
smidgen white ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Instructions.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and salt and bring to a boil. Add the flour and stir it in with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms; stir over low heat until it dries out and pulls away from the pan, about 2 minutes. Don’t fret, you’ll know when it’s ready.
  2. Scrape the dough into a large bowl; let cool for 1 minute. Beat the eggs into the dough, one at a time, beating thoroughly between each one. Add the cheese and a smidgen each of pepper and nutmeg.
  3. Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and pipe tablespoon-size mounds onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart, or dollop in spoonfuls for a more rustic shaped gougère.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 22 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Serve hot, or let cool and refrigerate or freeze. Reheat in a 350° oven until  hot.

Notes. When making the choux pastry, it is important to be sure that each egg is fully incorporated into the batter before adding the next. Don’t worry if the batter separates and looks curdled at first. Keep beating, and it will come together nicely.

Alain Ducasse Cheese Gougeres      We filled them with a simple chicken salad that I prepared. Only consisting of baked chicken breasts, grape tomatoes, red onion, celery salt, white pepper and mayo.

Chicken Salad filled GougeresFreezing Instructions: After baking, allow them to cool. Spread the gougères out on a baking sheet, cover the sheet with plastic wrap and freeze them until they are firm. Then store them in plastic bags for up to 6 months.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Summer Salad

If  you are not a lover of fried green tomaters! Well, I hope this easy recipe will convert you to the other vine. Fried Tomatoes were a staple in our home growing up. Whether it be an appetizer, side item or entrée complimented with seasonal veggies or mac & cheese. I am no stranger to the crispy circles of heaven.

I remember the first few times I had them in ‘The Real World’, thinking to myself . “What is this balsamic reduction? Why tomato salsa on top of FGT’s? Tasso Gravy!, What the hell? But now that my palette has matured beyond that of a 3-year old. I love those extras. They enhance the flavor and make them even more irresistible.

Preparing for this recipe only required a skip over to the 12 South Farmers Market and the Nashville Farmers Market. It’s a great opportunity to meet the people behind the food. Thanks to Hoot & Holler for the herbs and Delvin Farms for the green onions. By no means do you have to make the voyage, but it proved to be worth it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Granny Smith Apple Salad

3 Green Tomatoes
1 c. AP flour
1 T. cornstarch
1 T. kosher salt
1 T. chopped fine oregano
1 tsp. white pepper
1 c. buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 tsp. cayenne

 
Mustard Mayonnaise Sauce
3 T. Mayo
3 T. Grey Poupon
2 T. Sour Cream
1 tsp. salt

Granny Smith Apple Salad
1 ea. Granny Smith Apple (Fuji,Gala,Golden Delicious)
2 c. Arugula
2 T. Green Onions chopped
1 oz. Balsamic Vinegar
1 oz. Vegetable Oil
salt and pepper (to taste)

1. Preheat 1.5 c. of vegetable in a cast iron skillet on med high heat.
2. Whisk together buttermilk, egg, and cayenne. Transfer to an 8×8 casserole dish. Set aside.
3. Combine flour, kosher salt, white pepper, oregano and cornstarch together.
4. Slice tomatoes 1/4′ thick or to your likeness and place in buttermilk mixture
5. Check to make sure your oil temp is up to 350. Once temp is reached turn heat down just a bit. You don’t want to burn your next batch of maters.
6. Using tongs place up to three tomatoes one at a time in oil. Allowing to cook about 90 seconds each side. or until golden brown.
7. While cooking tomatoes. Slice your Green apples however you desire. I like thin slices for even distribution. Place Arugula, apples, green onions, oil, vinegar, s&p (to taste) in a bowl. Toss gently with tongs or clean hands until everyone is dressed and happy!
8. Allow tomatoes to rest on a paper towel lined plate to release excess grease. Take a bite of a tomato to taste for any more necessary seasoning. Enjoy!