Friday, March 14, 2014

Masa Harina Cornbread

I don't like buying ingredients that will only make one recipe.  I bought some masa flour to make homemade corn tortillas and really wanted to use the flour in another application.  It turns out, masa flour makes very good cornbread.

This recipe is a southern style cornbread, no wheat flour and no sugar.  If you like a sweet cornbread, you'll probably want to skip this one.  In fact, I adapted the recipe from one titled, "This Ain't No Yankee Cornbread" from The Lodge Logic Cookbook, how's that for southern style?

I find that when subbing masa for cornmeal, you need to add much less salt.  If you are looking to sub masa for your own recipes, I'd try using half the salt you normally would.

Makes 8 Large Pieces of Cornbread

2 Tablespoons Melted Butter
1 cup Masa Harina Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 large Egg, lightly beaten
1 cup Milk
1/2 cup Plain Yogurt

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Place 1 Tablespoon of the butter in a 10 inch iron skillet or spread between molds of a cast iron pan.  Place in the oven while it preheats.
3. Whisk together the masa, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  Whisk together eggs, milk, yogurt and remaining butter in a medium bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.
4. Remove hot skillet or mold from oven and pour in hot batter.
5. Bake until crust is dark golden brown and center is set, about 15-20 minutes.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sweet Potato Apple Chili

In this neck of the woods, we had pretty much figured that spring had sprung.  We have lovely blooms on Tulip Magnolias and Bradford Pears and some early spring flowers are proudly displaying their colors, yellow and white daffodils, pink and purple hyacinth.  Warm days (80's!) combined with daylight savings time made winter seem like a distant memory.  Then the wind blew in more chilly weather and at least one more overnight freeze.

This recipe for Sweet Potato Apple Chili is full of warm fall flavors that should help you through the last cold snap before spring is here to stay.  Apple cider, sweet potatoes and apples lend a sweet component to this slightly spicy chili, which should please little palates.

Seconds after taking this picture, my daughter stole and ate the cactus cornbread.  
I prefer using dried beans over canned because they are way cheaper and you can control the ingredients, cooking medium and process for the beans.  For instance, a long soak in a salty brine before cooking will make beans much more tender and easier to digest (a great tip from Cooks Illustrated).  Most beans triple in size during soaking and cooking, so 1/2 cup dried beans will yield 1 1/2 cups cooked beans.  If you use canned beans, drain and rinse them well.

Makes about 8 cups or 4 pints to serve 8 or more

1 1/2 cups cooked or canned Red Beans
1 1/2 cup cooked or canned White Beans
1 1/2 cup cooked or canned Pinto Beans
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 large Onion, peeled and diced fine
2 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon ground Coriander
1 large Sweet Potato (about 12 ounces) peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces
1 large Granny Smith Apple (about 8 ounces) peeled, cored and diced into 1 inch pieces
1 28 ounce can of crushed or diced Tomatoes (for this batch, I used diced, but I prefer crushed)
2 cups Water
1 cup Apple Cider
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, cover and cook until onion has softened and is starting to brown.

2. Add the garlic, tomato paste and spices and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Quickly remove from heat and add to the crock of your slow cooker.

3. Add the diced sweet potato, apple, tomatoes and liquid to the crock and mix well.

4. Cover and cook on low for eight hours or up to nine hours.

Serve with corn bread, tortilla chips or spice cake muffins.

Shared at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop and Meal Planning Monday Recipe Link-Up.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Vegetable Scrap Broth

We've got a cold running through our house this week.  It started with the little one, moved onto dad and now mom.  This calls for some serious soup!

I truly believe that this Garlic Kale Soup from Vegetarian Times has magical healing properties, which we could all use right now.  It's a very brothy soup, so the quality of the broth is important.  I find that many vegetable broths from the supermarket don't taste like much more than salt and they are all mixed from concentrates anyway with all kinds of flavor enhancers, not to mention pretty pricey for something that is mostly just water.

I have a way to make homemade vegetable broth without a large investment of time or money and you'll feel great knowing that you are wasting less of the vegetables you buy!  Even better, you can compost the vegetables, or in my case put them in the compost pile for the chickens to steal, after you have extracted every last bit of flavor from them.

As I prep vegetables for various dishes, I save the scraps and set them aside in a gallon size freezer bag.  I store the bag in the freezer until it's full and I am ready to make broth.  I only use veggies that are fresh for this, nothing that's starting to go bad.  It's fine to use ugly veggies as long as they're not past their prime.  Also, since I'm using the peels and ends of vegetables for this, I only save organic vegetable scraps for broth.

Good for Broth                                     Not so Good for Broth
Onion peels and roots                           Cabbage
Carrot tops and greens                          Potato Peels
Mushroom stems                                    Eggplant
Fennel fronds                                          Anything Slimy
Garlic ends
Pepper stems
Herb stems
Kale and other greens stems

Once the bag is full or I need more broth, I remove the bag from the freezer and give the scraps a good rinse and proceed as follows:

1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a 6 quart slow cooker over low heat.

2. Add vegetable scraps and water to cover, leaving at least 1/2 inch of room to the top of the crock.

3. You may also add fresh or dried herbs for extra flavor.  I like to add parsley, thyme and rosemary.  Add 1 teaspoon or more of salt to taste.  Try to add a lesser amount than you think you'll need since you will likely add more salt to your finished recipes.
4. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Strain, cool and bottle or bag the broth.

I used to use glass pint jars, but they were taking up too much room in the freezer so I switched to quart size freezer bags with 2 cups in each, perfect for many of my go-to recipes.  You can also freeze some broth in an ice cube tray for smaller portions.

In the end, I got 14 cups of broth, plenty for the brothy soup with lots left over for the freezer and some for a quick lunchtime noodle soup.

Shared at Clever Chicks Blog Hop