gourmet cornbread, pumpkin pie, and Elsie’s gingersnaps

sinfully delicious cornbread

If you don’t have 2 cups of buttermilk, add 2 T of cider vinegar to 2 C. milk, and let it stand until it curdles a bit while you assemble and measure other ingredients.

Melt ¾ C. of butter (yes, that much) and allow to cool while you assemble other ingredients

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and butter a 9 x 12 inch pan, or preferably Corning Ware or other glass baking dish (they finish the bottom better)

Whisk 2 eggs, set aside.  In a largish bowl, add:

  • 2 C. cornmeal
  • 2 C. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ C sugar (or not)
  • ½ tsp. salt (or not)

Mix those ingredients with a fork…

When the butter is cool and the milk has curdled a bit, add the milk, eggs, and butter to the dry ingredients, reserving all but 3 T. Stir just until dry ingredients are moist.

Spread into the pan with a rubber spatula, then drip remaining butter over the top, spreading with a spatch if needed

Bake awhile (no, srsly): check after about 25 minutes. When it’s golden brown on top, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean: it’s ready!

Allow to cool a bit before serving

Cook’s Illustrated’s Pumpkin Pie

The magazine and PBS program are a country spin-off of America’s Test Kitchen. They re-create, test, devise, tweak, and retest recipes until they’re satisfied with the results, then teach viewers and readers. Their websites are either members-only, or free trial subscriptions, so I hunted down the recipe, and found it at ‘The Serious Eats Team’ (seriously). ;) There are also video how-to’s from Cook’s Illustrated on youtube.

I’ll just leave you the link, but it really is the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever made or tasted. Cooking down the pumpkin and yams and sweeteners yields a pie that never gets watery and ishy. The vodka replacing part of the water in the pie dough allows ease of rolling and shaping, then cooks out during baking, leaving tender, flaky crust.

Really awesome kitchen tools you might ask for as gifts

Ceramic non-stick skillet; I use skillets for about half my cooking, and these are dynamite. It helps if you have stainless steel lids already, but they aren’t very expensive as I remember. I got both a 12” and a 10” as gifts, and reallyreallyreally like them. The less expensive GreenLife is actually better than the more expensive Calphalon, which is always a good thing..

The other tool that’s made life a lot easier is a ceramic chef’s knife. It is so thin, and so sharp that you can slice things so thin, so easily, and so smoothly, that it’s almost unbelievable. It can be used to dice and mince, as well; but it can’t be used to whack garlic cloves open, nor can it be dropped on the ground. I got this Kyocera 7” one, and cut myself three times just getting it out of its hermetically sealed plastic package. (I haven’t cut myself since.) ;)

If you get frustrated over scraping your knuckles trying to make citrus zest on a box grater, a microplane zester makes the process simple. This kind comes with a cover, and washes easily.

If you cook a lot of Mexican, Cubano, Puerto Rican, or Moroccan meals, these citrus ‘squeezers’ are really helpful. They come in lemon, lime, and orange sizes, and don’t squeeze the fruit so much as turn halves inside-out as they press. There are lots of other brands, of course. If you nuke any of the three gently, the juice will be more readily available, too.

Elsie’s cookie-jar gingersnaps

2 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. soda
1 c. sugar
¼ c. molasses
2-4 T. ground ginger depending on taste
1 -2 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 c. canola oil
1 lg. egg
extra granulated sugar to press cookies in before baking

preheat oven to 350 degrees

beat egg and sugar in largish bowl.  add oil, and using the same measuring cup, measure molasses and mix it in (an electric mixer is best for this).  add dry ingredients and mix well.  form 1 tsp. of dough into ball (a melon scoop is handy), flatten slightly, and press into sugar arranged on a small plate.  place on cookie unbuttered cookie sheet sugar side up, about 2” apart.  bake for about 10-12 minutes.  if a test cookie is too flat, add a bit more flour.  store in an airtight container in a cool place.

3 responses to “gourmet cornbread, pumpkin pie, and Elsie’s gingersnaps

  1. Thank you, thank you, wendye! And a merrie merrie yul to everyone! I reciprocate with my mum’s chocolate stripey biscuits recipe – I named them myself as a kid (‘biscuit’ being kiwitalk for ‘cookie’).

    Chocolate Stripeys:

    Mix (until creamy):
    1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
    3T. (heaping) sugar
    3 1/2 T sweetened condensed milk (Tablespoons in my mum’s measurings are somewhat larger than measuring spoons, being actual spoons)

    Then Add:
    2 cups (plus a bit) flour (cups the same thing: actual cups!)
    2 tsp. baking powder (okay, ordinary teaspoon carefully levelled with knife.)
    Mix well. (you might have to use fingers)

    Then Add:
    1/2 pound chocolate bar chopped (fairly big pieces – no cheating with premade chocolate chips but some larger chunks some smaller, whatever – we kids of course loved getting the big bits).

    Put on cookie sheet in balls, then squish flat with fork (hence the stripey bit, ya dig?)
    Bake at 350 – 400 degrees for 15 min. or until slightly brown.*
    * Serve with full glass of milk (or your favorite beverage)

  2. they sound yummy, juliania, although i can’t eat much chocolate myownself. i reckon you mean semi-sweet chocolate since you mention not cheating with chocolate morsels? ;) yah, yah….fork stripes like with peanut butter cookies. yum on those, too. well, if there’s a glass of milk to cut the sweet with.

    i got all my baked yummies packaged up this mornin’, and mr. wd sent all four off. we were floored to discover that the postal charges were 51 american dollars, goddam.

    when elsie had typed the recipe card, she provided amounts for this single recipe and triple. eeep, i made the mistake once again of the triple, and was makin’ and suashin’ little balls forever it seemed. merry yule to you too.

    oh, and t’other day the late afternoon sun shone a beam through some clouds, and lit up your lovely three icons. it was very nice seeing them glow just a bit extra. ;)

  3. Yes, those postal rates have put the kabosh on my mailings – gone are the days when my mum would send care packages from down under. She used to provide huge packets of loose tea, which always bemused me as they’d made the long trip down under from China only to be sent back thisaway – well, at least they came by ship in those days.

    Ah, icons do glow; yes they do ;) Gonna go paint some right now!

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