Monday, May 16, 2011
Cornbread: Can't Beat the Classics
I'm in the middle of reading The Flavor Bible among a few other food-obsessed books. In it is a great quote from Emily Luchetti, the pastry chef at Farallon (in SF) that explains the problem with the first cornbread recipe I tried the other day. She says, "Too many chefs start adding things that in the end all taste muddled, because nothing can stand out on its own."
When I tried making the Quinoa Blue Cornbread in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's Color Me Vegan, I added just about everything but the kitchen sink. I couldn't find blue cornmeal at my local grocery store, so I substituted yellow cornmeal, which the recipe itself recommended. It also suggested that you try buckwheat flour instead of all-purpose, adding corn, or adding blueberries. I decided to try all of the above. If one is good, all three would be great, right?
Wrong. It's not that this cornbread didn't taste good. It tasted fine. Just not right. Remember me saying that my husband was an honest judge of my cooking. Well, I never wished for a video camera more than the moment he bit into this, made a face, then proceeded to point at me and laugh while saying "you decided to put blueberries and corn in this? And buckwheat? And quinoa?"
To my defense, the quinoa was in the original recipe. It was edible. The flavor was fine. The texture was more like dinner, then bread or cake. I think that's where I really failed.
So, since I wasn't going to eat the rest of it and Mike wasn't going to eat the rest of it, I threw away two-thirds of a Blueberry/Quinoa/Buckwheat Cornbread mess. I'll admit to throwing out food.
What I won't admit to is giving up. No sooner had I tossed the wretched blue blob into the garbage than I was in the kitchen mixing up my next adventure.
This time I was sticking to the basics. I was just going to make a mighty-fine, traditional yellow cornbread using only the necessary vegan substitutions (butter to Earth Balance, milk to soy milk, flax egg for egg). This should work for any standard cornbread recipe, so apply it to your grandmother's secret recipe or just look one up on the web (like I did).
Cornbread is always delicious, if you want my opinion. But to make it extra addicting, eating while it is warm with a pat of melty Earth Balance and fresh berries.
And how did this compare to the blue stuff I made earlier in the day? Let's just say that the husband was too busy filling his mouth with cornbread to laugh at me this time around.