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Iron Chef: Three Sisters

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Aug. 2nd, 2008 | 09:32 pm

Some friends of mine are throwing a party late this afternoon, and there was a call for Iron Chef entries along the theme of the three sisters -- corn, beans and squash. I figured I'd give myself another limitation to make it more interesting, and so I wanted to figure out how to make three different breads based on those three themes. Here's what I came up with. Note all of these are double recipes.

First the corn. I bought half a dozen ears picked this morning at the farmers market, and I wanted a cornbread recipe that actually used fresh corn rather than just cornmeal. I went through two Southern cookbooks which I thought would help -- Mama Dips and The Gift of Southern Cooking -- but everything was just cornmeal, or else not bread. Best Recipe and Joy were similarly no help at all. But I found a nice if a bit dated recipe in Beard on Bread. Here's what I went with, based on "Helen Evans Brown's Corn Chili Bread":

Corn from six ears of fresh corn
2 cups yellow cornmeal
4 teaspoons salt
5 teapsoons double-acting baking powder
2 cups plain yogurt (needless to say, this was "sour cream" in the recipe)
1 cup butter (1 1/2 in the recipe) [EDIT 1/2 cup]
hefty splash of EVOO (to make up for the rest of the butter; peanut oil would be more in keeping...) [EDIT: lose it]
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 pound cheese: a mixture of cheddar and one of those parmesan-like cheeses
one large a pretty big habenero, chopped real small (was canned)
two cloves garlic

Put into an oiled pan and bake at 350 for an hour. [EDIT 300 would be better]

Next, the beans. Well, first off, I cheated. I did get a few pounds of green beans at the market, but nothing inspired me. But I had a full yogurt pot of sprouted lentils, and I figured I'd go with legumes in general. I made pretty much my standard bread recipe nowadays, but using two cups of sprouted lentils as a substitute for some of the flours.

4 tsp dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
start with 2 cups of warm water, and add more as necessary
1ish tablespoon salt
2 cups sprouted lentils
2 cups bread flour
2 cups brown flour
2 cups oatmeal
about 1/4 cup of vital wheat gluten
hefty shake of EVOO
good shake of dried chili peppers

knead, adding water as necessary. rise, punch down, rise again, form into baguettes, slash the tops, rise again. Cook at about 425 for about 45 minutes.

Finally, the squash. I figured some kind of quickbread, ala zucchini bread. But Joy had nothing, ditto Best Recipe. Nothing from the Southerners, either. Beard on Bread has one quickbread with zucchini and one yeast bread with squash, but the quickbread was just too 1970s to feel like updating (3 cups of white sugar, 1/2 cup zucchini...). But a look at a local copy of the SOAR ("Searchable Online Archive of Recipes") I had on my laptop brought up a few candidates. (I just wasn't in the mood to go and search around in the internet. Sometimes less is more. I started from a recipe labelled "ZUCCHINI BREAD (The best ever!). Source: Family Circle, June 1991". Here's how it ended up.

4 egg whites whipped to soft peaks
6 eggs just mixed along with those 4 egg yolks. (Ok, the original recipe had six eggs... but everything was mixed together. Now in my book if you're making a quickbread, and particularly one in which you're sticking a stack of vegetable matter, you want air and fluff and lightness. So having put all six in and mixed, I realized that the people who wrote this were morons, put the mixed ones aside and then whipped up 4 eggwhites. I think, ideally, you'd run with just 6 eggs, but with the whites whipped to soft-to-hard peaks.)

4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp salt
2-3 tbsp cinnamon
2-3 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp black pepper (I think it really brings out the spices)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup peanut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
one shredded zucchini; one shredded summer squash. Total about 8 cups.
1 cup walnut flour (wanted to use it up!)
1 1/2 cups raisins.
3 c. shredded zucchini

Mix, bake about 1 hour at 300-350. [EDIT 300]

And since I was going to turn the oven on for the first time for ages, I also threw together another batch of pretty standard bread for freezing/eating/not bringing to the party:

4 tsp dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
start with 2 cups of warm water, and add more as necessary
1ish tablespoon salt
2 cups walnut flour
2 cups bread flour
2 cups brown flour
2 cups oatmeal
about 1/4 cup of vital wheat gluten
hefty shake of EVOO
good shake of dried chili peppers

Well, they're sitting around now and I'll bake them after a nap to give the yeasty breads a chance to rise. I'll report back later on how it all goes.

UPDATE:

The corn bread is awesome. I had two offers of marriage. I think I'd cut the butter and oil down a bit -- but it really is awe-inspiring. The fresh corn really comes through.

The sprouted lentil bread is excellent. Great texture. I'll definitely do this again.

The zucchini bread is a bit more flobby. It's alright, but nothing special.

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Comments {4}

Ooo the cornbread

from: anonymous
date: Aug. 11th, 2008 04:46 pm (UTC)
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Made some this morning with corn from the farmer's market. Great stuff. I'd use a little less salt, but i always do... didn't have habaneros so dumped in some chili flakes to punch it up a little. Baking took longer than i thought it would. Mine has a crispy top and is spongy on the inside (that was 300 degrees for, i dunno, an hour (30 minutes uninterrupted + 30 minutes of fits and starts and double-checking) in the small convection oven.

no offers of marriage yet, but i remain hopeful.

- jim

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Re: Ooo the cornbread

from: jofishandjim
date: Aug. 12th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
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followup: still no marriage proposals, but the neighbors were very excited about it and are grilling it for breakfast.

everyone is impressed with how soft and moist this is, compared to more traditional cornbread that tends to be crumbly and dry

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Jim's Rev 2

from: jofishandjim
date: Aug. 15th, 2008 06:50 am (UTC)
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Hey it's me again. I had some corn left over so I made another batch of the cornbread, with a couple of modifications - some intentional, some due to missing ingredients.

The verdict: This one is a little more crumbly, but tastes noticeably more like fresh corn than my previous attempt

I'll repeat my entire recipe for posterity, and also cuz i halved Jofish's recipe to make one at a time:

corn from 3 ears of fresh corn
1 c fine yellow cornmeal
1 t salt
2 1/2 t double acting baking powder
1/2 stick butter = 1/4 cup
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c shredded cheddar
2 T red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c soymilk curdled with 1T apple cider vinegar (add vinegar, stir, wait 5 min or more)

baking:
in 8" square pan in small convection oven: 325 degrees, 65 minutes

- jim

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Re: Jim's Rev 2

from: jofishandjim
date: Sep. 17th, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC)
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ok what I wrote above is just nuts on two counts. (1) the correct cooking time in a little convection oven is maybe 30 minutes +- and don't forget that it keeps going after it's removed... also, this can be crisped up before serving with a short visit to the oven, or slice it and grill it in a pan... (2) Use 1T of pepper flakes, not two.

- jim

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