Corny Cornbread

Corny cornbread. There should be a joke. It seems like it would be really easy to come up with one or write one from memory. I’m much too tired to do it. Three hours of sleep will do it. And going up to the barista and saying ‘give me something with  a lot of caffeine doesn’t help much.

I had my first open water certification scuba class last night. It was just classroom and playing with some equipment. Then I was on the phone with a friend until after 11 pm. Then I kept waking up until about 3 am and was wide awake at that point. Three hours of sleep may be over-generous.

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The cool thing {and I can admit it may only be cool to me} is that scuba is a lot easier than it seems. Last December I went on three dives. Prior to the dives, I had to demonstrate competency of some skills in a pool (or confined water as they say in the scuba world). Once I actually dove, I realized even though it sounds complicated everything they teach you comes naturally once you are in the water. However, one thing I did not learn in December was how heavy all the equipment weighs. In December, the dive team did everything. Last night we learned how to assemble the gear, again it’s pretty easy, but sounded complicated reading how to do it in the book.It’s just heavy.

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Now I know I should make a connection between scuba and The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Cornbread here, but with lack of sleep the only thing I can come up with is that making cornbread is as easy as it reads, but because it is a Peter Reinhart recipe there is a required overnight step~soaking cornmeal in buttermilk~to get more flavor. Making cornbread is not like scuba at all. Actually, if I think about it more, making bagels is more like scuba. They sound more complicated to make and there is buoancy and float testing involved.

Or maybe the connection is that I made the cornbread more complicated than I needed to. I decided to make 1 1/2 times the recipe and bake the cornbread in a jelly roll pan so I would have a lot of cornbread that is a little flatter. I also made the cornbread without the bacon. I made it more complicated by forgetting that I only increased the recipe by half and would add in double the ingredients. Sometimes this was easy to correct and sometimes it was a little trickier, like with the baking powder.

In spite of my mistakes,  the cornbread was a success. The fresh corn makes it wonderful. Like one of my eaters said, it’s like eating a garden. I thought it needed a little more salt (I should have accidentally doubled that ingredient), but everyone else thought it was perfect.

In addition to serving it straight, I made some cubes, toasted them in the oven, and made a Caprese salad panzanella. Delicious!

If you would like more information about The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, please visit HERE.

Curried Tofu Scramble


My life is a bit unsettled right now. To help me, I have several items in my toolbox to keep me grounded. One is baking, especially bread. To me, baking bread is earthy and magical at the same time. A little aromatherapy from freshly baked bread also helps.

Another is staying active and filling up my calendar with planned activities. This can backfire a bit as the other day I had a minor meltdown when I discovered I did not have any activities planned for the weekend of August 8th. A friend had to calm me down saying, “you know, you have two weeks…something will come up. You will find something to do”.  I’m happy to report with a week and half to go I now have something written down for that weekend.

A page from my calendar--August

A page from my calendar--August

I have trips planned to Las Vegas (twice in October), a trip to Laughlin (don’t ask), a trip to dive with Jean-Michel Cousteau in Fiji (although I may feel a bit Life Aquatic) in November, and drives to San Diego and up the California Coast to Napa Valley are always on the radar. In September, I’m attending Blogher Food in San Francisco. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and will use any excuse to get up there.  To be fair, I didn’t need to pile on the excuses for this trip.

I’m looking forward to meet lots of bloggers I tweet, blog, facebook with: Engineer Baker, Two Peas and Their Pod, Gourmeted, Food Librarian, etc. And now I am pleased to announce a sponsor for my trip to Blogher Food: Nasoya, Premium Tofu Products.

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Nasoya is the brand of tofu I tend to buy and use because it is organic and natural. I usually buy extra-firm or firm tofu because it is good for stir-fries, tofu ricotta, frittatas, and of course scrambled tofu. Scrambling tofu couldn’t be easier. It makes a quick dinner {yes dinner, I hardly ever eat breakfast food at breakfast time}. All you need to do is sauté some onion and garlic in olive oil, crumble in some tofu, add some spices & vegetables–voilà dinner is served.

The recipe I used comes from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking. You can find the recipe HERE. I served the tofu with some roasted vegetables, avocado, and vegan milk bread toast (made using almond milk & non-hydrogenated vegan  margarine).

And although this post isn’t about the bread, it is the perfect toast bread and has been making the rounds on Twitter and food blogs (originating with Nancy of The Dogs Eat the Crumbs and The Corner Loaf). You can find the original recipe HERE.

Please visit Michele at Veggie Num Nums to see what she cooked up for Vegan Tuesdays.

{twd} helado de jamaica

I should be excited. I love ice cream and nothing rocks my world more than a good vanilla ice cream. However, I’m currently having residential issues. More specifically, I’ve been out of my house for almost two months and temporarily living with the parentals until my divorce settlement/judgment is signed.  As I write this my proposed settlement is on its way to my husband. I am hoping hoping hoping and wishing wishing wishing he will sign it which will allow me back in the house by my birthday in August.

What does this have to do with vanilla ice cream? This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Vanilla Ice Cream. And while I remembered to grab my ice cream maker on one of my excursions back to the house, I forgot to grab my vanilla beans. My gorgeous, plump, moist Tahitian Vanilla Beans I bought when I was in Taha’a last December.  I’ve looked at other vanilla beans at the grocery stores, at the gourmet stores, at Surfas and they all look so scrawny and cost so much that I can’t bring myself to buy them. Although I know you can make a very tasty vanilla ice cream without a bean, I wanted to use one the first time I made this recipe.

my gorgeous vanilla beans

my gorgeous vanilla beans

I decided to make Helado de Jamaica (Hibiscus Ice Cream) using the base recipe for the vanilla ice cream, but instead of infusing the cream with the seeds and pod of a vanilla bean using jamaica leaves instead. The most common use for jamaica is to make agua de jamaica, a sweetened tea. You often see it in Mexican restaurants next to carafes of horchata (a cinnamony rice and almond drink) and tamarindo (a tamarind drink).

You can find jamaica or hibiscus leaves at natural food stores or Mexican markets. On it’s own, it makes a very tart tea. As an ice cream, it has the tartness of a good frozen yogurt and the creaminess of real ice cream. I’m also digging the gorgeous color. I made it by adding 1/3 of a cup of hibiscus leaves to the heated cream/sugar mixture and let it infuse for 10 minutes.  Next on the list: Helado de Tamarindo.

Thank you to Lynne of Cafe LynnyLu for hosting this week’s recipe as we bake/churn our way through Dorie Greenspan’s Baking…From My Home to Yours. If you would like the original vanilla recipe, buy the book or visit Lynne’s blog.

{db}Tahitian Milan Cookies

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies are ubiquitous. Every grocery store carries them. They are the cookie you grab when you want to feel a little fancy. They come in different sizes (the mini ones are so cute!) and different flavors.

Although technically not a Milano flavor, I love the Tahiti variety. If you know me, you know I have Polynesian Fever. I heart all things related to French Polynesia and bring it up often in my posts.

Me & Tiki in Hiva Oa, Marquesas in French Polynesia

Me & Tiki in Hiva Oa, Marquesas in French Polynesia

Immediately after reading the July Challenge for the Daring Bakers I knew I would be flavoring the cookie with coconut and lime and visiting the islands. The Tahiti Cookie is chocolate sandwiched by two ridged round coconut cookies.

To make my version, I used unsweetened coconut flakes, lime oil, and Tahitian vanilla extract. I tried to make them round by drawing circles on parchment paper and spreading a tiny bit of dough using a teaspoon. They ended up looking like regular Milano Cookies, but they tasted tropical and were a delicious reminder of the islands.

Tahitian Milan Cookies

Recipe adapted from Gale Gand

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

  • 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
  • 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
  • 2 tablespoons Tahitian vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lime oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 lime, zested

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lime oil.
3. Add the flour and and coconut, mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

We had the option of only baking one type of cookie to complete the challenge. I didn’t have the time to make the Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies, but hope to make them one day.

{sms} strawberry-ruby grapefruit preserves

This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe selection, Strawberry-Rube Grapefruit Preserves, was fun and easy to make. You just throw in all the ingredients (strawberries, grapefruit juice & zest, sugar, apple) in a pot, boil, and let it reduce into sweet goodness. I made a 1/2 recipe and it still made a lot. One big pickle jar full.

It’s been perfect on toast and wonderful with plain yogurt and granola. I think it would also be good in a baked item, but haven’t made anything yet.

Thank you to Margot of Effort to Deliciousness for this week’s pick as we bake through the book. If you would like the recipe, please visit her BLOG.