This morning when I saw this post by Kim at Glover Gardens about a dish called Tuscany-Texas Goat Cheese Spread, I knew I had to experience it, and the sooner the better. (The original post with the recipe is on this page). All the ingredients are normally staples in my pantry and/or growing in the garden, but I happened to be out of goat cheese. A trip to the grocery store was immediately worked into my morning schedule, with goat cheese at the top of the list.
I don’t always do well at following instructions, but I think I fulfilled the intent of the recipe. I wasn’t even tempted to attempt improving on it.
I assembled all the ingredients except for the goat cheese in a bowl and tossed them together:
I love it when folks make my recipes! We had a big wedding in our family late this summer and celebrated ahead of time with a shower here at Glover Gardens. The nuptial couple took on the task of making one of the appetizers, my Tuscany-Texas Goat Cheese Spread. Their version was better than mine! (I think it was the love.) I’m revisiting this recipe right now because it is perfect for fall parties.
So – a little bit about this dish. It is salty, tangy, creamy, super-garlicky and fresh, with the brightness of fresh tomatoes and herbs. As you’ll see in the original post, I’ve seen guests fight each other for the last few bites. Really.
In addition to being an uber crowd-pleaser, this dish is easy to make! It is perfect for cocktail parties or wine tastings.
A friend posted a picture of his Mom’s Mexican cornbread on Facebook, and started something. Dave’s peeps (including me) took notice of this good-lookin’ comfort food, with loads of comments, like:
That looks heavenly ~ I’ll be right over ~ Can almost smell it from here ~ Moms make the best food because they really don’t want us to move out!
So of course I begged for the recipe. And lucky for all of us, Dave’s Mom shared! We decided on Mary’s Mexican Cornbread as its moniker. But now that I’ve made it, I’ve changed it to Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread. Why? Well, I’ve had lots of really good Mexican cornbread in my day, but never one with meat in it. The ground beef is added as a filling between two layers of jazzed-up cornbread batter. This adds a welcome heartiness, kicks it up a notch on the comfort food scale, and elevates the dish to a main course that’s easy and quick enough to make on a weeknight.
The meat layer in the middle sinks into the bottom layer of the cornbread and creates a strata with different textures from the bottom to the top; the result is almost like a tamale pie. In fact, you could substitute masa for the cornmeal and it would be very close to a tamale pie. The dish is so filling that all you need to finish out your dinner plan is some fruit or a quick salad.
Note: I made two minor additions to the recipe. First, I preheated the cast iron skillet; I learned to do that years ago from the back of a cornbread mix package. The preheating gives the cornbread a really brown crust, and we like that here at Glover Gardens. The second minor change was to use a bit of chorizo with the ground beef (this got the Grill-Meister really interested).
There are lots of other things you could do with this marvelous recipe – use fresh corn shaved off the cob instead of creamed corn, use canned green chilis or poblanos instead of (or in addition to) the jalapeños, or go a different direction with the peppers and use canned chipotle chilis, or substitute diced pork or venison for the ground beef…but don’t get me wrong, folks, this recipe is just right as-is. And trust me, it is so easy, so good and so versatile, you might just want to make two while you’re at it. As you’ll note at the bottom of this post, there are lots of other ways to serve Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread, and you’ll wish you had leftovers.
1 to 1 ½ lbs. of hamburger meat (or a mix of 2/3 hamburger and 1/3 chorizo)
1 cup cornmeal
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped Vidalia or 1015 onions
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 can cream corn (14.75 oz.)
4 chopped jalapeños peppers (take out seeds and ribs if you want mild)
Preheat the oven to 400°. Optionally, put a 10″ or 12″ cast-iron skillet into the oven once it is preheated, and let it get really hot while you’re assembling the rest of the ingredients (don’t grease it until after you preheat it). Otherwise, spray a 9 x 12 baking pan (glass or metal) with cooking spray and set aside.
Fry the hamburger meat (and chorizo, if you’re using it), drain, and set aside. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the eggs, oil and milk and stir well. Add the chopped onion, grated cheese, chopped jalapeños and creamed corn and stir until just blended. If you’ve preheated your cast iron skillet, pull it out of the oven and spray generously with cooking spray. Pour half of the cornbread batter into your greased pan or iron skillet and spread it out smoothly, then sprinkle the meat evenly on top. Pour the rest of the cornbread batter on top of the meat, spreading it evenly. Bake in the oven at 400° until brown. Serve hot.
The Grill-Meister is a big of Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread, and had some great ideas about other ways to serve it. How about topping it with some of my Glover Gardens Chili? Brilliant! It made a great one-dish lunch.
Or how about transforming this into Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread Breakfast, with a fried egg? Double brilliant!
Try this rockin’ recipe, and let me know what you think. I’ll be sure to pass your compliments along to Dave and Mary.
Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook (except the original recipe, which belongs to Mary)
Sandwich Wednesday is a thing at Glover Gardens. The Grill-Meister is also a Sandwich King and takes over the kitchen on Wednesdays, surprising me with a variety of bread-borne main courses like paninis.
I love Wednesdays!
The latest press-perfect panini featured slices of leftover grilled ribeyes and fontina cheese. The Grill-Meister gathered these sturdy ingredients along with some baby arugula we had on hand and sliced some red onions. (We think red onions make almost all sandwiches better.) He pulled out a variety of condiments and set up a do-it-yourself assembly next to the sourdough bread so we could each have a customized sandwich made exactly to our own specifications.
As you can see, the condiment choices were bacon jam, remoulade, Dijon, horseradish cream, and more mustards: deli, creole and stone-ground. All great options, but I went immediately for the Dijon because of its classic combination with steak. The Grill-Meister decided to do Dijon on one side and horseradish cream on the other; horseradish and beef being another classic combo. I followed his lead, and let me tell you, Dear Readers, the Grill-Meister was right. The spicy Dijon and horseradish produce a dual but complementary bite that was balanced by the almost-sweet creaminess of the fontina cheese.
And hey, it’s a weeknight, so don’t go to a lot of trouble on the side dishes – paninis are great with simple sides like fruit, beans, potato salad or even just carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes.
The recipe below serves 2; just increase the amounts if you aren’t empty-nesters like us. Also, if you’re a vegetarian, don’t despair; this panini would rock with a grilled vegetable in place of the steak. You could use portobello mushrooms, eggplant or thick planks of zucchini.
4 large slices of sourdough bread
Dijon mustard and horseradish cream, or other tangy condiments of your choice – see above
6 oz. of sliced cooked steak, deli roast beef or pot roast
1 cup loosely packed arugula (we used baby arugula but grownup greens would be ok, too)
3-4 slices of red onion
4 oz. sliced fontina cheese or other medium-flavored, medium-hard cheese (Gouda or Edam would be a good substitute)
Softened butter to spread on the bread
If you have a panini press, set it to heat up to medium high. Spread the condiments of your choice on the bread slices, then build the panini on one piece of bread, starting with the beef, then adding the onion, arugula and the cheese. Put the second bread slice atop the cheese, then spread a light layer of butter on the top slice. When you are ready to press the paninis, turn them over and place the buttered side down on the bottom plate of the panini press, then spread butter on the top piece of bread and close the press. Push down the top slightly to compress the sandwich and cook for about 7 minutes, or until the bread is lightly browned and the cheese is melted. Remove from the panini press and serve.
If you don’t have a panini press, you should get one! But actually, you can simply heat a skillet to medium high and follow the same process, using a spatula to press down the sandwich and turning to cook the second side after the first is browned.
Note: The panini party with the leftovers is why we always, always, always grill more steak than we can eat, but this sandwich would be just as good with roast beef – either the sliced kind from the deli, or the for-real kind if you had an old-fashioned roast for Sunday dinner.
Glover Gardens is non-commercial, but we do occasionally recommend products, just our opinion about stuff that works or is good. That’s the case with this panini press.
Y’all know that I love to make up new recipes or tinker with ones that I find to make them mine. But sometimes, a recipe is already juuuuust right. (I flatter myself that I can tell by just looking.) You may remember that the Grill-Meister recently caught some trout, and I convinced him to smoke it – and then wanted to make a really good spread out of it. I set out to do my usual Google search, and found quite a few. But this one from Two Peas in a Pod blog stood out.
Why is it perfect? Let me try to describe it: chunks of smoky trout in a creamy spread with a bit of crunch from the celery, a bit of spice from the red pepper and a tangy finish from the lemon juice. After the first bit – on either a water cracker or a salty chip – you just want more, and more, and more. All I did to “enhance” this perfect recipe was add a bit more crunch by doubling the celery (because the Grill-Meister is big on a celery crunch in a salad) and sprinkle in a few drops of Tabasco.
As I mentioned in my recent Trout Tacos post, the Grill-Meister recently went on a deep-sea fishing trip off the coast of Biloxi, Mississippi and brought home some bounty from the sea.
Today’s culinary adventure is smoking some of the trout he caught. The Grill-Meister is a wizard at smoking salmon (see Tom’s Smoked Salmon), but this is our first time to tackle trout. After looking at some recipes online, I developed the brine recipe, marinated the fillets overnight, drained, dried and got them ready, and the Grill-Meister took over at the smoking point.
Wood chips for smoking (the Grill-Meister used mesquite)
Combine all of the ingredients except the trout in a large glass baking dish, and stir to mix. Add the fillets, pushing them down into the brine to make sure all of the fish is covered, then put a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the brine and fish to make it almost airtight and keep the fish submerged. You may want to cover it with another layer of plastic wrap to seal it well. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Remove the fish from the brine and dry it on a layer of paper towels, then let it sit on a rack for about an hour to come to room temperature. Get your smoker and wood ready per the instructions from the manufacturer, and heat to 190°. Smoke for about 2 hours, keeping the temperature at around 190°, or until done. Cover and chill until you are ready to use it.
Three pounds of smoked trout is richness! How to serve it???
Smoked Trout, Plated, Al Fresco
Here’s one way: flaked, with dipping sauces fresh from our foray to the farmers market today.
Our sauces are shown below; we love to support our local vendors.
The spicy cocktail sauce for our smoked trout is Big Bayou Cocktail Sauce (with Jalapeño). Yum! The green sauce is from Pain Train, their special, once-a-year version with roasted Hatch chiles.