Comfort Food Alert: Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread

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!

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Doesn’t that meat-studded cornbread in a cast-iron skillet just call out: “Comfort Food! You need this now!” photo credit to Dave Smith

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.

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See the layers in the finished dish?

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.

Ingredients

  • 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)

Cooking Instructions

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, about 40 minutes. Serve hot.


 

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Goodies are added to the cornbread batter which jazz it up
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The batter, with the goodies mixed in
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Pour half of the cornbread batter in the hot skillet first, then sprinkle the meat evenly before pouring the rest of the batter on top
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Use a spatula to spread the top layer evenly
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This looks just like the picture Dave posted of his Mom’s cornbread!
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This recipe is so yummy! and would be good with sangria

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.

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The flavors of the chili and cornbread are complimentary but different, and jalapeños added a nice kick

Or how about transforming this into Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread Breakfast, with a fried egg? Double brilliant!

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Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread rocks a fried egg for a quick brunch dish with some refried beans on the side

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)

Westport Salmon, a Recipe Born of Necessity

Several years ago, we met my in-laws in Westport, WA so that my father-in-law could take my husband (“the Grill-Meister” in this blog) and our two boys deep-sea fishing. They caught 50 pounds of salmon – five big fish! It was an wonderful experience to cook and eat salmon that was caught that day, and to hear the (true) “I caught a fish that was THIS big” stories over dinner in our rented bay-front condo.

 

My mother-in-law and I took a scenic drive and had a leisurely lunch at a local winery while the menfolk were doing the fishing, then headed out to the tiny grocery store to buy provisions to cook the salmon we just knew they would catch.  This recipe below was born out of necessity from the few ingredients we could find there.  It’s pretty good! The crunch of the topping with its sharp horseradish bite is a great balance to the smoothness of the salmon on its bed of softened vegetables.

Westport Salmon

Ingredients 

  • 4 – 6 salmon steaks, 1 – 1 1/2 in. thick
  • 1 small yellow onion (or 1/2 large), thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced, including leaves (or a similar amount of bell pepper – whatever you’ve got!)
  • 2 tsp. seafood seasoning, divided, plus more for sprinkling on the steaks (Old Bay is great, so is Paul Prudhomme’s)
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling in the pan
  • 1 tbsp. prepared cream horseradish
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp. green onions tops, finely chopped

Cooking Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the onion, celery, seafood seasoning and 1 tbsp. of the olive oil until combined in a bowl. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in baking pan that will hold the salmon steaks without them touching, then add the onion and celery mixture to the pan, spreading evenly. In a small bowl, combine the horseradish, Panko, green onion and remaining olive oil and seafood seasoning. Place the salmon in the pan on the onion / celery mixture and then add the Panko topping to each steak, patting it on firmly. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until just done. Turn on the broiler for the last minute or two if your breadcrumb topping isn’t browned.

Note: if you want to serve a quick sauce on the side, combine a tablespoon or two of the horseradish with about a half cup of sour cream and a teaspoon of your seafood seasoning.  Yum!

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Ready to assemble – I didn’t have celery on hand (which was all I had in Westport), so I substituted green bell pepper; red would have been prettier
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Just before baking
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Ready to eat! 

And just for fun, below is a photo of the Westport Salmon that I took the first time I made it here at Glover Gardens, after developing the recipe on our trip.  Although my food photos above are imperfect, look how far I’ve come! (And the white plates work a lot better, don’t they??)

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This tasted really good, but looks like a hot mess!

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to try the recipe. In the next post, we’ll take look at the lovely little waterfront town.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

 

Spicy-Sweet Honey Chipotle Pork Spareribs

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You’ll need a lot of paper towels with these ribs, but they’re worth it!

If you’re like me and have never tried ribs before, and, also like me, perhaps a bit intimidated by the vague feeling that you have to smoke them for hours and they still might come out tough, this is the recipe for you!

I rolled up my sleeves one rainy Saturday afternoon and pulled together this ribs recipe when the Grill-Meister was out playing dominos with his friends. Then I surprised him with them when he got home.  Score!

Succulent and fall-off-the-bone-tender with just the right balance of spicy-sweet and piquant, these ribs take their ‘cue (pun intended!) from the spicy rub they get before baking and a last-minute swab of homemade sauce before a quick char on the grill.

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

Rub

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This is the brand of ancho chile I use
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp coarse salt
  • 2 tbsp ancho or chipotle chilé powder (use paprika if you don’t like it spicy)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Ribs

2 racks St. Louis style pork spareribs, 2 1/2 – 3 lbs each

Honey-Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

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    Chipotle is really important in this sauce

    1/2 cup olive oil

  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped chipotle peppers and sauce
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 2 tbsp of the spice rub

Cooking Instructions

Preheat oven to 300. In a small mixing bowl, combine the spice rub ingredients. Set aside 2 tbsp of the spice rub to use in the sauce, and then rub the ribs generously with the mixture.

Wrap each rack of ribs in heavy duty foil, sealing completely.  Place seam side up on a pan or cookie sheet with a decent-sized lip.  Bake for 2 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce by putting all ingredients in a small, heavy saucepan,  heating to a boil and then reducing to a simmer.  Cook at a simmer until reduced and thickened.

When the ribs have 20 minutes left to bake, preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat.  When 2 1/2 hours have elapsed, remove the ribs from the oven and carefully undo the foil around the ribs, being cautious about steam and very hot pan juice.  Place the ribs on a different cookie sheet or platter and reserve the pan juice for another use (I like to use it to make stock with the rib bones).

Take the ribs outside to your barbecue, slather the sauce on one side and place on the grill, sauce side down.  You may have to be very gentle with the ribs, because they will be very tender and may want to fall apart.  Slather the sauce again on the top side just after you place the ribs on the grill.  Sear on each side for 4-5 minutes until there’s a nice char, then remove them.  Place on a cutting board and cut between the bones.  Serve with extra sauce on the side.

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The finished product is great with a cool, crisp, chipotle-fennel slaw
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Ingredients for the spice rub
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I made a double batch; the spice rub is good on other meats and fish
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Generously rub each rack with the spice mix
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Seal tightly and place in a pan with a lip
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Make the sauce while the ribs are baking
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After baking, before the grill
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After the final quick char
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Super-tender, super-good!
Honey-Chipotle Ribs with Chipotle-Fennel Slaw
The finished product

These ribs are so good with just a quick slaw. I created a complementary Chipotle-Fennel Slaw when I made the ribs a couple of weeks ago and will publish that recipe soon. And until then, here’s a Pepper Jelly Slaw.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Found Recipe: Fabio Viviani’s Short Rib Lasagne

One reason I love to travel is the exposure to different foods, cultures, ideas and people.  A case in point is the food discovery from last night at a business dinner in Chicago:  short rib lasagne.  Wow!  It was a blustery, windy, rainy night, and the sadly, the Cubs didn’t win, place or even show in their first World Series appearance in a zillion years, but the kitchen at Bar Siena on Chicago’s near west side was on its A-Game.

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It’s a hip and trendy atmosphere at Bar Siena, and the food is as rockin’ as the decor

fullsizeoutput_c7Let’s set the stage – the big ballgame was on, the place was packed with hungry and loud Cubs fans, and my dinner hosts were foodies.  We ordered a selection of cicchetti (Italian for “little bites” meant for sharing).  While the octopus with a chili vinaigrette and grilled shrimp with artichokes were wonderful, the short rib lasagne adorned with roasted garlic béchamel and taleggio cheese was the meal’s most valuable player.

This dish is now pretty high on my Must-Learn-How-to-Make List, and I found the recipe on the first page of Google search results.  The owner of Bar Siena is Fabio Viviani from Top Chef, and he shared his recipe with the world on Rachel Ray’s show.

With the windy weather and the World Series, autumn was in full swing last night in Chicago – and this dish really hit the spot.  We’re not quite there yet here in Southeast Texas, but once the chill sets in, I’ll be making this “warm up your bones” dish.  If you get to it first, please share the results!

Links:

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The lasagna before we attacked it