I spent my Barnes and Noble gift cards this Christmas on a nerdy thing (the Cambridge History of Western Music Theory) and a kitcheny thing - The Pioneer Woman Cooks.
As she admits, her recipes are fairly high-calorie. It's all about portion size and balance, but I'm a bit hesitant when her recipes call for cream or a fryer. I love her cookbook. It has all the charm of her blog, and lots of pictures.
John was delighted by how many of his favorite Southern food recipes were in the book - particularly Chicken Fried Steak ("WE HAVE TO MAKE THIS IMMEDIATELY!"*). We agreed that, as a contrast to our streak of vegan and vegetarian meals, we would make chicken fried steak, corn bread, black eyed peas, and either greens or green beans. That meal hasn't materialized yet, but I have made the corn bread from PW's book twice now, and each time it's been outstanding. As in, the best cornbread ever.
Thanks, in no small part, to the cast iron skillet that our friends, Carla and Dave, gave us for Christmas. My mom also gave me her old, even bigger one, so at some point I intend to double the recipe and make a ginormous batch of cornbread - you know, if we're having people over.**
After making the corn bread from Joy of Cooking and comparing it to PW's, I think hers is SO much better. And I think the difference is butter. I also like her method, of cooking it in the skillet for a minute on the stove top before putting it in the oven. It makes for a crispy outside and a moist inside.
PW's Skillet Cornbread
from Pioneer Woman Cooks
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbs baking powder
1 cup buttermilk***
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs shortening (I used butter).
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder.
Measure the buttermilk and milk in a measuring cup and add the egg. Stir together.
Add the baking soda to the egg and milk mixture.
Pour the milk and egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir gently with a fork, just until combined.
In a small bowl, melt the 1/4 cup shortening in the microwave. Slowly add the melted shortening to the batter, stirring until combined.
In an iron skillet over high heat, melt the remaining shortening. Pour the batter into the hot skillet and cook for one minute. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes (mine usually is perfect after 22 minutes), or until golden brown. The edges should be crispy.
*As soon as I can find the right kind of meat, I will. Oh, Canada.
**Or if we're not.