Buttermilk Cornbread

Cornbread is a quick bread, meaning it doesn’t contain yeast and requires no time to rise.  It has deep roots with the Native Americans and the colonists that settled in the southern colonies.  In the south it is a staple in most households and Southern cornbread is not sweet nor fluffy like a cake.  Ours is grainier, more dense and made with delicious buttermilk and served with butter.  You may be surprised to know that buttermilk has fewer calories and fat than that of milk.

The main ingredient in cornbread is, you guessed it, cornmeal.  Cornmeal comes in a few varieties; white, yellow and even blue. Typically cornbread usually uses the yellow, which tends to me the most common variety.  Corn is a cheap grain to grow and there is usually an abundance of it, not only here in the United States but in Mexico as well, where Mayans used the grain to make masa for tortillas and tamales.  Here in the South, cornmeal is commonly used not only for cornbread but also corn pone, hushpuppies and Johnnycakes, which are actually a Northern dish. 

Cornbread can be baked or fried and comes in a variety of forms.  This recipe is the baked variety which can be baked in molds, muffin tins, skillets or pans. Continue reading “Buttermilk Cornbread”

Biscuits & Gravies

Yes, you read that right . . . gravies! Plural, because we are going to do two different gravies.

The first gravy is a staple in the South, sausage gravy.  Here in the South sausage gravy is a standard in most households. It is served not only at breakfast time but lunch and supper too.  Sausage gravy is great on mashed potatoes, fried chicken, chicken fried steak and of course, biscuits.  If you are like me, I can eat sausage gravy on its own.

Sausage gravy starts out with, you guessed it, sausage!  You want a good quality breakfast sausage, like the ones that come in the big roll that you slice into patties. The problem with most of the pork sausage at the grocery store is that they are high in fat. Ah, so you think the logical substitute, turkey sausage but the problem with most turkey sausage is they are lacking the fat that you will need to make the gravy.  Another problem is that many manufacturers of turkey sausage sell them precooked and you need it raw. What do you do? Simple, make your own.  I know it sounds too complicated but it is really no more complicated than browning ground beef with seasoning. Continue reading “Biscuits & Gravies”

Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is a staple dish in the South, mostly in the Carolinas.  Pork is widely used in the South because it is inexpensive.  The typical cut of pork used for this recipe is pork shoulder which is also known as pork butt, picnic shoulder or Boston shoulder.  If you would like a leaner pork for this recipe, I’ve made it with pork loin and it works well too.

While some pulled pork is prepared by smoking the meat, others are cooked and braised in the oven and that is how I prepare mine. I start with a large Dutch oven but you can use any type of roasting pan with a lid even a Römertopf works really well for this dish.

Many pulled pork recipes are nothing more than barbecue sauce poured over the meat and baked slowly, I don’t use store bought barbecue sauce because of the unhealthy ingredients.  I lightly spray my Dutch oven with olive oil spray to prevent the roast from sticking.  I then add paprika, minced garlic, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, black pepper, dried thyme, sea salt, pure maple syrup, water and apple cider vinegar.  I don’t rub the roast, I just dump it all in, place the lid on it and place it in the preheated oven and allow it to cook for about 6 hours. Continue reading “Pulled Pork”

Pizza Margherita

How would you like a big slice of Italian royalty? Pizza Margherita was named after Queen Margherita of Savoy, wife of King Umberto I.  The pizza resembling the Italian flag was created for her by a chef in Naples when she visited in 1889.  Although there is some debate, saying the same pizza was created 20 plus years earlier, it was the later version that made the pizza famous.

Ironically, pizza was considered peasant food but has since evolved into a universal dish with unlimited possibilities, I guess I would have been a happy peasant because it is one of my weaknesses and I know I am not alone.

I’ve tried to make the dough all whole wheat but it was very dense and extremely hard to work with so I’ve had to cut it with bread flour to get the perfect crust.  I use a bread machine to make my dough but you can certainly do this the old fashion way and I will provide instructions for doing both further on in the recipe.   Continue reading “Pizza Margherita”