Tag Archives: Cornbread

Fair Fare

 

Fried, fried, fried!

 

If David-Blaine-wannabe/magician Criss Angel visited the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem, he would resign his goofy gothic act immediately. Because there is only one “Mindfreak,” and it exists among the dozens of fried-food vendors and chicken-on-a-stick stands.

 

On a stick

 

Visiting a county fair in this neck of the woods is a cultural experience you can’t miss. I didn’t think fairs still had attractions like “WORLD’S SMALLEST MAN!” and “HALF-WOMAN, HALF HORSE!” and “REAL! LIVE! SNAKE MAN!” I honestly felt transported to a different space and time.

To bring me back to reality, I had an awesome sandwich from one of the many church stands in the food lawn. This was a cornbread sandwich with collard greens and fried fatback (!!!). Here’s why it works: the sweetness of the cornbread, the acidic sourness of the collards and the salty smoky crunch of the fatback (fried pork fat). A guy next to me was having a religious experience with his sandwich.

 

Southern comfort

 

Later, we had a grilled pimento cheese sandwich ($2). Homemade pimento cheese sandwiched between white bread grilled in butter. It was spicy and creamy and pretty awesome (even for someone who doesn’t like pimento cheese).

Yes, I saw the fried butter. I’ve never really craved a stick of salted butter wrapped in dough and fried until not completely melted. I also saw every kind of cookie or candy bar proudly dipped and fried, then covered in powdered sugar and more sweet syrups. Dentists: you have job security up in these parts.

Before leaving, we walked through the winning fruits, vegetables and something new to my Northwestern fair-going: tobacco judging!

It was a fitting reminder of how the region was founded. Hope y’all enjoyed the fair (for those who dared)! xoxo

Jalapeno-cheddar cornbread

IMG_4119

Whenever I think of cornbread, I think of that “Arrested Development” episode with the corn-baller fryer that keeps burning people and when they couldn’t sell it in the U.S., they started selling it on Mexican infomercials.

This cornbread is baked safely in your oven, not deep-fried, but it still has spice that anyone will appreciate.

All you do is buy cornmeal and follow the cornbread directions on the back. Why not? Once you’ve mixed the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, stir in:

1 seeded jalapeno pepper, minced

4 green onions, chopped

3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Sprinkle the last 1/4 c. of cheese over the top of the cornbread and bake it according to the instructions, adding at least 10 more minutes to account for all the cheese in there (at least, mine took an extra 10 minutes). It should be moist but not mushy in the thickest part. As soon as you cut the bread open, you’ll know if you cooked it long enough! And it won’t hurt to go back in for a few minutes, if you need it.

I served this cornbread with Hoppin’ John,  which I’ve made many times, but this time used fresh ingredients in place of canned – I have all this farmers market food to use up!

I used 1 minced jalapeno instead of the canned green chilies, 2 chopped heirloom tomatoes in place of the canned diced, and chicken stock instead of water (increase the water to 1 c. to account for the fresh tomatoes).

We were very pleased with this comforting and satisfying meal. (And yes, that is a big piece of butter oozing out of my slice in the picture. Butter is a must.)

Good luck having only one serving, friends!

If it exists, fry it

IMG_4016

Whooee! We just got back from an exciting week with 13 family members in a beach house near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was beautiful – sunsets, palm trees, sand that feels like flour and lots and lots of good food. We cooked in and ate out and we never went to bed hungry (or sober).

Our first night, we ate at the Inlet Crab House, which specializes in fresh seafood caught off the Atlantic Coast and then fried. We ordered the oyster shooters to start, of course:

IMG_4017

Feeling festive, both Jesse and I ordered the softshell crab for our entrees:

IMG_4018

Mine came in a sandwich, with a side of coleslaw and Southern green beans (read: overcooked). It was tasty, but once I cut it open and saw all the yellow guts inside the crab, it didn’t have the same appeal that it used to. I think my Spider Roll ordering days are over.

IMG_4019A couple nights later, we dined at a fabulously upscale restaurant, where each plate had no less than one pound of seafood. I ordered the “grill plate,” which included grilled shrimp and scallops and a baked potato. The shrimp were seasoned well, smoky and sweet and spicy, and I loved the clarified butter for dipping. At that point, this was my favorite dish of the week. A-mazing.

IMG_4022

We had a cookout later in the week, which included a trip to the fish market for 3 pounds of fresh shrimp. We took them home and boiled them with “shrimp oil,” which is actually a seasoning packet, and lemon. Then, we had to hand-peel and de-vein them.

IMG_4027

These later turned into Jesse’s dad’s avocado stuffed with shrimp and mango-chili salsa, which is just as delicious as it sounds.

IMG_4030

With that, we had Merissa’s fabulous chicken and sausage gumbo, which took her like 30 hours to prepare. I’m not going to post the recipe yet, because I want to try it myself first. Good thing I don’t have a day job!

IMG_4029

She also made some perfect cornbread to go with it, and a honey butter to smear all over it.

IMG_4028

Colleen made a yummy Smitten Kitchen dish later that week: an ice-box “cake,” which tasted like a giant Oreo cookie. She baked these chocolate cookies (basically home-made Oreos), then layered them with hand-whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

IMG_4045

Then, you let it sit for a few hours, so the cookies can absorb the juices and become soft, like cake. Surprisingly good.

The last night, I was so overwhelmed with good food that I didn’t take any pictures – Blast! But here’s what we had: oyster shooters, She Crab Soup (a Carolina favorite), shrimp with grits cakes in a yummy bacon-gravy (this was my favorite thing of the night) and my entree was a pasta with fresh clams, white white and garlic. Yum! We drank a lot, laughed a lot and splurged. It was the perfect ending.

While on vacation, I read “Julie and Julia,” which I have a few opinions about. (As my co-worker said, “I’m just mad that I didn’t think of that first!”) The food stuff was good, but I could do without the rest of the whiny drama. It definitely inspired me to “cook dangerously.” So I picked up my new Bon Appetit magazine and turned down the pages of these recipes that would normally seem too gourmet for me. Like de-boning a chicken for an Italian roast chicken with fresh herbs and lemon. I’ll blog it as soon as I can make it!

Enjoy the week, friends!