Mom’s Cornbread

Nothing goes with beans or greens of any type than good cornbread. While people in many parts of the country debate various styles of cornbread (with or without sugar, white or yellow meal, etc.), I like it almost any way I’ve had it unless it tasted more like cake than bread. My grandmother served cornbread with every meal except breakfast (where she made biscuits!). And you have to use a well-seasoned cast iron skillet!

This is the best I’ve had, and it came from close to home.

Mom’s Cornbread

2 tablespoons shortening (Crisco)
1 1/2 cups self-rising cornmeal mix
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup pickled jalapeno peppers, chopped (optional– real good with greens)

Preheat oven to 450. Put the shortening in the iron skillet and put it in the oven to melt and get real hot.

Mix together in a bowl the rest of the ingredients.

When the shortening is melted and almost to the smoking point, carefully pour the melted shortening into the bowl of batter. It should sizzle a lot when you do. Be careful.

Stir this up thoroughly, then pour it back into the skillet. You should hear some sizzle again. Bake for 23-25 minutes, until nice and brown.

Flip it out upside down onto a plate to cool just a few minutes before serving. My mom always put a knife under it to keep it from getting soggy from the condensation. (It’s real moist and hot.)

And now you’re ready to slice it and eat it with just about any dish.

Too Many Strawberries (Someone Said)

Can you have too many strawberries? Especially when they came freshly picked from a farm in South Carolina? Believe it or not, someone told me I had too many when I brought home 2 gallons. After the strawberry shortcake (the best way) got a little too ordinary (Strawberry Shortcake should never get ordinary!) after a few days, I had to “get rid” of about a gallon. Here are the results, a Strawberry-Mascarpone Tart, and a Strawberry Custard Tart. (I also froze some for future use in or on ice cream.)

Strawberry-Mascarpone Tart

Strawberry-Mascarpone Tart

1 recipe Almond Tart Crust dough

2 cups ripe strawberries — quartered
1/4 cup sugar — (adjust to taste)
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup sugar
grated zest of one small orange
2 cups sliced ripe strawberries
lightly sweetened whipped cream

Prepare Almond Tart Crust dough as intructed. Roll out thin (1/8 inch thick). Cut to a circle about 10 inches in diameter. Place on greased baking pan. Put holes in dough with a fork. Bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. If it bubbles up while baking, press down lightly, or put another hole in it with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, to prepare the preserves, combine 2 cups of quartered berries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, cooking until the juices thicken to a jamlike consistency, 30 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Mix the mascarpone, sugar and orange zest together in a small bowl. Spread the mascarpone evenly onto the cooled tart shell. Spread a thin layer of the cooled strawberry preserves on top. Arrange the sliced strawberries on top of the preserves, working in concentric circles from the outside in. Place a few whole berries in the center if you wish. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Based on a recipe from the Courier-Journal using my dough.

Strawberry Custard Tart

This is a variant of a number of fruit tarts we fell in love with in France.

Prepare All-Purpose Tart Crust for more baking

3 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 tablespoons sugar
1pint fresh strawberries, washed and stem ends cut flat

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In pre-baked all-purpose tart crust, arrange strawberries with flat stem end down and points up.

Pour in blended cream mixture (you may not use all of it).

Bake for 15-20 minutes (could take longer), until toothpick comes out clean