Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Black n Blue Thanksgiving Hawaiian

Even with a shortage of good pictures, this post with it's Spam vindication message needed doing.  I wanted to be thorough this time. For one thing, Spam had to be better than it turned out last time, so this time I gave it a running start. Both the pan fried (some finished off with a splash of black coffee for the red eye gravy glaze) and the oven browned Spam were pretty good. Both were a whole lot better than the cool pink, straight from the can style used in the first Blue Hawaiian experiment.

This test batch recipe included both bacon (also very compatible with pineapple) as well as Spam. The black n blue comes from the smashed black beans and the blue stains that appear around the grated purple cabbage pieces. Sauerkraut cut short, Swiss cheese, and pineapple wedges were the last of the toppings. Butter knives to support the cooling pone helped dry the disk without flipping it a couple of times. Standing on edge worked OK for the mini loaves, with the cob shaped sticks balanced on top.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


 I was thinking about the Russian style cornbread (red cabbage, red onion, black beans) and wondered, "What else might go well with the red cabbage taste, and weird blue dots and rings?" Of course corned beef came to mind, and bacon, and maybe some Swiss cheese. I knew I was on a roll. While gathering ingredients for a Lake-House Black Iron Reuben experiment, I saw the Spam. Ta-Da, a star is born.

 From the beginning the Blue Hawaiian would not be denied. It called to me from the edge of sleep. Heck, it's not like I could sleep with the rowdy cornbread dancing around in my head. Besides, no way I was letting this one get away. After I got up and outlined the recipe, I managed to get to sleep for almost three hours. Then too excited to sleep, I went on to the grocery store for cornbread ammunition.

 There is one baby picture (ingredients), but even though I've made it twice now, I still have no pone portraits to share. The somewhat involved process yielded Blue Hawaiian cornbread in a bunch of styles, German, East German, Russian, and Swiss cheesy (second time around).

Trying out so many different accessory sets made the set-up slow. The basic Blue Hawaiian cornbread included pineapple and spam, red onion, red cabbage, and optional Swiss cheese. In preparation I grated the purple cabbage and the red onion, which I added to the buttermilk to soak and purplize (a technical term). The Swiss cheese and Spam were sliced into 1/4 in square (or smaller) 2 inch long strips. The sliced pineapple was cut small as well, 1/2 inch at it's widest. This is where I should've browned the Spam, but no. I've made the Blue Hawaiian variety twice now and I've only found any Spam in the finished pone once, in the skillet version where I laid the strips on top with the cheese.

  Versions, varieties, styles, the technical lingo of the cornbread science frontier is still quite young. Who knew cornbread could rate such a pedigree? We spun the Blue Hawaiian cornbread a number of different directions. An early favorite was the German, with it's squeezed, short-chopped sauerkraut, and bacon. Personally I liked the Russian variation with it's smaller than a cranberry globs of smashed black beans. Still, I did enjoy the East German treatment, sporting the black beans of the Russian style and unadorned sauerkraut. All these were presented in the Blue Hawaiian style, with spam and pineapple.

  If this seems like a lot of ingredients to stuff into a black iron, corn shaped, pone mold at once, yer right it is. So far I don't think any of them got as done as they could. Don't get me wrong. They're brown top and bottom, but I think if I let them have 5 min. more than the standard 25 min @ 425 f, they'd be better. Still, most of them were gone as soon as they cooled enough to touch.

 The small skillets have yielded some excellent results except when, trying to use up the last of the batter, I put in more than slightly less than an inch of batter. I suspect the cake like tendency was a result of too much  onion juice, nearly 1/4 cup, from my 1/2 of a grated, racket-ball sized, dark red onion. It did seem to take unusually long to cook, but this could just be an oven variation since I was making it at a friend's house. It smelled amazing and looked blueberry. If I'd managed to keep any, I'm sure it would've made great left-over pone.

 Good pictures will have to wait for the sauteed Spam test batch, but I'm afraid that may be Spam's last stand. The kids have shown no love for the Spam and I found it only an "official seeming Hawaiian" pineapple compliment. Actually I doubt the fried Spam test batch will hold a candle to the baconized (Spam free) version.
We'll see, aloha y'all.

Friday, January 27, 2012


  Eh, about time. I can't say I was happy at the wake up call though. It has been sometime since I had a batch just come smoothly together, release well, and not tear up. Ok, I have kept the mix in a constant state of change even to the color of corn meal, but lately it's seemed like even the foundation pone was having a go at my ankle. I had begun to wonder when a batch would go my way again.

  At 25 min the skillet pone was looking a little pale. Four min later and the mini-loaves were about to go past done, and on toward brickette style.

Although the orphans from the black iron adventure were a homely bunch, four of the six had gone on to a better place before dinner.
The nine inch black iron frying pan yielded a really amazing golden brown cornbread discus so good, two wedges with my soup and was only a good place to stop.

 The bigger loaf (disc) was denser than an old school (non self-rising), and though very moist it didn't lean toward cake-like. I was very careful not to scorch the oil in the preheat, and I did get a nice bottom crust. I think if I can get the skillet hotter  I can get a crispier, thicker, bottom crust.

 The difference in time needed to warm the mini-loaf pan and the skillet was a bit of a hassle. I believe that halfa batch of batter would make a somewhat thinner disc without compromising the moistness.

 The resulting lower crumb to crust ratio promises yet another interesting test batch, even if it is hard to turn away even a little from such a winning taste combination.    

 Release was a breeze. After allowing the skillet to cool for seven or eight min I covered it with a small towel and a plate and flipped it over. After letting it to cool and dry another fifteen or twenty min I wrapped it on up in the towel.

 Looks like the cornbread  schism  has passed. Wohoo! The future may or may not hold a pone distribution empire, but I am very optimistic about more and better cornbread. Lately I've been illin hard about my cornbread, but it was all worth it to graduate into the Black Iron Brotherhood.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Well they're out, and they look much more appealing than the last batch (also Old School). I was really going to wait a little while before I tried this recipe again especially since I felt like I blundered through it the last time. But no, I got to bed early (not long after midnight) and went right to sleep--for about an hour. I think I dreamed of "Old School" cornbread. I know I woke up thinking about it, to the exclusion of everything else for a ridiculously long time. Surely I won't go back to that dream, right. Finally, I resolved to use the good Russian name for sauerkraut I found in my cabbage lore research. I applied it to another batch of Old School (with accessories).

  It's a little embarrassing to push on with the variations without yet making one batch to specs, but the pone must go on. So I do'od it. This time the buttermilk was only 1cup, instead of the 2 cups called for in the 1/2 Piggly-Matt-Wiggly recipe. Replacing the other cup of buttermilk, was 1cup of sauerkraut and its juice (cut short). The heated bacon drippings were replaced by heated corn oil, but I was careful this time to be as stingy with the oil as the recipe was, I only used a fuzz more than the 1/4 cup called for. This oil also supplied the partial teaspoon I put in each cell of the mini-loaf pans.

 I considered keeping it simple, but I do love my cheesy, peppery cornbread. I cubed and grated the 3 to 4 oz of extra sharp cheddar cheese, and prepped the peppers (chipotles in Adobo and pickled jalapeno nacho slices). After mixing my dry ingredients and pouring them in a bowl on the side, I heated the oil on low till it gave that sweet smell and oiled the pans and placed them in the oven. Next I added the cornmeal, salt, baking soda mixture, to the wet ingredients (except the oil) and mixed thoroughly. At this point I added the hot oil to the bubbling batter, and noticed it looked a little thin. A quick mental inventory had me wondering if I had shorted the yellow corn meal, and since I was pretty sure, I added 1/4 cup of yellow cornmeal to the mix and pulled the pans out of the oven to begin filling them.

I wondered at first if maybe I'd added too much cheese. I really had to cut loose and gently pry to get any of these to come loose from the pans, but since it was every single one I can only guess it's the halfa-cup less oil (compared to a batch of kentucky cornbread of similar size). I only tore one piece up in the removal process, it was yummy.

Oh yeah, I had to test a chipotle one too, (I got a little too generous with the chipotle and adobo a couple of batches ago and I'm still a little gun shy). Ow I did it again, I think. It's a little hard to tell for sure, tonight we had the last of the batch of slightly over warm chili. Lots-o-cornbread happening this week, but I'll try to get the 4x6 recipe card for this article together later this week.


----------------AS FIRST SEEN IN "ADVENTURES IN CORNBREAD"--------------

 I'm still not completely  over the scary cheese debacle, but the missing corn bread has left  a big void in my cornbread heavy dinner portfolio. Since I'm still a little embarrassed to face the Kentucky-cornbread recipe so soon after the stinky cheese incident, I thought " How bout Old School?"

  I've had an interesting nonself-rising recipe that makes two skillets worth, that looks very different.

  This recipe, shared with me by my friend Matthew at the Mt. Brook Village Piggly Wiggly, at first glance makes at least twice the amount of batter that my usual favorite  (Kentucky2.0). This is not nearly all that's not the same.

 Even cut in half this recipe calls for twice the buttermilk of the Kentucky2.0 and 3/4 of a cup more cornmeal. The 2 eggs is similar, but the amount of oil seems skimpy even before it's split (Plush Neon Monkey pointed out that some recipes add their oil hot, and I remembered such a verbal stipulation for this recipe.) So I guess I'll half the baking soda, and salt, and give it a whirl (with one kind of regular cornmeal, and corn oil).

Already with the next wrinkle? not quite enough buttermilk, grate, the onion that is.

Well it was more eventful than the pictures can reveal, no time to take em. I had my hands full stumbling through the ingredients. I heated my oil separate (in a pot) and pre-oiled my mini-loaf pans. I began to mix up the wet ingredients, eggs,onion,buttermilk, and still the oil was waiting on the stove.

I was just about to pour the corn meal when I realized it had no baking soda to react with so I quick put a teaspoon in a bowl and mixed it with the corn meal. I put the pans in to pre-heat. I poured the cornmeal- baking soda mix into the liquid stirring. I was comforted to see it begin to bubble, and thought about what all the different ingredients did. That was when I realized that there wasn't any salt in it, and grabbed a half teaspoon looking amount in my hand (hmm sounds like too much, looking at the recipe's 1/4 teaspoon requirement) and scattered and stirred it in. The pans were ready.

Good thing I set the timer conservative, @26 min these were about to turn the corner. They did have the large crumb associated with old school cornbread. The taste ,while a relief after the last batch-o cornbread-trauma, was a bit bland for all that buttermilk. Still I'll definitely be test-driving  that recipe at least one more time.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Hey, you didn't smell that stuff. Well whadya expect? This batch of experimental cornbread was made with two kinds of English Blue Cheese, Stilton Blue, and Shropshire Blue. The Shropshire Blue looks amazing, with a bright cheddar-like orange color and bark bluish veins (that didn't photograph well).

 Looks can be deceiving. The Shropshire Blue "Cheddar", when taste tested (a small piece about the size of a pea) had an excellent initial taste, that seemed to grow stronger and stronger for about a minute. Fortunately it peaked and mellowed off. Even without a beverage it was ok, but I think I'd have a cracker with it next time. I bet it would be quite the desirable wine accessory. I smelled the Stilton Blue before I had completely unwrapped it. I decided to wait and see how it was in the cornbread, and began a Reuben-style hedge.

 Ow, I was way too heavily invested in this outcome. With so much focused on this batch, I got so tense I couldn't eat more than a few bites of dinner before my throat closed up and I couldn't eat any more.

 The Stilton was strong enough I can only say, "I'm glad I don't have to touch that stinky stuff anymore." Though the Shropshire Blue was better, there is still the obvious question, "Why do this to cornbread that was really much better without the addition of these expensive and ultimately very unpleasant ingredients?"

Yup, this may be the extent of my scary cheese cornbread adventures, an expensive and sobering lesson. How can stinky cornbread be? Hopefully, only by accident.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Well I gots ta call it something, and in searching for red cabbage facts I discovered that russians eat seven times as much cabbage per person as we do. So here's an excelent way to get yer dose-o-cabbage. My favorite cabbage lore is the Roman myth that red cabbages sprang from the tears of Lycurgus king of the Edonians.

 we'll call it Russian cause it sounds cool but history seems to reveal that cabbage came from everywhere. It also has red onions (everywhere) and black beans (a variety of kidney bean, central and south america.) Whatever you call it, this purplish batter yields a bluish cornbread that looks like a mutant blue berry muffin. Taste wise however this is more of a corned-beef  accessory than a replacement scone.

 I wanted it to be the elusive "Vegetarian Pork-chop," but while interesting and tasty this one fell short of the Cornbread-Grail. Still, there will be a recipe card and some mix notes for this odd but yummy cornbread as soon as I can get them organized.