If you ever made a good Southern-style cornbread, you most likely came across Mark Bittman’s recipe, which was featured and adopted by many online sources. James Brown shared his adaptation during the workshop at his mill. Obviously, James’ cornbread was made with his heirloom corn, yellow and red, and was wonderful. I skipped yellow corn and added some diced roasted peppers and Spanish sweet smoked paprika.
I kept this recipe unpublished for so long because it is part of my favorite party trick. I let my guests taste the ice cream and ask them to name four ingredients they think were used to make it. I hear all kind of answers — caramel, toffee, some say vanilla bean seeds because they see tiny black dots, etc. Everybody is genuinely surprised when I name them — milk, sugar, eggs, and butter.
Hatch season is relatively short. There are only so many Hatch dishes we can have within a few weeks — we cannot possibly try them all. That’s why I anticipate every next harvest — to discover and enjoy new recipes. This year, mild Hatch stuffed with crabmeat is my new find. The combination was featured by Central Market. I adjusted their original idea to my taste and kept making it every other day — so good!
Last year, out of curiosity I experimented with traditionally red Middle Eastern recipes — Zhoug, Harissa, Dukkah, Shakshuka — replacing red ingredients with locally available green and featuring Hatch green chile peppers. Everyone liked green harissa and green dukkah, but their combination in shakshuka was a hit.
This Blondie recipe features fresh Texas peaches and pecans. Having a generous amount of chocolate and butter, it and retains a lot of moisture when baked. I use French caramelized chocolate by Valrhona for my Blondie to make it fancy and luxurious. Its texture is delightfully soft and flavorful, and the color is golden caramel — it’s like our Texas early summer, you’ll!
Since the kefir culture started living in my kitchen, I have fresh kefir products (drinking, strained, and soft cheese) in my fridge all the time. When they are handy, I find more amazing culinary uses for them all the time. The moment I saw a kulich recipe where farmer’s cheese was an ingredient to add to the dough, I knew I have to try it with my kefir cheese. I also wanted to try an idea I saw a few time online (don’t know who the author is) for forming this Easter bread as a flower, sunflower or daisy. The result is amazing! There is a faint hint of cheese. The texture is so creamy, a comparison to Japanese Souflee Cheesecake came to my mind. It is still a sponge, but the sensation of crumb melting in your mouth is incredible.
This recipe is based on my Italian friend’s story about Neapolitan Babà al Rhum.
Rum baba is brioche-like rich cake soaked in rum flavored syrup. It can be a large cake or individually portioned little cakes, served with whipped cream and tart fruit. The cake itself is less sweet than brioche, taking into account it needs to absorb a lot of syrup. It is a perfect canvas for artistically balanced flavors the soaking liquid brings into the dessert. That’s why it is important to use high-quality rum for good results.
This recipe is my simplified adaptation of German Lebkuchen recipes to local ingredients. It is based on many versions that were shared online by German home bakers — thank you!