Breads

Cheddar and Jalapeño Skillet Cornbread

Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

Since writing my last recipe, I began a new (full-time) job! It’s been an all around super-exciting and awesome life move. With my focus shifted outside the kitchen, it’s meant far less time experimenting, photographing, taste-testing, and updating the blog. So, to make this happen, I blocked out time on my calendar, put the gate up so the puppy wouldn’t come in for scraps, and got to work. Some people have yoga or running, I have my kitchen. Though, after all the cheesy cornbread, I really should have yoga or something…Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

With less time on my hands, I’m really a fan of one-pot cooking. Technically, this is a skillet plus a bowl (and a whisk, cutting board, knife, and maybe a spatula) but it’s still easy on the dishwashing. Even though winter is slooowllly beginning to ebb away, I’m still craving hearty, warm dishes that fill stomachs and souls. You could bake this up with some chili, slather it with honey butter, or spread a jam or chutney on it for breakfast.

Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

I made a few iterations of this recipe and I can say that having everything prepped in advance will be a HUGE time and sanity saver. The longest bit of prep is mincing up the jalapeño. Make sure you don’t swipe at your eyes after. Ugh. Or don’t be like me, and wear gloves.

Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

Once you’re passed chopping and grating it’s just bringing together a bunch of ingredients in one bowl. I know I’ve sung of my love of butter before – the way it tastes, the way it makes everything better, and the way it smells when it’s melting into the pan. Ari, does not love those things. But even a butter hater got down with this bread. I particularly love browning butter for a deeper and nuttier taste. I read many cornbread recipes and tried different techniques, but it was Melissa Clark’s recipe in the NYTimes, with her browned butter, that I couldn’t ignore. Pieces of the recipe changed in iterating, but the brown butter stayed.

Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

Cornmeal is one of the ingredients in my kitchen that sticks around for long periods of time. It’s usually what I find when I’m sorting through half-empty bags of flour, behind the corn starch, probably balled up with the bag of chia seeds. I was really happy to find this particular bag, so I’m showing it off! It reminds me of warmer weather and shopping at the Union Square Farmer’s Market (where I got it last fall).

Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

As an experiment, since I know many of my friends don’t have cast iron cookware, I spooned the batter into a silicone mini muffin tray and holy hell, these were fantastic!  So if the idea of cheesy, spicy, cornbread goodness inspires you – know that you don’t need fancy kitchen equipment to make it. I only experimented with two version but I have a feeling this could be done in anything bake-able.

Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

If you do love the idea of the skillet, the perfectly cooked edges and bottom, and be able to cut your bread into slices, then get on it! I’m really into being able to crumble up the cornbread into whatever I’m eating it with (vegetarian chili here) to ensure perfect ratios in each bite. It’s the simple things. Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

Cheddar and Jalapeño Skillet Cornbread
Ingredients
  • 3-4 jalapeños, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 1½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1½ sticks of unsalted butter
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup or agave
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1½ cups cornmeal
  • 1½ Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Prepare the jalapeños and cheese, and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. I love to brown it but you don't need to. I think it's worth an extra 5 minutes.
  4. Pour the melted butter into a bowl and let it cool for a minute. Don't wipe the pan - you've now greased your baking dish!
  5. Whisk in the buttermilk, sour cream, and honey (or syrup, or agave).
  6. Whisk in the eggs.
  7. Whisk or stir in the jalapeños and cheese.
  8. Whisk in all the dry ingredients until the batter is mostly smooth. Some lumps are ok!
  9. Pour the batter into your skillet to about ¾ full. If your skillet cooled off while you were gathering ingredients, warm it back up by placing it in the oven or over a flame. Anything extra batter can be baked in muffin tins or other baking vessels.
  10. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown. If you find yourself needing significantly more time, cover the top with foil and continue baking.

 

English Muffins

When I woke up Tuesday morning, before I knew that there was a disappointing amount of snow on the ground, all I could think about was making eggs benedict with smoked salmon. My day had been cleared in prep for the snow storm and it felt like a weekend, which made me think of brunch, which naturally led to daydreaming about foods covered in hollandaise.

On Monday morning, in the middle of the first blizzard panic of the season, the supermarket lines were out the door. I found myself in the crowd at a Citarella picking up fresh fish for my client’s dinner. As the checkout line slowly wound its way to the registers, I got pulled in by all the delicious foods we were passing. At the last second I grabbed a package of smoked salmon. (As you might know, from the title of this blog, I have a thing for smoked and cured fish.) So, as I lay in bed on Tuesday, I was all ready to pull together my Salmon Eggs Benedict.

The plan was to use regular bread, but now that I had an empty day, I decided to spend the morning baking English Muffins and enjoy my eggs benedict for a late brunch. Thankfully, the ingredients are all household staples for us, so I didn’t have to venture out into the, uh, couple inches of snow and um, cleared sidewalks. Is it cool if I just pretend we were completely snowed in? Survival English Muffins!

After reading a dozen different recipes for English muffins, I learned that there are two common issues. 1. The dough can be super sticky and a mess to work with and 2. Cooking methods and times vary greatly, and it’s hard to tell when the muffin is done baking.

I pulled from different recipes and made the adjustments that I thought would help with the stickiness. It totally worked! The dough definitely pulled and stretched much more easily than other bread doughs, but it wasn’t a mess to transfer or handle.

For the cooking times, I found a recipe that combined both the stovetop and the oven, and the results were great! I will say that I had a minor panic attack when I opened a muffin and the inside was still kind of soft and doughy. The nooks and crannies were there, but it felt a little raw.

As I stood there trying to figure out what I’d done wrong, a memory from childhood surfaced. I haven’t bought English Muffins in a very long time, but as a kid I remember trying to eat a Thomas English Muffin right from the package and hating the mushy texture and sour taste. I had completely forgotten about the step where you toast the muffin! I popped my freshly baked muffin it into the toaster for a few minutes, and there it was! The taste and texture of spot-on English Muffin. Winning!

This recipe made SO many muffins, which are now mostly in my freezer. And that’s awesome because homemade English Muffins are ridiculously good. Now I can have them when the mood strikes.

The next time the snow comes down outside, make it rain flour inside. Or just block off a morning and get to work on these!

Oh you were wondering what happened to the Salmon Eggs Benedict on my homemade English Muffins?

Right about when I was going to make my late afternoon brunch, I planned a date with a friend who lives a couple blocks away and we ended up making beautiful Benedict’s for dinner. Here’s a photo I took on my phone before we inhaled them. They were so totally worth waiting all day for. Brunch: The good-for-all hours-of-the-day meal.

English Muffins

Serves: Makes 16-18

Ingredients
  • 2¼ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1¾ cup whole milk, warmed (to take the chill off - I warmed it in a saucepan until it wasn't cold and I could put my finger in without it being hot)
  • 4 Tbsp butter, softened but not melted
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 4½ cups of all purpose flour
  • Cornmeal, semolina, or farina
Instructions
  1. I made this in a stand mixer. You can make it in a bowl by beating all the ingredients together and kneading it at the end but I don't have the exact specifications.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warmed milk for a couple minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the cornmeal, semolina, or farina) to the bowl and mix, with the flat beater, on medium-high for 4-5 minutes until the dough is smooth. I had to take breaks in the mixing to scrape down the dough as it creeped up to the gears at the top of the attachment. Keep an eye on it as it will move around. If the dough isn't where you want it, you can use the dough hook at the end for a couple minutes to finish the kneading, or knead it by hand just until it's smooth.
  3. Take the dough out and form it into a ball, or as close as you can get it, and place it into a lightly greased (canola or vegetable oil work great) bowl that has room for it to rise. Cover it with plastic wrap or a towel and let it sit in a warm place for 1-1.5 hours until it's at least doubled in size.
  4. Prepare 2 baking sheets. Cover one with parchment paper or a baking mat and set aside. On the other one, generously cover the surface in cornmeal, semolina, or farina.
  5. Remove the dough from the bowl, gently pushing the air out and place it on a work surface. (Use a little flour if it's too sticky.) You can divide the dough into 16 pieces or weigh out the dough to about 60g per servings. Roll each serving into a ball shape and place it onto the grain-covered baking sheet. Gently press it into the grain and then lift it up and press the other side into the grain. This will help keep your muffins from sticking in the next steps. As you dip each muffin, line them up on the grain-tray so they are resting on top of the grains. Let the muffins rest, covered, for 20 more minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 300°F
  7. Warm a cast iron pan or griddle on the stove on medium-low heat. If you know your pan runs hot, lower the temperature even more. This should be done low and slow.
  8. Working in small batches, place your muffins in the pan or griddle and let them cook for about 4 minutes on each side. You don't want too dark a brown on them but you don't want them too light either. They will puff up a little as you go. When each side is complete transfer them to your second baking tray.
  9. Place the muffins in the oven for another 10-12 minutes to finish cooking the insides.
  10. Let cool slightly before diving in and remember to toast them! For optimal nooks and crannies make sure to split them with a fork and/or your hands - a knife cut won't give you the same result!

These keep 2-3 days before they start to harden or you can freeze the remainder for on-demand English Muffin eating!

Quick Dinner Rolls with Fresh Herbs

Putting fresh baked bread on the table is a “WOAH” moment, as in: WOAH, you made this? Which is usually the last you’ll hear for awhile because warm homemade bread is being devoured.

While these rolls don’t have the same deep flavors you can achieve through the hours of love and patience that traditional breads require, they are amazing last-minute and impressive dinner rolls.

I first discovered this recipe when making some chicken in BBQ sauce in the slow cooker. When it was done cooking I shredded the chicken and realized how much sauce was leftover in the pot. I thought how great it would be to have something to soak up all the BBQ sauce goodness.
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Rice probably would have been great but, and this is the truth, I am really bad at making rice. It is rare that my stovetop rice adventures turn out well. So sad.

This might not sound super normal but my thought process was: I’m going to screw up making rice so let me try making bread. After some quick internet searches under “quick dinner rolls”, a recipe came up and it was a winner.

Since then I have whipped these rolls up often. Every time the recipe changes a little and this is my favorite iteration so far.
In under an hour you can go from “I would love some fresh hot bread”, to actually having it at the table. Promise.
The addition of fresh herbs, olive oil, and whole wheat flour helps to transform the simple white bread roll (which is also delicious) into something more hearty and rustic.
These rolls can double as hamburger buns if you make them a little bigger, or keep ’em small and use them for sliders. The only downside to making them is that they are best when they’re fresh. So while these might not work for Thanksgiving if they’re going to have compete with the turkey for oven time, they would be great for the day after! Mini leftover turkey sandwiches anyone?

Quick Dinner Rolls with Fresh Herbs
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast**
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp warm water (110° to 115°)
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg (+1 more if you want an egg wash)
  • 1 overflowing tsp salt
  • 3 to 3-1/2 cups half whole wheat/half white flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped thyme
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast (yes, 2 tablespoons) in the warm water. Whisk in oil and sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add the egg and salt and whisk. Add enough flour to form a soft dough.
  3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Incorporate more flour if it feels too sticky. Halfway through kneading add in your fresh herbs and knead so they disperse throughout the dough.
  4. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll them into round shapes. Place them a little bit apart from each other on a greased baking sheet or a lined baking sheet (my preference is for parchment paper).
  5. If you'd like an egg wash, beat one egg and brush over the tops of the rolls. I also sprinkled a little salt.
  6. Let them sit for 10 minutes before popping them into the oven.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until their tops turn golden brown.
  8. Let cool slightly before diving into them.
Notes
**The reason this recipe works is because it uses a lot of yeast. If you buy jars of yeast you can easily measure out the 2 Tbsp. Otherwise, if you buy the packets of yeast you'll need to open up three packets and measure out the tablespoons (you'll have a little extra leftover). Each packet has 2.5 teaspoons in it.

Adapted from this Taste of Home Recipe