It’s September, and son #2 is out of the house again living the high-life as a student in Santa Barbara where he’s studying to be an EMT. It’s a hard program, so let’s all pool our positive thoughts together and send them in his direction. Thanks guys! Anyway, he’s been up there about a month, but he’s coming home this Sunday and we’ve decided to have a little brunch in his honor…cause his mama misses him so much! My parents are coming over, because they too miss him a great deal, and his big brother, son #1 is coming, but he won’t admit how much he misses his younger brother. Ah, kids!
I’m preparing all his favorites; homemade waffles, fresh fruit and crispy bacon. He has requested that I bake this Chocolate Chip Cornbread which he likes toasted and topped with a big slab of butter. I’ve made cornbread a million different ways, but I particularly like this one for breakfast because it’s a little bit sweet and a little bit savory. If you can, it’s a treat to serve it right out of the oven.
Chocolate Chip Cornbread
From Bon Appetit
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 3/4 cup cornmeal
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs
- Place the oven rack in the middle position, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9″ x 5″ metal loaf pan with cooking spray, or you can use mini loaf pans or muffins tins if you wish. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips. Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the milk, oil and eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir just until all the ingredients are incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s).
- Bake the cornbread until the top starts to turn a little golden, and when a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. For the 9″ x 5″ pan, bake about 35 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. The cornbread is best served warm with a little butter.
As with all batters, mix this one just until all ingredients are incorporated. Do not over mix.
I come from a long line of bread eaters. We’re a hearty group and we can make a meal out of bread. Meat, fish and vegetables are nice, but really we’re quite satisfied with just bread. Maybe it’s my Eastern European ancestry that makes me appreciate what one can do with a little bit of yeast and some flour. You see, we’re simple folk. I love a loaf fresh out of the oven, slathered in butter or with a dollop of marmalade. Pita, naan, ciabatta or tortillas, call it what you will, it’s all good to me. I think it’s funny, all these people nowadays cutting bread out of their diet, well that’s just plain crazy to me.
I know some people are intimidated when they see yeast in a recipe. One of my favorite books, “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” has taken the trauma out of bread making. If you have the slightest interest in making your own bread, and trust me you should, then I highly recommend this book to you.
One of the best recipes in the book is their chocolate brioche. It’s a rich, eggy bread, golden on the outside with bittersweet chocolate ganache swirled on the inside. It was today’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nothing wrong with that, right?
From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 8 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus butter for greasing the pan
- 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- Egg wash, (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)
- You can make this dough using a spoon, a large food processor or an electric mixer. I made it in the bowl of my electric mixer.
- Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with the water in the bowl.
- Using the dough hook, mix in the flour until it’s all incorporated.
- When all the flour has been incorporated, cover the bowl, (not airtight) and allow it to rest at room temperature for 2 hours. After the initial rise, chill the dough as it will be easier to work with. This amount of dough will make four -1 pound loaves, so keep the dough refrigerated in a lidded container and use over the next five days.
- 1/4 pound good quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 5 tablespoons corn syrup
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- granulated sugar for sprinkling on top
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave in 15 second increments until smooth. Remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring until incorporated.
- In another little bowl, stir the cocoa powder and the corn syrup together and mix until smooth. Add to the chocolate mixture.
- Lightly butter a 9 x 4 x 3-inch nonstick loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and with a serrated knife, cut off a one-pound piece. I use my digital scale to weigh it. Dust that piece with more flour and shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the ball into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle, dusting with flour as needed.
- Spread 1/2 cup of the ganache over the rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Starting at the short end, roll up the dough and seal the bare edges.
- Tuck the loose ends underneath, elongate the dough into an oval and place it into your loaf pan.
- Let the dough rest for 1 1/2 hours in a draft-free spot.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Using a pastry brush, paint the top crust with the egg white and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.
- Bake the brioche for 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the sugar is caramelized.
- Remove from the pan and cool slightly. Reheat the remaining ganache, then drizzle it over the top of the loaf.
As we head north on the 101 freeway leaving Los Angeles for Santa Barbara, the temperature drops five degrees every 10 miles or so, until we reach our destination where it’s a balmy 72. Our morning begins with a trip to the local farmer’s market in Santa Barbara. We’ve driven up here today to spend the weekend with my good friend Lauren, and her husband Larry. During the week he’s a corporate CEO with a passion for the bottom line, but on the weekends it’s all about his passion for food. He’s as savvy in the kitchen as he is in the boardroom. It’s only fresh ingredients for him. As we dart from vendor to vendor, sampling the fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits that were picked right off the tree only this morning, I can’t wait to get back to the house to see what Larry will whip up.
The vendors at the farmer’s market were as colorful as the products they sold.
Farmer’s Market Pancakes
From Gale Gand’s Brunch!
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1 tablespoon sugar
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
unsalted butter, for cooking
fresh blueberries and sliced strawberries (rinsed and pat dry, strawberries hulled)
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, potato starch, sugar, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with a fork and then mix in the milk and oil. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and combine with a wooden spoon, leaving plenty of lumps. Transfer the batter to a pitcher with a pour spout.
Heat the griddle or a large skillet over medium heat (you might turn it down to medium-low after you’ve cooked a few pancakes). Melt 1 teaspoon of butter on it (add more butter, 1 teaspoon at a time, as you continue cooking and the griddle starts to get dry). Heat the butter until it foams. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of the batter onto the griddle to make each pancake, leaving space in between for spreading. At this point Larry, gently lays the fruit on top of the pancake (if you mix it into the batter, the batter will discolor).
When the top of each pancake has stopped bubbling and no longer looks wet and the underside is lightly browned, (about 3 minutes) flip the pancake and cook on the other side until golden about 2 minutes. Serve immediately, or keep warm on a plate in a 200 degree oven.
Be sure to serve with warmed, pure maple syrup.
Makes about twelve 3-4″ pancakes