Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Brief Tale of Corn, and Cornbread of Course!

From Cheap, Healthy, Good
Happy Thursday!  Tomorrow is Friday, and I have self-determined that by 8 AM my annoying case of the sniffles will be gone.  Instead of playing in the mountains and working on my fantastic tan line today, I spent the day watching a Disney movie and reading Stieg Larsson's murder mystery: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  While the day was fantastically relaxing, it was also rather unproductive.  Therefore, this post is my productivity for today.

Corn.  Discovered in Cuba by Christopher Columbus, corn was subsequently introduced to western civilization.  According to the boyfriend's current read: The Omnivore's Dilemma, corn is everywhere.  The stuff is so cheap, its made into adhesives, sweeteners, oils, clothing, livestock feed, and much more.  However, we primarily consume this versatile food unknowingly in its most processed forms.

Cornbread uses cornmeal, which can be found in two varieties: steel-ground and stone-ground.  Stone-ground cornmeal is the healthier choice as it retains some of the hull and germ (read: more fiber).  This recipe is another that I adjusted a bit from Cheap, Healthy, Good.  It goes perfect with some chicken chili!


  • 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal, divided
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated white sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 7/8 cup low-fat buttermilk (3/4 cup plus two tablespoons)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ½ tablespoon flour
  • 1/3 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • Oil to coat the pan
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey

1.       Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with oil, and line the           bottom with parchment covered in more oil.
2.       To a medium bowl, add 1/3 cup cornmeal. Set aside.
3.       In a small bowl, combine remaining 2/3 cup cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk it all together. Set aside.
4.       Go back to the first bowl, with the 1/3 cup cornmeal. Pour water into it. Stir until it's thoroughly combined and stiff. Slowly whisk in the buttermilk until the mixture is lump-less. Whisk in egg and butter. Pour the flour mixture into the cornmeal mixture and stir until everything is barely moist. (If desired, before adding batter to the pan, stir corn kernels with flour in a small bowl until just covered. Then, add corn to the batter, stirring lightly until just mixed.)
5.       Pour batter into pan and drizzle honey over the top. Bake 20 minutes or so, until it's risen slightly and top is golden brown. Remove from oven. Remove bread from pan. Cool on wire rack at least 5 minutes. Serve.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Spice-Rubbed Tempeh Wraps

On Monday, the USDA released the 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans.  Americans are being encouraged to reduce obesity by eating less and eating better.  While these seem like common sense principles, this is a huge move for the industry-funded USDA.  One way to eat better, and consume fewer calories is to go vegetarian a few days a week.  So try tempeh!

Tempeh is one of those "meat-replacement" foods that frequently appears in vegetarian restaurants, but I never seem to cook it at home.  Similar to tofu, tempeh is soy-based.  However, tempeh is made from the whole soy bean, and therefore has a firmer texture, more dietary fiber, and higher protein content.  

Sorry, the tempeh is kind of hiding
A few weeks ago I spotted a package of tempeh when stocking up on my weekly quantity of tofu, and grabbed it figuring inspiration would follow.  It sat in my fridge for at least a week before I mustered up the energy to get creative with my little block of goodness.  At first, I planned on baking these little tempeh sticks, but it was taking too long, and looked very bland.  The best thing about these wraps: they take about 15 minutes, start to finish.  

Spice-Rubbed Tempeh Wraps
Makes 4 wraps
  • 1 8oz package of tempeh
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon  coriander
  • ½ onion, cut into half moons
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large avocado, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • ½ can black beans, rinsed
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 4 leafs lettuce, torn or chopped into large pieces
1.       Slice tempeh into sticks, ¼ inch wide and about 3 inches long (width of package). 
2.       Combine paprika, chili powder, cumin and coriander in a bowl, and rub each tempeh stick in the spices (if they are not sticking, get them a bit wet). 
3.       Put olive oil in sauté pan, and heat over medium heat.  Add onion and any remaining spices. 
4.       Once the onion begins to soften, increase the heat to medium-high and add the tempeh.  Cook until browned on all sides.
5.       Pour black beans into a pot and warm over low heat (~3-4 minutes)
6.       Warm tortillas in oven 1-2 minutes
7.       Lay tortilla flat and add tempeh, onions, avocado, bell pepper, beans, cilantro and lettuce.  Fold over one end and roll from sides.