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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Recipe on Test: Barefoot Contessa's (aka Ina Garten) Cheddar and Jalapeño Chilli Cornbread

Mmmm.... I love cornbread. It's a recent discovery, one that I first ventured on in my American Ranch Feast I made a few months ago. Stuck for something for lunchboxes for the week - I wanted to make something savoury rather than cakes again - I came across Ina Garten's recipe for cornbread on the Food Network's website.

It consisted of mixing the cornbread up like a muffin mix - the flour, sugar, cornmeal, salt and baking powder in one bowl and then you tip in the wet ingredients: eggs, milk and melted butter. The spring onions, grated cheese and jalapeño chillies are stirred in at the end, before tipping out into an ovenproof dish and baking. The results were brilliant, but the recipe wasn't without its problems.

The Recipe
I did love that this recipe is made using American measuring cups. For a Sunday morning's lazy baking I love to scoop out the mixtures with cups, it all feels a lot more easy going than squinting at the tiny notches of a set of scales and measuring with precision. That was what I loved.

A couple of things to bear in mind though. Don't worry, when you're instructed to melt almost a whole block of butter - the cornbread cuts into 12 hefty squares.  Do also soldier on when you pour the melted butter into the milk and eggs mixture and it goes all granular and sticky, it doesn't affect the finished result (but is a bit scary if you haven't seen it before). The recipe also very pointedly states that you need 'three extra large eggs'. My eggs come in a box of mixed sizes, and I just grabbed three of the largest although I wouldn't call them 'extra large'. And my cornbread came out fine.

One of the problems I did have though, was with the timing. The recipe says to cook the mixture for '30-35 minutes'. Mine took exactly one hour until it was ready. I used the right-sized oven dish and according to the comments on the Food Network's page, other people had the same problem. So if you do make this, just be prepared to leave it in a bit longer.

The Taste
It's bouncy, crumbly, sweet and pleasingly yellow. The grated cheddar sprinkled on top gives it a really crunchy texture on top. The cornbread is also very cheesy - my 2-year-old loves it despite the slight hum of the jalapeños buzzing through it. If you do make it, leave it to cool slightly and eat when it's just warm - when it's cold it has a completely different taste and a firmer texture, and although it is delicious, I prefer it much more when it's warm. The cornbread makes excellent picnic or party food, it's economical to make and a winner cut up into squares for lunchboxes or served with a rich chilli con carne.

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