Jalapeno & Cheddar Cornbread

Jalapeno Cheddar CornbreadWhen I think of cornbread, I can vividly see the image of worn hands draped in cornmeal dust, kissed by sticky bits of egg and butter. I smell the thickness of buttermilk’s tang waft beneath my nostrils. There’s natural sunlight piercing through the grease stained windows where laundry drapes from the twine in the distance. There was a little shed out back that was attached to a chicken coop where my sister and I once collected eggs from the rustic piles of hay, leaves and cotton, that were sewn into works of art where the eggs lay. jalapeno cheddar cornbread

It almost seems like a lost cause to bake something attached to so many warm thoughts. My grandmother never made jalapeno cheddar cornbread. It’s a treat that I’ve developed a fondness for over time. The hint of spicy warmth on that sweet corn backdrop and the kiss of that nutty cheese to bring it all together is something enchanting if you let it be. When I reminisce with friends about simple southern staples like cornbread as pertaining to my childhood. It entails that of a Lodge cast-iron skillet, a chipped coffee mug, hot cornbread, buttermilk and a spoon. You talk about heaven’s dessert. I’m not sure if it was dessert? Or maybe it was breakfast, or a snack? Either way, it seduced the soul and calmed the spirit far more than any prescription drug nowadays. You should give it a try.

This recipe is simple in nature and lends itself to interpretation depending upon how creative you want to be. No mind what the ‘traditional southern purists’ may say.

I’m contemplating adding pimento cheese to appease the masses, because who doesn’t love pimento cheese?

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
½ pound room temperature(2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (leave some to grease pan)
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers (2 to 3 peppers)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with a couple tablespoons of butter, set aside.
2. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl(dry ingredients always want to runaway). In a separate bowl mix the minced jalapeno, eggs, milk and butter. add your dry mixture by the cupful one at a time into the wet mixture and combine using a wooden spoon until all ingredients are combined. Be careful not to over mix and its ok if little specks of butter are still present. Then, fold in the grated cheese using a rubber spatula until fully combined.
3. Pour batter into your greased cast-iron skillet and bake for 25-35 minutes depending upon your oven. I recommend allowing it to cool for a few moments but not all the way, its best when warm.

 

 

 

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili by The Local Forkful I’ve been putting off writing this post for quite some time. And while I would like to pretend as though I’m ashamed. I’m not. This season has been keeping me awfully busy and that’s both good and bad, but mostly good. The extra money in our bank account from working so many hours has been quite nice but my body is starting to feel the consequences of cooking thirteen hour days and sleeping six-hour nights. It might sound like complaining but it’s not. I’m merely stating the facts.White Chicken Chili by The Local Forkful

This weather has been confusing me something awful and my allergies are pouting like a toddler wanting a nap. I often find myself wanting produce that’s not in season due to mother nature’s trickery. It was a freezing temperature day several Thursdays ago when I first made this soup. I remember because Saturday came and I was tapping out of the match from sheer exhaustion after eating a bowl or two a day. I guess I need to work on my re-purposed leftover skills. Chicken Chili tacos, anyone?Fresh Ground Cumin

Jenna and I enjoy two different kinds of soup. I like hearty soup and she enjoys broth-y soup so when I make it, I try to find a happy medium. And I typically make enough to be frozen or eaten on for a couple of days. Feel free to make this and any other recipe your own by changing the procedures. I realized that I was out of ground cumin and so I ground my own fresh and I think it made a world of difference. I encourage you to leave the vein and seed in your jalapeno if you desire a spicier soup. Use a different bean that you enjoy such as garbanzos or Lima beans. If you don’t desire to purchase chicken stock, then grab chicken bouillon cubes, you’ll need six cubes for 4 quarts of water. But by all means taste it to see if its to your liking. I believe that the sky’s the limit when it comes to soup and I’m encouraging you to soar my friend.White Chicken Chili by The Local Forkful

White Chicken Chili

1 lb of pulled chicken meat
4 quarts of chicken stock
1 medium onion diced
2 jalapeno de-veined and seeded (diced)
2 15 ounce cans of Cannellini beans
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
2 teaspoons fresh oregano minced or 1 teaspoon dried
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons of EVOO
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon kosher salt (to taste)
2 sprigs fresh cilantro (rinsed and chopped)

Method

1. In a stock pot saute your onions in the olive oil and butter over medium heat stirring continuously until transparent but not browned for 8 minutes or so. Add jalapeno, oregano and cumin, saute for another 3 minutes.
2. Add your chicken stock and allow the soup to come up to a simmer but not boiling. Then add your beans and chicken. Turn your soup to medium low heat and allow all ingredients to heat through. And then add your rinsed and chopped cilantro in last. Stir with wooden spoon until all ingredients are combined. Enjoy.

Serving Suggestions: jalapeno cheddar cornbread, hot water cornbread or crackersWhite Chicken Chili by The Local Forkful

Marshmallowy Cornflake Treats

Marshmallowy Cornflake TreatsIt makes me laugh when I think about some of the silly things my sister and I ate for dessert as kids. Prepare yourself, because this is pure unadulterated truth. When I was in my youth, I used to enjoy heating up fudge rounds in the microwave until the filling was slightly runny, and then I would proceed to drizzle it with milk. At first scrape of that gooey rich but soggy creation off of my plate, I was in heaven and you couldn’t persuade otherwise. This dessert when I think about it still warms my heart but I haven’t done it in years. That might have to change sooner than later.

My sister liked to take Nestle cookie dough and crumble it on a plate, heat it in the microwave for 20 seconds intervals while rotating the plate. Because back then our microwave wasn’t as ‘fancy schmancy’ as the one we have today. I’m sure this was completely unhealthy in one way or another but we survived it and these are our food memories. It’s one of things that I adore about food is the simple fact that no matter your likes or dislikes it has a way to connect with you and tell a story. 20140201-103149.jpg

It turns out that my mom was no world-famous pastry chef but she knew the basics and she knew what to do to satisfy our sweet tooth. This recipe is an accidental, oops! we don’t have any, kind of concoction. My mom made these for us when we were kids and it was clearly contrived from a day of wanting something sweet and missing a ‘key’ ingredient. There are some of you Rice Krispie treat purists out there thinking to yourselves. “cornflakes and marshmallows?!?!” And that’s o.k. But just in case you didn’t notice, the cereal companies have jumped on the bandwagon as well, they just sold it to you as breakfast food. So I hope you enjoy these and they somehow make their way into your family traditions, but if not, whip up a batch and tell me you’re not a believer?

Do tell me your favorite childhood desserts? I’m dying to hear it.mallowy corn flake treats

Mallowy Corn Flake TreatsMarshmallowy Cornflake Treats

10 ounces marshmallows (big or small)
1 stick unsalted butter
12 ounces plain corn flake cereal
1 oz heavy cream

Method
1. place butter into a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Once butter has completely melted, add heavy cream and then add the marshmallows a small handful at a time until completely melted and all the lumps are gone (unless you like the lumps).
2. Pour the cereal into a large mixing bowl. Pour the marshmallow mixture over the cereal and mix thoroughly using a wooden spoon until all the cereal is completely coated.
3. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray or line it with parchment. Spoon all of the mixture into the dish. sprinkle a little powdered sugar on your hand or use a little butter to coat your palm and press the mixture down into the pan until completely even across the top (now you can cancel that pure barre membership). allow the mixture to cool down for about 20 minutes before cutting into desired shapes. Enjoy!Mallowy Corn flake treats

Quick & Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

Quick & Easy Chicken Noodle Recipe by The Local Forkful Dear Journal:                                                                                                            1.23.2014

It seems that this schizophrenic weather has clearly taken its toll on my immune system. breaking down my defenses and leaving me vulnerable and in a state of mere confusion. You know that if there is one thing I detest, it is being sick and yet, here we are. Despite the many hand washes and habitual usage of hand sanitizer, I was unable to escape the little germs from doing their sugarplum dance. And now, here we are hacking and coughing, watery-eyed and chilled to the bone, buried beneath the blankets and drowning in the Vernors ginger soda which I stumbled upon at the local Kroger. Score!

I think I’ll swing by the store later and grab some items to make soup. Chicken noodle perhaps? No need to go changing tradition. I mean, it’s the default, go-to soup of illness. I remember my mom breaking out a can of Campbell’s chicken broth and heating it to a temperature somewhere around “scolding” and pleading with me to drink (le sigh). But if there’s one thing anyone would long for during times like this, it’s the affection of a loved one whether it be a parental unit or spouse. I’m glad that Jenna was able to spend the day with me because if there’s one thing that stinks about being sick is ‘being sick alone’.

Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup by The Local Forkful

Chicken Noodle Soup is one of my favorite things to indulge in. It doesn’t have to be prepared when you’re feeling ‘under the weather’ but maybe when you need a little piece of home or comfort. Its one of the many foods that evokes childhood memories for me and every now and again, we all need those warm moments to come by and stay for a spell.

This recipe is really ‘off the cuff’, no Googling, searching cook books or inquiring of anything or anyone for their favorite version. Because I feel like chicken noodle soup should be in our mental rolodex and somewhat instinctive. Your version might have celery, potatoes or maybe even a little curry but you have a chicken noodle soup recipe that will warm ‘the cockles of your heart’. So tell me, what’s your favorite ‘feel better’ soup?

Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup by The Local Forkful

Quick & Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

4 quarts of water
5 chicken bouillon cubes
1 medium yellow onion diced
1 lb peeled and sliced carrots
1 lb pulled chicken meat
8 ounces wide egg noodles
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp kosher salt (to taste)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Method

1. Fill your stock pot with the water, bouillon cubes, onions, white pepper, butter and cook over medium high heat. Allow contents to come to a rolling simmer, stirring occasionally and then reduce heat to medium. After about 10 minutes, add your carrots.

2. Cook your noodles according to the recipe on the back of the package until al dente and then let them cool down. I like to cook them separately because they hold better for a couple of days without breaking down in your soup. And it will leave with some broth instead of your noodles continuing to soak it all up.

3. Add your pulled chicken meat and noodles, then allow the meat to heat through. Your soup is done at this point and ready to be consumed. Grab some saltines, a warm blanket and call it a day.

Side Note: I already had some chicken leftover from a roasted bird. So feel free to buy a roaster from the store or cook your own. I always prefer cooking my own because I’m picky about the seasoning on it and I like to prepare more than one meal out of it.

quick and easy chicken noodle soup by The Local Forkful

Sage Roasted Chicken with Israeli Cous Cous & Cabernet Mushroom Reduction

Sage Roasted Chicken : Recipe by The Local ForkfulI enjoy trying a vast variety of foods, never limiting myself to one regional cuisine or the next. My roots will always be southern-based and you’ll typically find the traditional ingredients somehow incorporated. Last year, I taught a cooking class at Williams-Sonoma and one of the salads I prepared contained tri-color couscous. I am a lover of couscous and why no one is really clear as to where it originated, that doesn’t keep me from indulging whenever it’s in my presence.

The general public may often confuse it for rice but it is not, but closer to a pasta of sorts. The tiny granules are actually bits of durum wheat, which is also the grain ground into semolina flour, which is commonly used for making pasta. Voila!CousCous

I prefer the Israeli couscous, which is a larger granule with a fluffier texture. Today’s blog post was inspired by my desire for something hearty but not heavy and that was perfect for this ‘sweater weather’ we’ve been experiencing in Middle Tennessee. Brrr! So when scurrying through the isles of the supermarket I discovered sage for a dollar, carrots are always cheap-er, and some button mushrooms that were just screaming to be picked-up, so I obliged. I typically always go for shallots when a recipe calls for onion. I love their mild sweetness with just enough of that sharp onion tang,and they won’t leave you with offensive breath. Score!

This dish may look and feel slightly overwhelming but don’t allow it to be. Read it all the way through before tackling and ‘mis en place’. You’ll be thankful you did. It’s 2014 and you’re conquering your cooking fears. There’s a chef in all of us just screaming to get out. Open the door.

Sage Roasted Chicken, CousCous, & Cabernet Mushroom Reduction

1 lb skin-on chicken breast
1 T. Olive Oil + 1 tsp
2 T. unsalted butter
2 stems fresh sage leaves
kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

1.5 peeled carrot medallions
4 medium shallots peeled & quartered
2 T. Olive Oil
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

5 oz. tri-color Israeli CousCous
1 cup chicken stock
1 T. unsalted butter
smidgen of kosher salt

1 cup quartered button mushrooms
1/2 cup cabernet sauvignon wine (or a syrah/malbec)
3 T. cubed, chilled unsalted butter
smidgen of kosher salt to taste

Method:

1. Pre-heat oven to 400. Rinse chicken under cold water and pat dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside. In a medium saute pan on medium-high heat, heat olive oil until it begins to spread, about 20 seconds. Add butter, allow to completely melt while swishing pan lightly in a circular motion. Once butter is melted and you have a nice sizzle lay the chicken skin side down gently. Snuggle the sage stems around the chicken. Let the chicken brown on the skin side checking it occasionally, as we do not wish to eat burned chicken. Once Chicken is ‘golden brown delicious’ flip it over and allow it to finish in the oven. Use a thermometer to check temp. 165 degrees is safe but I prefer 155 or so and allow for ‘carry-over’ cooking.

2. Get your water for the couscous on the stove. Rinse, peel and cut your vegetables accordingly. On a sheet pan toss your carrots and shallots in the olive oil and season with salt in pepper. Roast for about 15-20 minutes on 400 until they are fork tender. Simply follow cooking directions on the back of the box for couscous and set aside once finished. taste for seasoning. Once veggies are finished, toss them into your fluffly couscous and combine. If you have it, a little chopped parsley, leftover sage would be nice thrown in to this mix.

3. Using your oven mitt remove your chicken and sage leaves from the pan, set aside. Return your pan to a medium heat, if you need a little more olive oil to sautee the mushrooms add a little now. Toss in the mushrooms and just cook until they get a little color on them, about 2 minutes. Add in red wine and allow to reduce by half. If splatter is occurring then slightly reduce heat. Once wine is reduced, remove your pan from the heat and add the butter. Using a wooden spatula vigorously stir butter into the sauce until completely melted. The wine should begin to thicken and coat your spoon. Timing is very crucuial as your sauce will break if butter is not combined quickly. You are relying on the fat content to emulsify the sauce.

4. Spoon your couscous mixture onto the center of your plate, piling in a mole hill fashion. Lie your chicken breast vertically along the side of the hill and ladle your mushroom cabernet reduction across the chicken. Grab a glass of that Cabernet and the rest is history. This dish would be perfect for a dinner-for-two. Also known as Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!