Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Spoonbread Recipes for Thanksgiving: Sweet Corn and Candied Yam by Cleo Coyle


Holiday Buzz
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If you have roots in the South or enjoy soul food, I don’t have to describe spoonbread to you. For everyone else, I’m happy to explain.

I didn’t discover spoonbread until I moved to New York City. An acquaintance who grew up in Louisiana first mentioned the dish to me. 

"What is spoonbread?" I asked her. 

"It's a kind of cornmeal casserole that’s baked," she replied. "I know it sounds odd." 

I laughed and told her it didn't sound odd at all because I’d grown up on the Italian version: polenta.

Cleo Coyle, cornmeal eater,
is author of The
Coffeehouse Mysteries
Now I realize polenta is not a traditional Thanksgiving food, but...it was at our house, along with gnocchi, wedding soup, and other favorite dishes that were served each year by my Italian-born mom and aunt, right alongside the turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. And so the US melting pot continues with new immigrants serving their own culture’s favorites along with those enjoyed by us native Americans. Hmm...sounds suspiciously like the first Thanksgiving...



Which leads me right back to spoonbread because its roots are in a native American dish called subpawn, a type of cornmeal porridge. Apparently, English colonists were the ones who added eggs and milk, making the dish richer. 

Basic spoonbread, however, is pretty bland. Like grits or mashed potatoes, plain old cornmeal spoonbread gets its flavor boost from a generous pour of gravy or maple syrup (depending on whether you'd like it savory or sweet). 

Taking more liberties than the English colonists, I adapted the basic recipe even further, layering flavors into the spoonbread itself so it can be eaten as a delicious dish without adding gravy or syrup. 

For example, the Sweet Corn & Cheddar Spoonbread is a tasty side dish for a roasted meat dinner. And the Candied Yam (Sweet Potato) Spoonbread gives a sweet spin to the traditional turkey day casserole. Let's start with...





Cleo's Sweet Corn
& Cheddar Spoonbread


(A Tasty Corn Casserole)

This recipe is perfect for a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. In a pinch, however, you can use an 8-inch square pan. Whatever you use, be sure it is well greased with butter or cooking spray to prevent sticking. For a larger batch, double the amount of ingredients and use a 2-1/2 quart casserole dish or a 9 x 9 x 2-inch pan. Cooking time may be a bit longer for a larger casserole, check for doneness as indicated in the recipe.

Ingredients:

2 cups sweet corn kernels (I use frozen, no need to thaw)
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon white, granulated sugar
1 teaspoon regular table salt or finely ground sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper (white will look better, but you
      may substitute ground black pepper)
Pinch of cayenne pepper 
1-1/2 cups milk whole or low fat (1% or 2%, not skim)
½ cup water
¾ cup cornmeal (yellow or white)
2 eggs
2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese, yellow or white (*See my end note on reheating)
2 teaspoons baking powder

(Optional flavor additions: ¼ cup crumbled bacon; ¼ cup chopped roasted red and/or green peppers; ¼ cup finely chopped, lightly grilled sweet onions**)

Directions: First preheat your oven to 350° F. Into a medium size saucepan, place the corn kernels (still frozen is fine) and butter, warm over medium heat, stirring while butter melts. Add the sugar, salt, white pepper, cayenne pepper and stir to blend the flavors. Add the milk, water, and 3/4 cup of cornmeal. Cook and stir this mixture over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until mixture thickens and resembles porridge. 

IMPORTANT: Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool off for at least ten minutes before whisking in the eggs, cheese, and baking powder. Transfer immediately to a well-greased 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes (depending on oven). When spoonbread is set on top (no longer liquid and jiggling) and slightly browned, it’s finished cooking. As the name implies, spoon the bread pudding onto plates right from the baking dish and…eat with joy!

*NOTE: When I reheat this casserole, I sprinkle extra shredded cheddar cheese over the top. It's delicious!

**If you’d like to add more vegetable flavors, such as chopped sweet onions and/or peppers, begin by sautéing them in the saucepan. Once they’ve cooked up, use the same pan to begin building the recipe, adding the corn, butter, milk, and so on.






* * * * * *


Next up is...




Cleo's Sweet Potato 
(Candied Yam) Spoonbread


This is absolutely delicious, like a cross between a pumpkin pie and a brown sugar coffee cake. I can't rave enough. If you like sweet potatoes, I think you'll flip for this.

If you don’t care for sweet potatoes, however, try substituting pumpkin puree or cooked and mashed winter squash (acorn or butternut). Although this recipe is perfect for a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish (or 8-inch square pan), you can easily double the amount of ingredients and use a 2-1/2 quart casserole dish or a 9 x 9 x 2-inch pan. Cooking time may be a bit longer for a larger casserole, check for doneness as indicated in the recipe and be sure to grease your pans well to prevent sticking.

Ingredients:

2 packed cups of cooked and mashed sweet potatoes, directions are given for cooking
   (You'll need 1-1/2 pounds of sweet potatoes, about 2 large or 3 small.)
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups milk whole or low fat (1% or 2%, not skim)
½ cup apple juice (or apple cider)
¾ cup cornmeal (yellow or white)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder

Directions: Peel your sweet potatoes, cut into quarters, place in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium, cover with a lid, and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until very tender. Drain, mash, and measure out 2 cups. (*Or see Thanksgiving Day baked potato option at the end of this recipe.)

Preheat your oven to 350° F. 
Into a medium size saucepan, 
place the 2 cups of your cooked, mashed sweet potatoes and the butter. Warm both over medium heat, stirring while butter melts. Add the dark brown sugar and salt and stir to blend the flavors. Add the milk, apple juice, and 3/4 cup of cornmeal. Cook and stir this mixture over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until mixture thickens and resembles porridge.

IMPORTANT: Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool off for at least ten minutes before whisking in the eggs, vanilla, and baking powder. Transfer immediately to a well-greased 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes (depending on oven). When spoonbread is set on top (no longer liquid and jiggling) and slightly browned, it’s finished cooking. As the name implies, spoon the bread pudding onto plates right from the baking dish and…eat with joy!

*Thanksgiving Day option: While your turkey is roasting, prick sweet potatoes with fork and wrap in aluminum foil. If potatoes are extremely large, cut in two before wrapping. Bake about 90 minutes on a rack below or above the turkey. Remove potatoes from oven, scoop out and mash up the cooked potato flesh, and continue with the recipe. You can always slip the casserole into the oven on a rack above or below the turkey to cook along with it.





Cook with
Thanksgiving joy!






~ Cleo Coyle, author of 





Yes, this is me - Cleo Coyle
Learn about my books here.

Friend me on Facebook here.
Follow me on Twitter here.





To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.






The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 
 


**********************


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December 4th!



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ARC of
Holiday Buzz!


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Tuesday, November 20th.


Happy Holidays, everyone,
and Happy Reading!

~ Cleo




10 comments:

  1. Count me in for the cheddar and corn version. And Cleo, your family's Thanksgiving menu sounds fantastic!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, spoonbread (unctuous delight) with corn kernels and cheddar! Heaven! I must make this!!!

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  3. Sweet corn spoonbread is one of my all time favorites. They tend to put jalapenos in it around here but I am a purist, just corn...and cheese, yes, lots of cheese! I seriously have to try the Brown sugar and apple one. I think I'll take it to work this Saturday!

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  4. I don't know which one to make first--they all sound fantastic! Both sides of my family spent time in Missouri (great-grandparents and grandparents), so dishes like spoonbread pop up in our family meals here and there. I love it!

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  5. Holy Smokin' Rockets!!! I want all three right now. I was just pondering how I would make it through the holidays dairy free...drat, that casein allergy! Tomorrow I'm going to make the apple recipe with almond milk and casein free margarine. If it tastes wonderful...it's on to the sweet potato version.

    Lovely photos, great recipes and a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

    Wishing you and Marc the happiest Turkey Day ever!

    Nanc

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  6. Wow, wow, wow! The brown sugar spoonbread looks awesome. All of them do. Going to share all these photos tomorrow on FB. Wow! Love em. Thanks, Cleo. Happy T-day!

    Daryl aka Avery

    ReplyDelete
  7. These are some delicious recipe ideas. I need to try them during this weekend.

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  8. Cleo, you do have a knack with photographing the dishes. You should be a food stylist. Has one ever appeared (or disappeared) in any of the books by the authors here?

    ReplyDelete
  9. The pictures are gorgeous, the recipes mouth-watering and your books delightful!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dying to taste that spoonbread! My kids will definitely love to eat these healthy recipes!

    ReplyDelete

 

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