Showing posts with label corn meal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label corn meal. Show all posts

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cornmeal-Crusted Salmon with Yogurt Sauce

by Sheila Connolly

Often I start cooking with one ingredient that I want to use in mind and then back into a recipe from there. This is one of those times.

The Plimoth Plantation Grist Mill

I live near Plymouth, Massachusetts, and recently I learned that I’m descended from John Jenney, who managed the first mill built in the Plymouth Colony. It’s still there—in spirit, at least—and now belongs to Plimoth Plantation. The site of that first mill is known, although once it shared space along the small river that runs through the town with a lot of other mills of varying kinds—but the original mill itself burned down in the 19th century and was rebuilt then. The millstones (there are only the two, top and bottom) in the newly-rebuilt mill came from Pennsylvania.

Anyway, I decided to pay tribute to the memory of great-great…grandfather John and visited recently, and learned how corn was ground in 16-whatever and for a long while after that. It’s a process that still works, so of course I came home with some ground corn, both coarse and fine.

The "Sampa" on the left is coarser
Now, what to do with it? Cornmeal is a little sweet, and so is salmon, so I decided to put them together. Cornmeal also adds a nice crunch to the fish, but you’ve got to make it stick. So I came up with a recipe for a yogurt sauce. Most sauces using yogurt seem to come from Middle Eastern recipes, with herbs such as mint or coriander, but that didn’t seem to work with the colonial theme, so I tinkered with the recipe to emphasize the savory rather than the sweet.  Here’s the result.

Cornmeal Crusted Salmon with Yogurt Sauce

1 pound salmon filet (I used a single piece, which 
   doesn’t dry out so quickly when you broil it)

1/2 cup Greek style plain yogurt
1 Tblsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauce ingredients
1/2 cup coarsely ground corn meal

Mix the yogurt, olive oil, garlic and spices together. Coat the salmon with the mixture, then press the cornmeal onto the surface to form a thin crust. Save the sauce you have left over to add after cooking.

Cover a broiler pan with foil and place the coated salmon piece on it (you could also do this on an outdoor grill, but watch that it doesn’t overcook). Set the oven rack in the middle of the oven, not too close to the broiler flame—you need to make sure the fish is cooked through before the crust is too brown. Broil for 5-10 minutes (sorry to be vague, but this time depends on how hot your broiler is, and how thick your salmon filet is), or until the fish feels springy rather than squishy.

Serve immediately, topped with some of the remaining yogurt sauce, accompanied by a vegetable—in this case I had some lovely little peppers so I sliced those and sauteed them quickly in olive oil while the fish was broiling.

Breaking news! Reunion with Death (Beyond the Page Publishing, 2013) will be available for a week starting Saturday, October 4th, for 99 cents! In case you missed it when it first appeared, here's the description:

Laura Shumway couldn’t say why she’d agreed to go on the class reunion trip to Italy. Maybe it was to take stock of her life, or maybe it was just to catch up with old friends, take in the sights, and relax in the beautiful Tuscan countryside. Either way, she knew she’d discover a lot on the trip, both about herself and her former classmates. What she didn’t expect to discover was the dead body of esteemed professor Anthony Gilbert.

Before the polizia or carabiniere get involved, Laura and a few trusted classmates set out among the vineyards and hills of the Italian Riviera to solve the murder on their own. With the help of some influential locals and good old-fashioned detective work, they're soon led to the conclusion that one of their classmates might be a killer—and what started as a trip to see how far they’d all come may turn into a stark lesson about just how far one of them would go.

Available for Kindle and Nook, and most other e-formats.
And in case I haven't reminded you enough, Picked to Die (Orchard Mystery #8) comes out next Tuesday!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What a Catch!

We have a winner! But (sadly) it's not my turn to announce this week's
lucky prize winner. Do keep checking back to see who it is. Also, don't
forget to enter our Williams-Sonoma contest every week. There are
only a few more chances to win!

Cornmeal Fried Catfish

When my next door neighbor was painting
his living room, he asked my husband if he
would babysit, or rather fish-sit, his fish of
unknown origin for him until the room was

done. That was a year and a half ago and
the fish of unknown origin is still living on top
of our piano, blowing bubbles and waving

his fins at me. My husband has grown very
fond of him. Me, not so
much. Although, he's
growing on me, as much as anything with a brain the size of sesame seed
can grow on you. The neighbor does not seem to have any interest in
having him
back, although I have hinted repeatedly to him and anyone else
who enters my home, that we'd be more than willing to part with him.
No takers. Hmm.

When I am particularly annoyed by him, as annoyed as you can be
by a fish of unknown origin, or more accurately, the husband who
dribbles water on the piano when filling up
the fish's tank, I decide it
is time for a fish fry. The fish usually knows this is a good time to beat
fins behind the fake foliage in his tank. Okay, maybe his brain is bigger
than a sesame seed after all.

The fish of unknown origin: Shark or Catfish?
If you can identify it, please let me know. I'm stumped.

There is something joyous about pulling out my Cool Daddy Deep Fryer,

filling it to the max line with oil and setting it at 340 degrees. I don't
care who you are: fried=yummy. I mean, why else do I wait all year with
drooling anticipation to see what they're frying up at this year's state
fair? Did anyone else try the chicken fried bacon last year? How about
the chocolate covered strawberry waffle balls? Again, I repeat,


Cornmeal Fried Catfish:

4 (6 oz) catfish fillets
1 slightly beaten egg
1 cup corn meal
2 tbspn flour
1 tbspn rock salt
1 tspn black pepper
1 tspn cayenne pepper

I use my Cool Daddy for this recipe, but I have read recipes where
they use bacon drippings, too.

Mix the dry ingredients in a gallon sized plastic bag, set aside.
Rinse the catfish fillets, then coat with the slightly beaten egg, put the

fillet in the plastic bag and shake until thoroughly coated. Put the corn
meal encrusted fillet into the oil (carefully) and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Drain on a paper towel.

*For my sons, I dice up their fillets and serve them cornmeal encrusted
catfish nuggets. There have never been any leftovers!

Cornmeal Catfish nuggets. YUM!

Jenn McKinlay SPRNKLE WITH MURDER -- March 2010
(aka Lucy Lawrence -- STUCK ON MURDER -- Sept 2009)
For more recipes and information visit:

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cleo Coyle's Corn Muffin Tops a la Julia Child

I find it difficult to fathom that cooking in 1949 was far from glamorous. Sixty years ago, celebrity chefs were not whipping up 30-minute meals on TV. Men and women weren’t chucking their Wall Street careers to enroll in culinary school and legions of journalists weren't writing about the latest Chef Prodigy to descend from Mount Gastronome. Back then, working in a kitchen was considered a lowly, non-intellectual profession. It wasn't even an acceptable middle-class hobby. It was something the hired help did.

Well, Julia Child didn’t care. In 1949, at the age of 37, this brave lady walked in to Le Cordon Bleu “weak in the knees and snozzling from a cold,” according to her memoir, My Life in France.

“By now I knew that French food was it for me," Julia wrote after living in France for a year with her husband, Paul.  "I couldn’t get over how absolutely delicious it was. Yet my friends, both French and American, considered me some kind of a nut…They did not understand how I could possibly enjoy doing all the shopping and cooking and serving by myself. Well I did! And Paul encouraged me to ignore them and pursue my passion.”
All I can say is: Thank heaven for the "nuts" of this world!

Julia struggled through her courses at the male-dominated French cooking school, but she soon flourished and began teaching others what she’d learned via cooking classes, cookbooks (her Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume I is considered a seminal work in the culinary field), and a television show, The French Chef, which so many newbie cooks grew up watching.

: I wasn’t one of them. For one thing, I was too young and for another my mother and aunt, who were born in Italy, had already established a culinary tradition in our house of braciola, zucchini frittatas, homemade biscotti, wedding soup, and eggplant con everything (along with my Pop who made his own wine and grappa from the grapevine in our suburban backyard). Beyond them, my wider foodie education really didn’t begin until the 1980's with Jeff Smith’s PBS show, The Frugal Gourmet.
Until I purchased Julia Child’s The Way to Cook in the early 1990’s, my awareness of Child was (in all honesty) limited to Dan Aykroyd in drag.

Click here to go back down

SNL memory lane.

So now there’s a movie (opening today) celebrating the late Julia Child’s life: Julie & Julia, directed by the amazing Nora Ephron. Click here to see the trailer.
Ms. Ephron is truly one of my heroes. Her roman a clef, Heartburn, is a seminal work for me. (That's my battered old copy of her book in the picture.) Well, Julia Child happens to be one of Nora Ephron's heroes; and as I learned more about Child's life, I couldn’t help but admire the woman and be inspired by her, too.

With Ms. Ephron's film opening as a catalyst, I began searching through Julia Child’s massive The Way to Cook for a recipe to discuss: A feather-light soufflé, perhaps? Butterflied leg of lamb? How about duck pate baked in its own skin? Then I turned a page and saw…Buttermilk Corn Sticks. What?! I thought. Corn sticks? In The Way to Cook?! (I’d never noticed this before…)

Definitely dressier than cornbread baked in the traditional square pan,” Julia wrote, “for which I usually use the recipe on the Quaker cornmeal box, corn sticks are so shapely you can well serve them not only at breakfast but at lunch, at dinner, or at high tea.”

Yes, you read that right. Tucked into this 528-page culinary master work, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Julia Child admits to using a recipe on the Quaker cornmeal box! How can you not love this woman?!! But that was Julia, I have to say: After reading her memoir and viewing some of her old shows, I now understand that she was never about haute cuisine for haute sake. What drove Julia Child was a simple, down-to-earth desire to share her hard-earned knowledge and sincere passion for good food.

Click here to watch Julia teach you

how to cook. (She’s such fun, too!)

Back to the corn bread:

Julia is right, of course. The basic recipe on the Quaker cornmeal box is a good one. Still, Julia knew that small changes to a standard recipe could yield even tastier results. She chose to replace the “skim milk” with buttermilk, reduce the sugar to 2 tablespoons, and increase the cornmeal in the cornmeal to flour ratio.
While Julia's is a perfectly fine version, I decided to learn from her example and make my own changes…

(1) Flour Ratio: First of all, the increase of corn meal in the ratio of corn meal to flour troubled me. I personally like the taste and grainy texture of corn meal, but I’m in the minority. My own readers have told me that they prefer a more cakelike corn bread product--so I flipped the ratio, weighting the flour for a smoother textured muffin.

(2) Sugar: Julia stated outright that she simply did not care for sweet cornbread. But I do. So does my husband. When it comes to a breakfast bread or afternoon break with coffee, nothing comforts and satisfies like a sweet corn muffin (so my recipe is sweeter than Julia's).

(3) Liquid: Julia’s choice of replacing the milk with buttermilk was inspired but most people don’t have buttermilk on hand, and I knew milk alone would not provide that slight little “tang” on the tongue that gives the corn bread yet another layer of flavor.

My answer—sour cream. 1 cup of buttermilk in Julia’s recipe became ½ cup milk and ½ cup sour cream in mine.

And finally I had an issue with the stick part of the corn stick molds. You see, no matter how much I buttered or oiled or sprayed the cast iron molds; no matter how much I pre-heated them and re-greased them, some of my corn sticks would stick. And (honestly) how many people even have cast iron corn stick molds in their cupboards?

What to do? Well, Julia herself gave me the solution (providing the "a la Julia Child" part of this recipe). If you don’t want to use corn stick molds, she advises you to:
“…form 2-inch rounds on the
baking sheets with a spoon.”

Muffin tops!

Okay, so Julia didn’t call them “muffin tops,” but that’s what they are in my adaptation of her recipe. As you’ll see in my photos, a 2-inch round with my recipe will spread and rise (with the help of a dash more baking powder) into the exact dimensions of a really good muffin top. You don’t need a muffin top pan, either, just a greased baking sheet, a hot oven, and you’re good to go!

Click here or on the picture above to get
my recipe for Corn Muffin Tops.

(The recipe will appear in PDF format,
which you can save or print.)

In closing, I’d like to leave you with Julia’s own parting words at the end of her memoir, in which she recalls the first meal she enjoyed in France—a dinner that changed her life:

“In all the years since that succulent meal, I have yet to lose the feelings of wonder and excitement that it inspired in me. I can still almost taste it. And thinking back on it now reminds me that the pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite…”

~ Julia Child

At the end of my own recipes, I always say: “Eat with Joy!” But today, in tribute to one great lady, it seems only right to add:

Toujours Bon Appetit!

~Cleo Coyle, author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes or find out about the books in my culinary mystery series, visit my Web site -