Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Fun with blue cornmeal

The Navajos should object.
Over the past week I've discovered some ways to use up a bag of New Mexican blue cornmeal, most of them bad.

To start with, you can use your blue cornmeal to make the unappealing triple corn Navajo muffins from Blue Corn and Chocolate by Elisabeth Rozin. These squat, super-sweet muffins call for yellow cornmeal, blue cornmeal, and canned creamed corn. Why all three? I'm guessing because "triple corn muffins" sounds sexier than "corn muffins." But sexy these jaundiced midget muffins were not. I imagined I could detect the mucilaginous creamed corn in every bite. So yucky.

A very slightly better use of your blue cornmeal would be to whip up a batch of the blue corn pancakes from Culinaria: The United States.
I don't know what Owen was doing with his hand -- some kind of wizard move to make the leaden pancakes go away?
Thick, stiff, heavy, and gray, drenched in maple syrup these pancakes weren't inedible.

Another alternative: the worst chocolate chip cookies in the world!

Mark: "These are going to be around for a while." 
Crumbly, sandy, cakey, gritty, and sickly looking, the blue cornmeal chocolate chip cookies were baked from a Bob's Red Mill recipe. Thanks, Bob, for keeping things real. There are so many recipes for amazing chocolate chip cookies out there these days, I'd forgotten it was possible to make bad ones.

After three bummer dishes, I gave up on recipes calling specifically for blue cornmeal. I used the last of the blue cornmeal in these lovely and inspired pancakes  from the Essential New York Times Cookbook. 

To make these pancakes -- formally known as Kathleen Claiborne's hot cakes -- you cook your cornmeal (blue or yellow) into a sort of mush and then mix it into an airy batter and fry. What you end up with are beautiful, crusty pancakes with a soft, cornmeal mush center. Mark raved about them. Owen didn't rave -- complimenting me is against his principles -- but requested seconds. All the pancakes were eaten before I thought to take a picture.

And with that delicious breakfast, the blue cornmeal was gone.

I'm not sure how much longer I can continue this little pantry-cleaning series, because it's not turning out to be as inspiring and rewarding as I'd hoped. I'll give it a few more weeks. At the very least need to tackle the dessert wine.

41 comments:

  1. How strange, I was just looking at the NYT cookbook last night (haven't made anything from it yet...only recently acquired it), and that recipe really stood out to me. Guess I'll definitely have to try it!

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    Replies
    1. Do. It was great, worth that extra step of making mush.

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  2. I'm certain that the "amazing" blue corn pancakes (for which I transported the mix across an ocean twenty years ago, along with a quart of grade B maple syrup) would not thrill me nowadays. There are good uses for blue corn, perhaps, but at that unfortunate time I was under the thrall of health-inspired, deliciousness-impared feed. I don't even remember why I did it, except that I didn't like regular pancakes.

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    Replies
    1. Doesn't blue corn have extra protein? We all had our own versions of the blue corn pancake fixation. Do you remember oatcakes?

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  3. Oh, Jennifer, don't be discouraged! Just when you think nothing good will happen, you will be amazed, and in turn you will amaze us. I am a southerner, and I ate cornmeal every day of my life during my childhood, and I can tell you there aren't that many appetizing uses for it!

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    Replies
    1. Ha! I've never heard anyone admit that, least of all a Southerner.

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  4. I have been experimenting with grits, as in "Are Anson Mills Grits Really Worth It?" While experimenting I discovered Blue Corn Grits from Homestead Gristmill in Waco, Texas. These are my favorite grits ever. I have also discovered that grits are a hard sell anywhere outside of the deep south . . . sigh.

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    1. I made grits a few weeks ago -- the smoked gouda grits from Bon Appetit (you can find the recipe on epicurious) -- and they were really, really good, but my kids wouldn't eat them. What's different about blue corn grits? I will probably never find out.

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  5. Every time I get excited about cornmeal pancakes I am disappointed, and I want so badly to eat some good ones. I will try these. I wonder if they would also work with masa, or if it's too fine?

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    1. I don't think they'd work with masa. Have you had bad luck with johnnycakes?

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  6. "Thanks, Bob, for keeping things real." Thanks, Jennifer, for making me laugh out loud! I love your sarcasm. Now I am craving fried mush...

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    1. Thanks! I've always been interested in proper mush, which I've only read about.

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  7. By the way, Claiborne's recipe is a johnnycake (journey cake/hoecake). We made some in fourth grade for California settlers unit. More recently, we made bannock, which calls for oatmeal instead of corn, for an AP US carry-in breakfast.

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    Replies
    1. Bannock. I've heard of that. I will have to look it up.

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  8. The pantry series may not be delicious, but it is certainly entertaining. I say keep it up, for the sake of your fans!

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    Replies
    1. I kind of lost steam. I made all this stuff with dessert wine and none of it was very good.

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  9. I adore your writing. This post made my day better!

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  10. It's got to be hard to mess up a chocolate chip cookie recipe. I guess Bob's an overachiever. Thanks for making me laugh today!

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  11. This made me laugh out loud! Good thing my door was closed. Plus I learned the word "mucilaginous." Blue corn meal might have gotten a poor grade, but this post did not.

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  12. Living in New Mexico, I just think of blue cornmeal as a type of cornmeal. For example, I don't really care whether a restaurant's enchiladas are made with blue corn tortillas or regular. However, restaurants and stores catering to tourists do make a big deal out of it. Which is understandable, since it's something hard to find elsewhere. Since blue corn is used as a marketing gimmick, though, I think many recipes calling for it are likely to be gimmicky as well. Recipes that include cornmeal--without specifying a color--are the way to go, I think.

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    Replies
    1. You're absolutely right. I knew this going in, but thought I'd find some special recipe that exploited some subtle beauty of blue cornmeal. But no.

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  13. How much dessert wine do you have? I would much rather drink it than cook with it, especially paired with a nice creamy blue cheese, which in my opinion is one of this world's most heavenly food/wine pairings.

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    Replies
    1. Many, many bottles of dessert wine. I used some to poach salmon (yuck), some to make an Italian fruitcake (no one ate), some to make ice cream. The ice cream was the best. I tried sipping some, but the corks had rotted in every bottle I opened and it didn't taste as good as it should. I still have a few bottles left and there are a few more recipes to try. I'll post about them when I make them.

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  14. Oh, Tipsy! Just please post more regularly! We all love your writing so...but it's infrequent. Help us out?

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    1. I try! Sometimes I don't have anything interesting or funny to say and sometimes I don't have time. Sometimes, when I'm in the wrong mood, I find a post that "should" take an hour starts to take all day and then I have to give up.

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  15. How could chocolate chip cookies be bad? That is impressive...

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  16. I support your right to post only as often as you feel motivated to do it. We're all just freeloaders here, and I object to people complaining that you don't give us more free funny stuff.

    ReplyDelete
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