Category:  Holidays

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Columbus Day Corn Bread

Columbus Day Corn Bread

In Breads, Crêpes, Pancakes & Puddings, Holidays On September 29, 2010 0 Comments

Lately, I’ve been thinking of our October holiday honoring Christopher Columbus who arrived in America in 1492. I imagined him stepping off his ship in America, encountering an indigenous culture and new culinary delights – some made with corn or "maize". This idea inspired me to kick up our usual cornbread recipe with different ingredients. To test my invention, I recently brought this cornbread to work and set it on our kitchen counter. Everyone seemed to like it because it disappeared in under an hour – Happy Columbus Day!

Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 25 to 30 minutes
Servings: 12 to 14

Ingredients:
1 small zucchini, cut in chunks
1 small carrot, cut in chunks
1/2 red bell pepper, cut in chunks
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1-1/4 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder
2 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk (whole or 2% milk fat)

1. Heat oven to 400˚F. Grease and flour a 9-inch spring form pan or regular cake pan; set aside.

2. In a food processor, pulse-blend the zucchini, carrot and bell pepper chunks until chopped but not mashed; set aside.

3. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons oil and stir fry the chopped vegetables on medium high heat for 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, transfer the vegetables to a plate and set aside to cool.

5. Meanwhile, in a 2-quart mixing bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, cornmeal, flour and baking powder; set aside.

6. In a 4-quart mixing bowl, with a wire whisk, mix the eggs and sugar until uniform.

7. Stir in the oil and milk. With a wooden spoon, add the combined dry ingredients and mix until blended – do not overmix.

8. Gently stir the cooled vegetables into the batter; pour batter into prepared pan.

9. Set the pan on a rack positioned in center of oven for 25 minutes.

10. After 25 minutes, check doneness by inserting a pointed knife in center of cornbread – knife should come out clean. If knife has wet batter around it, bake cornbread for an additional 5 minutes.

11. Remove cornbread from oven and set on a counter to cool. When it is warm, loosen and remove spring form pan sides and slice the cornbread. If using a regular cake pan, loosen sides of cornbread with a knife and flip onto a flat plate. Slice and serve.

Enjoy the warm cornbread with soups, stews or chili.

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

EasterBiscotti

Easter Biscotti

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Holidays On April 1, 2010 6 Comments

These biscotti were inspired by a traditional recipe my maternal grandmother Nonna Nuccia used to make. Every year, during Easter week, Nonna made a panettone (an Italian sweet bread) decorated with multicolored nonpareil candies. My biscotti logs are sprinkled with the same candies and when sliced, they surprise you just like Easter eggs.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 30 to 40 minutes
Makes: 4 to 4-1/2 dozen biscotti

Ingredients:
3-1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (use lesser amount for a lighter flavor)
4 large eggs
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup shelled raw pistachios
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots (cut into 1/4-inch pieces)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 egg yolk, mixed with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)
Multicolored nonpareil candies (for decoration)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 12 X 18-inch baking sheets and set aside.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl and with a hand mixer, beat together the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla extract on medium speed until well blended.

4. Stir in the pistachios, blueberries, raisins, apricots and cranberries.

5. With mixer set on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture (1 cup at a time) to the wet ingredients, mixing well after each addition.

6. Transfer the dough onto a smooth, floured surface and, with lightly-floured hands, lightly knead the dough until smooth and uniform.

7. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Form each piece into a log measuring 14 inches long by 2 inches wide.

8. Transfer the two logs onto each prepared sheet, at least 2 inches apart.

9. Gently press each log to flatten slightly. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat each log with the egg wash.

10. Sprinkle each log abundantly with the nonpareil candies.

11. Bake logs, 10 minutes and then invert sheets (transfer sheet from upper rack to lower rack and vice versa).

12. Bake logs 15 minutes longer or until golden and they firm to the touch. If logs are too soft, bake an additional 5 minutes.

13. Transfer sheets to a wire rack or on the kitchen counter. Let logs cool in baking sheets for 6 to 8 minutes.

14. After 6 to 8 minutes, place logs on a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, cut logs crosswise and on a diagonal slant into 3/4-inch thick slices.

15. Arrange biscotti on the same baking sheets, cut-side down, in a single layer.

16. Return baking sheets with biscotti to oven and bake 4 to 5 minutes, turning biscotti over. After turning biscotti over, bake an additional 4 to 5 minutes.

17. Allow the biscotti to cool completely in baking sheets set on counter. Once cool, store the Easter Biscotti in double plastic freezer bags. They will keep frozen up to two months.

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real
Photograph of Dove Candies ®, which are a registered trademark.