Friday, March 30, 2007

Food Porn Friday!!!!

Southern Spoonbread

Steaming Hot Spoonbread with Pear Preserves

It is probably my favorite of the corn based Southern quickbreads. My mother did not make it often enough when I was a child for my taste, but when she did make it, it was a very special treat.

We all eat cornbread down here. Some like it sweet. Some like it crumbly and dry. But spoonbread is in a class all of its own. Basically, it's like a moist cornmeal souffle. Like a souffle, it needs to be served immediately out of the oven before it looses its loft. It's called "spoonbread" because of its soft texture, so different from cornbread.

I like it best drenched in butter with honey or homemade preserves. But it is an outstanding accompaniment to beef or poultry. It's the cornbread to use for a holiday meal or a meal too proud for plain simple cornbread. But it is also excellent if you just want something very comforting on a cold day.

A Tale of Two Spoonbreads

I have exactly the same recipe from my two grandmothers. They collected the same recipe with minor changes to it from the same place but forty years apart. The reasons they were in the place were very different.

Grandmother Rita's recipe is credited to Berea College in Kentucky. My grandfather on that side of the family had an early career as a professional student and they traveled widely from university to university while he picked up his many degrees. They would have been in Berea somewhere between 1900 and 1910.

Grandmother Rita was a refugee from the golden age of leisure. She got her college degree in 1902. They kept up their formal Victorian manners for their entire lives and seemed perennially stuck in the Fin de Siecle. She was a master of the culinary arts. While she was perhaps considered a "new woman" of the late 1800's, she would be more old school by the 1920's.

My other grandmother credits her recipe to The Boone Tavern also connected with Berea College. My grandfather worked on the Southern Railroad, and it is possible that he actually collected the recipe. You see, Grandmother Rose was a dreadful cook. When they first married, the first bag lunch she sent off with him was a black-eyed pea sandwich. She was from a family of seven sisters from Lakeland, Florida. Judging by the archives of the family photos, these were girls who knew how to have a good time (she is shown in the photo on the left holding the dog). Even the photos of them from the teens in their white dresses ala "A Little Night Music", have the sisters lolling around on picnic blankets with wine and beaux. They eagerly welcomed the roaring 20's and each sneaked off to have their hair bobbed.

The reason always given for her kitchen disability was that each of the sisters was given a particular part of the household to oversee. Rose's was the housekeeping. And she certainly excelled at keeping house. But the kitchen duties were shared by Emmy Jo and , I believe, Pearl(the other two flappers in the photo). So my poor grandfather learned to fend for himself and the best family recipes from those two are actually his.

Berea College or Boone Tavern Spoonbread

1 1/4 cup corn meal (water ground)
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 and 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 well beaten eggs
1 and 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

Stir cornmeal slowly into cold milk in a saucepan on medium heat. Stir constantly. Remove from heat the moment it begins to boil and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well and pour into a buttered casserole dish. Bake for 50 minutes at 400 degrees.* Serve immediately in the same dish.

*note: this does better in a modern oven at 350 for 30 minutes. The later version of this recipe makes this adjustment. Watch carefully and do not overcook.


9 Comments:

  1. Anne Johnson said...
    I hoped to trickle over here before the food porn was posted... now I have to go drink a tower of TaB.

    It's very thoughtful of you to write about your friend and his ordeal. I suspect he's not alone in his predicament.

    Congrats on the blog of the day! I didn't know it existed. You are really gifted, you deserve it.
    Hankster said...
    Interesting recipe for Spoon Bread as I had thought the basis for this southern treat was grits! The recipe I use calls for grits, and I have a 19th century southern novel where in one scene unexpected guests for supper are served spoon bread made of grits left over from breakfast.
    I guess when you was poor you was resourceful. Hankster
    Rosie said...
    Thanks for the visit, Hankster!

    You could, technically, make it with grits, though the hominy process does take much of the corn flavor out. I have made grits with milk in the past with quite good results. Spoonbread is traditionally made with cornmeal...preferably of the stone or "water" ground variety. I'm thinking making it with grits would make it a bit mushier.
    Hayden said...
    oh yum yet again! I've never made spoon bread before, so this will be fun. Thanks!
    Housewife said...
    Dude

    That's cake

    I know a cake recipe when I see one!

    But I'm making it anyhow because I can't get over the fact that I was 36 before I learned how to make rice so easily.
    johnieb said...
    Mornin', Darlin'

    You reckon it would do as well in a souffle dish as the pieplate pictured?

    I'm thinking with a roasted pork loin, maybe with mustard & sage Bechamel or Beurre Blanc, some of these wonderful Yankee greens (Beet, Mizuma, Kales, etc.: unCollards, maybe Yams and Brussels Sprouts with Pecans. Hmmm.

    Dadgum Food Porn Fridays.
    johnieb said...
    Speaking of which,

    I'm looking to match a super California Chard, made by a coupla crazy French persons under the Potelle Vineyards label.
    seejanemom said...
    NOOOooooo...........

    You are my brother from another mother...or SISTER. ;)..ROSIE, HONEY STOOOP.

    My "town" (Atlanta/Sea Island)grandmother was responsible for THIS recipe in my box. Good GOLLY...There is not a summer where we did not eat spoonbread (with bits of fresh Silver Queen) at supper EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. With homegrown tomatoes sliced on the side, a little chow chow and SOMETIMES a little meat (country ham) , but with a plate of summer vegetables, there is NOTHING FINER.

    NOTHING.

    Oh Rosie...THANK YOU FOR THIS MEMORY. You NEVER fail to calm my soul with the most simple of memories.

    Thank you. AGAIN.
    Anna said...
    I think I feel like having a Diet Coke now....those look SO good!

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