Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tex Mex Fabulous Cornbread

Corn meal and Maize is the source of much sustenance for Americans and other countries, and more so in the Southern lying states in America and New England.  Since the American Indians' introduction of a process called Nixtamalization, which is corn ground into a meal or soaked in a lime or alkaline salt to make hominy, the possibilities for providing with a plethora sustainable menu ideas is virtually endless.  Referred to as "Johnnycakes", journey cakes, shawnee cakes, to name a few, consisting of ground corn or corn meal, moistened with milk that has been scalded or water and salt, these cake variations were commonly fried in some sort of animal fat on a griddle type device or depending on the area, baked in the oven or fires and served savory or with sweeteners such as maple syrup or honey.  References to the johnny cake span from 1739 in New England.
The history of the journey cake is similar to that of the "Hoecake", by way of ingredients, but dissimilar in regard to preparation.  Hoecakes and the name therein has roots dating back to the negro  field hands, who without the means to afford certain cooking vessels, would use their ingenuity and used their hoes used in the cotton fields, as a griddle or baking sheet of sorts, to cook their cornmeal cakes over an open fire.  Hoes used for cotton farming were large and flat with a long, detachable handle, made for a suitable cooking device once greased with animal fat. Some of  the first noted references to hoecakes date back to 1745 by writers like Barlow and Washington Irving.
Ironically enough, here in our "middle-east" South, which I use to refer to here in Southwestern  Virginia, Hoecakes are considered as simply home-made, hand-shaped bread biscuits made from flour.  In lieu of cornbread, we seldom serve it without adding a measure of sugar for sweetness, which for us is the optimal way to serve the sumptuous, buttered corn cake.   At any rate, today's recipe features corn meal, embellished with wonderful Tex-Mex ingredients and baked in an old fashioned, seasoned cast iron skillet, which remains one of the staples in my kitchen.  Preparation is simple and time conscious, using  a packaged corn muffin mix to bring these fabulous items together.  This recipe pairs well with any meal, especially chili beans, pinto beans, or long simmered legumes of your choice or as the starch to serve alongside a fragrant, roasted chicken as I served this recipe to my family.
2 pkgs. corn muffin mix, such as Jiffy
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
2/3 c. milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp. Agave nectar

1/2 c. Colby Jack cheese cubes
1/2 c. whole kernel corn, drained
olive oil for drizzling
1 chipotle chili, small diced, (optional)
Preheat oven and
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greased cast iron skillet to 400*F.  Mix dry ingredients and in separate vessel, the wet ingredients and combined until just blended.  fold in corn and cheese, and chili if desired and carefully pour into cast iron skillet.  Bake until knife or fork inserted comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Serve with butter if desired.   Serves 6 to 8.

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