Saturday, December 6, 2014

Spoon Bread from Savoring the South

My husband handed me a piece of paper and said, "Spoon bread. Is that the same as grits?"

Well, no. It's like the stepchild of grits and cornbread. It's softer and moister than cornbread, but not as oozy as grits.

I happen to love grits, and I love cornbread, too, so I was all geared up to try the spoon bread from Savoring the South by Angela Mulloy. The taglinc for the book is Memories of Edna Lewis the Grande Dame of Southern Cooking with Recipes. I think that pretty much sums up what you get.

The recipes in the book are written in an old-fashioned way, where the cookbook author assumes the reader knows basic terms and techniques. It makes the recipe directions shorter, that's for sure.

Whether on purpose or by accident, the spoon bread recipe I tried omitted a step. Egg yolks were beaten, other ingredients were added, and the next step involved egg whites, while the yolks were never spoken of again. Perhaps it was assumed that the cook would know what to do with the yolks without being specifically instructed.

I cut the recipe in half because it's best when fresh and I knew we'd never finish even half the recipe. The full recipe would be good for a large family or a gathering, but a small family would probably be fine with the half-recipe (which is what I have below).

Besides recipes, the book has a lot of narrative, so if you're the type who wants a story with your recipes, I think you'll enjoy this. As a midwesterner, I'd say that the recipes all do seem to have a southern heritage rather than a southern twist or a new southern whatever. It's like a classic old book without the musty smell.

Spoon Bread
Adapted from Savoring the South by Angela Mullow

1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs separated
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 1-quart baking dish. I used a metal chef's pan.

Heat the milk to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Sprinkle the cornmeal in slowly, stirring or whisking constantly so the cornmeal doesn't clump. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the cornmeal is the consistency of soft oatmeal. Mine got a little too stiff, so I added an extra splash of milk and whisked it in.

Turn off the heat and add the butter.

Whip the egg whites to peaks, then beat the yolks. If you beat the yolks first, you'll need to thoroughly clean your beaters, or the whites won't whip. Add the baking powder, sugar and salt to the yolks.

Add the yolks to the cornmeal mixture and stir to combine.

Fold in the whites gently. It's easiest to stir in about 1/3 of the whites to loosen the cornmeal, then fold in the rest. But do it however works for you.

Transfer the batter to your prepared pan and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until the spoon bread is puffed and the top is lightly browned.

Serve quickly.

I received this book from NetBooks for the purpose of a review.