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A Southwest Summer: High Desert Cornbread

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When you live in the high desert of the great American Southwest, whether it be outside Reno, the vapid surroundings of Arizona or anywhere the cowboys roamed to settle this great region of the United Sates, you take a lot of things for granted -- including the cooking which originated here. Nothing beats "cowboy" or high desert cooking, especially when we are smack-dab in the middle of the barbecue and grilling season.

This recipe for cornbread is probably unlike anything you've prepared before. It has all the elements of a usual cornbread but that is where the similarities end. Into our batter we will have the freshness of green onions and jalapeno peppers. Our batter will be lightened with sour cream and once we play with the chemistry of baking powder, baking soda and salt, we will have a batter which expands, thus giving us one of the lightest cornbread's on the face of the earth.

There are many people who consider cornbread to be an art form. They may, in all actuality, be correct. In America, it seems as if every region has their standards for cornbread. Where cornbread originated can turn into a hotly debated conversation but what we do know is that it has been made for centuries in Africa and in the America's, the native Indians made cornbread a staple of their diet.

Ingredients needed to make High Desert Cornbread (makes 1 8-inch round bread):

  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup minced green onion
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. cream
  • 1 egg, beaten

Steps:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Set the batter aside 5 minutes (this will be when the aforementioned chemical trick will happen).
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and even out.
  6. Place in the oven and bake 25 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from the pan and let cool on a rack until ready to serve.

The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."

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