“Baby It’s Cold Outside!” Those famous song lyrics barely describe what it’s been like in New England this week. Between temperatures plunging to single digits, and unending snow, we’ve been stuck in the house for long stretches. There’s 3 feet of the white stuff on the ground and more piled atop our roof. Then there are the giant icicles hanging from all the gutters that frame our house.
Since we couldn’t go out I decided to spend my time in the kitchen. I’ve made 6 pounds of chili (that was for a cooking class that had to be postponed), baked a white and dark chocolate cheesecake (a recipe testing for an upcoming Valentine course), prepared several batches of dark caramel sauce, and also turned out loaves of cheese-scented cornbread. Oh, and did I mention that I made a big skillet of red beans and rice another day. We might be cold, but we are certainly not hungry.
Now I hear more snow is predicted in a few days so I’m planning to shop, stock up, and start cooking again.
You can use a sharp cheddar or a Monterey Pepper Jack cheese in this recipe. The former will add a mild cheese flavor while the latter will add a touch of heat. This cornbread is great with chili or vegetable soups.
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup (about 3 ounces) grated white cheddar or Pepper Jack cheese
Arrange an oven rack at center position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Place oil in an 8-inch cast iron skillet set over high heat. Heat until oil is hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Watch carefully.
Whisk eggs and buttermilk together in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in baking powder, salt, baking soda, cornmeal, and cheese. Pour oil into batter and mix well. Pour the batter into the skillet and place in the oven.
Bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and turn out bread onto a rack to cool for a few minutes. (Cornbread can be prepared a day ahead; wrap tightly and let stand at cool room temperature. Reheat in the microwave for several seconds.) Makes one 8-inch loaf.