They said it would rain. “They”, the ever resourceful weather report people who, in Los Angeles, have to come up with a myriad ways to describe sunny and warm. We rarely see rain in October, and it got me excited. I miss rain, which goes to prove one is never happy: in London and Milan I would complain about wearing layers and being caught in the rain and now I would gladly join in rain dances if they had a successful track-record.
The environmental reasons of why I like the rain are the scarcity of water in the LA basin and the fire danger, but the more personal ones veer towards steaming cups of tea and an excellent excuse to plop myself down on the couch with a book. In LA, you don’t go out in the rain unless you really have to.
The first rain and cool weather merited corn bread, I decided. I hadn’t planned for it, so I scoured my pantry and realized I missed jalapenos, buttermilk and a robust cheddar. Oh, and the cornmeal I had on hand might not be enough. But no way was I driving to the store – if you saw where I lived, you would not make the effort either. Not exactly a block or two away. But I was determined to have my corn bread and the comfort it represented so I grabbed a bunch of my usually unopened and dust gathering cookbooks and went on to combine recipes plucked from Jamie Oliver and Nancy Silverton.
The result was surprisingly delicious, although, if you are planning for it, do use some sharp cheddar instead of the mild queso blanco I had; and fresh jalapenos are more authentic than red pepper flakes. Still, the clouds gathered as night approached, the kitchen smelled of corn and cheese and the new Jo Nesbo book was waiting on the couch.
RECIPE Serves about 10
2 T Butter
1 Large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Ears of corn or 2 cups frozen corn
1 1/3 C Cornmeal
1 1/3 C All Purpose Flour
1 C Milk
1 1/2 C Sharp Cheddar (or other cheese you like of the same consistency), grated
2 Jalapenos, seeded and chopped or 1 T chili flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Pre-heat your oven to 400F (200C). Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the onions. Cook on medium heat for 10/15 minutes, until nicely caramelized (this is the Jamie Oliver’s addition and I really enjoyed it, although not usually seen in corn bread). Set aside.
- If you are using fresh corn, slice the kernels off the cobs, holding them upright on a cutting board and cutting the kernels off. Add them to the onions and cook for another 5 minutes.
- I don’t like to make corn bread in a mixer because it should be gently mixed and it’s easy to do by hand anyway. In a bowl, mix the eggs, cornmeal, flour, grated cheese, salt and pepper. Add the onions, corn and chiles.
- Grease a 9” cast iron skillet (or a cake pan if you don’t have one and line it with parchment), and pour in the corn bread mixture.
- Bake for 35 minutes, until nicely golden. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve. Best eaten on the same day.