Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hoppin' John Cornbread Muffins

Photo Credit: Ashley E. Cummings

Hoppin' John Cornbread Muffins

Traditional components of the Southern New Year's staple, Hoppin' John, work in harmony to create these yummy muffins.  What a way to ring in a year of prosperity!  Serve warm with butter as a brunch feature or hearty on-the-go snack.  You can also serve them with soup to complete the meal.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 jumbo muffins


6 slices of bacon, roughly chopped
½ cup white onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
½ pound collard greens, finely chopped
  salt to taste
  black pepper to taste
  hot sauce to taste

1 ¼ cup cornmeal
½ cup white flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons, butter melted
2 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup canned black-eyed peas, rinsed, drained, and slightly smashed


1.)  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease the inside of a jumbo muffin pan.

2.)  Slowly cook the bacon in a wide skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove bacon and place on paper towel.  Carefully pour off all but a tablespoon of the resulting bacon drippings.  Reserve the drippings for later use.  Sauté the onion in the pan drippings.  Once the onions are tender and begin to brown, add the vinegar to the hot pan with the onions.  Watch out!  The steam from the vinegar is going to hit you in the face!  Stir the onions and vinegar around while removing any brown bits from the pan.  Reduce the vinegar until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add the greens to the pan.  Slowly move around the greens with the onion.  The volume will decrease.  Cook down the greens until the stems are soft.  Season the greens with salt, pepper, and hot sauce; set aside to cool.

3.)  Whisk together the cornmeal, white flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl until well combined.  In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, honey,  vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of the remaining bacon drippings.

4.)  Combine the contents of both bowls until just incorporated.  The batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy.  Coarsely chop the cooked bacon and fold into the batter with the beans and cooled greens.

5.)  Evenly distribute the batter into the greased muffin cups.  An ice cream scoop works great for this.

6.)  Bake until tops turn golden brown and a toothpick can be cleanly removed from the center of the muffins.  About 30 minutes.

NOTE:  A standard muffin pan for 12 can also be used for this recipe.  The baking time will go down to about 20 minutes.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

For National Cookie Day...Almond Shortbread Cookies

I went to one of my favorite quirky discount stores yesterday.  In addition to some interesting combinations of consumer packaged goods, they also have a pretty nice assortment of gluten-free flours.  So, I picked up some coconut flour yesterday.  Also, I've been staring at this package of almond paste for months. I decided to kill 3 birds with one stone by 1) experimenting with coconut flour, 2) getting rid of this almond paste, and 3) paying homage to National Cookie Day. 
Let me know if you give this recipe a try.  It's pretty easy.  The subtle flavor of coconut is pretty nice.  If you decide not to do the sandwich cookies, just take a moment to slather a couple of cookies with cocoa hazelnut spread...trust.  Enjoy ;-)
Almond Shortbread Cookies, inspired by Odense

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 8 minutes

Yield: 36 cookies

  • 3.5 ounces of almond paste
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder


Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a food processor, break up the almond paste into crumbs.  It tends to clump up into a hard mass.

Add the butter, sugar, extract, and salt.  Process until combined.  With the processor still in motion, add the yolk.  Continue to process to incorporate the yolk. 

In another bowl, sift together the flours and baking powder.

Add the flours and baking powder into the food processor with the other ingredients.  Process to combine all the ingredients.  Take a break, and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides.  Process a little longer to incorporate.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag.  Portion the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Greasing the baking sheet with butter works, too.

TIP: You can use a plastic freezer bag if a pastry bag is not available.  Just fill and cut one of the bottom openings.  What? You don't have that either?  Go old school and place the cookies on the paper using a couple of spoons.

Smooth out the top of your dough with a small amount of water on your finger for presentation.

Place the dough in the preheated oven for about 8 minutes or until the edges have begun to brown.  Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on a cooking rack before enjoying.

OPTIONAL: Create sandwich cookies by placing 1/2 a tablespoon of cocoa hazelnut spread between 2 cookies.  These cookies look great with a quick dusting of powdered sugar.