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Saturday, August 01, 2020

Belated Recipe Round Up: Cornbread, Christmas Scones, Koubbeh, and Cherry Nut Bread


This cornbread was the first recipe I ever came up with on my own when I was about 11 or 12. I started with the recipe on either the baking powder tin or the cornmeal box and changed it and changed it and changed it until I liked it. It is not cake, the way people think of Northern cornbread, but it is not dry and unsweetened the way people think of Southern cornbread. It is slightly sweet, and that sweetness can be reduced pretty easily. You can cut the honey in half and add another egg, or cut it in half and add about 2 - 3 tablespoons of milk. If you mix the dry ingredients first, you can make this with one whisk and two bowls, one of which you can just rinse and dry and put away.

We grind our own cornmeal most of the time, and the whole grain meal is actually quite good in this. This recipe is so good that we once had a babysitter, one of our priest's kids, babysit entirely for a pan of this for himself. When he got married, we gave him the recipe for the cornbread with their wedding gift.

2 cups cornmeal
2 cups pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
2 cups whole milk

Preheat your oven to 375° F and grease a 9" X 13" baking pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the cornmeal, pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Melt butter in a large bowl and add honey. Whisk together well to combine. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with each addition. Add milk and whisk well.

Add dry ingredients to liquid mixture, a little at a time, and stir until evenly moistened. Pour into greased pan.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until lightly golden at the edges, and center springs back when pressed with your hand. Cool 10 - 15 minutes, and serve.

Christmas Scones

So, I found this recipe online, and I loved the idea, but thought it needed different proportions. The original was too much like a Christmas tree, even though I really like the flavor the rosemary adds. So, I increased the cranberry by quite a bit and the nutmeg by a little, and cut the rosemary to a quarter of the original. I also reduced the sugar a touch (because it is glazed) and changed the glaze a little. You may use whole milk in place of half and half. This is another recipe that using the vanilla paste is really, really worth it. Also, for our family, I double this recipe.

The food processor is the easiest and fastest way to make these. All of this can be done by hand, but I am usually trying to get these made in a hurry. A single recipe of this can be made easily in my food processor, but I have to do two batches separately when I double it.

2 1/2 cups pastry flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated whole nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1/3 cup unsweetened dried cranberries, minced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter chilled and diced
1 cup half and half plus 2 tablespoons more for brushing on top
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated whole nutmeg
1/3 cup half and half

a few tiny sprigs of rosemary to garnish, optional (I have never done this, though it does make a pretty picture)

Preheat the oven to 450˚ F and grease one or two (depending on size) baking sheets.

Place the pastry flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and rosemary in the food processor and pulse about 10 times to mix well. Add the minced cranberries and pulse about 5 more times. Add the diced butter and pulse 15 - 20 times, until the butter is in small pieces. Pour in 1 cup of half and half and 1 teaspoon vanilla paste into the machine and pulse a little longer, until the dough comes together in a ball.

Roll out into a 6 - 8" square, and cut into 3 rectangular strips. Cut each of those strips into 4 triangles. Arrange on your prepared pan(s) with room to expand. Brush the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons of half and half. Bake for about 15 - 17 minutes.

While the scones are baking, whisk together the glaze in a small bowl until the consistency is able to make a thin drizzle. Allow the scones to cool about 5 - 10 minutes, then drizzle the glaze over each of them and garnish with a tiny sprig of rosemary, if you wish.


There are two ways to cook this (koubbeh nayeh is a whole different story), you can make them into little ovals (footballs) with the shell on the outside and filling on the inside and deep fry them, or you can bake it. My mother used to call it Arabic meatloaf to try to explain it to people. I still don't know why westerners call burghul bulghur, because the first is how it is pronounced, there is no l sound in the middle at all, but it will most likely be spelled that way at your store.

For the meat shell:

2 1/2 cups fine ground bulghur wheat (parched cracked wheat, not the regular cracked wheat)
2 medium onions, quartered
3 pounds lean lamb or beef
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon allspice

For the filling:

2 pounds ground lamb or beef
2 medium onions, chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds

For baking:

1/3 cup olive oil plus more for pan
whole pine nuts or blanched whole almonds to decorate, optional

For frying:

oil to deep fry

For the shell, soak the bulghur in lots of cold water for about 15 minutes. Rinse in a sieve, press to drain thoroughly.

Process onion in a food processor. Add the meat, blend to a paste, take out and mix with bulghur and flavorings. Process, in 2 or 3 batches, to a soft, well blended, dough-like paste.

For the filling, fry the onion in the oil until soft. Add the ground meat, salt, pepper, cinnamon and allspice and fry, turning and crushing the meat with a fork, until it has changed color. Add the pine nuts (or almonds) and mix well.

To bake:

Grease a large shallow baking dish with olive oil. Dampen your hands with cold water. Press 1/3 the shell paste evenly on the bottom, about 1/2 an inch thick. Spread the filling on top and cover with the rest of the paste. You'll need to flatten the paste in sections between your palms, wet with cold water, then apply to the top. Patch any holes and press firmly to seal over the filling.

Use a pointed knife to score the meat in straight or diagonal lines (to make squares or diamonds). Dot each square with an additional pine nut (or almond), if you like. Drizzle with the 4 tablespoons of olive oil.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 25 - 30 minutes, until browned and cooked through.

To fry:

Use about a tablespoon of the shell and shape into little ovals, hollow the center and spoon a small amount of the filling into it. Spread the rest of the shell over the filling to cover it, and place into a dish or pan while you make the rest. Repeat with all the remaining ingredients.

Fill a skillet with at least an inch of oil and heat over medium high heat until a piece of bread dipped into it sizzles. Carefully place as many of the ovals into the oil as will fit, allowing you room to turn them. Fry until golden, turning as necessary, and removing with a slotted spoon to a rack over a pan to drain.

Cherry Nut Bread

This recipe is one from my early days cooking. It was actually a strawberry bread that someone brought to church, but I remembered it as a cherry bread. When I asked for the recipe, I was surprised to find strawberries in there instead of cherries. So, I just changed it up so it would involve cherries instead. It is a great quick bread, and lovely for breakfast with soft cream cheese.

You can make these in smaller pans for gifts, too, but I would start checking them for doneness at around 35 - 40 minutes.

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon (I use Ceylon cinnamon)
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup oil (we use safflower or sunflower oil)
1 cup chopped walnuts
16 oz frozen cherries and juice, thawed

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Grease 2 standard loaf pans or 1 standard bundt pan and set aside.

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour wet ingredients in and stir until a stiff batter forms.

Mix in walnuts and cherries. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans or bundt pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out of the center with only crumbs. Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

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