A Review and James Beard’s Cornbread

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Through my years as a food blogger I have heard a lot about James Beard but I never seen any of his cookbooks nor read any of his food writing. Now that is not so strange because he was/is fundamentally an American food writer and I am a die hard European but that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t meet. I have a list of books by food writers that I want to get my hands on and James Beard ‘s name was one of the top ones so when I received an email asking me if  was interested in reviewing The Essential James Beard: 450 Recipes That Shaped the Tradition of American Cooking, published by St Martin’s Press and edited by Rick Rodgers, I immediately wrote back ‘Yes please!’. And I am happy I did because this is a book full of recipes of a kind I like – the ingredient lists aren’t long and filled with things you never heard of or if you heard of them, you know you never will find where you live, non fussy recipes of good food that will make you feel good, they all have the word ‘authentic’ stamped on them and I like to cook exactly that kind of food. The cookbook is without photos and I know it is a strange thing for a food photographer to say but I actually prefer cookbooks made in this way because I read the recipes instead of looking at the photos of them. Not that I am able to resist cookbooks with great photography because they make me happy visually but cookbooks without photos make my stomach happy!

James Beard's Corn Bread

The cookbook consists of 450 recipes ranging from first courses and cocktail food to meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and lots of baking and more. There is a foreword by Betty Fussell who is the president of the James Beard Foundation and an introduction by James Beard himself and both made me want to read more, not only cook though I have marked lots of the recipes for future cooking.
I choose a make a very simple recipe for this review but there is a reason to it; lately I have been searching for good recipes for cornbread (you can ask my fellow Bread Baking Babes), I have no idea why but it has been a minor obsession of mine for some reason. So I had no choice when I saw a cornbread recipe – that was the recipe I had to try and so it was. I can’t say that I’m an expert on cornbread but I have to say that this is a good one. We all liked it and even though it is obviously best the same day it is baked, I had it for breakfast for several days afterwards and topped with a slice of tomato, salt and lots of black pepper it was truly delicious.

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CORNBREAD (©2012 by Reed College and John Ferrone)
makes 6 servings (or many small)

softened butter for the pan
350 ml/ 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
120 ml/ 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbls baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
240 ml/ 1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs, well beaten
50 ml/ 1/4 cup heavy cream
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted


Preheat the oven to 210°C/400°F. Butter an 28×22 cm / 11×8,5 inch baking pan.

Sift the coenmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl, to mix the ingredients thoroughly and distribute the baking powder evenly. Beat in the milk and eggs with a wooden spoon until well mixed. Beat in the cream and, lastly, the melted butter.

Pour into the buttered pan and bake for 18-20 minutes, until risen and golden brown. While still hot, cut into squares and serve wrapped in a napkin.

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