Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cornbread croutons, veggies give this quintessential Southern dish new twist

What could be more Southern than cornbread? A recent issue of Southern Living magazine featured a variety of quintessential recipes (such as cornbread, grits, collards, and shrimp jambalaya) highly identified with our region of the country. The magazine gave each of them a new twist to make them more appealing to today’s lighter palate.

One that caught my eye and immediately went into the “must-try” category was Panzanella Salad with Cornbread Croutons. I have been the Cornbread Queen ever since my first cookbook, Way Back in the Country, was released some years back and I traipsed from TV station to TV station in the promotion of it. During this interesting time I had to learn a new skill: preparing food under the glare of TV cameras. The programming person at each TV station requested that I make Golden Cornbread, one of my family’s staple recipes. I can’t tell you how many batches of cornbread I whipped up for the TV lights so I would have the finished product on display while I stirred up a demo batch.

As a result of this blitz I grew to the point at which I could make cornbread in my sleep. So, to get this new recipe started, I tested myself to see whether I could remember the oft-baked Golden Cornbread Recipe (find it on page 23 of my cookook, Way Back in the Country) by heart. Once I baked a pan of it and let it cool completely, I cut up the cornbread into the 1-inch cubes that this recipe required and then toasted these cubes briefly in the oven so their edges would be brown and crouton-like.

From the garden the recipe called for red onion, a yellow bell pepper, tomatoes, and cucumber. How I look forward to some of those items being abundantly arrayed in my own garden a few weeks hence! (The tomato crop looks as though it will be particularly vast. As I gaze out my patio door, I see row after row of Hubby’s tomato stakes gleaming in the sun.)

We loved the honey-and-lemon vinaigrette that tied this unusual mixture together and gave it a slight Italian accent. I forgot to say that besides the other items in this somewhat unorthodox combination, the recipe also called for Hubby’s favorite condiment—black olives. I’ve always read that cornbread salad is a guy thing and that the heartiness of it makes it a man favorite. Truly, Panzanella Salad with Cornbread Croutons was a Hubby-pleaser through and through.

Panzanella Salad with Cornbread Croutons

One pan cornbread (made from your favorite recipe), cooled completely
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon honey
salt (or salt substitute) and pepper, to taste
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cucumber, quartered and sliced
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut cornbread into 1-inch cubes. Bake in a single layer on a lightly greased cookie sheet 15 minutes or until edges are golden. Stir halfway through. Meanwhile saute bell pepper and onion in 1 tablespoon hot olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until pepper and onion are crisp-tender. In a large bowl whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, remaining 7 tablespoons olive oil, and salt and pepper. Stir in onion mixture, tomatoes, and next 3 ingredients. Add toasted cornbread cubes and toss to coat. Serve immediately. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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