November 30, 2008
The thermometer mercury is dropping here in Alabama and I’m ready for some good, hearty non-Thanksgiving food before I start the Christmas baking. So I made up a new corn muffin recipe. A few months ago we ate dinner at Tayst in Nashville and they served us the most delicious corn muffins. They were much softer than cornbread. . . more like spoon bread. And the kitchen even warmed ours separately from the other guests’ bread to make sure that we didn’t get any stray speck of gluten. When we got back home I started experimenting with my own version, based on the spoonbread recipe in Joy of Cooking. I’ll have to go back to Tayst again to see how close my recipe is, but these muffins are the perfect accompaniment to a warm soup or stew.
And while I’m thinking about it, I must give a high personal recommendation to the wait staff and chefs at Tayst. This is an upscale restaurant and they were completely unflummoxed (is that a word?) when we arrived with a hungry two year old AND wanted a vegetarian, wheat free dinner. Our waitress, Molly, checked ran the ingredients in every dish by us to make sure they were okay, even though she and the kitchen had a really good grasp of what items had wheat in them.
They also mixed and matched parts of different dishes together in order to feed us and even went out and bought some soy milk for David and provided a huge coloring tray with at least 50 crayons to keep him entertained.
And if that wasn’t enough. The food was magnificent! We started with the Artisinal Cheese Plate (best I’ve ever had!), followed by an Arugula Salad for me and the Chef’s Signature Salad for John. The main course was The Veggie Entree’ – 2 baby pumpkins stuffed with a mixture of root vegetables in a creamy sauce. So good!
If you’re ever in the Nashville, definitely plan on eating here. The food was wonderful, but we were even more impressed with how well they took care of us. We never felt as if our dietary needs were an imposition; instead, it seemed to just be a way for the servers and chefs to show us how much they cared.
And on to the recipe! Try these with the Taco Soup that I’ll be posting later this week.
Spoonbread Corn Muffins
(10 – 12 large muffins)
2 1/2 c. milk or soymilk
2 Tbsp. butter or butter substitute
1 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. cornmeal
3 eggs, separated
1/2 c. cream
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar (optional)
1. Grease muffin tins and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Bring the milk, butter, and salt to a simmer over large saucepan. Then, reduce the heat to low.
3. Slowly stir in the cornmeal, whisking constantly. Stir the mixture for 3 – 4 minutes, and then set aside to cool for 3 – 4 minutes.
4. Whisk together 3 egg yolks and the cream. Stir gradually into the cornmeal mixture.
5. Beat the three egg whites and cream of tartar until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Gently fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the cornmeal mixture, then fold in the remaining egg whites.
6. Spoon the cornmeal mixture into muffin tins and bake until the tops are slightly brown and the muffins are springy in the center.
1. A casein free substitute for cream is soy creamer. I’ve seen the Silk brand in several stores.
2. To save time, whisk the two eggs mixtures while the milk and butter are coming to a simmer.
3. Here’s a tutorial on how to whisk egg whites into peaks. The cream of tartar helps to stabilize the egg whites.
4. The baking time was approx 25 minutes when I used large muffin tins. The cooking time should be shorter if you make mini-muffins. We’ve also baked this in a 8×8 baking pan and then cut into squares for serving.
5. Remember to check the label on your cornmeal. It’s sometimes hard to find cornmeal that hasn’t been premixed with wheat flour.