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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pepperjack Cornmeal Bread and Easy Chili


Happy Father's Day!!

Fresh bread and chili will always remind me of my Dad. So I thought I would share these simple recipes with you today. This bread is easy to make, turns out beautifully and is completely delicious. It is also my favorite accompaniment to chili. While it has cornmeal in it and you can taste it and get some of that texture, it is also a yeast bread, so you really get the best of both worlds.

One of my favorite memories growing up was when I was at a week-long summer camp for church and my Dad was there with us. My Dad is a fan of the simple foods in life (he would say not all the gourmet "fancy" stuff). Anyway, he really excels at Dutch Oven style cooking and baking.

For one of our camp activities we were supposed to go on a 5-mile loop overnight hike. Not too big of a deal right? So, there are a few details about my childhood that should help give you a better picture of what I'm about to tell you.

First off, I grew up in Wyoming (as in home of Yellowstone and more animals than people). I love Wyoming, don't get me wrong, but I know a lot of folks who's camping experiences were more of the cabins and running water variety. That was unheard of for us. I guess we were more "hardcore" or something because we were thrilled that we at least had an outhouse and a river to play in.

Anyway, back to the hike. The lady who was supposed to lead our hike basically was asked to do so a couple of weeks before the camping trip and she didn't really have much time to plan and didn't really have a lot of experience either.

So, we got started on the hike and though we were headed in the correct "general" direction, we were pretty much off course from her "planned" hike from the get-go. Our overnight (being, leave in the late morning, hike through woods and over hills to a lake, camp the night, come back in the morning) turned into a 12-mile hike - 7 miles to the wrong lake (so no truck waiting with fresh water for us) and 5 miles back the next day, via a different route, as figured out on the maps by some of us campers. Needless to say, by the time we made it back we were thirsty, hot, exhausted and about to fall down (actually one girl did).

Well, when we finally made it back, we trudged into camp, now wet to boot since it had just started to rain on us about a half mile from the end. So we were all figuring we were going to have to go hungry and fall down in our tents. Instead, when we made it back to camp we found that my dad had been busy. There was fresh hot bread in the Dutch Ovens, butter, honey, and hot cocoa. He had also rigged tarps over all the tables and sitting areas so that we didn't have to spend the time in the stuffy tents. It has been many, many years since that day, but I remember that hot fresh bread and how comforting it was to be back in camp, safe and warm. I don't actually remember if we had anything to eat with that bread or not, but I will never forget how good that bread was! I think that the outdoors really sharpened our hunger, but it was great!

So, I'm dedicating this post to my dad. He is also the one who helped get me interested in cooking. Though our cooking styles are now very different, and he often thinks I am too careful or fussy, I know that he is proud of me. Thanks Dad! I love you!


My dad also made a great chili growing up, and I think he would be proud of me for sharing such a non-fussy recipe for a good way to get some chili. I hope you'll give both of these recipes a try. They both have a decent amount of heat in them from the spices and peppers, but it isn't at all overwhelming and is easy to adjust. If you don't like heat, use regular Monterey Jack cheese in the bread (or whatever type of cheese you prefer). The cheese really ends up melting into the bread and just becoming part of the texture. There aren't melty spots of cheese, but you can taste the flavor throughout.

Easy Chili
(Adapted from Best of Cooking Light)

3/4 pound ground beef or turkey
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn
1 cup of your favorite salsa
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (16-ounce) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (16-ounce) can chili beans, undrained
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained

Cook the ground beef or turkey in a large Dutch oven or pot that has been oiled with the canola oil. Cook over medium heat until beef or turkey is browned and cooked through, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the water and remaining ingredients; bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer over low heat 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

- Makes approximately 6 servings (about 1 cup each) -

Pepperjack Cornmeal Bread
(Adapted from Cooking Club of America - Celebrate!)

3/4 cup lukewarm water (105 - 110 F)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 (1/4 oz) package dry yeast
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
3 cups bread flour
1 cup shredded pepperjack (jalapeno jack) cheese
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons salt

In a medium bowl, stir together water, sugar and yeast. Let sit 5 minutes. Stir in oil and egg.

In a large bowl, stir together 2 1/2 cups of the flour, cheese, cornmeal and salt. Stir in yeast mixture until forms a soft dough.

Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup flour on work surface; turn dough out onto the surface and knead about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, working in the flour on the counter only as necessary to prevent sticking.

Place the dough ball in a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Let rise about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.

Lightly oil (or use parchment or silicone mat) a baking sheet and dust with enough extra cornmeal to cover. Pat the dough into a 8x14-inch rectangle. Roll up tightly starting at the long side of the dough. Pinch the bottom and sides to seal. Place on baking sheet and let rise about 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the loaf 20 to 25 minutes or until loaf is well browned and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

- Makes 1 loaf -


Manggy said...

The chili and the bread (cornbread? cornmeal bread?) look really good! Even though I didn't grow up in the States it still screams comfort food! Thanks for sharing the memories of your dad. It is my dad who cooks in the family, too :) And he (and I) would certainly have no problems being overwhelmed by chili peppers! :)
Happy fathers' day to your dad and your hubby!

Prudy said...

What a nightmarish hike! Good thing your Dad made that Dutch oven bread to turn things around. The chili and bread looks so great!

Hobbie said...

I love you're blog. I have found some excellant recipes here:)Thanks for that!
I also grew up in Wyoming(Northern)
Nice to find a fellow Wyomian:)

Lori said...

Great story.

I got lost on a hike with a friend of mine. Horrible. Scary.

Your Dad knew the right medicine for all of you!

The recipe sounds amazing!

Elle said...

I always admire people who make chili from scratch... usually I just use a chili mix like Lawrys'. This looks so yummy with the bread!

RecipeGirl said...

The bread sounds great. And I'm intrigued enough by your camping story that I'm wanting to try it!

Deborah said...

What a great story!! I'm seriously surprised that never happened to us growing up - our leaders never seemed to be the "camping" type, so it was a bit scary heading out on that overnight hike!

I'm definitely trying this cornbread. I love the idea of cornmeal in a yeasted bread, and add in pepperjack and I'm sold!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

That bread has the most amazing texture!

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