Starting in Colonial times or even earlier, homemade quick breads such as biscuits, johnnycakes and muffins were considered indispensable side dishes at many meals.
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Servings: 18 to 24
Note: These also can be deep fried in little balls.
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal, preferably organic
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 small onion, finely chopped
Bacon grease, butter or peanut oil for frying
1. Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil. In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, sugar, baking soda and salt and mix well. Add three-fourths cup boiling water and stir to blend well. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
2. Add the egg, buttermilk and onion to the batter and mix well.
3. Coat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with just enough bacon grease, butter or oil to cover the bottom in a glaze, about 3 tablespoons. Turn heat to medium-high.
4. Working in batches of three to four each, use a tablespoon to drop the batter into the pan to make small cakes. They will spread slightly as they cook. Cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until browned and crisp-edged. Add extra grease as necessary to keep the pan glazed while frying. Serve immediately.
Each of 24 hush puppies: 74 calories; 1 gram protein; 5 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 5 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 13 mg. cholesterol; 87 mg. sodium.
Total time: 25 minutes
Servings: 14 biscuits
2 cups flour
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or aged cheddar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or chives, or dill)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
About 1 cup heavy cream
1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the flour, cheese, thyme, baking powder, sugar, salt and cayenne in a mixing bowl and toss with a fork to mix well. Cut the butter into thin slices and rub the butter into the dry ingredients with just the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle the cream over while tossing with the fork and mix just until a soft dough forms (you may not need all the cream). Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead lightly with the heel of your hand until the dough just clings together with no dry spots.
2. Pat the dough out until it's one-half inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or two (one-fourth-inch-wide) glasses, cut into rounds (or cut into triangles with a sharp knife). Arrange on an ungreased baking sheet at least 1 inch apart.
3. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Serve hot.
Each biscuit: 183 calories; 2 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 12 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 39 mg. cholesterol; 229 mg. sodium.
Cheesy artichoke garlic bread
Total time: 55 minutes, plus 35 minutes for cooking artichokes
Servings: 6 to 8
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup grated Gruyère
2 to 3 dashes Tabasco sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 10- to 12-inch loaf Italian bread, semolina or regular
1. Heat a large pot of water to a simmer. Add salt, then artichokes. Boil gently 30 to 35 minutes or until you can pull a leaf out of the artichoke. Remove artichokes with a slotted spoon and let cool, until they are cool enough to handle. Remove the leaves from the artichoke bottom. Scoop out the choke. Cut the artichoke bottom into quarters and set aside.
2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the butter and garlic in a small saucepan and heat over very low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not allow the garlic to brown.
3. Place the artichoke hearts in a blender or food processor and pour the butter mixture over the artichokes. Blend until chunky. Scrape the artichoke mixture into a bowl and add the Gruyère and Tabasco and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Slice the bread in half lengthwise, leaving a "hinge." Spread the bread open and hollow out the top side. Spread the artichoke mixture on both sides.
5. Wrap in foil. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until the cheese is melted and gooey. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing to serve.
Each serving: 183 calories; 2 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 12 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 39 mg. cholesterol; 229 mg. sodium.