Marie Claire Hot, 400pp.
by Michele Cranston
Murdoch Books Australian, Millers Point NSW, 2005
Cooking on pages 32–33
We love chillies, so buying this book was an absolute no-brainer. It was a secondhand bookstore purchase for a measly $3. It’s loaded with a great variety of recipes with zing, and I’m sure I’ll get a lot of use out if.
The introduction quite rightly points out that chillies vary widely in hotness, and that the seeds are usually the hottest part. There’s also a reminder to use rubber gloves when chopping chillies so you don’t later do damage to your face and eyes. Can’t remember how many times I’ve rubbed my eyes after handling chillies.
Pages 32–33 have a bread recipe.
150g (5 1/2 oz/ 1 cup) polenta
125 g (4 1/2 oz/ 1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
185 ml (6 fl oz/ 3/4 cup) milk
2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
3 tablespoons olive oil
150 g (5 1/2 oz/ 3/4 cup) corn kernels
1/2 red capsicum (pepper), sliced
1 small red chilli, seeded and chopped
3 teaspoons finely chopped marjoram
5 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
75 g (2 1/2 oz/ 1/2 cup) grated mozzarella cheese
Place the polenta, four, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, milk, yoghurt and oil. Mix well. Add the corn, capsicum, chilli, marjoram and spring onions and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Pour the batter into a greased 30 x 20 cm (12 x 8 in) baking tray and top with the grated mozzarella. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre.
Cool slightly in the tray, then turn out onto a board. Trim the sides and cut into 4 cm (1 1/2 inch) squares.
How it played out
Corn bread is one of those things you can make blindfolded, although I don’t recommend doing that with this recipe until you’ve chopped the chilli and marjoram, and sliced the capsicum (bell pepper) and spring onions. Oh, and wait until you’ve cut the kernels off the corncob.
That said, I followed the recipe—with my eyes open—using cheddar cheese and dried marjoram because that’s what I had on hand.
I did cool the bread in the pan, but didn’t bother trimming the outer edges because the bread, when baked, had a great shape.
Served with steaks with horseradish sauce, another page-32 recipe coming soon. But seriously, you could serve it with almost anything, even a savoury breakfast.
A lovely and colourful bread, but we thought it desperately needed a touch of salt, maybe 1/2 teaspoon, but otherwise it was a great variation on cornbread.
Obviously, you could increase (or reduce) the chilli or use different spices to suit your taste.
We’re travelling in Europe at the moment. We’re seeing all kinds of street food cuisines (mostly sold from food vans), but nothing has been quite like the street food we found in Cambodia.