Monday, March 8, 2010

Sweet Cornbread Casserole

After being seduced by Food and Wine Magazine, I went out and bought another cookbook - Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights. Sophie Dahl is the granddaughter of my favorite childhood (and adult) writer - Roald Dahl. My mom must have read me every one of his books growing up and I plan to repeat this tradition if and when it applies. Anyway, if you like books you might recognize Sophie through her literary heritage and/or own literary career. Or if you like fashion, you might recognize her wide, doe like eyes and porcelain skin from magazines. Sophie was a model for several years, gracing the likes of Vogue and Elle in all of her 5' 11" voluptuousness. And even though she was applauded for her size, she still struggled behind the lens with comparisons to all those coat hangers she had to share the limelight with.

She documents some of this, hilariously, in her new cookbook. She also imparts a down to earth, common sense approach to cooking and eating healthfully. The recipes are simple, fresh, and light on meat. Shortly after reading it cover to cover, I vowed to give up evil, processed food and ingredients as much as possible.

I felt empowered. I felt healthier. And then PMS happened and brought along with it visions of cornbread. Worse than cornbread actually, cornbread casserole, which if you haven't had it is something you have to make this instant or at least put on your holiday buffet next year. And while, to be fair, I did add a secret ingredient that let me cut out half the butter with none the wiser (don't ask! don't tell! It's a....banana!!), this is still not something you want to make often if you like closing your jeans. It's a sugar bomb - a genius cross between a side dish and dessert - neither bread nor pudding but some ethereal mix of the two. It's truly heaven on earth. And it's lethal.

"Hello police? Please come right away - I've just killed another batch of cornbread casserole..."

Sweet Cornbread Casserole
* This casserole was made for the sweet/savory hedonistic festival we call a BBQ. Put it next to a big plate of ribs, coleslaw, and deviled eggs.
* You want to cook this until the whole dish has puffed and turned an even golden brown over the top, the edges just getting a little dark - usually about 50 minutes. Let it set up/cool for five minutes before cutting. It will be just a little soft and squishy on the inside but that's the beauty of it. Of course if this bothers you, cover the top and put back in the oven another 10 minutes until completely solid.

1 banana, well mashed
1/4 cup melted butter
good grating fresh nutmeg
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup light sour cream
1 (8 ounce) box Jiffy cornbread mix
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (15 ounce) can creamed corn (not drained)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Grease a 9x9 ceramic or glass baking dish and set over a large rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.

In a large bowl, thoroughly mash a ripe (but not brown) banana with a fork or whisk until slightly pureed. Mix in the butter, nutmeg, sugar, salt and sour cream. Make a well in the center and pour in the jiffy mix. Stir just until blended, then add in the corn kernels (don't forget to drain) and the entire can of creamed corn (don't drain) just until smooth.

Pour into the greased baking dish and bake for 50-55 minutes, until puffed evenly all over, and golden brown. Let set up for 5 minutes before serving with a big spoon.

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