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Meet The Cookbook: Whole-Grain Mornings

20140101_BlogCornmealCustard-113It’s New Years Day and, in truth, I’m left a bit speechless. It’s time to formally introduce you to Whole-Grain Mornings (it’s now officially on sale and appearing in the world!), but I’ve been sitting here for what feels like hours trying to figure out exactly what to say. There’s a quote by Mozart (although some attribute it to an anonymous Zen master) that reads: “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” That is how I feel after a busy whirlwind year with little real time for reflection. The year has been full of lots of work, traffic, a new lease for Marge, granola accounts, and conference calls. It’s been full of bringing a book to life, nourishing a relationship, and building a home. But it’s funny how those things don’t start to really settle in and the bigness of it all isn’t truly felt until all the traffic and email and noise just … stop. So today has been a wonderfully uneventful, quiet day. Sam and I went out for breakfast and made a list of our intentions and goals for the year while toasting my book over biscuit sandwiches and numerous cups of coffee. I can’t imagine a more fitting way to usher this lady into the world. So while, for me, the meaning has really come from the quiet — let’s talk about this very special recipe for a moment. And because we’re going to celebrate right, I’d  love to give away a copy of Whole-Grain Mornings to a reader (you?) this week, too. 

20140101_BlogCornmealCustard-106Out of all the recipes to share with you today, I chose what in the book is a Huckleberry Cornmeal Custard — but because of the season (and the lack of huckleberries at this very moment) is now a Blueberry Cornmeal Custard here today. In many ways, it’s highly representative of quite a few of the recipes you’ll find in the book — not shying away from a little butter and cream. While it features seasonal fruits and produce, natural sugars, and whole grains prominently, I didn’t want Whole-Grain Mornings to feel like a diet book — because it’s really not. It’s reflective of the way we eat in our household: good, real food that’s not too fussy to prepare and that you’ll find occasion to make over and over — morning or night, really.

I had a handful of recipes that I wanted to write about to introduce you to the book, but this one won out for a few reasons: it’s one of the very first things Sam made for me when we were just beginning to date, and it’s a great example of a recipe with a story and a past. If on first glance it looks familiar to you, that’s because our friend Molly wrote about a version of it a few years ago in her wonderful book, A Homemade Life. Following that, Jess and Tim both wrote about it on their blogs, and many other food writers made it in their own homes and shared it online.

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My first experience of this cornmeal custard, however, took place very far from the internet or any corner of the food writing world. When Sam and I were first dating, he lived in a little bungalow a stone’s throw from Greenlake — one of my now-favorite walking spots here in Seattle. While I would often drag him around San Francisco introducing him to the newest restaurants when he’d visit my city, Sam would often cook for me when I came to visit his. He had a small arsenal of favorites: the best lentils you’ve ever tasted, banana pancakes, and this velvetty cornmeal custard. It’s one part delicate cornbread, one part tender cake, and one part custard — and somehow comes out of the oven in delicious, distinct layers with the berries rising to the top and the layer of cream happily suspended in the center. I’ll always remember watching Sam make it for the first time, oh-so-carefully pouring the cream directly into the center of the pan while instructing me that you must move slowly and not jostle it to get it just right. That particular morning we had big slices with maple syrup and mugs of coffee in the living room, eating quietly while watching the steam rise off the roofs of the houses across the street.

Sam and I dated long distance for over a year, so when I’d return home to the Bay Area, I started to recreate the cornmeal custard in my own kitchen, adding a little lemon zest on one occasion to brighten it a notch, tossing in some berries and experimenting with whole-grain flour on another. Soon I had a version that still resembled the delicious cornmeal custard that Sam made for me on that first winter morning — but now decidedly my own. When I sat down to write this book I knew I wanted to include the recipe since it’s become such a classic in our house, so I began to ask Sam questions about its source so I could properly give credit where credit is due. I mentioned that I’d seen a similar recipe from Molly’s book: did you get it from Molly? Not exactly, Sam said.  So the research and emails began. It turns out that Sam used to work at a restaurant here in Seattle called Boat Street and they made a wonderful cornmeal custard at the time. I believe that’s where Sam got the recipe although it must’ve been based off of the recipe Molly ended up writing about  in her book– and that appears in Marion Cunningham’s classic book, The Breakfast Book. Suffice it to say: this recipe has legs, as do most things this special.

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Because I know that if you’re here reading this post, you’re going to love this book and because I’m so grateful for all of the support and enthusiasm you’ve all showed as I plugged away at it all last year, I’d love to give away a signed copy to one A Sweet Spoonful reader in the Continental US. To enter, simply leave a comment here about the breakfast you’ve been most excited about making in your own home lately. I’ll select a winner this upcoming Sunday 1/5 at 9 p.m. PST and will notify the winner via email.

**UPDATE: Kathleen Love is the lucky winner of Whole-Grain Mornings and has been contacted via email to claim her copy. Thank you so much for all of your great breakfast inspiration; you’ve inspired me to get into gear with some new recipes this season. xox**

Other Folks Writing About Whole-Grain Mornings:
Sprouted Kitchen – Pear Hazelnut Muffins
Food Loves Writing – Buckwheat Crepes with Honeyed Ricotta and Sauteed Apples
Delightful Crumb – Nutty Millet Breakfast Cookies (also featured on Good Things Grow
Eating From the Ground Up – Banana Walnut Baked Oatmeal (also featured on Shutterbean)
A Cozy Kitchen – Rye Granola with Sour Cherries and Pistachios
Three Many Cooks – Trail Guide Nut and Seed Bars
The Faux Martha – The Very, Very Best Oatmeal 
A Couple Cooks- The Best Toasted Oatmeal
Cookie + Kate – Morning Glory Oatmeal
101 Cookbooks – California Barley Bowl (also featured on Naturally Ella)

Come Out For The Book Tour! I’ll have Marge granola samples at many events and would love to sign your book! If you live in San Francisco, Portland, Vancouver or Seattle, I’d love to meet you in person (no really, please come!) For more information: Whole-Grain Mornings Book Tour.

Buy a Copy TodayWhole-Grain Mornings

Blueberry Cornmeal Custard
In the cookbook, this recipe actually calls for huckleberries — those sweet, small cousins of blueberries that I so love to snatch up here in the fall months. If you can find huckleberries, great. If not, blueberries (or any berry, really) work beautifully. Use fresh or frozen; if you opt for frozen, use them straight out of the freezer, unthawed. If oat flour isn’t something you have at home, I’ve made this recipe with many different kinds of flours (barley, white-whole wheat, spelt) and they’ve all turned out great. We like to serve generous slices of the cornmeal custard warmed with a quick glug of maple syrup on top. Sam likes his with a little flaky salt, too. 

Serves: 8

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
3/4 cup (75g) oat flour
1 cup (160g) medium-grind cornmeal (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup (45g) natural cane sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (300g) fresh or frozen huckleberries or blueberries
3/4 cup (180ml) heavy cream
Grade B maple syrup, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a deep-dish 10-inch pie pan. Place the buttered dish in the oven to warm while you make the batter.

In a small dish, melt the butter in the microwave on medium-high heat, careful not to let it splatter (about 45 seconds). Pour into a large bowl and set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

Add the eggs to the butter and wish to combine. Add the sugar, salt, milk, buttermilk, vinegar, lemon zest and vanilla and stir well. Whisking constantly, add the flour mixture slowly and stir until the batter is smooth.

Remove the heated pan from the oven and set on a baking sheet for easy transport to and from the oven. Spoon the berries into the bottom of the pan in an even layer. Pour the batter on top of the berries. Then ever so slowly, pour the cream right into the center of the batter. Don’t stir. Carefully slide the pan into the oven, taking care not to jostle.

Bake until golden brown on top, 50-65 minutes*. Cool for at least 15 minutes to allow the custard to firm up before slicing. Serve warm with a generous drizzle of maple syrup. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days (but do rewarm them before serving!)

*Note on bake time: This recipe, more than many, seems subject to temperature and humidity. When I recently baked it on a very wet, damp day in Seattle, it took all of 65 minutes — you’re looking for the top to be golden brown and the center to be dry to the touch but still ever so jiggly if you lightly jostle the pan — it will continue to firm up as it cools. 

 

 

 

 

  1. megang
    Posted January 15, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Patricia! Thank you so very much. I’m so happy that you are enjoying the book so far — and even more than that: that it’s getting you excited about getting into the kitchen. That’s really my # 1 hope and goal with the book … and with the blog, really. Happy baking / cooking / breakfasting. ~Megan

  2. Amanda
    Posted January 16, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    So excited for the book!! Looks lovely. I am most excited about getting creative with my usual oatmeal breakfast :) going to start adding new berries and nuts!

  3. Posted January 16, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    I HAVE A QUESTION (hope that you see it among this army of comments)! In the recipe, the blueberries are placed on the bottom of the pan, but they seem to be on the top layer in the pictures that are shown. The recipe didn’t mention any flipping or anything, so I’m just wondering if they “float” to the top during baking?

  4. megang
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Hi Mandy! They rise! It’s pure magic. I have no idea how it happens. Thank you for the question as I’ll put a little note in the recipe to make it clear. Happy Friday, ~Megan

  5. Posted January 18, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Congratulations! I’ve heard so many great things about this book and I’m eager to check it out. : )

  6. Posted January 22, 2014 at 4:03 am

    I have read so many content regarding the blogger lovers however this piece of
    writing is in fact a good paragraph, krep it up.

  7. Ashley
    Posted February 22, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Hello!

    I just purchased your book today at a book signing event. I got home and devoured it. Your writing and recipes truly inspire. Thank you for writing this amazing cookbook!!

    And it was nice to meet you, too!

    Question: when a recipe calls for milk (such as The Very Best Oatmeal), can I easily use almond milk or soymilk instead?

    Thank you,

    Ashley

  8. megang
    Posted February 24, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Hi Ashley!
    Thank you so much for your sweet comment; it was nice to meet you, too. Yes for something like the oatmeal you can absolutely use almond or soy milk. For some of the baking recipes this will work, too. For something like the Quick Egg Souffles, I’d stick to the milk as written. Enjoy the book! ~Megan

  9. megang
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Ashley – I feel like I responded here but now I can’t find it. YES swap in almond milk or soymilk unless it’s one of the savory recipes or, for instance, the baked eggs or cornmeal custard (those really do need full fat dairy). Let me know if you have any other questions + enjoy! ~Megan

  10. Kris
    Posted April 29, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    I have been eyeing this recipe since Smitten Kitchen wrote about your pear hazelnut muffins from the cookbook and I discovered your site! I finally got to make this custard for a brunch. It’s great – healthy-tasting but delicious, and something different from the usual banana bread, muffins, etc. I used a 9-inch springform and am not sure if I baked it long enough, because the centre still had some wobbly white cream at the top when I cut into it. I really want your book now…..

  11. Kim
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Hi Megan,
    I, like most of your readers, am trying to incorporate more whole grains into my diet so thank you for this book. I just made this cornmeal custard today and I know the directions say to wait 10 minutes for the custard to set, but I couldn’t wait and dug right in with a spoon. The top was golden and crusty, so I was amazed when I cut into it that all this liquid came out of the top half. It still tasted awesome, so no complaints, but wondering what that was all about. Just had my second helping, yum!

  12. megang
    Posted May 14, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Hi, Kim! Glad you’re enjoying the book. You know, that really was probably the custard not having time to fully set. It would be a bit liquidy if you sliced right into it. As it is, it’s kind of a creamy, custardy layer but if not given the chance to set I imagine it’d be pretty runny. Hope you still enjoyed it! ~Megan

  13. Janet S
    Posted December 3, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    I’m very late to this party but I wanted to report in on my experience with this delicious blueberry cornbread – yes, I had no custard and so I’m back to compare this recipe to Cunningham’s original. There does seem to be some confusion on how much vinegar is used, since the original uses no buttermilk, but essentially makes its own when adding 1 1/2 T vinegar to whole milk. So, when I had no buttermilk and used vinegar to make it with 2% milk, then added the 1 1/2 T vinegar to the recipe perhaps the chemistry was off. Mine also baked completely in 50 min, and the berries did not rise to the top, so, I have more than one reason to try, try again. First try wasn’t bad as the two of us finished off half of it this morning and the rest will probably be gone by tonight!

3 Trackbacks

  1. By A book and a breakfast (for dinner) | Coffee Stains on February 19, 2014 at 3:48 am

    […] recently purchased the book Whole-Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon of A Sweet Spoonful. Don’t be mistaken by the ‘whole grain’ title…this book isn’t a diet […]

  2. […] Blueberry Cornmeal Custard – A Sweet Spoonful […]

  3. By A book and a breakfast (for dinner) on July 24, 2015 at 7:33 am

    […] recently purchased the book Whole-Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon of A Sweet Spoonful. Don’t be mistaken by the ‘whole grain’ title…this book isn’t a diet […]

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