Friday, July 12, 2013

Mediterranean Cornbread (or is it cake?)

by Ann

One of the great perks related to being a kitchen assistant at Sur la Table is that I am exposed to new recipes each time I work.  Classes typically have themes, with participants pooling their efforts to make a main dish, salad, and side dish or dessert.  Last week the theme was "Sun-Drenched Mediterranean Supper."  

The main dish was a chicken breast coated with arugula pesto.  At Sur la Table many pesto variations are prepared; the constant ingredients are olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese, with the variables related to which herb and nut was used.  Arugula was matched with almonds this time around.  I will do a post on making pesto in a couple of weeks because it is so easy and versatile.

I am sharing the cornbread recipe because it is just plain yummy.  We only had three students in class when it was prepared at the store, so I took some of the leftovers to my mom on the way home.  When she said she wanted to make it herself it inspired me to use it as a blog post topic.  When the recipe was prepared in class we served it as dessert with whipped cream, but I think it makes a wonderful side dish as well.  It is definitely sweeter than most cornbread, but worked well as an accompaniment to the herb-y chicken dish. Who knows, pretty soon I might be calling ice cream a side as well.

There are a couple of distinguishing ingredients in the recipe that makes it so tasty; red grapes and the richness of a liberal quantity of olive oil.

I had also taken home the leftover pesto, so figured I'd recreate the chicken dish, taking some shortcuts.  I coated chicken breasts in the pesto, and thought that since I had to have the oven on for the cornbread it would be a good opportunity to check out how the LeKue silicon cooker worked in the oven for a prolonged period of time.  (If you missed my review of this product, click here.)
Chicken breast covered with pesto in the silicone cooking tray ready to go into the oven.
After cooking the chicken for about half and hour I added chopped mushrooms,  grape tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and bread crumbs to bake for another 15 minutes or so.  The cooker worked perfectly! 

Ok -- I digress -- back to our main attraction, the cornbread...

Often it seems that the preparation of Sur la Table recipes call for lots of specialized equipment, and it is oh-so-handy that we sell it at the store! This recipe uses the Kitchen Aide stand mixer from beginning to end, but my guess is that it could be done successfully with a hand mixer instead.
Once the batter is prepared, stir half of the grapes in to the mixture.
After ten minutes in the oven, pull the pan out and sprinkle the other half of the grapes on top.

Mediterranean Cornbread (Cake?)

1 c flour
½ c yellow corn meal
1 ½ t baking powder
½ t kosher salt
2 large eggs
2/3 c sugar
½ c extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c milk
1 t vanilla extract
1 t finely grated lemon zest
1 ¾ c (about 10 oz) red seedless grapes, rinsed and dried

  • Preheat oven to 350° and be sure rack is in center position.
  • Generously grease a 9-inch round springform pan. 
  • In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  • Place eggs and sugar in the blowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and frothy, about 5 minutes. 
  • Reduce mixer speed to low, and pour oil into the egg mixture in a slow steady stream.  Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 1 minute.
  • Reduce speed again and add milk, vanilla and lemon zest.
  • While maintaining mixer speed on low, add flour mixture gradually, and mix until just incorporated. 
  • Remove bowl from mixer and stir in half of the grapes by hand.  Transfer batter to prepared springform pan and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes quickly remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the remaining grapes on top of batter.  Continue to bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (40-45 additional minutes).
  • Transfer to wire rack and cool for 5 minutes.  If serving as a dessert, sprinkle with powdered sugar and/or garnish with a dollop of whipped cream.

Dinner is ready!  


  1. I going to try that cornbread. It looks so good.


  2. Please make a recipe post for the pesto in this chicken dish.