Cast Iron Cornbread – Low FODMAP & Gluten Free

Cast Iron Cornbread
Cast Iron Cornbread

I had never eaten corn bread before moving to the USA, which isn’t really that surprising. I suppose back home our cheat’s bread is damper and many Americans wouldn’t have tried that, either.

The first corn bread I tried was a sweet version that I’m pretty sure had corn grits in it as well, judging by the texture. It was moist and chewy and sweet and delicious but really only a one trick pony. The savoury version you can use as sandwich bread, as the base to a stuffing, serve it with soup etc. Much more versatile.

The following recipe I based from reading about corn bread in general – to get an idea of ingredients, as well as the method. The website I found most useful was The Paupered Chef, as I particularly liked the idea of soaking the corn meal in the buttermilk (they used milk) beforehand. Some say that true Southern corn bread is 100% corn meal, others say that that’s untrue. Not being from the South, let alone the country, I have absolutely no opinion on what is or isn’t traditional, I’m just making what I find tasty.

FODMAP Notes:

  1. Corn is a tricky one. The FODMAP content depends on the variety; sweet corn can be troublesome for some with FM due to the high sugar content and some people are sensitive to GMO crops, of which corn is the poster child (I’m not going to enter the GMO debate here, though). However, the sweet corn that is grown for eating on the cob isn’t the same corn that is used for corn meals, flours or starches and it’s different again to corn that is grown for use in plastics and bio-fuels. Corn meal is not made from sweet corn, thus is much better tolerated. There are specific corn allergies, though, so watch out for those.
  2. Rye can be substituted in for the GF plain flour, if you can tolerate it. As I have mentioned before, studies show that rye flour contains more fructans than wheat but evidence suggests that the chains are longer, thus taking longer to ferment. It is generally less of an irritant than wheat to those with FM, although many still have problems.
  3. If you have a gluten issue or are very sensitive to fructans, replace the rye flour with your favourite gluten free blend and 1/2 tsp. of xanthan gum (or 1 tbsp. chia seed meal).
  4. Buttermilk contains lactose, which is water soluble. If you malabsorb lactose then replace it with the same volume of LF milk with a dash of lemon juice.

Cast Iron Corn Bread

This quantity cooks well in a 12 ” cast iron skillet.

  • 2 1/4 cups corn meal
  • 2 cups buttermilk or lactose free milk
  • 1 1/2 cups rye flour OR a gluten free plain flour blend with 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum or 1 tbsp. chia meal
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large or 3 small eggs
  • Optional – 1/4 cup roughly cut fresh herbs, such as rosemary

Combine the corn meal and buttermilk in a large mixing bowl – everything will end up in here eventually – and let it sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 230 C/450 F. Place your cast iron skillet (or any skillet with an oven safe handle, the heavier its base the better) in the oven to heat up. Please remember to now use gloves whenever you handle the skillet!

Cast Iron Cornbread
Cast Iron Cornbread

While the corn meal is soaking, sift the flour (with any necessary xanthan gum or chia meal), baking powder, salt and the optional herbs into a separate bowl, and combine the eggs and softened butter (the softer, the better) in another.

When the corn meal and buttermilk have been sitting for the ten minutes, add in first the wet ingredients and then gradually add and mix in the dry ingredients – depending on your particular flours of choice, etc, you may or may not need all of it. The mixture should resemble a thick cake batter.

Cast Iron Cornbread
Cast Iron Cornbread

Now, take the skillet out of the oven and grease it up with either a dollop of butter or olive oil, or even lard – I used butter. Spread your lipid of choice all around the base and at least half way up the sides of the pan and tip out any excess. Plonk the batter (it is too thick to pour) into the waiting skillet, make sure it is evenly spread out and pop it in the oven.

Baking instructions:

  • 12″ cast iron skillet – 25 minutes at 230 C/450 F.
  • Loaf tin – 50 minutes at 180 C/350 F (until a skewer tests clean).
Cast Iron Cornbread
Cast Iron Cornbread

Let it sit in the skillet for 10 minutes to cool slightly and then turn it out onto a wire rack. Let it sit for half an hour before cutting, or it may crumble. This corn bread works well as sandwich bread (in a loaf pan), served with soup etc, it goes very well with my cranberry sauce/jam and can be used in a corn bread stuffing, the recipe for which I will be posting next. Stay tuned!

Cast Iron Cornbread
Cast Iron Cornbread

How to Cook Perfect Rice without a Rice Cooker

Rice is a staple in most GF/FM households. GF pastas are very handy but also more expensive and they aren’t all made equal. Buying a rice cooker was the worst mistake we ever made. Yes, it was cheap(ish) but it always burnt the rice and it was always slightly gluggy, even if you followed the water to rice ratio.

without a Rice Cooker
without a Rice Cooker

This should not fail you. Since perfecting this technique, we have not had anything but perfect, fluffy rice. WHITE rice. We haven’t perfected this for brown rice, yet. I imagine it will take more water and more time.

  • Step 1: Wash your rice!

In a bowl, place a measured quantity of dry rice and proceed to fill the bowl with water, swish it around and top it out until the water from the bowl runs clear. It should only take about 5 minutes, absolute max. Depending on how much rice you have, of course.

This step removes the starchy outer layer of the rice grains, which will cause your finished rice to be starchy and have a thickened coating. Not very nice.

  • Step 2: Boil your rice

Pour the uncooked rice into a pot and pour in water in a 1:1 ratio. Essentially, if you washed 1 cup of rice, pour 1 cup of water into the pot. Easy done.

Water and rice in a 1:1 ratio

Place the pot on the stove and put the lid on. NOW. Do not forget this or remove it inadvertently while cooking. The lid keeps all the steam in the pot, which helps with the cooking.

Bring the pot to the boil, let it simmer for 10-20 seconds and then turn it down to a low-medium setting. We turn our stove so that the dial is only a 1/4 turn from the off setting.

Set your timer for 15 minutes from the moment the water boils.

This rice has just come to the boil

  • Step 3: Let your rice sit

As easy as it sounds. DO NOT remove the lid yet. Simply take the pot off the hot stove top and let it sit for 15 minutes (set your timer).

  • Step 4: Serve and enjoy

After the second 15 minute wait, your rice should be finished. You may now remove the lid! What should emerge is fluffy, soft white rice that hasn’t stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Fluffy white rice

A side note – We have Scanpan and Raco cookware – pretty reasonable quality, not super heavy duty but definitely much better than cheap cookware – if you have lightweight, cheap cookware then I don’t know how this will affect the rice.

Hard Anodized vs Ceramic

Hard Anodized vs Ceramic-What Type of Pan will You Choose?

When choosing from among the different types of pans, you will sometimes be faced with the dilemma of hard-anodized vs ceramic. Such a dilemma may make you dilly dally as to which cookware to buy, and the earlier you resolve this question, the better you can choose the right best cookware set. Of course, you also need to consider other types of pans. Yet, knowing the pros and cons of these two types of pans can help you come up with an informed purchase.

Hard Anodized vs Ceramic

Hard-anodized Cookware

Hard-anodized cookware refers to pans and pots that were wrought from electrochemically hardened aluminum. They may come in different styles and brands, and they are non-porous. Because they lack pores, they are stick-resistant. Here are some succinct properties of hard-anodized cookware:

Scratch and warping resistant

The good thing about hard-anodized cookware is that it is scratch-resistant and doesn’t warp or corrode. Hence, this cookware is sought after for its durability. Moreover, it cooks efficiently because it distributes heat evenly. In using this cookware, you can have a uniformly heated food.

  • Nonstick quality!

The majority of hard anodized cookware sets are considered to be stick-resistant. Thus, if you use this cookware, you can be assured that you will never have a problem with even the stickiest of food. Some experts, however, don’t consider hard anodized as truly nonstick cookware. Yet, you will find it stick-resistant.

  • Non-toxic

The surface of the hard-anodized cookware is non-toxic. It has a very high melting point of 1,221°F (660.56°C). Thus, you can use it when cooking on any type of indoor heat source. Yet, it is not recommended for open-flame cooking.

Being nonstick, you can cook healthier food. This is because you don’t need to use more fatty oil when cooking on it.

  • Ease of Cleaning

Cleaning-up is easy with the hard-anodized cookware. Since it is nonstick, it doesn’t have sticky leftovers of food after cooking. As such, you can wash it using warm water and moderate detergent soap. You can also use a soft sponge to clean it.

Although hard-anodized cookware is not easy to damage, constant harsh treatment can make it lose its sheen as well as its finish. You can also clean it up in the dishwasher; yet, it is not recommended. It is best, however, to wash the pans so as not to damage the less durable handles.

Ceramic Cookware

The ceramic cookware is sought-after for the advantages it affords its users. You can buy ceramic pans and pots in the market today. Yet, these pans and pots are not totally made of ceramic. Instead, they come with ceramic coatings that are meticulously bonded with its cooking surface. These coatings make the ceramic cookware nonstick. Here are the other features of ceramic cookware:

  1. Safety of use

When it comes to the safety of use, ceramic cookware is your safest choice. Ceramic is truly non-toxic. Hence, when using it, you are assured that you can cook healthy food. Moreover, even if some parts of its surface are damaged, you are assured that it is still safe to use.

  • Durability

Ceramic cookware’s durability is questionable. It is made of nanoparticles of ceramics. These nanoparticles are irregularly shaped. Hence, they rub with food and other surface causing friction. This leads to much faster wear and tear of the cooking surface.

You should avoid, therefore, using metal utensils for ceramic cookware. Sharp metal utensils may tend to rub on the ceramic coating’s irregular surface. This may lead to scratches and chipping off of the coating.

  • Ease of Cleaning

The ceramic cookware is also easy to clean. You simply need to use mild dishwashing soap when cleaning it. For optimum cleaning, however, you should rinse its surface with warm water. Not all ceramic cookware sets are dishwasher safe. But most of them are. You might damage this cookware set if you use to run them through the dishwasher and if you use harsh detergents.

  • Efficiency

When it comes to efficiency, ceramic cookware is less efficient in heat distribution. Its nonstick surface comes with nano-particle sizes of ceramic coating. These nanoparticles are irregularly sized, making the distribution of heat much less efficient. It is slow to cook as compared to the other cookware sets.

Pros

  • Good for healthy cooking and is safe to use
  • Cleanup is easy.

Cons

  • Uneven heat distribution
  • Harsh detergents can damage it.
  • More delicate.

Conclusion

The hard-anodized vs ceramic cookware dilemma can be best resolved if you understand their pros and cons. Knowing their pros and cons can make an informed purchase. Both the ceramic and the hard-anodized cookware are great cookware. If you want durability, hard-anodized cookware would be a great choice. But if you want healthy cooking, ceramic cookware will be a better choice.

Ceramic vs Stainless Steel Cookware

Ceramic vs Stainless Steel Cookware

You may be wanting to buy a new cookware set, yet, now you are faced with the dilemma of ceramic vs stainless steel cookware set. Both cookware sets, of course, come with their pros and cons. Knowing these pros and cons can help you make an informed decision on whether to settle for a ceramic cookware set or a stainless-steel set.

Ceramic vs Stainless Steel Cookware
Ceramic vs Stainless Steel Cookware

Ceramic Cookware

The ceramic cookware set is one of the most sought-after cookware sets in the market today. You can buy both ceramic pans and pots. Yet, these pans and pots are not totally made of ceramic. Instead, they come with ceramic coatings that are bonded with the cookware during their manufacturing process. This makes the ceramic cookware nonstick. Here are the other salient features of the ceramic cookware:

Safety of use

When it comes to the safety of use, the ceramic cookware lords it over the other types of cookware sets. Ceramic is non-toxic. Hence, it is safe to use for cooking. It is also safe to use under high heat even if it is damaged.

Durability

The durability of the ceramic cookware is questionable. Since the nanoparticles of ceramics are roughly and irregularly shaped, they tend to be always in friction with the other surfaces. This leads to quicker wear and tear on the coated surface.

Moreover, you should avoid using metal utensils when cooking in ceramic cookware. This is because sharp metal utensils tend to rub on the irregular surface of the ceramic coating. This leads to chipping off and scratches on the coating.

Ease of Cleaning

When it comes to ease of cleaning, the ceramic cookware is quite easy to clean. Since it is nonstick, you can use even the mild dishwashing soap to clean it. Yet, for optimum cleaning, you should rinse it with warm water.

Some ceramic cookware sets are not dishwasher safe; though, many of them are dishwasher safe. The only caveat when cleaning ceramic pans and pots is that they might get damaged by harsh detergents and dishwashing cycles.

Efficiency

When it comes to efficiency, the ceramic cookware exhibits less efficiency when it comes to heat distribution. Its nonstick surface is made of nanoparticle sizes of ceramic coating. As such, these nanoparticles are irregularly sized. This makes its distribution of heat less efficient. Hence, the ceramic cookware fails to heat food evenly. Moreover, it is slow to cook food as compared to other types of cookware.

Pros

  • Safe to use and healthier for cooking because it is nonstick.
  • Cleanup is easy.

Cons

  • Uneven heat distribution
  • May be damaged by harsh detergents.
  • More delicate than other types of cookware.

Stainless Steel Cookware

The stainless-steel cookware is younger cookware when compared to the ceramic pot. Long before stainless steel cookware sets were invented, our ancestors had been using ceramic pots.

Stainless steel is a wrought from the combination of different elements like 10.5% Chromium and Nickle for its anti-corrosive property. Hence, it is made to last for years.  

Safety of Use

The stainless-steel pans are safe to use for they are PTFE and PFOA free. PTFE and PFOA are toxic substances and can cause health issues. Moreover, if you overheat it the stainless steel cookware, its chemical property will not combine with food.

Durability

The stainless steel cookware lasts longer since various metals are meticulously combined to come up with this cookware. Hence, this cookware is designed to last longer. Moreover, it has anti-corrosive property, hence, they can come in handy for years to come. Moreover, they do not flake if you use metal utensils. It also doesn’t react to any acidic and alkaline food.

Ease of Cleaning

Stainless steel cookware does not come with a nonstick surface. Hence, you will find it hard to clean this cookware after cooking. Thus, to prevent the food from sticking to its surface, you need to use the right amount of lard, oil, or butter. Plus, you need to preheat the pan to keep your ingredients from sticking into its surface.

You should also maintain the right heat level when using stainless steel cookware. You should also preheat it and use the right amount of oil to prevent food from sticking on its surface

Pros:

  • You can use high heat.
  • You can sear or deglaze on it.
  • It is durable.

Cons

  • It is not easy to clean.
  • It may be expensive.
  • It needs preheating and attention when cooking on it.

Conclusion

The dilemma of ceramic vs stainless steel cookware sets is not really a difficult problem. Now that you know the pros and cons of their uses, you are now in a better position to make an informed decision on whether to buy ceramic cookware or stainless steel cookware. Both options, however, are great. It just boils down to your preference when choosing between these two great options.

Stainless Steel Cookware vs Nonstick Cookware

Stainless Steel Cookware vs Nonstick Cookware

If you are caught in the dilemma of stainless steel vs nonstick cookware, you might as well learn the pros and cons that come concomitant with each of these options. Your choice, however, between the two will have a bearing on the success of your cooking experience. It will also affect the level of cooking enjoyment you will have. A comparative review of stainless steel and non-stick cookware will help you decide between these two best cookware sets:

Stainless Steel Cookware vs Nonstick Cookware
Stainless Steel Cookware vs Nonstick Cookware

Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless-steel pans have been here for a very long time. Your grandma might have used some of them before. Moreover, stainless steel cookware sets last longer. Most of them can last for years of use. This is because the elements out of which these cookware sets are made are mixed for durability.

Stainless steel has anti-corrosive property. Most stainless-steel pans contain 10.5% Chromium that makes them resist rusting. Moreover, a tinge of nickel is added to them to make them very durable and rust-resistant. Hence, stainless steel pans don’t flake. It also doesn’t react to acidic or alkaline food.

The stainless-steel pans are safe to use. They are free from PTFE and PFOA which are toxic substances that can cause health issues. Even if these pans are overheated, there is no chance that the chemical elements of these pans will combine with food.

Stainless steel pans are less forgiving to food as compared to nonstick pans. Since stainless steel pans do not have a nonstick surface, cleaning after cooking can be a hell of a job. Hence, if you are an expert cook, you will employ the use of the right amount of lard, oil, and butter. Moreover, you need to engage in preheating of the pan to keep your ingredients from sticking.

You should also maintain the right amount of heat, especially, after adding the main ingredients. If you fail to use the right amount of oil, you may end up with residues that stick to the bottom of the pan, ruining your cooking experience.

Pros:

  • Stainless steel pans tolerate high heat.
  • They last longer.
  • They let you sear or deglaze.

Cons

  • Food may stick to the surface.
  • They are expensive.
  • They require preheating and careful attention when cooking.

 Nonstick Cookware

Nonstick pans are convenient to use. If you are cooking flaky types of fish and fragile eggs, you will find the best nonstick pans convenient for cooking. This is because nonstick pans don’t need much oil or butter. Hence, your food will not be soaked in lots of oil when you use nonstick pans. This makes cooking of fragile food a breeze.

When it comes to safe cooking, many people think that cooking using nonstick pans is healthier. This is because you can cook food without using much fatty oil. Thus, your food becomes healthier.

Yet, some experts warn about the risk associated with the use of nonstick pans. They say that since the surface of the nonstick pans is easily scratched, you may inadvertently chip off their surface. The chipped-off parts may contain Teflon particulates that can be harmful to human health. Overexposure to these particulates can be detrimental to your health.  

When it comes to durability, if you know how to use properly your nonstick pans, you can make them last longer. To make them last longer, however, you should know the following caveats when using them:

  • You should refrain from using sharp and abrasive utensils on its nonstick surface.
  • You should not use high heat when cooking on a nonstick surface.
  • You should also not preheat nonstick pans.

When you use a nonstick pan, you will find it hard to consistently achieve that golden crispiness of food. This is because you will need high heat to achieve such cooking which you can’t do with the nonstick pans.

Moreover, you can’t engage in deglazing when using a nonstick pan either. This means you can’t make delicious sauces, therefore, using the juices and morsels of meat left behind when you cook in high heat. 

Pros

  • It is easy to clean.
  • It allows you to cook healthier food because of less use of fatty oil.
  • Food doesn’t stick.

Cons:

  • You can’t cook using high heat.
  • You can’t deglaze.
  • It is not long-lasting.
  • There is a potential health issue due to chipping off.

Conclusion

The dilemma of stainless steel vs nonstick is not a real issue. The thing is—it is better to have both types of cookware in your array of cookware sets because both have their advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on which type of food you are going to cook and your manner of cooking. Each of these two options also affords you a different cooking experience that you will surely appreciate.