Hushpuppies or Cornballs?

Depending on where you are in the world I believe there is some variation of hush puppies or cornballs cooked in every culture, either savory or sweet - such as the falafel, sorullitos and festivals. Typically you may think of hush puppies as a BBQ or seafood side dish; originating in the southern region of the USA - tasty comfort food. Yes, I included my own version of it in my Know Your Fire Cookbook. Cook some up!

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Chef George’s Hushpuppies

Where the name HushPuppies came from:

The name "hushpuppies" is often attributed to southern cooks who would fry some basic cornmeal mixture (possibly that they had been bread-coating or battering their own food with) and feed it to their dogs to "hush the puppies" during cook-outs or fish-fries.

Hush Puppies | Recipe by George Hirsch, Know Your Fire Cookbook, Putnam 

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1 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 Tablespoons melted butter

1 Tablespoon fine chopped parsley

Vegetable oil for frying

* optional suggestions: onions, hot pepper, crisp cooked bacon, finely chopped ham or crab meat

Combine cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the milk, add egg and beat with a whisk or fork until the batter is smooth and no lumps remain. Stir in the butter, parsley and set the batter aside for 15 to 20 minutes. 

Fill a deep saucepan or deep-fat fryer with 2 to 3 inches of vegetable oil and heat to 360 degree F. Scoop up a scant tablespoon of batter off the spoon into the hot fat and when the hush puppies rise to the top in about 1 minute, turn them over and cook until evenly brown, about 2 minutes total. Remove and drain on paper towels. Hush Puppies should always be served piping hot.

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Speedy Side

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Don't feel like peeling the spuds, or steaming rice on a warm day? Solution, try my cool couscous salad that is ready to serve in a matter of minutes. And, it's a great make-ahead cold side-salad that travels well from your kitchen to tailgate.  

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A staple side of North Africa, Sicily and the Middle East, couscous is made from semolina, or granules of durum wheat. A healthy side dish it contains a 1 % low fat-to calorie ration of  3.6 grams of protein for every 100 grams. But, my flavorful Couscous and Tomato Salad tastes so good. Who will remember the dish is healthy? 

Serve warm or chilled with Grilled Garlic Shrimp, or go all veggie and top with Honey Glazed Acorn Squash.

Couscous and Tomato Salad

Makes four cups 

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1 1/2 cups Couscous

2 cups chicken broth

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/4 sweet onion, chopped

1/4 sweet red bell pepper, chopped

2 Tablespoons pine nuts and raisins

2 Tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

For Tomato Dressing: 2 Tablespoons lemon juice; 1 Tablespoon honey; 1/2 cup vine ripened tomatoes, chopped; 1/4 cup chick peas; cooked or canned rinsed & drained; 1/4 cup olive oil; 2 teaspoons curry powder; pinch of cinnamon

Pre heat a sauté pan; add one tablespoon olive oil, onions and peppers. Sauté three- five minutes until tender.  Add pine nuts and raisins and cook one additional minute. Add couscous; mix with onion and pepper mixture. Add boiling hot chicken broth, 1 Tablespoon mint, cover and remove from stove. Allow to rest for five minutes.

Meanwhile make Tomato Dressing by mixing tomatoes, chick peas, lemon juice, honey, olive oil, curry, cinnamon and remaining mint.  

After couscous has sat covered for five minutes remove lid and mix with a fork or spoon to loosen granules. Top and mix in the tomato dressing.

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Making of a Great Salad

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Les Salades Composées

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George's Garden Mesclun Greens

The best salad is not complicated at all, but made with the freshest possible greens and garnishes. Les Salades composées or mixed green salad can be made with from an infinite list, the only consideration is freshness. But you say you bought it fresh. Just because you purchased from the fresh bin at the market does not guarantee the pick date. Consider the source and how far did that head of lettuce travel? 

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George's Garden Sweet and Neat Cherry Tomatoes

Substitute ingredients at will when shopping or picking fresh. 

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George's Garden Snap "Sugar Daddy" Peas

My dad was a Master Gardener, and fresh veggies was always steps away. Here’s inspiration for a salad I prepared today and served from my garden-to-plate in under 5 minutes.

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Chef George's Salad Simples

Salade Simple

Sugar Snap Peas, steam 30 seconds, shock in cold water

Mixed Mesclun Greens

Arugula

Red Kale

Sweet and Neat Cherry Tomatoes

Juice 1/2 lemon

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil 

pinch sea salt + a few sprigs fresh mint leaves

Add lemon juice, olive oil, mint and salt in bowl. Mix well. Add all above ingredients, toss and serve immediately.

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