Toronto's frenzy for southern U.S. cooking peaked in the late 80s with nuevo cantinas like Santa Fe (now home to Fez Batik) and Underground Railroad, the deeply missed soul food jam. Only Southern Comfort continues to weather fashion. Surely, this déclassé cuisine is skedded for a comeback. One of its cornerstones, cornbread cuts across several cultures -- native North American as well as African and Aztec. To celebrate that fact, South Pittsburg, Tennessee, hosts the National Cornbread Festival on April 27 and 28. For more information on this ultimate foodie event, check out the Web site (www.nationalcornbread.com, what else?) and note that Rhonda Vincent, 2001's International Bluegrass Music Association's entertainer of the year, plays a street dance Saturday night. Right after a classic car cruise. Total evening admission: $1. O brother!
To maximize the crispy crust, purists insist that cornbread must be baked in a cast-iron skillet. But this over-the-top recipe for Mexican Cornbread works just as well in a greased muffins tin or an ovenproof casserole. In a small bowl, beat 2 eggs, then mix in 1/4 cup corn oil and 1 cup buttermilk. Stir in 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar, 1 small can of creamed corn, 1 large onion, chopped, and 2 seeded minced jalapeños. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup cornmeal, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon each baking soda and sea salt. Stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into greased skillet. Sprinkle 1/2 cup sharp cheddar over top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in a preheated 350° F oven until centre is solid and top golden brown.SD