Category Archives: Serbian

Corn Bread with Hatch Chiles

 Corn Bread With Hatch Chiles

Every time I make corn bread I hear my father’s voice telling me how he did not taste any kind of flour bread until the 50s. When he was a youth growing up in post-WWII Yugoslavia, the times were hard, people impoverished, the country ravaged from the brutality of the war, and hunger was an everyday experience for the majority. “We ate only corn bread, and not that beautified version that housewives make today with eggs, and cheese, and ham… Ours was made only from corn meal and water. And when your stomach was rumbling, nothing tasted sweeter than those hardened discs seemingly made completely of crusts”.

I have tried many times in vain to replicate the corn bread from his adolescence that people in my country still make for big weddings and community events, as that bread is the only allowed accompaniment to anything made of sauerkraut. Mother was not particularly fond of that basic formula and preferred to treat us to the “sissified version” Father keeps on mocking (even though I have never seen him reject a slice when offered). Since there was not a recipe for it in her handwritten cookbook I inherited, I am at a loss.

When I am in Serbia and there happens to be a feast featuring this simple bread, I enjoy it, as the only flavor that’s present is the sweetness of the mill-ground corn meal and maybe a grain or two of salt. My daughters don’t like it and as Father will probably never cross the Atlantic to visit us again due to his stroke last year, I don’t have an incentive to master the old-fashioned corn bread baking. No matter how much I love it, I cannot envision eating the whole thing by myself, which would probably take me about a week.

Corn Bread With Hatch Chiles from bibberche.com

But everyone in my house likes corn bread, the city cousin of the rugged traditional pauper: the Serbian version, the southern version, and even the sweet Yankee version. I buy corn meal at my neighborhood Persian store, and even though it’s yellow, it’s the closest to stone-ground corn meal from Serbia. I usually make it plain (yes, I can hear Father snorting), adding only some crumbled feta, but this time I had a few roasted hot Hatch chiles, and it seemed like that would be quite a compatible fit.

I served it as a side dish to chili and instead of kajmak*, which is what would be served in Serbia, I offered cream cheese as a substitute. After a few bites, we all concluded that it tasted like jalapeño poppers. And jalapeño poppers are my guilty pleasure. Now that Hatch chile season is slowly coming to an end, I am going to make sure to have a few packets in my freezer just for the days when the popper cravings hit.

*kajmak is a Serbian dairy product similar to clotted cream; when the fresh milk from the cow is slowly heated, it forms a thick skin on the surface which is comprised of milk fat; that layer is collected with a slotted spoon, placed in a bowl, and salted; the process continues for several days with each new batch of milk. This is one of the few Serbian products that cannot be found outside of the Balkans and are really difficult to make at home, as it asks for fresh cow milk, and lots of it!

Thanks Melissa’s Produce for those gorgeous Hatch chiles!

Corn Bread with Hatch Chiles from bibberche.com

5.0 from 1 reviews
Corn Bread with Hatch Chiles
Author: 
Recipe type: bread
Cuisine: International
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
This corn bread is very versatile as you can add many things to the basic recipe. The best part of it is its crust.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup all-purppose flour
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1½ cup corn meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt (I usually don't use more, as feta is pretty salty)
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup water (or club soda)
  • ½ cup buttermilk or plain yogurt (you can use more milk, if you don't have buttermilk or yogurt)
  • ½ cup sunflower oil (or any neutral oil of your choice)
  • 8 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 2-4 hot Hatch chiles, roasted, peeled, and cut into small chunks (you can use mild chiles, too)
Instructions
  1. Pour 1 Tbsp oil into a cast iron pan (or a 9-inch round cake pan).
  2. Turn the oven to 425F and place the pan in the oven.
  3. In a large bowl mix flour, corn meal, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl mix milk, water, buttermilk, and oil.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix to combine.
  6. Add feta and chiles and stir gently to spread evenly..
  7. When the oven is heated through, take the pan out of the oven (remember to wear gloves!)
  8. Pour the batter into the hot pan.
  9. Return to the oven.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes.
  11. Turn the heat down to 400F.
  12. Bake for another 15-20 minutes, until done (if it's done, the knife inserted in the middle will come out dry).
  13. Let it rest for 15 minutes before you cut it.
  14. Serve with butter, kajmak, or cream cheese.

 

Serbian Easter: Naturally Colored Eggs

Easter Eggs, Naturally Colored Easter Eggs, Eastern Orthodox Colored Eggs, Easter FoodContinue Reading

The Year of the Horse

When he was in Medical School, Father had a Chinese roommate. This was back in the 50s, and Tzu-Ke-Lee attended the University of Belgrade on a Chinese scholarship studying Serbian language and culture. Even now, in his old age, Father can charm a linguist without being proficient in any language except Serbian, and in hisContinue Reading

Autumn Bliss: Tufahije, Bosnian Poached Apples

I was born in the town of Novi Pazar in southwestern Serbia, very close to the border with today’s Montenegro and Herzegovina. My parents were newlyweds when they moved there, Father a young doctor, Mother the high school German and Art teacher. Their apartment was on the second floor of a building overlooking the main street that became the promenade atContinue Reading

Summer Games: Greek Salad with Watermelon Cucumbers

I planted seven heirloom tomato plants in April. They were all different shape, color, and size. I staked them, watered them, and watched them grow and bloom to be strong, healthy, and fragrant. Some of them took of faster and started producing a lot of soon-to-be ripe fruit. After five years of gardening withdrawals, myContinue Reading

It’s Worth It to Me: Pan-Fried Zucchini Salad

It’s a sweltering July afternoon and even though the back door is open wide, only the scorching dry summer heat comes into the kitchen. Mother is standing by the gas stove, flipping thinly sliced zucchini  just as they turn golden brown. A tray sits on the counter, filled with a few layers of the uncookedContinue Reading

Serbian Easter Traditions: Eggs and Beyond, A Rose-Shaped Bread

The days approaching Easter were filled with excitement and anticipation for us while we were growing up in Serbia. As soon as we noticed the envelopes of different dyes and cartons of eggs waiting in the pantry, we became antsy, barely able to wait for “Veliki ÄŒetvrtak” or Big Thursday, to join in the ritual ofContinue Reading

Let the Game Begin: Bacon-Flavored Chicken Wings for Super Bowl Party

We did not have Super Bowl in Serbia and the phenomenon of preparing special foods for that day was a novel one. But eager to socialize with people who loved to cook and eat, I frequently joined my friends with excitement, even though I still did not understand the rules of American football and haveContinue Reading

Indianers: Hazelnut Shortbread Sandwich Cookies with Custard and Chocolate Ganache

Something miraculous occurs to me every time I taste a combination of hazelnuts and chocolate. I fall into a sensory overload, remembering the days of my childhood when I felt comforted and safe, as the warm smell of roasted nuts greeted me at the kitchen door, and adventurous summers of my early teenage years whenContinue Reading

The Magic of Sharing Food: Serbian Creamy Chicken Soup

No matter how many times I tell myself that I am a competent home cook, it takes only a well-intentioned, but misplaced comment from one of my girls to make me roll my eyes in disbelief and grind my teeth in an effort not to speak up and ruin the moment. One of those occasionsContinue Reading