Thursday, April 19, 2012

Strawberry spoon bread

strawberry spoon bread

Every spring when the wildflowers bloom, Texans will say thank you to Mrs. Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, the former first lady and native Texan who made it her life’s work to protect and preserve native plants in their natural habitat. But besides her commitment to keeping Texas and America beautiful, Mrs. Johnson was also known as a gracious hostess who entertained with taste and ease.

When people come over for dinner, it’s not unusual if you like a dish to ask for the recipe, and I’ve heard that Mrs. Johnson was always quick to give friends her family’s recipes, such as her method for making spoon bread.

strawberry spoon bread

If you’re not familiar with spoon bread, it’s an old American cornmeal-based baked pudding that’s dense, custardy and smooth, much like bread pudding. While it’s usually associated with the South, it’s been documented in early American cookbooks from New England going back to the early 1800s.

Spoon bread is a simple dish, made with cornmeal, milk, eggs and a bit of baking powder. Traditionally, it’s served as a savory side that pairs well with hearty meat dishes or a bowl of beans. But it’s also like a thick bowl of hot cereal before you pour on some milk, which makes it good at breakfast, too. Matter of fact, I read that the Mrs. Johnson preferred to serve it in the morning along with homemade venison sausage.

Now, while it’s typically a savory dish, since strawberries are now in season (at least in Texas—local ones should hopefully arrive in New York City soon), I took Mrs. Johnson’s recipe and added a bit of sugar and strawberries to make a sweet dish instead. And when topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a handful of more strawberries, you have a springtime dessert that, as the name implies, is best eaten with a spoon.

strawberry spoon bread

If you’re a fan of cobblers, this dish is for you. While the spoon bread is smooth rather than flaky, as it's made with eggs and cornmeal rather than flour and fat, the interplay of cornmeal with the berries is sweet and satisfying. And in case you’re wondering, this strawberry spoon bread keeps for a day or so in the refrigerator. While it’s best served warm I’ve been known to dip my spoon into it cold, as well.

So even though she's no longer with us, if you try this be sure to say thank you to Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson for all the beauty she gave us, along with her recipes for wonderful Texan food.

Strawberry spoon bread (adapted from Lady Bird Johnson's spoon bread recipe)
Ingredients:
2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and quarterd
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
3 cups whole milk, divided
1 cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons butter
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons honey or sorghum syrup

Method:
Sprinkle the strawberries with 1/4 cup of sugar, and leave at room temperature for an hour or until juicy.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place a metal bowl in the freezer. In a large cast-iron skillet, on medium heat, stir together 2 cups of milk and the cornmeal and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining milk and butter. Once the butter has melted, stir in the eggs, baking powder, salt and remaining sugar. Drain the juice from half the berries (reserving the juice by pouring it back into the remaining berries) and stir the strawberries into the spoon bread batter.

Place the skillet into the oven and bake uncovered for 35 minutes or until the bread is set and golden brown. While it cools, whip the heavy cream in the chilled metal bowl with a whisk, eggbeater or electric mixer. Once it’s tripled in size and soft peaks have formed, stir in the honey or sorghum syrup.

Serve the spoon bread warm topped with the remaining strawberries and whipped cream.

Yield: 8 servings

Notes: Taste the berries--if they're especially sweet feel free to cut back on the sugar for the maceration process. Also, if the berries are small, just cut them in half rather than in quarters.

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52 comments:

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar said...

Spoon bread?! Yes, please!!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Katrina--Indeed!

Anonymous said...

This looks fantastic. I'll be making this soon!

Caroline @ Pink Basil said...

YUM@! I think strawberries are starting to come into season, so this will be perfect!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--Enjoy!

Caroline--Strawberry season is probably my favorite time of year.

Crazy Radishes said...

I'm not familiar with spoonbread and am having trouble imagining cornmeal and strawberries together, but I am intrigued by the combination! Will try this soon for a weekend breakfast.
Also can I just say I love the little bits of history, food-related or otherwise, that you give in all your posts? Makes your writing such a pleasure to read!

Katie said...

Yes Please! This looks amazing, thank you for doing something different with Strawberries! I found your blog about 2 years ago and I have never been dissapointed!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Crazy Radishes--Thank you! And the two go surprising well together. Have you ever had a strawberry tamale? This is sort of like that.

Katie--Thank you!

Sharon M said...

My kids are going to LOVE this!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Sharon--Yay!

Megan said...

Now that I think of it, a cast iron skillet is really a versatile piece of equipment. You can use it on the stove, in the oven, over the campfire...

I used to have one that had been my grandmother's, but I haven't used it in ages. I'll have to give it another try.

DessertForTwo said...

Awwww, love Lady Bird. I'm hoping my grandkids call me Lady Bird some day. She's just so Texan: elegant, classy, and still so humble.

ileana said...

Looks beautiful. How did you find her recipe?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Megan--I pretty much do all my cooking with cast-iron skillets. I love them!

DessertForTwo--She's the ultimate Texan, isn't she?

Ileana--It's on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center web site, among other places.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an Americanized clafoutis

Karen Elizabeth said...

You got me when I saw sorgham syrup!

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said...

I think I just died. This sounds incredible.

Becki's Whole Life said...

I have had spoonbread before and I love the idea of the strawberries against the cornmeal flavor...great recipe!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--Yes, I hadn't thought of that but it does!

Karen Elizabeth--Isn't sorghum great?

Julie--It's good stuff!

Becki--Thank you--they do work very well together. I think it would also be good with blueberries and raspberries.

Mary and Jonathan said...

Who knew that Lady Bird's given name was Claudia? Jeepers - I lived in Austin and Washington, DC for most of my 49 years, and I don't think I've ever known that.

Elizabeth Torres Evans said...

I was just in Pleasanton, San Antonio and Lytle last month visiting family, after years of being away. Wildflowers were blooming and the Blue Bonnets were especially striking. Strawberries are at the roadside stands and farmers markets here in North Carolina, so am going to try this recipe and think of country roads off the 281...
Elizabeth

13carol said...

This sounds wonderful, I do wish you would put a print key for your recipes. I would have a whole book full of them. Moved from Texas 8 yrs ago to Nashville to retire. Love to cook so thanks for old and new goodies.

idiosyncraticeye said...

I'm thinking polenta for some reason! ;)

Carolyn said...

I wonder if this is like Wom Kim's Peach Pudding at Hyde Park Bar & Grill in Austin -- it sounds similar, but it's served w/hot cream poured over it. It's delicious, and this sounds great, too.

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

Thanks for the recipe. I always thought that Lady Bird was a class act!

Lisa @ Snappy Gourmet said...

Oh my, this looks incredible! I love strawberry dishes!

Big Hook Camps said...

Just awesome! Thanks so much for posting.

Linda said...

I live not far from Karnack, TX, LadyBird Johnson's childhood home. a little bit from there is Jefferson, TX, she went to high school. The Jefferson Hotel always--and I mean ALWAYS--kept her suite reserved, just in case.
Every spring I teach my students about her contribution to our great state. Seems rather fitting to make her spoonbread! Love your blog!

Alex Muckey @aemuckey said...

I am so happy that I found your blog! I left Texas 4 years ago and miss it so much. Just browsing through this site makes me happy. The recipes look great, and I can't wait to try some of them

Anonymous said...

sigh... no cast iron skillet. Wonder if it will work with hard anodized pan.?

Gail M said...

Native Texan (60+ years) and for the first time drove through Boerne, Kendalia, Sisterdale to 281. Spectacular! The bluebonnets have gone to seed but purple verbena were still out and the hills were amazingly green. It is a shame that so many folks judge Texas after only visiting Dallas or Houston!

Devon from Lake Jackson, TX said...

I'm in a cooking club and since my dinner this season happened to be scheduled on April 21st (San Jacinto Day for those non-Texans) I decided to have a Texas themed dinner. I got your cookbook for Christmas so I chose recipes from it. We had Coffee Chipotle Brisket & BBQ Sauce, Cilantro Pesto Green Beans, Tomato Cobbler and Fried Pies, also the black bean dip. Everyone just raved about how good everything was. Thank you so much.

Nicole said...

I will be making this! How about blackberry spoon bread? I don't think you can go wrong : )

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Mary and Jonathan--It was a surprise to me, too!

Elizabeth--What a beautiful drive that must have been.

13carol--Until I get that feature, when you go to print you can simply choose the page that has the recipe.

idiosyncraticeye--Yes! It's a lot like a sweet polenta.

Carolyn--It's been a long time since I've eaten at Hyde Park Bar & Grill, so I don't recall the peach pudding but it sounds wonderful, especially with the cream poured over it.

Rocky Mountain Woman--She was indeed.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Lisa--You can never go wrong with strawberries.

Big Hook Camps--You're very welcome.

Linda--That's a great story about the Jefferson Hotel!

Alex--I'm pleased the recipes are making you feel closer to home!

Anon--You could always make the spoonbread mush batter in a pot and then pour it into a lightly greased baking dish.

Gail-I hear the purple verbena was strong this year.

Devon--What a feast! I'm so pleased your guests enjoyed the meal.

Nicole--That would also be fabulous!

Jane said...

Made this last night - really enjoyed it. Thinking the leftovers will be wonderful for breakfast. . . and would like to try it with dewberries. . .

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Jane--So glad you enjoyed it! I think it would be fabulous with dewberries, too.

l.ko said...

I made this yesterday morning for breakfast, and it was everything I could do to not eat the entire thing straight out of the pan! Soooo delicious! Keep up the great work on this site. I love your recipes, and a few have become staples in my cooking.

kale said...

Anything in a cast-iron skillet: sign me up! Looks delicious Lisa!

Anonymous said...

Yum. I have my mom's 1961 Dallas Hadassah cookbook. Lady Bird, then the Second Lady kindly submitted recipes for nachos and chile con carne. Letitia Baldridge submitted a recipe on behalf of Jackie Kennedy. There are also a couple of recipes from Lillian Zapruder. Spooky.

Shelley said...

This food looks like comfort.

Veronica Armstrong said...

I cannot wait to try this. Any recommendations for a good spot to get cast iron?

Liz said...

I made this for an outdoor dinner party on Friday night using local strawberries from my CSA. It was SO easy and a huge hit! I can't wait to try it with blueberries (and maybe a hint of lemon zest) later in the spring/summer.

Anonymous said...

I bought my first jalapeno pepper last week to make Austin Black Beans from your cookbook. Wow. As a native Florida girl, I make Cuban black beans. But those Austin Black Beans - WOWsa. So last Sunday I bought FOUR jalapeno peppers - do you think there's a trend here? I'm becoming a big fan of big Texas.

maxine said...

I still like spoon bread best plain with a pat or two of butter and tsp or so of sugar...

Stephanie {Clockwork Lemon} said...

I have never heard of spoon bread before! Bread and bread-type desserts are my favorite though, I will need to try this

Aarti S. said...

Made this last night and was super yummy Lisa! Very decadent... We weren't able to finish it all so we threw some in the fridge.. you think it'll be OK after defrosting?

Durtwurshiper12 said...

This sounds like it would be great with peaches too! I'm sure Lady Bird would approve, seeing as how the best Texas peaches come from very near Johnson City (Fredricksburg and Stonewall).

Anonymous said...

And now figs are in season. I wonder....

Deborah said...

Be still my heart! I was looking for a good strawberry dessert recipe. This looks amazing!! I love your recipes! Definitely making this tomorrow! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I like the sound of the recipe. I live in Australia, which cornmeal do I use? Fine, medium or coarse? Cornmeal is not a standard ingredient here and no one in the shops can advise me

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--Fine or medium cornmeal should work.

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