Monday, September 20, 2010

A tale of two cornmeals in cherry pepper and goat cheese hush puppies

I stole borrowed the September 2010 Bon Appétit from my mom. I will return it soon, promise. In the meantime, I have marked off at least a dozen recipes from this issue, and plan on making most. So far, I have only made the crack pie, which was a dangerously addictive pie that I, embarrassingly, ate pretty quickly without sharing with anyone (except my mom who only had a tiny sliver because she realized its addictive powers). The crack pie was fabulous! I think it got better with refrigeration, although maybe that was my addiction talking. Who knows?
Yesterday, I attempted another recipe that I had marked off: The jalapeño goat cheese hush puppies. I hesitated to make this recipe because of my fear of frying. I am just not very good at it. Even pan frying can end in disaster or at least an oily soggy mess (like the time I attempted sweet potato latkes which ended up mostly greasy and uncooked inside—yikes!). Nonetheless, I faced my fears and decided it was time to get frying because, as the saying goes: "Practice makes perfect!"
The recipe calls for cornmeal. I had a bag of "semolina #2" in my pantry but was unsure if this qualified as cornmeal.

So, I emailed Bon Appétit to find out. I got a response within a day (very prompt!) from Leslie Anne Wiggins with an explanation that what I needed to use was stone ground cornmeal, not semolina. She also provided me with a link to an example of a product I could use. Sadly, we don't carry the brand in Quebec, so I went to the grocery store to see what I could find. My options were "semolina #2," (which I already had a bag of) and "maïs moulu moyen" (which somehow translates to coarse cornmeal? Ummm.... no! Is it coarse or medium grind people?), which is what I ended up purchasing.

Bottom photo: The 2 corn meals
Top spoon: Maïs moulu moyen
Bottom spoon: Sémoule #2
The recipe for the hush puppies was very simple: mix the dry ingredients, mix the wet ingredients, add the wet to the dry, along with the goat cheese. I followed the recipe exactly, but I ended up with a batter that was very loose (perhaps I screwed up?). I soon discovered that the batter was too loose to fry after a few attempts (another frying disaster?).

Top: Perfect hush puppies
Bottom: Not-so-perfect hush puppies made with a batter that was too loose to fry

I persevered (with some advice from my mom) and finally added a half-cup of my "semolina #2" from the pantry to tighten the batter. This worked perfectly! I could now spoon the batter into the hot oil and the batter did not spread out as the oil bubbled. I ended up with perfect hush puppies to munch on for breakfast with a hot cup of coffee. What a treat! I loved them. I would definitely make them again. Apparently, these are supposed to be an appetizer, but I really think these were a wonderful breakfast (then again, I eat entire pies without thinking twice...).

By the way, I used cherry peppers instead of jalapeño. I find the jalapeño peppers that we get in Quebec just aren't very spicy. So I opted for a pepper with more kick. According to IGA, a jalapeño is a 2 (not very spicy) on a scale from 1 to 8, while the cherry pepper is a medium spiced pepper, scoring a 5 on the scale (for reference, a habanero is an 8—use with caution!). The hush puppies were crisp on the outside and light on the inside. Not at all oily (SUCCESS! Look Mom, I can fry! I can fry!). The key is to use a thermometer so that you can monitor the temperature of the hot oil to make sure that it is hot enough before dropping dollops of batter in it. Also, I only fried 3 or 4 hush puppies at a time so that the oil temperature would remain constant.

Here's my recipe, tweaked from the original:

Cherry pepper and goat cheese hush puppies
Makes ~18 (depending how big your dollops of batter are) 
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal 
  • 1/2 cup semolina #2
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons beaten egg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped seeded cherry pepper
  • 4 ounces coarsely crumbled soft fresh goat cheese (about 1 cup) 
  • Lots and lots of canola oil (for deep-frying)
  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and pepper in another bowl.
  3. Add the goat cheese to the dry ingredients, along with the wet ingredients.
  4. Preheat a medium–large saucepan, filled half way with canola oil, to 350°F.
  5. Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into the hot oil (carefully!). If the batter is too loose and spreads in the oil, add a sprinkling of semolina #2 to the bowl of batter to tighten it up.
  6. Fry about 3–4 hush puppies at a time.
  7. Fry them for about 3 or 4 minutes, until they are golden brown. Make sure to turn them a couple times as they fry to be sure that they are evenly cooked.
  8. Serve for breakfast with coffee!
This was another Magazine Monday, and one of my most recent attempts to actually use the magazines that I (well in this case, my mom) happily invest in.


    1. These look like the perfect football season appetizer. Yum!

    2. What unique hush puppies! They look so good.

    3. Looks great! Definitely going to have to try this one.

    4. LOVE hush puppies! These look great!

    5. Well now I know what recipes to make in my BA magazine! :) I'm pretty sure I already had both of those marked.. man I love hush puppies..

    6. No joke - goat cheese is my absolute favorite cheese. Do you suppose you could add more of it to this recipe? Hope to try those hush puppies soon!

    7. @SaraDefinitely! I think there was room for a little more cheese, and a little more cherry pepper :)

    8. Bravo! I've been carrying around this issue of BA trying to decide whether I'm going to go through it or not. If I do, you just mentioned two recipes that I had planned to make. You did a GREAT job with the hush puppies!

    9. Oh! Sounds so good ... love the goat cheese and pepper combo!

    10. Great job. Isn't it fun when you are forced to adapt and it works! The adage 'necessity is the mother of invention' often applies. I have an old recipe for traditional hush puppies from Miss Alice in South Carolina. She called for 1/2 cup of pancake mix where you added the semolina #2. That works too.

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