Art of the Recipe


I have an astonishing digest of recipes, as you can imagine, and although chefs often pooh-pooh the idea of recipe, I feel like they don’t get enough respect.  Yes, recipes can be applied much too literally, particularly for beginners, and therefore work against the nature of creativity and seasonality and well, enjoyment, but they aren’t discussed enough anymore as works of art.  When I do the hard-work of creating my own recipes, as I would any piece of writing, I would hope that the reader (and cook) would appreciate the effort to chisel away at a dish and then record it for posterity.  Okay, all that to say, that recipes, good recipes, should be excellent on their own, simple to a degree, and have flexibility with (seasonal) ingredients.  Here is one such recipe for cornbread that is a Farm to Fork favorite:



From Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland by Lucia Watson

In the summer add fresh berries and in winter add dried herbs or shredded cheese to this rich batter.  Leftovers make wonderful stuffing.  We often make a double batch and freeze one just to have on hand.


1 cup cornmeal

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 large egg

1/3 cup (5 ½ tablespoons) butter, melted


Sift the dry ingredients into a medium-sized bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are just moistened.  (Do not overmix or the muffins will be tough.)

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins that have been lightly greased or filled with paper liners.  Fill each about two-thirds full with batter.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the centers of the muffins feel firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes up clean.  (Watch that they don’t become too brown.)  Remove from the oven, cool 5 minutes before turning from the muffin tin, and serve warm.

For variety, fold these ingredients into the batter just before filling the muffin cups:

Berry Muffins: 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries or blueberries

Cheese Muffins: ½ cup grated cheddar cheese

Herb Muffins: 1 tablespoon dried or ¼ cup chopped fresh dill or sage