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I absolutely adore the dialogue this humble newsletter engenders with readers. Susan Murphy from Long Island wrote me the following after receiving her Autumn issue of The Baking Sheet®:
"...the recipe for the Potato Borek made me think of a recipe that I just found in a 1983 cookbook with international recipes from countries all over the world. I picked up the cookbook for $1.00 at a library in Rhode Island which sells books to raise money. One recipe in particular caught my attention for Sopa Paraguaya-Paraguayan Cornbread. The recipe consisted of onions, chopped and fried in oil, milk, salt, lard or vegetable oil, cheese, cottage cheese, cornmeal, and eggs. It was heavy on the fat and the onions. So I did a search on the Internet and came up with a few hits for Sopa Paraguaya, but none that sounded really good and at least somewhat healthy. Do you have any recipes for Sopa Paraguaya?"
Off I went on a recipe hunt. I found a number of recipes, each of which had something about it that appealed, but none that I was willing to buy into altogether. So I did some combining and morphing and testing. I learned that Paraguayan cornbread is often baked in the drippings from a roast chicken, which sounded mighty good to me; something like a Latin American Yorkshire pudding. Some recipes called for separating the eggs and folding them in, but that seemed a bit prissy for what was originally a sturdy country dish, often served next to a hearty beef soup or stew. As the recipe came together, I realized it was a nutritional powerhouse. One serving has practically all the whole grains you're supposed to be getting per day, there's lots of protein from the cheese, and with a couple of minor tweaks (see sidebar) it can be made with very little cholesterol.
This is a dense, very moist, quite yummy dish. Perfect for winter with a roast, some chili, or some soup. I hope Susan and everyone else will find it as satisfying as we did.
Susan Reid, editor
The Baking Sheet
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon corn or vegetable oil
1 cup (5 ounces) diced onion
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) each diced red and green pepper
1 1/2 cups (7 1/4 ounces) whole cornmeal
1 cup (8 ounces) milk
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) low-fat cottage cheese
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups (6 1/2 ounces) fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 cup (4 ounces) Monterey or pepperjack cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9 x 9-inch pan that's at least 2 inches deep, or a shallow 2-quart casserole dish.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and pour in the oil. Add the onions and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the peppers and cook for 1 more minute. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal and milk. Stir in the sugar, cottage cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and baking powder. Stir in the corn kernels and cooled onion mixture. Stir in the cheese, and then transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the center doesn't wobble when lightly touched with your finger. Remove from the oven, serve warm. Yield: 12 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (2-inch square, 107g): 172 cal, 36g whole grains, 7g fat, 7g protein, 20g complex carbohydrates, 2g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 48mg cholesterol, 534mg sodium, 181mg potassium, 76RE vitamin A, 6mg vitamin C, 1mg iron, 166mg calcium, 227mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XIX, No. 1, Winter 2008 issue.