With the temperature fluctuating wildly around the freezing point, a good hearty soup seems like the perfect food. To elevate lentil soup or chili to new heights – if I’m being indulgent – I make some of the world’s best cornbread.

Cheddar Jalapeno Whole Kernel Cornbread

This recipe was tweaked over about six months. In the restaurant I was then cooking at, we served cornbread every Thursday; surprisingly, it was from a mix. One day, the cupboard was inexplicably bare. We dragged out a bag of cornmeal and made the recipe on the back of the bag. It was drop-dead awful. All of the things some people hate about cornbread: dry, crumbly, bitter, icky. So I played with variations until the recipe below emerged. Hope you like this, it’s really good.


1½ cups de-germinated cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1½ T baking powder (about 4 teaspoons)
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
½ to 1 jalapenos, fine dice (no need to de-seed), taste to assess heat
½ cup shredded white cheddar cheese
½ to ¾ cups (4-6 oz) fresh or frozen corn

  • Grease/pan spray 8 inch square baking pan, or 8-9 inch cast iron skillet
  • Preheat oven 425 degrees
  • Combine all dry ingredients: cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt
  • Separately, combine buttermilk, eggs, jalapenos, and oil
  • Add wet to dry, just until combined, but smooth
  • Fold in corn and cheese
  • Pour in pan; bake about 20-30 minutes, wooden toothpick in center clean, sides pull from pan

I hope you all have fun with this. If you don’t like heat, leave out the jalapenos. If you prefer low-fat cheese, substitute mozzarella for cheddar. Have fresh corn, and by all means, add it instead of frozen. Make it your own.

Susan Delbert joined The Fourth Estate Restaurant at the National Press Club as Executive Chef after working at The Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C. as Sous Chef for several years. Delbert has worked in several Washington restaurants, including The Oval Room, BeDuCi in Dupont Circle and Gerard’s Place. She started her culinary career as a Front of the House Maitre d’ in Clyde’s of Chevy Chase. She trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., where she graduated at the top of her class. She was an invited participant in an Italian regional cooking program sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission.


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