My uncle used to say, with pride, “Your Aunt Ali would never eat something just because it was good for her!” I’m with Aunt Ali. You will never see me tossing back a glass of apple cider vinegar! That sounds like torture to me, even if it has health benefits. I like to eat food that tastes good, which usually means food that is both flavorful and nutritious. The exception is when I make baked treats. Then I don’t think about nutrition—taste rules supreme.
Alice Medrich’s new book, Flavor Flours, contains good examples of baking with ingredients because they taste good. She uses unfamiliar, naturally gluten-free flours, such as teff, sorghum, corn and buckwheat, not because they are more nutritious (although they can be), but because they are delicious. These are not hippie-dippie recipes made with bran and carob. They are full of butter, eggs and sugar.
I was drawn to Medrich’s recipe for sweet or savory corn sticks, which calls for corn flour (not cornmeal). They are sensational. Initially, I made the savory version according to instructions, drizzling the sticks with olive oil and sprinkling them with coarse salt and paprika. The second time I decided to add fresh chives to the mix, which intensified its savoriness. The green specks of chopped chive also seemed to give the sticks a certain sparkle. Corn sticks, sweet or savory, are easy to make, and remind one of biscotti, as they are twice baked. Crunchy, full of flavor and totally addictive, they are wonderful on their own, and even more wonderful spread with beet hummus (my new obsession, and the subject of my next blog). Last night I cut them into croutons to top my salad. I’ve also made them into bread crumbs. Have I mentioned that I like crunchy bits! These make the best bits ever.