Creamy Cornbread

2 tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cups yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups milk
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place the butter in a 9- or 10-inch cast iron skillet and place in oven for 5 min.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.

Stir in ONE cup of the milk and the buttermilk.

Add the eggs and blend thoroughly.

Pour the batter into the hot skillet and carefully pour the remaining one cup of milk into the batter. Don’t worry that it looks too runny. Do not stir! The milk will sink and form a custard-like layer.

Place in preheated oven and bake 30-35 min. Serve while hot.

Italian Meatball Soup

1 1/2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 cup carrots diced 1/4-inch
1/2 cup celery diced 1/4-inch
1/4 cup onion finely diced
1 Tbsp tomato paste optional
4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
28 oz can diced tomatoes undrained,preferably fire-roasted
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning or 1 tsp basil and 1/4 tsp of thyme and oregano leaves
Parmesan rind or 3/4-inch cube of Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground pepper
20 frozen, fully cooked Italian meatballs about 1 inch *see notes
3/4 cup ditalini pasta or other small pasta
4 cups baby spinach
Freshly grated Parmesan for serving

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat on the stovetop. Add carrots, celery and onion and cook, stirring, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, if using and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until carrots are tender (taste to be sure). Discard bay leaf.
Pour in can of tomatoes. Add Italian seasoning, Parmesan rind, if using, and a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir to combine. Add meatballs. Continue simmering soup another 15 minutes, to allow the flavours to come together.
Add pasta and simmer a further 15 minutes, or until pasta is cooked. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt, pepper and/or Italian seasoning, as needed. Remove from heat and stir in baby spinach until wilted.
Serve garnished with freshly grated Parmesan.

Recipe Notes
Leftovers will thicken in the fridge. Thin when reheating with a little more chicken stock or water.

If you can’t find fully cooked frozen Italian meatballs, you can use fresh and pre-cook them before adding to soup.

Crockpot option! Add all ingredients except pasta and spinach to your slow cooker. Cook covered on low for 5-6 hours. Add pasta and cook, covered an additional 15-20 minutes. Stir in baby spinach until wilted, then serve with freshly grated Parmesan on top.

If you want to up the fibre quotient, some white or red kidney beans would not be out of place in this soup.

Like some heat with your warm soup? Add a pinch of red pepper flakes when you are sauteeing the vegetables.

Stir-fried Cabbage (with Pork or Chicken)

2 tablespoons oil
6 oz. pork belly, pork loin, or chicken, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, smashed and cut in half
5 dried red chilies, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 1/2 lb. cabbage, hand-shredded into bite sized pieces, washed, and thoroughly dried
2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar
2 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths

In a wok over high heat, add the oil. Sear the meat until caramelized. Add the garlic and chili, turn down the heat to medium, and stir-fry for a minute, taking care not to burn the garlic.

Add the cabbage, wine, soy sauce, sugar, and water. Turn up the heat to high, cover the lid and let the cabbage cook for 1-2 minutes. Uncover the lid, and stir in the dark vinegar, scallions, and salt to taste. The cabbage should be wilted, but still slightly crunchy and caramelized. Serve hot!

Stir-fried Cabbage with Glass Noodles

2 small bundles of dried glass noodles
1 1/2 pounds cabbage, thinly julienned
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 slices ginger, julienned
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3-4 dried red chilies, roughly chopped (optional)
Salt, to taste
2 scallions, chopped

Soak 2 small bundles of dried glass noodles in cold water for 5 minutes until slightly softened. Drain and cut the glass noodles in half lengthwise. Set aside.

Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing together 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon dark vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, and 1/2 cup water.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok over medium heat. Cook the ginger and garlic until the garlic has browned lightly.

Add the cabbage, and turn the heat to the highest setting. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes until the cabbage is slightly wilted. Add the dried chilies (if using).

Add the prepared sauce and the glass noodles. Stir and mix everything well, turning down the heat a bit if the dish is becoming too dry and risks getting burned. Salt to taste and add the scallions. Stir to combine once more, and serve!