Our taste buds are still remembering the many delicious appetizers and finger foods that Ashley Marti (@localhaven) created for our third anniversary party. Not only was the food delicious, we also very much enjoyed meeting Ashley. She’s down to earth, creative, and a fun person to spend time with.

Ashley’s deep belief in using everything and wasting nothing is very much what we practice in our workshop. (OK we don’t recommend eating leather, so the analogy is not perfect.) We’re happy to share her reflections on waste and improvisation as well as the recipe for Fried Cornbread with Bacon-Tomato Jam and Creme Fraiche (very delicious).


Recently I was having a conversation about making the most of your foods, using the last bit of the stale bread to make croutons or bread crumbs. Making stock out of the carcass. Using the carrot tops to make pesto. Ok, I think you get my point. But, honestly, there is so much food that we waste, myself included. And when I think about me, and my style of cooking, and what really excites me, it honestly is those meals in which my husband thinks "we have no food in this house". I think that sets off this ringer in my head, I'm a competitive person, so I accept that challenge. These are the meals, in which I am digging to the back of the freezer, pulling preserves out of the pantry, and using the last bit of vegetables that we have, to make a meal, to actually make a really great meal. 

Now you may ask, why am I bringing this up, what does this have to do with fried cornbread? Well you see, this batch of cornbread produced me 3 meals! One square pan, turned into 3 different recipes. I love that. Those are the things that excite me. Getting the most out of simple and few ingredients. 

This recipe came to me while planning a menu I was putting together for my friends at Orox Leather for their 3rd Anniversary Celebration. And while I did not make this exact recipe for the party, as I didn't want the cornbread to leave crumbs behind while people were shopping, it did help inspire the chosen dish. Bacon-Corn fritters with creme fraiche, hot sauce and scallion! A big, big hit for the night. Conclusion being, corn, tomatoes, bacon, hot sauce, creme fraiche, all meant to be together. 


Fried Cornbread with Bacon-Tomato Jam and Creme Fraiche (makes 12 or 24)

2 pieces of bacon (I prefer to buy bacon in a slab and then be able to cut my own thickness), diced
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt + pepper

Heat a medium size skillet to medium-high and add the bacon. Stir occasionally until crisp. You want about 1 tablespoon of bacon grease in the pan, discard the rest. Add the tomatoes to the crisped bacon, with sugar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let the tomatoes sizzle and begin to split, stirring. Once they start to split, turn the heat down to medium and stir occasionally for about 15-25 minutes until the jam has thickened. Taste. At this point you can make the jam sweeter by adding more sugar, or add more salt and pepper if needed. 

step 1: make a batch of your favorite cornbread, I really love this one, turns out ridiculously moist every time
step 2: let cornbread cool slightly, cut into 12 squares. to make thinner squares, which is what I did and wanted, I took the cornbread out of the pan, placed it up on it's side and slid my knife through the whole cornbread, making 2 thin layers. And then I cut into 12 squares, totally 24. 
step 3: using a large skillet, I prefer cast iron (for everything), put 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil into the pan and heat at medium-high
step 4: add squares, as many as you can comfortably fit into the pan, and fry, until golden brown on both sides. remove and set on a paper towel lined surface and continue frying the remaining squares. 

chives, parsley or scallions, about 1/4 cup, chopped
1/2 cup creme fraiche
hot sauce of your choice, I use Marshall's Haute Sauce and love it
flaky finishing salt like Jacobsen Salt Co. 

On a serving board lay out the fried cornbread, place 2 tablespoons of bacon-tomato jam in the center of each slice, top with a dollop (about 1 teaspoon) of creme fraiche, add hot sauce and chives/parsley or scallions. Serve!

October 20, 2015 — Mark Feldman