06_05_angelica_home_kitchen.jpgThe Angelica Home Kitchen: Recipes and Rabble Rousings from an Organic Vegan Restaurant by Leslie McEachern (Ten Speed Press, 2003)

While Gothamist is a huge fan of traditional, Southern-style cornbread (and spicy variants thereof), we've always enjoyed Angelica Kitchen's "Angelica cornbread." Described as a "lumpy, moist, chewy, fiber-filled whole-grain loaf" in their cookbook, this cornbread only fits the definition of the term in the loosest sense.

But that's okay, because Gothamist enjoys partaking in the occasional vegan twist on foods that traditionally contain dairy and/or eggs. And since a traditional cornbread often has eggs, melted butter, and milk (or buttermilk), one has to wonder just how Angelica Kitchen could create a vegan cornbread that was edible, let alone yummy.

When we finally came across the recipe in Angelica Home Kitchen, we were surprised at the ingredients--cooked brown rice? apple cider? rolled oats? After having eaten the cornbread several times over the years, we never could have guessed at the ingredients. But now that we've baked it, seen the transformation from batter to bread, and tasted it again knowing the ingredients, it makes sense.

This is an extremely dense bread, and while a bit delicate and crumbly, it's also a sturdy and filling accompaniment to a light springtime meal. And a leftover slice or two will heat up very well in your toaster the next morning for breakfast.

Makes 6 to 8 generous pieces, or 1 small loaf.

1 recipe brown rice (see recipe below)
1 1/3 cup rolled oats
1 1/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
3 cups apple cider or apple juice
1/4 cup unrefined corn oil plus more for brushing the pan
[note: if you can't be bothered to track down unrefined corn oil, you can substitute regular corn oil or any other neutrally flavored oil]
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked rice, rolled oats, cornmeal, apple cider (or juice), sea salt, and corn oil. Mix well using a wooden spoon or whisk.

Lightly oil a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan and sprinkle with sesame seeds. This prevents the bread from sticking to the pan and adds a delicious toasty sesame flavor.
06_05_angelica_cornbread.jpgFill the pan with batter, smoothing the top with a spatula.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool before serving.

Serve with spread of choice (see recipe for miso-tahini spread, below) and top with sprouts or grated vegetables.

Makes 3 cups.

1 cup organic short-grain brown rice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 cups water

Place the rice in a strainer, rinse under cold running water, and drain well.

Bring the water to a boil over high heat in a 1-quart saucepan with tight-fitting lid.

Add the salt and rice.

When the water returns to a boil, reduce the flame to low.

Cover and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the grains are tender.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the rice to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Makes 2 cups.

1/3 cup mellow barley miso
1/2 cup water
1 1/3 cup tahini

Combine miso with 1/2 cup water in food processor. Puree. Add tahini. Process. Will last for up to 5 days if refrigerated.