I remember the first time I went to Sylvia’s Restaurant in New York and the collective “wow” that came from all of us at the table when a piping hot basket of cornbread arrived and in front of us. The delight continued as we were presented with cornmeal dusted fried catfish, smothered pork chops, and Southern fried chicken and grits. Luckily, as a Washington, D.C. local I can make regular visits to places like Eatonville and Georgia Brown’s who also serve delicious soul food, or as Georgia Brown’s calls it, “Low-Country Cuisine.” These restaurants, among others, inspired Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles. While writing the book I tapped into my experiences at soul food and comfort food eateries and combined them with my history of growing up in Southern Maryland (Prince George’s County and Charles County). There stuffed ham and crab cakes are serious business…and my grandmother made a habit of not only cooking bacon for breakfast, but using the leftover grease to fry whatever was on the menu for lunch and dinner.
I’m pleased to share my heroine, Halia Watkins’s corn bread recipe. Halia says as she reminisces about the first time she tried it, “It had a taste that danced on my tongue…a sweet yet salty flavor with a texture somewhere between bread and cake.”
You’ll find this recipe and others (including Halia’s Sweet Corn Casserole and Celia’s Banana Pudding Cake) throughout the book between Halia and her fast talking cousin, Wavonne’s comedy of errors as they try to solve the murder of Halia’s business partner.
Halia’s Sour Cream Corn Bread
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick softened butter
1 can cream of corn (8.75 oz)
1 can drained whole kernel corn (8.75 oz)
1 container sour cream (8 oz)
Preheat oven to 375o. Generously grease a 12-inch cast-iron frying pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Stir in eggs, butter, cream of corn, corn, and sour cream. Mix using an electric mixer at medium speed until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until lightly browned, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.