Posts tagged ‘Blog’

July 26, 2012

Simple Blueberry Muffins

This morning I went on Martha Stewart’s home page and found an 8 minute video on how-to make toy sailboats. Why would toy sailboats even enter her mind? The boats were cute, but no simple task to make. Drilling, gluing, painting… 3 verbs that never enter my mind. Martha claims she always finds old-fashioned toy blocks at yard sales. Can you picture Martha driving around the suburban neighborhoods of Connecticut in her Land Rover on a Sunday morning, stopping at garage sales to pick through some stranger’s used stuff? I was grateful she had a trusty assistant in the video, who seemed to be the brain-child of the toy boats. Her name was Helen and she even used the word “hypotenuse” to explain how to properly cut the sail for a boat. Why wouldn’t she say “big side of the triangle?” That would have worked fine. I had to look up hypotenuse, a word I last used in the 8th grade. It was good to know that Martha doesn’t think up all this crafty stuff on her own. I wonder what she did with the sailboat she made in the video? She did mention they’re fun to play with in the bathtub.

I am grateful for Martha’s Baking Handbook. Baking is definitely not my thing, but truth be told, when I need a recipe to bake something specific in a pinch, Martha seems to be the one I keep turning to. After a quick drive to Solebury Orchards, I walked out with 2 quarts of just picked blueberries. Too lazy to pick my own in the summer heat, I paid a premium for the farm to do all the work. A quick rinse in the sink when I got home, I realized that 2 quarts of blueberries is a lot! Since yesterday I’ve already had cereal and blueberries, handfuls of blueberries, yogurt and blueberries, another handful of blueberries and still not a dent has been made in the bowl. Muffins were the perfect solution and these were quick and easy to make. I’m a purist when it comes to old-fashioned baked goods, which is why I selected this recipe. These muffins highlight the fresh-from-the-farm berries without any distractions.

SIMPLE BLUEBERRY MUFFINS (makes 12 muffins)

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 stick of room temperature unsalted butter (plus a little to rub on the muffin pan)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus a little to dust the pan)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (I use extra-large)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Some turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To prepare the pan, rub the muffin cups and the top of the muffin tin with soft butter. Toss in a little flour and shake it around in the pan to coat, discard excess.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Toss the blueberries with 2 teaspoons of the flour mixture in a fine mesh strainer, shaking off the excess back into the flour mixture bowl. Set the bowl of blueberries and bowl of flour aside. In a stand mixer using the flat beater attachment, cream the sugar and butter together until fluffy. Add one egg at a time, mixing until combined. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add in the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix the batter. Finally, add the milk slowly and mix until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour dusted blueberries.

Fill the muffin cups evenly with the batter and give each muffin a hearty sprinkle with turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw). This will give the muffins that delicious crunch on the top after they bake.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden and a cake tester comes out clean. I baked these using the convection setting in my oven and they were done in 25 minutes.

Remove pan from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes on a rack and then turn muffins on their sides in the pan to cool. Transfer the muffins from the pan to a rack and let cool completely.

Enjoy!

July 5, 2012

Oatmeal Cookies with Giada

I’m always suspicious of TV chefs who spend their show cooking and never take a bite. I want them to convince me it’s delicious! Make me want to cook that dish! Have me thinking I can actually smell the food through my television, because it’s so intoxicatingly scrumptious. I enjoy watching chefs like Giada, Laura Calder, Anne Burrell and Nigella, who by the way, under the cloak of darkness, goes for late night seconds at the end of every show. These chefs happily steal an olive before they hit the salad, taste the sauce as it’s cooking and I’ve even seen them take a swig of the wine (not from the bottle) that they’re cooking with. I’m not saying TV chefs should be swirling their fingers through the sauce or licking the spoons. At least take a bite at the end of the show to let us know it’s good stuff. Can you honestly cook an entire meal without scarfing a little taste here and there?

Moving on to cookies… there’s nothing Italian or typically Giada about these cookies. I’ve confessed to owning all her books and was thrilled when my Aunt brought me “Weeknights with Giada.” Like her other books, this is filled with recipes that you would like to make for your family. I love her section called “Breakfast for Dinner” and she also includes a chapter titled “Change of Pace,” where she strays from her Italian roots and includes recipes like Thai lettuce cups, Greek meatballs and vegetables in red curry. Rather than jump into making a savory dish, I found these cookies and decided they would be my first go from her book. Loaded with rolled oats and dried cranberries, I’ve convinced myself they’re healthy. I’m obviously ignoring the stick of butter and cup of sugar found in the list of ingredients.

OATMEAL, CRANBERRY, AND CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES (makes 12 big cookies)

Adapted from Weeknights with Giada

Giada recommended using a 1/4 measure to scoop the cookies, so I thought I’d show you what they looked like before they hit the oven. I thought they looked so pretty.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 – 4oz bar 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate bar, chopped into 1/4″ pieces (I used Ghirardelli)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugars in a stand mixer using a paddle attachment until they are light and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla, mix until combined. Add the flour mixture slowly until incorporated. Lastly, add in the oats, cranberries and chocolate and run the mixture until they are just blended through the dough.

Using a 1/4 cup dry measure, scoop the dough into little towers on parchment lined baking sheets.

Press them down slightly…

Giada says to bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes until they are slightly golden on the edges. I bake cookies using the convection setting on my oven. These were done in 10 minutes. Leave the cookies on the baking sheets to cool for 20 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack. A really hearty, delicious cookie.

* I wonder if these could be made using whole wheat flour? Or use half whole wheat and half all-purpose? I’m not enough of a baker to figure this one out. Are you?

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