Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blueberry Almond Muffins

I have a huge weakness for berries! All the berries at the local open market are looking gorgeous and are on sale before their two-week vacation so I scooped up a quart of blueberries and have finally been able to test out this recipe, an adaptation from  Fruit: Recipes for Lunch, Brunch, Desserts And More. I always buy more fruit than a recipe calls for because of my, ahem, need to test berries for freshness.

Ingredients (makes about 18 cupcake-sized muffins)
  • 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour (unbleached)
  • 1 3/4 c. almonds, ground finely in food processor (equals about 1 1/2 c. ground)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 c. buttermilk (see note below)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, softened (1/2 stick)
  • 2 c. fresh blueberries (about 1 pint)
  • cupcake papers/liners
 Note: Rather than buying buttermilk, you can pour 1 tsp. lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup and fill to the 1-cup line with milk. Let stand for five minutes, and use as buttermilk in this recipe.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In large mixing bowl, combine flour, almonds, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Mix well, then add sugar.
  3. In a smaller mixing bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, and butter. Beat or mix together thoroughly.
  4. Add liquid mixture to flour mixture and stir well.
  5. Gently fold in blueberries. 
  6. Spoon mixture into cupcake liners until about 3/4 full. 
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before enjoying.
While baking, these looked like little blueberry volcanoes! I loved the subtle texture from the ground up almonds and the sweet of the blueberry topped with a pat of butter.

Two cups will definitely maximize the blueberry experience, but it is important to note that more blueberries mean less batter, keeping your muffins from getting too tall. If you choose to reduce the blueberries to 1 1/2 cups you might get a more traditional textured muffin. You could also completely replace the berries with any other small berries of your choice. My brother-in-law is encouraging me to try these again with raspberries.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Avocado and White Bean Sandwiches

My secret: I've been baking a loaf of bread every day this week. Out of my new cookbook, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I've made the most beautiful baguettes without having to proof or knead the bread. 

This recipe features two things: great bread and a great avocado. If you don't make your own bread, be sure to buy a fresh loaf the day you plan to make these.

The recipe is inspired by this one from Real Simple.

Ingredients (makes 2 sandwiches)
  • 15 oz. can of white kidney beans, rinsed and mashed
  • drizzle of olive oil (1-2 tsp)
  • 5-6 shakes kosher salt (less if using table salt)
  • 3-4 shakes freshly ground pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (or 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice)
  • small baguette or loaf of artisan bread, sliced for sandwiches
  • mayonnaise (optional)
  • 1/3 cucumber, very thinly sliced 
  • 1/2 Hass avocado, sliced 
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  1. Dump beans into flat bottomed bowl and mash using potato masher or fork. Add olive oil, salt,  pepper, and lemon juice and mix well.
  2. If using, spread mayo onto one piece of baguette/bread. Spoon bean mixture onto other piece of bread and smooth down.
  3. Top with cucumber, avocado, and onion. Add a shake of salt or pepper and enjoy!
Because of my avocado allergy, I had a much different sandwich. Mine consisted of the bean mixture with cucumber and onion, sans mayo, and I found it quite delicious. However, Dan insisted his tasted better, noting that the red onion flavor came through really well and the cucumber added a nice crunch.  I think white kidney beans were the best for this meal, although it would be interesting to try with white navy beans.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Indian Burgers

This meal was based on another great recipe from Penzey's, submitted to their catalog by Melinda Peters.
This is a great recipe if you're looking for something to mix up a normal burger. The curry flavor is very subtle and smells great while cooking.

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 slice onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. cilantro
  • crunchy peanut butter, for topping (optional but recommended)
  • hamburger rolls
  1. Heat frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and cook for another minute. Pour onion and garlic into a medium-sized bowl and leave pan on the burner.
  2. To the onion-garlic mixture add beef, curry powder, and cilantro. Mix together well and form into patties.
  3. Cook patties to your liking. With about three minutes left in cooking time, add a spoonful of peanut butter to the top of each burger and allow it to melt.
The idea of peanut butter on a burger sounded pretty strange but tasted really good. With the peanut butter topping, the meal was pretty filling. We enjoyed the burgers with cole slaw.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Pinto Bean Chili

This entry is my praise for beets. No, keep reading! Most people who dislike beets have based this judgment on their experience with canned beets, which are far removed from the actual fresh root vegetable. Fresh beets, when cooked, taste a lot like carrots - they are a touch sweet and taste lovely with a little salt. 

I've never seen golden beets in the store, but regular beets are just as beautiful, with deep purple rings inside. The beets really make this recipe stand out, so I encourage you to include them if you can find them at your local farmer's market or farm stand.

Included are a few photos of the gorgeous golden beets I used in this chili recipe!

I must thank Sarah + Ryan, my friends who sent me a beautiful shipment of fresh organic fruits and veggies after my surgery. It really inspired me to cook again, especially since the shipment came with a recipe to use the vegetables included in the package! I worked from this recipe, which came from the Fruit Guys.

olive oil
1 Vidalia (yellow) or white onion, chopped
2 tsp chili powder
2 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 medium beets (golden or regular), peeled and cut into small pieces
2 medium tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped (I used vine ripened)
1/2 cup salsa
1 medium zucchini, ends removed, quartered lengthwise, and chopped into small pieces
1/2 bunch collard greens, stems removed and roughly chopped
2 cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
zest of 1/2 orange, grated
salt and pepper, to taste
sour cream or cheddar cheese for topping, optional**

**Leave this ingredient out for a completely vegan meal.

  1. Heat olive oil in stockpot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and saute until onion starts to brown, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add chili powder and stir for another 1 minute.
  4. Add broth, yams, and beets. Cover pan and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until beets and yams are almost tender.
  5. Add zucchini, collard greens, tomatoes, and salsa. Recover pot and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add pinto beans. Simmer, uncovered, until chili starts to thicken a little and yams and beets are very tender, about 15 minutes.
  7. Add orange peel, salt, and pepper.
  8. Serve topped with a dollop or sour cream or sprinkling of cheddar cheese, if desired.

This turned out to be more like a ratatouille than a chili, in my opinion. However it was delicious, not too spicy, and tasted great with the marble rye bread we served with it. I'm sure you could spice it up by using a hotter salsa or letting each guest season it to their taste with Tabasco sauce.