Saturday, June 28, 2014

rainy summer days: (blueberry) brown sugar oat muffins

Rainy day at home and rainy day at Wimbledon.  After an early and damp visit to the Broad Ripple Farmer's Market and the weekend errands, I am ready to settle in and watch tennis even if they are playing only on Centre Court (i.e., the only covered one).  At some point today I absolutely have to work on something or anything organizational and move related, but not apparently right now.  So this is the beauty of the laptop, I can camp out in front of the television AND still get something done.  Fighting a bit of a cold so a little slacking is probably good.  I need to plan a menu for dinner with neighbors Tuesday night with special guests from Australia.  Because the world is crazy like that, Becki and Dave who lived across the street here in Indiana moved to Sydney last year for an international assignment.  So we'll have lots of food and wine and lots to discuss.  Here's what I'm planning so far:  grilled skirt steak with house made steak sauce, summer corn salad with avocado and chimichurri vinaigrette and creme brûlée cheesecake.  Solid foundation.  Pondering appetizers.
So that and this post are my sitting and tennis viewing work for the day.

On my way out the door for my early market run, I grabbed a blueberry brown sugar oat muffin from the freezer.  I baked them earlier this week and passed them around during a visit to lulu to hug some friends and pick up some hemming.  I adapted this recipe from "flour, too" by Joanne Chang of the fresh and delightful flour cafes in Boston.  Her recipe is for cherry muffins, but any fruit in season would work.  I had an extra basket of blueberries, so there you go.  She uses creme fraiche, I used greek yogurt.  She uses whole milk, I used buttermilk and some vanilla to mellow it out.  Mainly because that's what I had on hand plus my options were better nutritionally.  The original recipe calls for preparing the batter and letting it rest in the refrigerator 8 hours or overnight.  I just baked mine straight away and they were fantastic, but it is a nice option to get up in the morning and just scoop batter and bake so you have warm muffins for breakfast.  I'll try it sometime and let you know if there is any difference in texture or height.  Maybe I'll try rhubarb from last week's market trip.

I'll take some process photos next time, but here's the end result in all it's glory.

(Blueberry) Brown Sugar Oat Muffins
3 1/2 C rolled oats (not instant, I like Bob's Red Mill in a big bag)
1 1/4 C greek yogurt (nonfat was just fine)
1 C lowfat buttermilk
1/2 C unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I had very soft butter at room temperature)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C sugar (I like superfine)
3/4 C packed brown sugar
1 1/2 C blueberries (or fresh pitted cherries, diced apple, diced peaches, diced pears, cranberries....)
1 1/4 C white whole-wheat flour (or whole wheat flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt

brown sugar-oat topping
1/4 C rolled oats
3 T brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

In a large bowl, stir together oats, yogurt, buttermilk and butter until combined.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs together and pour into the oat mixture.  Stir in the vanilla, sugar, brown sugar and fruit until well-combined.  In a medium bowl stir together the flour, powder, soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture and fold until just combined.  Cover and refrigerate batter for 8 hours or overnight if you like, completely optional.  

To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line the muffin tin cups with paper liners and then coat liberally with non-stick cooking spray.  Scoop the batter into the prepared cup until full (very full to get the muffin crown).  Make the topping by stirring together the oats, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinke the topping evenly offer the muffins.  Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until golden brown and the tops spring back when pressed.  If you start to smell muffin-y goodness at 35 or 40 minutes, quickly check your muffins and remove from the oven if done.  Maybe your tins are smaller or your oven is hotter, but you want a nice moist muffin.  Cool in tin a wire rack for 20 minutes before turning out to cool completely (or eat them warm).  

12 muffins

Friday, June 27, 2014

and I'm back: salted chocolate chunk cookies

April, May, June almost all passed by during my blog hiatus.  So many thoughts unwritten, so many recipes tried and undocumented but the end of my lulu run and the beginning of my resumed position as relocation coordinator and a few technical difficulties necessitated a break from blogging.  Our very clean and very loved house is on the market just waiting for the one right family to come through the door.  Greg is happily busy in his new job as Vice President of WAVE spending most of his time at his plant in Shanghai and adjusting to the 24/7 life of working on the other side of the planet.  His email to our actual paid relocation coordinator describing his adjustment as "drinking from a fire house" fairly sums that up.  We're both very excited about all the possibilities over the next three years on our international assignment in Sydney, but we're both experiencing all the emotions that leaving much of of the good life we've spent 30 years building behind will stir up.  Today I told him we'll just make that life portable.

This is my first post on my very first laptop, a beautiful MacBook Air,  which should be super exciting for you too, because it means I can post while watching Wimbledon (doing that now, c'mon Venus), porch sitting with wine (that could be a whole new interesting twist) and from wherever I might be over the next months and years.   Bear with me as I have yet to accomplish the big data transfer that will save my iMac and enable me to open iPhoto again without fear.  Photos might be a bit scarce for a bit.  My IT department, aka Sara, and I are contemplating updating the look of and possibly migrating over to the visually superior WordPress format.  Possibilities.....

Last night some of my awesome tennis team mates came over after our match and we hung out in the kitchen eating snacks and drinking wine.  I have no one else to feed right now, so I brought out this and that for everyone to try and eventually busted out the Cuisinart and did a little demo on white chocolate pretzel peanut butter making.  I really need to teach cooking classes some day, for now please just enjoy the 263 food posts here and feel free to shoot me questions.  I had one bag of salted chocolate chunk cookies left in the freezer and everyone wanted the recipe so this is where we will start.  This post was sitting in the draft file just waiting for me to come back.

Sara was home for three weeks so you know there was baking going on.  Hands down, the best new recipe was from Bon Appetit for salted chocolate chunk cookies.  Even Tammy, who makes her famously good chocolate chip cookies, wanted the recipe.  High praise, indeed.  I was out of brown sugar (well, not out but somehow got some moisture in my canister and all my brown sugar turned into a cylindrical brick) plus I kept forgetting to put it on my shopping list in "notes" on my phone (and we all know that nothing happens if it isn't written down, nothing) so we used turbinado sugar.  That probably gave the cookies a little extra texture since it doesn't cream down like superfine or brown sugar.  Note there are three different sugars in this cookie.  I've only ever used powdered sugar in our Christmas cookie dough.  Seems to work nicely here.  I did have both dark and milk chocolate in my pantry and it was the good stuff: Callebaut from France via Whole Foods.  WF sells nice big chunks of Callebaut chocolate for $7.99 a pound.  Buy some.  And of course I had Maldon salt flakes to finish the cookies.  If you don't want to commit to a whole $10 little box of salt, come over and I'll give you a little bit of my stash.  Probably not moving the salt to Australia.  This recipe just makes 24 cookies which is probably a good thing.  Enough to share and enough to get your fill, but if it made 5-dozen you would have to freeze them or hide them because you would inevitably eat them all.

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 C unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 C turbinado sugar or packed light brown sugar
1/2 C sugar (I use superfine)
1/4 C powdered sugar
2 egg yolks (save the whites for meringues or an egg-white omelet)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
8 ounces semisweet, dark or milk chocolate coarsely chopped
Maldon or other flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Whisk flour, baking powder, kosher salt and baking soda in a medium bowl, set aside.  Cream together the butter, turbinado/brown sugar, sugar and powdered sugar until light and fluffy (3 minutes or so).  Add egg yolks, egg and vanilla and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy (4-5 minutes), occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture (or you'll have a flour dust storm) and mix just until blended.  Fold in the chopped chocolate by hand with a spatula.

Scoop out rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing the cookies about 1-inch apart.  Our dough was very soft, but the cookies turned out fine.   Lightly sprinkle the tops of the cookies with the flaky sea salt.  Bake until just golden around the edges, rotating the sheets about  halfway through, about 10-12 minutes.  The cookies will firm up as they cool.  Cool for a couple of minutes on the sheets then transfer to wire racks to ostensibly cool completely, but I know you are going to eat a few while they are hot.  Why else do you bake?  (Answer, to eat the dough which is why you may only end up with 20 cookies instead of 24).

Note that I made this again using all the various sugars and the cookies were still delightful, just a little pale compared to the first batch where I was out of white sugar.  Since I baked just for me, I divided the cookies into quart ziploc bags of 4 or 5 cookies and stuck them in the freezer.  I pull one out every now and then and eat it basically frozen and this is a darn fine cookie cold.