Muffin/Quick Bread Archive

Thursday, April 28, 2011

sour cream cornbread with aleppo

sour cream cornbread with aleppo

Despite living in New York City, a place where one could theoretically go to some fabulous new restaurant every night and not run out of places to eat for some time, we’re not big new-hot-thing chasers. When we go out to eat, we want to experience new tastes but also disappear for a couple hours, not ooh and aah over the celebrity at the next table while feeling bad about our clothes. But. Every so often a restaurant gets talked up so much that we’re unable to resist its magnetism and have to go as soon as humanly possible. This happened a few weekends ago and I’m so glad that it did.

wet, dry
aleppo

Of course, the Red Rooster isn’t just any old restaurant. First, it’s neither below 14th Street or in Brooklyn, which alone makes it unlike the other 100 restaurants there’s been buzz about in recent years. Mostly, though, the food tastes different. The chef, Marcus Samuelsson, was born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden and moved to New York where he fell in love with soul food and manages to blend these influences together into food like we’ve never tasted before. I’ll spare you the point-by-point on the menu, the web is full of gasping Yard Bird and Uptown Steak Frites reviews. I’ll only admit that we ordered too much, which we always do when the menu looks so good it is impossible to make decisions. Also, there was cornbread.

lumpy batter

Continued after the jump »

Friday, October 15, 2010

apple and cheddar scones

apple and cheddar scones

This is pretty much October on a parchment-lined baking sheet. They want to be packed in a basket so they can go apple picking with you and to sneak in the car to join you for a leaf-peeping drive. They want to come to brunch with you and deserve to be served with warm apple cider, whether getting lost in a corn maze or searching for the best pumpkin to carve.

countertop
peeled
partially roasted apples

Have we spoken this week? If we have, I’ve probably gone on and on about them, about how I never really was into that whole apple-cheddar thing but these, these changed things. They’re absolutely fantastic. They’re from The Perfect Finish, which is a dessert cookbook by Bill Yosses, who is now the executive pastry chef at The White House (but not when he wrote this) and Melissa Clark, who I suspect you’re already quite fond of. When I first saw the recipe, I rejected it as fussy for making you roast apples (in one-sixteenths!) just to let a stand mixer bang them up. I snorted over how chefs always like to boast that their recipes are “fairly simple” for home cooks but then use weights measured to the one hundredth of a gram, fooling nobody.

sifted

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, August 26, 2010

perfect blueberry muffins

blueberry muffins, craggy tops

When blueberries first show up at the market, it feels like sacrilege to bake with them — ditto with raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. Mother Nature made them perfect! Why drown them in batter, wilt them with heat and then leave them out to dry? What brutes we’d be! But there’s a day in August — I think it might have been yesterday* — when something shifts. The high for the day is in the 60s, you run out to the market and what is this? Did you wish you’d brought your cardigan? How strange! And all of a sudden the prospect of a berry baked into something warm and cozy, that you might eat with your first hot coffee of the season, seems very right.

blueberries
batter

And it is around this time every year that I try to find the best blueberry muffin. I’ve made them with buttermilk and yogurt and cream cheese too, with streusel and dipped in butter and rolled in cinnamon-sugar; I’ve tucked them into corn muffins and bran muffins too, back to one I got from Cook’s Illustrated eons ago (introduced to me by the lovely Elise), but that’s different from the recipes in the two Cook’s Illustrated cookbooks that I own and also at least three of the five other blueberry muffin recipes on their site (the last two are hidden behind a pay wall put between people already paying and people paying more than people who are paying, not that I’m venting or anything, ahem). It has a high dome and a thick batter that’s really more of a dough (a classically brilliant technique of CI’s to keep berries from sinking) and every time, they’re as pretty as a picture.

blueberry muffins

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

blue cheese scallion drop biscuits

blue cheese scallion drop biscuits

On Monday, I went foraging. Well, urban foraging, that is, at the Greenmarket. I set out to find these mythical local provisions that many of you have assured me now exist in New York City, things like ramps and aspargus and even strawberries and I’m now convinced that someone is playing a mighty joke on me.*

green onions
chopped green onions

But no matter, I found freshly grown scallions and maybe they don’t have the pearly pink skin of fresh rhubarb or the mysterious promise of morels, they might be waved off by fancier people than me as a ubiquitous circa-1970s garnish, but they make me happy. Part herb and part baby onion, recently from the ground they’re amplified, with more green freshness and more bite. I like ‘em raw, I like ‘em cooked, I like them instead of chives (which, amusingly, I found but they looked terrible; foiled again!) as a garnish and I like them especially in my biscuits.

crumbled blue cheese
adding the buttermilk

Continued after the jump »

Monday, March 15, 2010

irish soda bread scones

soda bread minis

Let’s just get this out of the way from the get-go — don’t let the title fool you. This here is American soda bread. It has raisins. It has caraway seeds. It has butter, eggs and even some sugar. It stales quickly, but not nearly as quickly as the authentic stuff (almost entirely comprised of flour, baking soda and buttermilk) would. Oh, and I made the “bread” into “tiny breads” and I liken them to scones. Look, when I blasphemize a recipe, I like to go all the way, okay?

mixing it up with a fork
gathering to knead the dough

So now that we got what they are not out of the way, let’s talk about what they are: a triumph! Okay, perhaps something less dramatic, but briefly in my kitchen on Sunday morning (before heading out to an afternoon in the apparent floodlands of Central Jersey), it sure felt like it. A month or so ago, I had spied a Irish soda bread scone at Whole Foods that was fairly run of the mill for a scone — dry and uninteresting; “soda bread” really in name only. And I got to remembering how much I like the crackly coarse crust and plush interior of a good Irish soda bread, not to mention that curiously addictive raisin-caraway combo and knew there had to be a way to make these the way I believed they ought to have been at home.

wee soda breads, scones

Continued after the jump »