Sunday, October 23, 2005

Strawberry Muffins

I would never even begin to consider myself a baker, but there is something wonderful about making a batter, putting it into an oven and watching it puff up into something sweet and delicious. I always feel such a sense of accomplishment after baking and I find it more magic than cooking. I know what will happen to a roast or a fish when I put it in the oven. It will cook and the meat will be flavorful and (hopefully) moist. When you take a trout or a duckling out of the oven, it looks browner, but not much different from when you put it in.

Baking is different. You have to measure everything exactly; no "a pinch of this and a spot of that." At least for me, I have to follow a recipe almost to the letter and not improvise as I go along. However, in some ways, the payback is greater. I'm never really sure what's going to happen, so when it works, it's even more exciting than cooking savory foods.

Sunday was a particularly unproductive day for work, so I decided the only way to fight my feeling of uselessness would be to bake. I had some strawberries languishing in the fridge from my Fruit Salad and a muffin tin that was just waiting to be used. So I decided to make Strawberry Muffins, using my newest cookbook (and as of then untested), Canyon Ranch Cooks. This cookbook has gorgeous pictures and has foods that remain more or less healthy, so the recipe called for half Whole Wheat Flour, half All-Purpose Flour and there was Non-Fat Yogurt and no Butter. Because I had no Whole Wheat Flour, I used only All-Purpose. Other than that, I remained very faithful to the recipe. The muffins came out delicious. While not sweet, they made a wonderful breakfast and would have been perfect with tea and a little cream. But I suppose that defeats the purpose of being Healthy Food.

Strawberry Muffins

1 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Egg
1/3 cup Milk (I used 2 %)
1/3 cup Nonfat Plain Yogurt
2 tablespoons Canola Oil + for coating muffin tins
1/3 cup Turbinado Sugar
1 cup Strawberries, chopped and hulled

Preheat oven to 350 F. Dampen a paper towel with Canola Oil and coat cups of a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a large bowl, combine Flour, Baking Powder and Salt

In a medium bowl, combine Egg, Milk, Yogurt and Canola Oil, then add Sugar, mixing well.

Create a well in the dry ingredients, then slowly add the wet. Mix well until everything is combined well and there are no lumps. Add fruit and stir until evenly distributed throughout batter.

Place 1/4 cup of batter in each muffin tin and bake about 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Remove muffin tin from oven and place on a rack to cool. If desired, sprinkle muffin tops with a pinch of Cinnamon and/or some Sugar for a burst of added flavor.

Makes 12 Muffins.

Update: Barbara, from Winos and Foodies, liked these so much she made them over the weekend, with a spoonful of Nutella inside.

and and and

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Spaghetti with clams

One of my favorite parts of cooking is basing a meal on one ingredient that's been hanging around for a bit too long. One night, I had several gorgeous tomatoes sitting around, "on their way out," as Mom would say. So I envisioned a simple but hearty pasta sauce to use up all five of my up-until-then forgotten tomatoes.

I considered a ragu or bolognese-type sauce, but then realized I'd been eating plenty of meat lately and not that much seafood. A spaghetti with clams therefore seemed like the perfect solution.

I didn't follow a recipe to make this, so many measurements are approximate. However, it was so good I definitely plan on making it again and, hence, thought I should share it.

Spaghetti with clams

1/2 lb. Spaghetti
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
1 lb. Littleneck Clams, scrubbed clean
Salt and Red Pepper Flakes
1/3 cup Clam Juice
5 Tomatoes, diced
Parsley Leaves

Set a pot of salted water to boil. When it has, add the Spaghetti and cook according to package instructions. Meanwhile, make the Sauce:

Heat Oil in a skillet. Add Garlic, Clams, Salt and Red Pepper Flakes to taste. Saute about 1 minute, add Clam Juice and stir. Cook about 1 minute, add Tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 2 minutes.

Drain pasta and toss with Clams and Tomato Sauce. Sprinkle Parsley on top. Serve.

and and

Friday, October 07, 2005

EoMEoTE #11: Hotel Fruit and Cookie

(sung to The Eagles' Hotel California)

In an over-heated room, no wind coming in
Cool smell of oranges and strawberries and gin
Suddenly inspration, a fruit salad to chill us
Oranges, strawberries, papaya
Won't even be a big fuss

Fruit all cut and in a bowl; drizzled amaretto
Marinate for an hour in the fridge let the flavors together go
Then I whipped up an egg white, added it to yogurt
Break cookies to make it an entry, and look what you have made:

Welcome to the Hotel Fruit and Cookie
Such a lovely place, such a lovely taste
Plenty to eat at the Hotel Fruit and Cookie
Any time of year you can find it here.

For this month's EoMEoTE, hosted by Dispensing Happiness, the theme is Seventies Song Lyrics, so this is my attempt. Needless to say, I'm no songwriter but Hotel California is a special song to me, so I decided that, if done in love, it was ok to butcher it just a little.

Fruit and Whipped Yogurt

1 Orange, peeled and sectioned
1/2 Papaya, peeled, seeded and diced
15-20 Strawberries, hulled and halved
4 tablespoons Amaretto
1 Egg White
1/4 cup Non-Fat Plain Yogurt
1/4 cup Cottage Cheese
4 Molasses Cookies, broken into quarters

Place Fruit in bowl and drizzle with Amaretto. Combine well. Marinate for at least 1 hour.

Whip Egg White. Beat together (you can use a blender) Yogurt and Cottage Cheese until thoroughly combined and curdles are diminished. Slowly add Egg White, continuing to beat as you do so.

Place Cookies on plate, top with Fruit and add a dollop of Yogurt-Cottage Cheese. Serve.

and and and and

Monday, October 03, 2005

23rd Post: 5th Line

Barbara at winosandfoodies tagged me for this fun meme about a week ago and, now that I actually have some time to myself, I'm ready to participate. The set-up is to find and write-up the fifth sentench of your 23rd post and "ponder its meaning."

My 23rd post was written right before the Boy and I left our adorable little apartment in Paris and began our travels around France, before returning to the States. The fifth (and last) sentence was: "We've really enjoyed our Paris adventure--stay tuned for the rest!"

Well, it's been four months since we left our apartment and we sure do miss it. We've begun discussing when we'll next be able to return to Paris, even though that seems to be pretty far in the future these days. And as for staying tuned? It looks like some of you have, and some new folks have come along. Thanks for joining!

I'm tagging: 1. Cook Sister! 2. Je mijote 3. Pumpkin Pie Bungalow 4. Who Wants Seconds 5. NYC nosh.

The rules?
Find the 5th line of your 23rd post. Type it up. Look at it/analyze it. Search for any hidden meetings. Share 'em!