Elise’s Lemon Poppy Seed muffin recipe has remained my absolute go to muffin recipe, three years and counting.
Some fun variations/substitutions I use in my weekly muffin making:
- + cutting the recipe in half, using only 1 cup of flour, 1/3 cup of sweet, and using a 1/3 cup scoop results in 6 “normal” sized muffins.
- + substituting half of the flour with either coconut flour, whole wheat, or buckwheat is a fun way to introduce yourself to new flour flavors.
- + I usually lower the amount of sugar to ~2/3 cup for a whole recipe, or 1/3 cup for a half recipe.
- + sprinkling special no-melt, stay crunchy, sugar on the top of the muffin before baking helps the sweet tooth when you have drastically reduced the sweetness of the muffin batter.
- + any oil can directly be subbed for the amount of butter: coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, olive oil, brown butter, combinations, etc.
- + direct substitution of mayonnaise (homemade natch) for the amount of fat takes care of the fat and egg recipe requirement.
- + adding two whole pulverized oranges (ala immersion blender) results in a wetter, almost custard like muffin.
- + honey can be directly substituted for the amount of sugar.
- + immersion blender style with fruit :
- Soak 2 cups of dried figs in hot water to cover overnight.
- Next day, coarsely chop up half of the figs to use as stir-ins to the batter.
- Add the remaining strained whole soaked figs to a mason jar with the recipe amounts for sugar, salt, fat, vanilla, egg and yogurt. Sip the strained fig water as a special muffin-making tea.
- Pulverize the mason jar contents with the immersion blender thoroughly.
- Pour into a bowl with your dry ingredients, chopped figs to stir in, walnuts, and orange zest.
Gently mix- not over mixing, and bake as directed.
I think you’ll like these as much as I do!
Just caught myself realizing…
If I lived alone:
I would have re-used those coffee grounds.
I just finished listening to a stockpile of old Splendid Table podcasts that got me thinking of my next learning project…
I’ve never made a soufflé.
Homemade hot dogs could be interesting in my kitchen (I’m thinking studded with jalapenos, or a shrimp hot dog).
I have dandelion greens in my yard I should stir fry one of these days.
And I really need to get off my butt and make bacon.
What’s tickling your noggin?
I’ve admitted to not being much of a jam eater. This can make the process of putting up jars and jars of jam in the summer a bit silly feeling.
That is until these cold crisp sunny wintry mornings when one of those jars gets snapped open.
Or until they are handed out as Christmas or winter birthday presents.
Or until the lid is pried off and you discover a layer of chocolate to crack through like the sugar hat of a creme brulee.
Lets chalk this chocolate jam trick up to one of the many lessons learned from Christine Ferber’s Mes Confitures. Stirring in 250g of chocolate to a 1 kg fruit batch of jam is mentioned in several of her chocolate jam recipes. My experiments indicate that doubling this amount of chocolate is all good too, especially as the chocolate seems to visually disappear as it is added to your hot fruit mixture. Additionally, I added a layer of finely grated chocolate to the top of the hot jam after it had been spooned into the jam jar. This helps visually cue the jar opener to the presence of something special in this jam.
Adding chocolate to your jam recipe will not adversely affect the preservation of your jam. As usual in jam making considerations- keep your chocolate clean to prevent mold contamination in your jars. Do this by keeping your chocolate covered, use only clean sterilized tools and wash your hands before touching.
chocolate jam recap
- In a 1 kg of fruit batch of jam, add 250-500 grams of chocolate.
- Chocolate can be dark, milk or white.
- Chocolate is stirred in as the very last step before adding the jam to the jars.
- Additional chocolate can be added as a thin layer to the top of the hot jam just before it is lidded and heat treated.
- As is usual in jam making- keep your tools clean, and in this particular case your chocolate minimally exposed to the air to prevent mold spore contamination.
more uses for jam
- Jam Soda: use jam as the flavor base and sweetener for homemade soda
- Fruit Popsicles: jam adds a nice flavor kiss when used to sweeten popsicles
- Fruit on fruit: double your flavor punch of thawed frozen berries by tossing them with jam to gloss and sweeten
Every year of eating tomatoes (only three years now), I seem to learn something new about them.
This summer I have a new obsession thanks to the cookbook Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, by Francis Mallmann: charred tomatoes. Several of Mallmann’s listed appetizers call for burning the featured vegetable (cherry tomatoes or carrots) or cheese and then platting the singed goodness on bread or a salad. With a slightly skeptical mind I tested it out on a hot cast iron skillet with halved cherry tomatoes, and now I can’t stop eating my tomatoes this way.
Charred or burnt tomatoes with cheese on bread has become my breakfast and after work snack in this glorious time of bountiful tomatoes. And since this is a weekend, you can guess what I’m eating three times a day…
Charred tomatoes and cheese on bread
Preheat a cast iron skillet on med-high heat. You’ll want the surface to be hot: judge by being able to hold your hand above the surface of the skillet for no more than 2 seconds.
Slice a small handful of cherry tomatoes in half, or cut 1/4 inch slices off of a large tomato. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the cut sides.
Assemble 1 oz of cheese (any type will work) in small thumb sized chunks and 2 small slices of bread to be close to your hot skillet.
Place the cut tomatoes, cut side down on the hot skillet. Make sure to obey Francis Mallmann’s 1st commandment of food making contact with a heated surface “Don’t Touch”.
After 1 minute, place the cheese chunks down on the skillet in the space remaining around the tomato slices. Place the pieces of bread along side to toast lightly.
Leave the cheese and tomatoes on the hot skillet for approximately 4 minutes at which time they will be burnt on the cooking surface.
Place the toasted bread slices on a plate, and with a nice sharp edged metal spatula, scrape/lift the charred tomato slices and cheese on to the bread, burnt side up (so it won’t get all steamy soggy).
Allow to cool slightly and dust with another slight sprinkle of salt and enjoy.
These jalapeños have been sitting in my refrigerator a week now. It’s a shame to ignore them as I have- so I threw in the towel today. Well sort of. My current storage experiment: submerging them in rice and tucking them into the freezer, with the future plan to cook up the scented rice.
I’m excited to see how long it takes the rice to suck up some of that pepper power.
More ideas for making use of jalapeños
- Candied jalapeños, make use of these directions for making candied fruit. Instead of using oranges, submerge jalapeño slices in the sugar solution instead.
- Jalapeño jelly, which is so good mixed with cream cheese, or used as a bed for fresh fried hush puppies.
- Cream of jalapeño soup, which would be excellent served in a small glass with diced cucumber and topped with croutons. I wonder how this soup would do as a chilled soup?
- Pickled jalapeños, with a whole smattering of other good veggies: Chiogga beets, carrots, onions, and a side kick of limes
- Jalapeño vinegar, peppers with garlic in a glass jar with hot vinegar poured on top: quick and easy! You know this is going to be excellent drizzled on steak.
- Jalapeño brown butter ice cream, a special technique resulting in chewy rich spicy ice cream. Yes I said chewy.
- Jalapeño hot sauce, a handful of peppers blurred into spicy shakable oblivion that can live in your cupboard. Excellent.
With the height of summer’s ripe-wave, I find myself often failing to keep up with the super juicy berries in my kitchen.
When its too darn hot outside, do I want to fire up the stove top to turn these fruity gems into jam? No.
To deal with over-ripening fruit super quick, my answer is to make popsicles. It’s a great answer for when your fruit is a ticking time bomb, developing a pool of juice love at the bottom of its storage container.
And when made with a judicious hand, these treats are perfectly allowable as guilt-free breakfast treats, (I say typing one handed with a cantaloupe black pepper pop). I like to think of them as summer’s answer to homemade poptarts, but even better.
Summer fruit popsicles
You don’t really need to be told how to make popsicles, but here’s a break down to help stir up your creative juices.
- First step: is to clear a bit of space in the freezer.
A two-birds-with-one-stone approach to this process is to find some frozen fruit from last season you need to clear out and make this the target of your popsicle fixation.
- Second step: is to build the body of your pop up with your target fruit.
Either stick your fruit in a blender (melons) or mash them up with a fork or potato masher (strawberries) to get a good sludge going.
- Third step: consider your options for popsicle body additions. Do you want these to be no-nonsense popsicles, or adventurous, creamy, chunky, caffeinated popsicles?
- salt: I always add a touch of salt when making my popsicles. It helps get the juices flowing and always makes them taste even better.
- extra sweetness: honey, agave nectar, rice syrup, jam, maple syrup, molasses, dissolved sugar (white granulated, brown, or palm).
- chocolate: if I want chocolatey popsicles I like to mix up 2 Tbs of cocoa powder with ~2 Tbs boiling water. Add enough additional water to make this into a pudding like consistency.
- liquid: water, juice, dairy, coconut milk, coffee, tea, vinegar.
- dairy: keifer, yogurt, sour cream, milk, half and half, cottage cheese, custard or pudding.
- toothsome bits: more fruit left whole or chunky, cocoa nibs, coffee grounds, bits of nuts, cookie crumbs, soaked cake cubes, vanilla bean specks.
- spices and flavors: cinnamon, peppers (black pepper or chili), saffron, curry, cilantro, nutmeg, vanilla, mint, lemon, fresh garden herbs.
- Fourth step: pour your popsicle concoction into the mold of your choice.
My favorite is my 1/2 cup Food Cuber.
- Fifth step: stick consideration.
Add your popsicle sticks immediately if your mold is designed for such, or just pop them into your popsicles about 1 hour after freezing.
The popsicle sticks can be many things: spoons, cinnamon sticks, flat skewers (I use wide flat bamboo skewers cut down to an appropriate size- as seen on amazon or your local cooking supply stores), chopsticks, or good ole clean recycled popsicle sticks.
- Sixth step: finishing touches to fancy-up your popsicles.
Homemade magic shell is divine on strawberry popsicles. White chocolate magic shell on lemon pudding popsicles? You could even sprinkle ground nuts or sprinkles onto the magic shell right before it hardens, (but then you’d have clown popsicles).
- Storage: most popsicles can just be left in their popsicle molds, in the freezer. However, if mold space is at a premium because you have more popsicles screaming to be made, just pop your finished popsicles out into an air tight container. I use either large ziplock bags or large mason jars. As flavors can sometimes migrate, its best to keep different flavors separate, unless you want that chipotle banana mocha popsicle to mingle with your mango yogurt pop.
The best way to preserve foods is to take what you have in abundance, especially if it’s seemingly free. Buying lots of fruit to jam is just not as
economical efficient as using what is found in your yard or neighborhood.
Being one with very little food yard, I’m guilty of buying my jamming fruits from the market. However, if I open my eyes I can see the potential fruits in my vicinity that could be creatively used:
- rose petal jam- and having one of each color is just my sort of neurosis, you too?
- lavender jam- I can imagine this being slathered on a pork roast, or used to make a nice jam soda mixer.
dandelion jam- they are in abundance (oh my poor bitter neighbors). I wonder what this would taste like?
Do you have nontraditional plants in your yard that you harvest? Help widen my sense of vision on what is useful…
I’ve only recently come to love strawberries.
Yeah- I know how odd that is… I had some silly convictions I carried with me through childhood as a picky eater. Strawberries use to be in that category of untouchable foods -like tomatoes. But now that I’m enjoying foods in season, strawberries have revealed themselves to be the nirvana that I had always heard about.
This summer has given me practice in my favorite way to prepare my sliced strawberries. This makes strawberries taste
restaurant Grandma quality good, and is better than sprinkling strawberries with sugar. Your strawberry shortcake will thank you!
For a pint of juicy strawberries with amplified flavor:
- - core, then slice 1 pint of strawberries and place into a jar or bowl.
- - sprinkle with a pinch of salt
- - in a small bowl make up a strawberry syrup by mixing 1 Tbs of strawberry jam with 1-2 Tbs of hot water. Stir till the jam is broken up and is now syrup consistency. Putting the bowl in the microwave for 10-15 seconds on High will help loosen up the jam.
- - pour this strawberry jam syrup over the sliced strawberries and allow to sit at room temperature 30 minutes before use.
Not only are these extra juiced up berries good on ice cream and cake, but they’re wonderful spooned over yogurt.
I’m in the midst of a simple bliss- enjoying a new favorite cheese.
Not only that, it’s nestled in between slices of the grainiest bread I know and melted to oblivion. Half-n-half grilled cheese style: horseradish chive havarti and pepperdew havarti.
How do you like to make your grilled cheese grown up?
New favorite grilled cheese- grainy bread, horseradish chive havarti, and thin sliced pear.