September 24, 2008

Muffins, Bread, and Granola

It’s time for some recipes that I’ve been meaning to share. I kind of went on a cooking and baking spree over the last few weeks, when I was hanging around the apartment looking for a job.

Our first week at the market we bought a very, very large zucchini. Kind of baseball bat-ish, if you know what I mean. I should have taken a picture of it whole to show you how very big it was.

So even after cooking two zucchini side dishes, there was a chunk of zucchini left over. I pondered what to do with it, and the obvious conclusion was to turn it into zucchini muffins. I also thought they would be a good choice because it was a rather stringy zucchini. I actually liked the texture of it cooked (and it still tasted delicious) but J wasn’t really a fan.

So I grated that old chunk of zucchini down and made my fallback muffin recipe, Moosewood Muffins. It never lets me down. These muffins are delicious - moist with a springy texture and lots of flavour from the spices. And even though there are only two of us, they didn’t last long.

Next I decided to make something that I’ve been wanting to try since the spring: No-Knead Bread. I saw the recipe on several of the food blogs that I read, and it sounded amazing. I have only ever made bread in the breadmaker and this sounded just as easy, if slightly more time-consuming.

It was definitely worth the extra effort. Breadmaker bread is great, but this felt a lot more like real homemade bread. It was bread bliss: soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside, with a subtle flavour. And it only has four ingredients!

This is a recipe you could definitely add stuff to, though. I have read that some people use half whole-wheat flour, or spelt or other flours. Maybe next time I will experiment a bit.

And cooking bread in a pot – what could make a girl feel more rustic and domestic than that?

Well, maybe making granola. Although I guess that has more of a hippie ring to it. Granola is another one of those great recipes that you can fiddle with to your liking. You barely even need a recipe to give it a whirl (though I’m usually never brave enough to abandon the guide entirely).

This time I sort of made a cross between the recipe in my new Deborah Madison book, and Nigella’s from her cookbook Feast that I made over the summer. Deborah’s recipe calls for less sugar, which made me feel good about myself. But when J tasted it, he said it wasn’t as good as before. I thought it was still great, but feel free to add as much sweetener as you like.

By now all three of these treats are long gone. Now that I’m a working girl (Yess!) I don’t have as much time to stay home and bake all day. But I’m hoping to get in a little quality time with my oven this weekend.

Muffin Madness from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

Basic Wet Ingredients:
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 - 1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Basic Dry Ingredients:
2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Choose one of the following combos to add to basic ingredients (the above is NOT a plain muffin recipe, but the base for the following)

Apple muffins: Add 2 cups of grated apple and 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel to wet ingredients and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to dry ingredients.
Banana muffins: Add 1 1/2 cups of mashed banana to wet ingredients and 1 cup chopped nuts and/or 1/2 cup of chocolate chips to batter.
Blueberry - lemon muffins: Add 1 1/2 cups of blueberries and 1 tablespoon of grated lemon peel to wet ingredients.
Zucchini muffins: Add 2 cups of grated zucchini to wet ingredients and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom to the dry ingredients. Fold in 1/2 cup of raisins or currants and 3/4 cup of chopped nuts to batter
(I didn’t add raisins or nuts to mine).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, Combine wet ingredients, then stir in the zucchini (or other ingredients of your choice). In another bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, including spices. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the additional ingredients if your variation calls for them.

Spoon batter into oiled standard muffins tins and bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. (If using mini-muffin tins, bake for only 10-15 minutes.) A knife inserted into the centre of a muffin should come out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.

This recipe is really just a template for creativity. You could probably try tons of other fruit/nut/chocolate combinations that would be delish.


Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison and Andy’s Fairfield Granola from Feast by Nigella Lawson

3 cups rolled oats

Around ¼ cup chopped nuts (I used whole almonds and sunflower seeds)

About ¼ cup sesame seeds

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of salt

¼ cup applesauce (just because I had some lying around)

1/8 cup canola oil

¼ cup to ½ cup honey or maple syrup (you could also add brown sugar)

½ cup raisins, currants, cranberries or chopped apricots

Preheat oven to 300. Combine all the ingredients except the dried fruit in large bowl and mix to make sure everything is distributed.

Spread the mixture on two cookie sheets with sides and bake until golden, turning every 10 minutes so that it browns evenly. This will take about 30 – 50 minutes, depending on your oven.

Let cool on the pans, then mix with the dried fruit. Store in a tightly covered jar or plastic container.

1 comment:

Angelica said...

Yummm....all three recipes sound delicious! And I am definitely going to try the bread in a pot one, nothing says trophy wife like the ability to make your own bread ;)

But I'm more curious about this little detail at the end of your post...working girl?? Fill me in!