Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Do You Know the Muffin Man?

Do you know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,

Do you know the muffin man,

Who lives in Drury Lane?

Yes I know the muffin man,

The muffin man, the muffin man,

Yes I know the muffin man,

Who lives in Drury Lane.

lemonpoppyseedmuffin by you.

Lemon-Poppyseed Muffins
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours

1 cup sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted cooled
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds

~Preheat oven to 400°F.
~In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugar and lemon zest and use your fingers to rub it together to get the sugar good and lemony.
~Whisk in the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
~In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, butter, vanilla, and lemon juice until smooth.
~Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula.
~Add the poppyseeds and stir them in evenly.
~Grease a muffin pan (or cupcake pan, which is what I used) with vegetable oil. Use a paper towel to make sure the insides of the cups are well oiled.
~Fill the cups about 3/4 full.
~Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are nicely golden.
~Let them cool for about 5 minutes.
~Run a butter knife around the edge of the cups to loosen the muffins, then turn the pan upside down over some paper towels and shake. They should come out fairly easily if you greased the cups well enough.
~Promptly devour warm, with a pat of butter.

Okay, so I say "adapted", but what I really mean is I accidentally added three 1/3 cups of sugar to the bowl instead of just the 2/3 called for. This made the batter a bit too dry, so I added an extra 1/4 cup of sour cream to remedy it. The muffins came out great, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to try to actual original recipe, either.

A few days ago, for dinner I made lemon gnocchi. You can find the original recipe on the Food and Wine website. The gnocchi was delicious, even though I wasn't anywhere close to following the actual recipe (Ha). What was more intriguing for me was how calm I was throughout the entire process, which if I'm being honest was a whole bunch of screwups of my own devising. I didn't have baking potatoes, which are starchier and fluffier than boiling potatoes (which I did have). I also didn't feel like skinning two lemons for their zest when I needed only a tablespoon of lemon juice. So I used only one lemon-full of zest. And I added some cornstarch to the boiling potatoes, thinking it would make up for the lack of starch in the potatoes themselves and help the dough come together. One teaspoon ought to be enough, I thought. I was wrong.

One teaspoon turned out to be far too much. The potatoes were so sticky that I had to add about three times as much flour as the recipe called for, and even with my hands generously coated with flour the dough still stuck to my palms. Usually this is the part where I freak out and chuck everything in the bin. Except...miraculously, I didn't. I rolled the sticky dough into balls and threw them into a pot of boiling water. One thing I loved about gnocchi, I decided, was how easy it was to tell they were cooked--the dumplings float to the top of the water when they are done. They were scooped out one by one, dropped into a pan and sauteed with some olive oil and baby spinach, and served in a soup made of chicken stock, butter (!) and lemon juice.

gnocchi raw by you.
Boiled, unfried gnocchi.

gnocchi by you.
My sister's bowl. She wouldn't even try it at first, but then after much coaxing took a bit and decided she liked it enough to eat three.

Random food from the rest of the week...

watermelon by you.
Butchering a watermelon makes me nervous because cleavers are very large and sharp and watermelons are very round and roll-y and my fingers are very small and hackable. There were no accidents this time, thank god.

bunnyegg by you.
My very first try with the egg mold! This is an extra large egg. Unfortunately my sister refuses to eat egg yolk (although she will eat scrambled eggs), so I haven't put this in her lunch.

eggflip by you.
My second attempt at making an egg sheet. The first attempt failed because I used too much water to dissolve the cornstarch, and had to turn it into scrambled eggs instead. I'll show you what I did with this later.

Next up: My little sister's bento stream.

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