Sunday, June 15, 2008

i wish i had a fridge muffins

I made these muffins because I just purchased some of those nifty nut and party cups to use as muffin tin liners, a la Chockylit of the apparently defunct Cupcake Bakeshop and because the refrigerator-less state of my otherwise lovely office means that I can't carry the sort of snacks and foods to work that I would bring normally. I wanted something whole grain and savory, and these hit the spot. I put in just a smidge of regular old ap flour to prevent the muffins from being totally dense, and used plain old grocery store sharp cheddar cheese. I don't need to tell you that an artisanal cheddar would elevate them, or that many other hard cheeses (pecorino perhaps, or manchego) would be great too. Dried herbs or some pepper would be a welcome addition. I used skim milk because it's what I keep on hand-I'm sure whole would be great. If you plan to consume these right away, try half a stick (1/4 cup) of melted butter in place of the vegetable oil (using oil generally helps keep muffins moister longer). I plan to take these as a snack for work, but consider them as an excellent bread to serve with breakfast or dinner.

i wish i had a fridge muffins

1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup ap flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (grated) sharp cheddar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups skim milk
1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a twelve cup muffin tin with paper liners (or, nut and party cups). Whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt and a medium-sized bowl. Add grated cheese and mix until the pieces of cheese are mostly separated (this prevents huge clumps of cheese from forming in the muffins). In a smaller bowl (I did this in my four cup measuring cup), beat the milk, oil and egg until thoroughly combined. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together, using as few strokes as possible, until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Divide the batter among the cups (they will be pretty full). Bake for about fifteen minutes or until an inserted toothpick emerges cleanly. Cool in the pan for three minutes and then on a rack before storing.

Yields twelve muffins.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

the pancake affair

This weekend was Mother's Day. Finals separated me and my mother on actual Mother's Day and so I promised her an extra special, rescheduled day. Presents, flowers, homemade chocolate chip cookies (she insists that the varieties of cookies that I make are delicious-but wholly unnecessary), breakfast, the SATC movie, church and more were included in the equation. I really hope I don't have to spend Mother's Day away from my mother again in the future, but I do think Sunday was an adequate makeup.

My mother loves blueberries and she also loves a delicious pancake breakfast so I resolved to prepare blueberry vanilla pancakes for the special day. Working off of a simple JOC classic, and swiping a tip from a former pastry chef friend (thanks D, the clarified butter was an excellent suggestion), I prepped the dry and wet ingredients the night before with the hopes of whipping up a timely and perfect meal. For the woman who had sometimes made me breakfasts and other times dinged me in the forehead for my idiotic actions, I would become the perfect pancake making domestic goddess.

Not so. I don't know what it was. I've made pancakes many times. Fantastic pancakes. These however, I could not unstick. My mother mocked me from the living room while she munched on a pre-breakfast cookie appetizer. I turned off the eggs so they wouldn't be overdone by the time I managed to flip a single pancake. Sweat-and many of you know I simply don't sweat much, naturally-began to develop on my brow. "Do you want some help," she asked from the living room couch, where she practiced a lesson she would teach in a few short hours to a group of four preteens at her church. I refused her assistance and went on scraping my pancake-like messes off the bottom of the pan. Where were my pancake flipping chops?

After a few screwy cakes I submitted and let my mom watch. "You're being impatient," she told me, "you need to make sure they're actually brown before you flip them." Right In the moment I thought she was being impossibly annoying. I wasn't being impatient, I merely wanted the pancakes to be perfect. Then I realized those were exactly the same thing. I chilled out a bit and drank a big glass of water while I waited for the next few to brown. My mom applauded flips as though I'd performed the kind you do with your body. In the end we sat down to some yummy breakfast and delicious chatter.

The incident reminded me of something I read in a Nigella book very recently. In it, she points out that cooking has become a race from A to B to Plate, without a rest for enjoying the feel of flour in your fingertips or the ever-headier scent of basil as it's torn. It's not that I imagine I will suddenly stop doing last minute, super rushed, must be perfect cooking sometimes. I only hope that some of those times my mother, or NH, or somebody else who I love and who loves me will stop me, tell me I am being impatient, and ding me in the forehead for burning my hand with the pan.