Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cranberry Pumpkin Walnut muffins

The Recipe

1 stick butter
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups canned pumpkin
2/3 cup buttermilk
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups AP flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp or so ground cloves
1/2 tsp or so nutmeg (or to taste- that can be strong for some folks)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400. Heavily grease 2 12-cup muffin tins.

Melt butter; whisk butter, oil, pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla in large bowl. In separate large bowl, sift dry ingredients together, then add brown sugar, breaking up with whisk. Rub large lumps of brown sugar through fingers to break up- don't worry if there are still some lumps, that's ok. Add the wet ingredients to dry, mixing gently and quickly only until most of the flour disappears. Add cranberries and walnuts; finish folding in, being very careful not to overmix. Portion evenly into muffin tins.

Bake in center of oven for 20 minutes. Makes 24 rather large muffins.

The Story

Quick, full of fiber and flavor, these hold well for a couple of days after baking. The recipe could easily be halved, but I like to make a big batch.

Using all-oil (1 cup oil, instead of half-n-half with the butter) would certainly be a possibility, but I find it a little greasy that way.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hot Chocolate

The Recipe

1/4 water
3 Tbsp. Cocoa- preferably Dutch process, but that Hershey's will do just fine
2 Tbsp. sugar, or more if you prefer
2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
handful of mini-marshmallows, opt.
liquer of your choice, opt.

Combine water, cocoa and sugar in saucepan and whisk until it comes just up to a boil. Add the milk and continue to whisk until almost boiling, but not quite. When first bubbles begin to appear, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Ladle over marshmallows into two large mugs.

Drink when it snows.

The Story

We always have hot chocolate and popcorn when it snows.

This tastes much better than that powder stuff, and takes almost as long to make. It's not very sweet, so if you like it sweeter add more sugar- but remember, those marshmallows will melt.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The First Eater

From Newsweek: Obamas to keep Chef Cristeta Comerford as First Chef:
When Barack Obama was elected, foodies rejoiced. Finally, they thought, a president who enjoys the pleasures of fine dining and the virtues of healthy eating! A leader who feels our pain about the skyrocketing price of arugula! In November, San Francisco chef Alice Waters, a pioneer of the organic-food movement, wrote an open letter to the president-elect, suggesting that his eating habits could set an example for the rest of the country. Waters, along with Gourmet magazine's Ruth Reichl and New York restaurateur Danny Meyer, offered to serve as Obama's informal "kitchen cabinet." Their first suggestion: Obama should hire a new White House chef who would cook local, seasonal, organic meals for the first family, preferably with items grown in a presidential garden. Soon enough, big-name candidates for the job began to circulate, including Art Smith, Oprah Winfrey's personal chef, and Rick Bayless, the man behind Chicago's Topolobampo, one of the Obamas' favorite haunts. But then Michelle Obama announced that the family would stick with Cristeta Comerford, President Bush's chef since 2005 and the first woman to hold the job. A minor kerfuffle erupted. They kept Bush's chef? Had Obama offended the foodies?
It turns out the gastronomers didn't have their facts straight, so they ended up with egg on their faces. While Bush never hid his love for hot dogs and burgers, Comerford had actually been serving organic meals to the outgoing family for years. "It's too bad we didn't know that," says Reichl, though she insists that she and her comrades were never calling for Comerford's head. That said, Reichl hopes that the Obamas will be more forthcoming about what's on their plates than the Bushes were.