Monday, April 25, 2011

coffee and a muffin

coffee and a muffin (#115) by the_musical
coffee and a muffin (#115), a photo by the_musical on Flickr.

The muffins are still nice and tasty on Day Two after baking. Especially when enjoyed with a friend and coffee.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Brunch Basket of Baking

cranberry scones

Liz decided to host a brunch yesterday. As I told someone else, it wasn't so much an Easter brunch - as a brunch that happened to fall on Easter. The moment Liz told me she was planning on hosting a brunch I offered to bring things. I love brunch. And I especially love making brunch foods. The problem with most of them - they don't keep well. I can't whip up a bunch of scones in the morning and pass them out the next day at school, like I usually do.

I made a baked french toast casserole, which is fabulous but requires very little effort. So I also offered to bring cranberry scones and blueberry muffins.

blueberry muffins

I've made the blueberry muffins before, and the recipe title isn't an exaggeration. They are beautiful, perfect easy muffins. I knew they wouldn't be a problem. But every other time I've tried to make scones they've been really finicky. Hard to handle. Not the right consistency. These scones on the other hand were awesome. The batter came together easily and baked like a dream. I want to wake up every Sunday morning and make these scones. Now, I just need people I like to volunteer to help me eat them every Sunday morning.

Perfect Blueberry Muffins
from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 9 to 10 standard muffins

5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces or 71 grams) unsalted butter , softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces or 191 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon (7 grams or 1/4 ounce) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces or 105 grams) blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, don’t bother defrosting)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners or spray each cup with a nonstick spray. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well, then yogurt and zest.

Put flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a sifter and sift half of dry ingredients over batter. Mix until combined. Sift remaining dry ingredients into batter and mix just until the flour disappears. Gently fold in your blueberries.

The dough will be quite thick (and even thicker, if you used a full-fat Greek-style yogurt), closer to a cookie dough, which is why an ice cream scoop is a great tool to fill your muffin cups. You’re looking for them to be about 3/4 full, nothing more, so you might only need 9 instead of 10 cups.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean.

my easter brunch basket (#114)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Where The Coffee Flows Like Water

For reasons that are unclear to be the Newhouse computer labs are closed this weekend. Yes, I know, ostensibly it's Easter. However, it is also two/three weeks before the end of the semester. You would think the way this place closes down the computer labs that the students are just so religious they would rather be praying than earning money to do nothing but unlock a few rooms. If there are undergrads like this, I don't know them. And as a graduate student trying to write the end of her results and discussion section, I would really like to ensconced in a lab on campus. Instead this weekend as seen me banished to the Panera on Erie, where the coffee refills flow like water.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

a unholy matzo combination for passover

matzo crackers (#109) by the_musical
matzo crackers (#109), a photo by the_musical on Flickr.

The first day of Passover this year happened to fall on a Bleier screening day. We were going to be watching the Rugrats Passover episode, and so it seemed fitting that I bring in something kosher for Passover.

This may seem like a really benevolent gesture on my part, but in fact this was just as much for me as it was for the observant Syracuse Jews. I love these things. I first made them last Christmas as part of my gift care packages. These are so simple and so delicious. A little butter, brown sugar, chocolate and sea salt transforms the matzo into an unholy substance. Deb at Smitten Kitchen calls these "caramel crack (ers)" and that's very accurate.

I might be able to go a week eating nothing but these crackers.

Monday, April 18, 2011

sunday dinner: southwestern pulled brisket

For dinner last night (and the rest of the week) I made this Southwestern Pulled Brisket (from Smitten Kitchen).

I got up around 9, browned the 3lb hunk of beef brisket I bought at Wegman's the day before for about ten minutes. Then I added that some spices, and tomatoes to the slow cooked, turned it on low and went away for the rest of the day. When I came back home after writing all day, the brisket was nice and cooked and ready to eat. I pulled it apart with two forks and spooned it on to a soft hamburger bun, added some pickled red onions and barbecue sauce. Mmm.

Monday, April 11, 2011

here comes the sun

here comes the sun (#99) by the_musical
here comes the sun (#99), a photo by the_musical on Flickr.

Spring is finally coming to Syracuse, and I'm dog sitting. It can be a bit of a hassle, but the dogs make excellent photo subjects.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This Is How We Live and Eat - a Blood, Bones and Butter Review

I heard this book reviewed on the New York Times podcast, and then my friend Nino told me I needed to read it immediately. I followed her advice. I loved this book. I want to crawl inside parts of this book and live there. Which is odd, because it's not always a particularly uplifting book. There is something about the way Gabrielle Hamilton describes everything, food, hard work, her relationships, mothering - that makes me want to take up arms and dedicate myself to the cause. Which cause? I'm not even sure, all of them. This makes me want to eat better, it makes me want to cook better, and it makes me want to take care of people better - to build a small space where I could invite the people I love to come, and to eat and to be cared for. I love her descriptions of traveling in foreign countries, and of the people who took her in and fed her. Also I'm totally with her on comfort foods. I don't understand people who eat with only the blandest interest in all the world has to offer. Or as she puts it: "This is the crepe. This is the cider. This is how we live and eat.

The other thing she highlights is something I began to realize in earnest after college. There are people who when things go wrong will simply throw up their hands. Happily leave the hard work to someone else, go back to sitting at their desk and putting their feet up. The people who have no desire to problem solve. Who will refuse to help move boxes or shovel the driveway. There was this guy in Syracuse talking about his long term girlfriend and a really bad snow storm we had that lasted several days. She said she would not help him do the shoveling. Because it was hard and cold. And she would prefer to sit inside while he did the hard work, the bones of the thing. I almost told him that would be a deal breaking quality for me in a potential life mate and I'm not sure why it wasn't with him. And so I've realized I am not one of those people. I am the person that rolls up my sleeves and helps with the hard stuff. Or in other words:

"But at thirty-eight years old, hugely pregnant with my future tiny son, I don't want anything to do with badass. I want to be J. Crew catalog-clean. I don't want to be that woman who can-and did-get down on all fours and scrape pancake batter off the over door after having just cooked three hundred eggs with a near-constant monologue of fucking fuck of a fuck issuing from her lips. That disgusts me. While I would never want or hope to be the type of pregnant woman who would doze languidly in the afternoons while playing Mozart tapes to her womb, being down on the mats with a soapy green scrubby and rattling my unborn fetus with a string of expletives to make a trucker blush...well, that is certainly not the woman I want to be either.

When you are the one throwing the party every night, emptying the ashtrays, making sure the tonic is cold, the limes fresh, the shifts covered, the meat perfectly cooked and adequately rested, the customer's carefree and employees calm and confident, it will leave its marks. Someone has to stay in the kitchen and do the bones of the thing, to make sure it stands up, and if it's you, so be it." (pg 197)

The only other question - who's coming with me to Prune and when are we going?