Brown Butter and Currant Muffins

I ran across baskets of currants at the local farmers’ market. The cherry red orbs were gorgeous and luminescent. Tart, with a small, hard seed, currants can be served as-is or used in jams and pies. They are often dried and used just like raisins in recipes. Though dried currants are tarter than sweet raisins. Currants grow on bushes in grape-like clusters. In the Chicago area, you have a very short window of opportunity to buy fresh currants. So, if you see some for sale, grab them because they won’t be around for long.

I brought two baskets of currants home. I knew I wanted to make some jelly but I had more than enough for something baked. I’ve been playing with brown butter lately and thought the tartness of the currants would play nicely with the rich, nutty, caramel flavor of brown butter. Hence, I arrived at Brown Butter and Currant Muffins.

First brown 1/2 cup of butter. Place the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir continuously. A foam will appear and the butter will cackle as the water in the butter evaporates.

The foam will begin to disappear. Continue stirring and watching the butter, as you don’t want it to burn.

The butter will begin getting darker until it is a medium brown color. It will continue to cook if it remains in the hot pan. Transfer it to another container and set aside to cool.

Whisk together 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar and two eggs.

Add the cooled, brown butter.

Mix in 1/3 cup of sour cream that is at room temperature.

Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Set the mixture aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cup of flour, 2 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, being careful not to over mix.

You will end up with a thicker batter. Not as thick as a cookie batter but not as thin as a cake batter.  If it seems too thick, add one tablespoon of milk.  If it seems too thin, add 1 tablespoon of flour.  If you feel the urge, take a spoonful of the batter and taste the deliciousness. I could sit down and eat the entire bowl of batter, it is that good.

Spray your muffin tin with cooking spray. Fill tin half full with batter and top with currants. Press the currants down a little so that they are seated in the batter and aren’t just rolling around on top. The thickness of the batter will keep the currants on top of the muffins as they bake, creating a small, flat muffin. The seeds in the currants will add a crunch to the muffin top.

Cook at 35o degrees for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and enjoy with fresh, hand churned butter.  If you don’t have currants, blueberries also work nicely with this batter.  Or, you can just leave the tops plan.  The batter is marvelous all on its own.

Brown Butter and Currant Muffins

1/2 cup of butter

1/4 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of brown sugar

2 eggs

1/3 cup of sour cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 1/4 cup of flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

1 cup of red currants

Brown 1/2 cup of butter by placing the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir continuously as butter easily burns. A foam will begin to appear and the butter will cackle as the water in the butter evaporates.  The foam will disappear. Continue stirring and watching the butter it will begin to get darker until it is a medium brown color. Transfer it to another container and set aside to cool.

Whisk together 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar and two eggs.  Add the cooled, brown butter. Mix in 1/3 cup of room temperature sour cream. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Set the mixture aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cup of flour, 2 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, being careful not to over mix.

You will end up with a thicker batter. Not as thick as a cookie batter but not as thin as a cake batter.  If it seems too thick, add one tablespoon of milk.  If it seems too thin, add 1 tablespoon of flour.

Spray your muffin tin with cooking spray. Fill tin half full with batter and top with currants. Press the currants down a little so that they are seated in the batter and aren’t just rolling around on top.

Cook at 35o degrees for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and enjoy.  Blueberries also work nicely with this batter or, you can just leave the tops plan.  The batter is marvelous all on its own.

Advertisements

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes

Who doesn’t love light, fluffy pancakes?  You know, the kind that doesn’t make you feel like there is a lead weight in your stomach.  Well, I do!   After a Saturday of blueberry picking, I decided it was time to tackle a fluffy blueberry pancake recipe.

If using fresh blueberries, rinse them and examine for any bugs or twigs.  I’m all for protein, but finding a creepy crawly in a pancake will ruin my meal.  There were three little beetles in this strainer of berries.  All dead, thankfully!

Whisk together the flour, sugar and baking powder.  In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, oil and egg.  Combine the flour mixture and wet mixture.  Gently add the blueberries.  Do not over mix.  Spray a large skillet with cooking spray.  If you’d like, you could melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet instead of the spray.  Heat the pan until a water drop sizzles when dropped  in the pan.  Then, add your batter.

Flip the pancakes when the batter begins to bubble.

Once both sides are golden brown, remove from skillet and serve.

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes

1  1/2 cup self-rising flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 egg

1 1/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons oil

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Whisk together flour, sugar and baking powder.  In a separate container, whisk together the milk, oil and egg.  Combine the dry mixture and wet mixture.  Gently add the blueberries being careful to not over mix.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray or you may melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet.  You’ll know the pan is hot enough when a drop of water sizzles when falling into the pan.

Add the pancake batter and flip when bubble appear in the batter.

Cook until both sides are golden brown.  Any leftovers can be warmed in the microwave or frozen for a future breakfast.

Easy Pea-sy Tendril Pesto

Pesto. One of my favorite foods. Or is it a condiment? I’m not sure, but I like it! Last week, while I was perusing dashandbella, (again) I came across this. I had never even heard of pea shoots before so I did the Google and learned they were baby pea plants. Cool. Life continued on and during my visit to the store a few days later, I ran across these:

Pea tendrils? And, live ones at that. They jumped into my cart and found their way home with me. I checked Google and, from what I can tell, pea tendrils are the same as pea shoots. I think my tendrils may be a little older than the shoots that Phyllis has pictured. I had pretty much everything else to make the pesto so it’s pesto time! Please refer to the link above to dashandbell for the full recipe.

I was using raw almonds that still had their skin. First thing up was to blanch the almonds, which is a pretty simple process. Put a pot of water on to boil. While you are waiting, measure out your nuts. You can also preheat your oven to 350 degrees and put your garlic cloves into the oven to roast.

When the water boils, turn off the heat from under the pot. Pour the almonds into the water and leave them for exactly one minute. Any longer and your almonds will absorb the water and become soggy. Nobody likes soggy nuts. You may notice that your nuts bob up and down in the water; that’s normal. When the minute is over, pour the almonds into a colander and spray with cold water.

Next, squeeze the almond and the skin should just slip off. It’s kinda fun. Pat the almonds dry with a paper towel.

Now, the almonds need to be toasted. I put mine into my toaster over for about 15 minutes and flipped them over half-way through. Mine might be a little dark because I may have forgotten them for a bit, but they will be just fine.

After you blanch the pea tendrils/shoots then the fun begins.

Throw the pea tendrils into your food processor and pulverize.

Keep processing, add the cheese and garlic, drizzle in the olive oil and add the almonds . I did not have any lemons or lemon juice so I used lemon infused olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.

This batch of pesto is a little thicker than I would normally make. I could re-process it with some more olive oil or lemon juice (which I now have) but this is a nice spreadable consistency.

This pesto is very green tasting. Not grassy, just green. I’m used to the standard basil pesto so my first bite was a shock. I’m not sure what I was expecting – perhaps a basil flavor? Who knows. By my second bite, I was starting to like the flavor. I had it for lunch with pepperjack cheese and a sour dough roll. It was very good and I have plans for it for tonight’s dinner. Perhaps with some creme fraiche?

Crème Fraiche

Are you familiar with Dash and Bella? It’s a delightfully eloquent blog written by mom Phyllis Grant, about her time in the kitchen with her son and daughter, Dash and Bella. If you do click over, be forewarned, there are some f-bombs floating about her writings, if you care about such things.  I’ve just started subscribing to her and have been enjoying myself as I page through her archives. Recently, I came across the above post. Crème fraiche, anyone? Yum!

Crème fraiche is richer and smoother than sour cream. It can be used as a replacement for cream and sour cream in most recipes. It is quite versatile as it is delish in both savory and sweet dishes.

So, a few days ago, I ran to the store to pick up some buttermilk and heavy cream.

Image

Per Phyllis, you fill a glass jar half-way with heavy cream. Then add one-quarter that amount with buttermilk. I used a pint mason jar. Excuse me for a minute . . . I just realized I did half cream and half buttermilk. Yes. Yes, this kind of thing happens much too often. Could those instructions have been any easier? Would it have even mattered? Who knows. It’s okay, I’ve poured the mixture into a quart mason jar and added half a pint of cream to the jar.

Image

Phyllis instructs us to leave the jar out on the counter (or where ever) and wait. We are experiencing full blown summer weather here in Chicago so I’m enjoying the cool blast of air conditioning. I didn’t want to wait two days for my crème fraiche. No. I want it now. So I left my jar outside in the 90 degree shade. I didn’t want any ants or their friends to take a swim so I put a thin towel over the top and wonkily screwed the ring on the jar making a Sheikh Fraiche.

Image

This way, air can get to the liquid but, hopefully, nothing else can. Now we wait and occasionally stir the liquid.

And, wait. Cue the Jeopardy music here.

While we are waiting, did you know that once you have made crème fraiche, you can make more just by adding a dollop of the existing yumminess to a jar of heavy cream? Yes. Yes, you can. You won’t have to buy buttermilk again as the existing crème fraiche acts as a starter.

I brought the jar inside after 6 hours.  Here is the crème fraiche after about 12 hours.

Image

See the bubbles?  That means something good is happening.  After 24 hours, the liquid was becoming creamier and somewhat thicker.  After 36 hours it was done.

Tangy, creamy and to-die-for.  It will thicken up after some time spent in the frig.  I’ve got something special planned for the crème fraiche which I’ll share with you in a later post.  Oh, and see that green stuff under the crème?  I’ll be talking about that tomorrow.

Have you ever made crème fraiche?  Did you find that cooler temperatures makes it take longer to process?

Yummy Chicken Salad

My favorite thing to do with left over chicken is to make chicken salad.   It’s a great way to use up those extra parts of the chicken that no one wants to eat.  Though, I’ve been known to throw some breasts on the grill just so I can make chicken salad for lunches.  My chicken salad is savory, sweet with a little bit of crunch.

I start with two cups of shredded chicken.  Room temperature or colder.  You don’t want to use hot chicken.  It can be cooked however you like.  Recently I tried it using barbequed chicken and, oh my!  It was tasty.  I prefer hand shredding the chicken rather than cubing it. The mayonnaise seems to penetrate the shredded chicken better.

Image

Add in 1/4 cup each of diced dried apricots, dried cranberries, slivered almonds and sliced green onions.

Image

Give that a stir to evenly distribute all the parts.  Then add about 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise.  I like my salad to be creamy so, some days, I might add up to 4 tablespoons depending on the type of chicken I’m dealing with.  Chicken breasts need more mayo than legs and thighs.  Or, at least, I think so.

Image

Salt and pepper to taste. If you want to kick up the flavor a notch, you can add some cayenne pepper and/or a couple of shakes of hot sauce.  I like it with a sprinkling of hickory smoked salt.

Image

Refrigerate for at least two hours but overnight is best so that the flavors mingle.  We usually eat this dished up in a bowl. It would be a sin not to make a sandwich with it if you have some soft multi-grain bread laying around.  Enjoy!

Image