Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins



There is a surprise wedding shower breakfast tomorrow for a special gal at work. We are all excited to have somebody young enough in the department to get married!

Our department loves food. We seem to find multiple reasons to share breakfast or lunch. We just had our last Soup Day a few weeks ago so a wedding shower was a good reason to celebrate and share breakfast with one another.

As I thumbed through Dorie Greenspan's cookbook, Baking From My Home to Yours, I saw a recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins.



I love lemon, sour cream and poppy seeds so how could I go wrong? I did try something a little different, for me. Dorie has a section called Playing Around. She suggests filling the muffins with various types of jam. I didn't have the blueberry jam that she preferred but I did have some raspberry jam and lemon curd so I filled one third with lemon curd, another with raspberry and left filling out of the last few. We shall see how the crowd likes them. They were quick and easy to make and I must admit, the batter was tasty!




I can hardly wait to taste one!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops


It is Memorial weekend. For me that usually means hosting or going to a barbecue and making or taking Macaroni Salad. Today is no different. I got up early and made the Macaroni Salad. I do make a pretty good Macaroni Salad and it is popular among family and friends....but today's post is not about the salad...it's about the dessert!

I was anxious to make something from my new cookbook, Baking From My Home To Yours, by Dorie Greenspan. I don't bake very often because I have a sweet tooth and do not know when to stop; but tomorrow is a workday and my friends love chocolate so these cookies are for them!

In her book, Dorie mentions that the Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops sound like something right out of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, she is right! They are very rich and I did know when to stop this time. They have chunks of chocolate covered malted milk balls and chocolate inside making a soft burst of flavor.


I was fortunate, the family Kitchen Gnome came to the rescue and coarsely chopped the malt balls for me. It was a trade off. He got the malt balls remaining in the box!

The cookies were quick and easy to make. (Kitchen Gnomes are always great to have.) The hardest part was the anticipation while waiting for them to bake and cool!





Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops


1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup malted milk powder
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temp.
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
2 cups (6 ounces) chocolate-covered malted milk balls, coarsely chopped
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks


GETTING READY: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Sift together the flour, malted milk powder, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until very smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about a minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don't be concerned in the mixture looks curdled - it will even out when the dry ingredients are added. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear in the batter. Mix in the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. The batter will look more like fudge frosting than cookie dough - and that's fine. With the mixer on low, or by hand with a rubber spatula, mix in the malted milk balls and chopped chocolate.


Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls on to the sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between spoonfuls. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 6 minutes. When done, the cookies will be puffed and set slightly but soft to the touch. Let the cookies rest for 2 minutes before using a wide metal spatula to transfer them to the racks to cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

I am anxious to hear my friends' verdict. I am certain that they will like them...what's not to like? Candy in the form of Chocolate Covered Malt Balls and chocolate chunks, a chocolate cookie, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside....I can only say, "Got milk?"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rhubarb Love



I have loved rhubarb since I was a little girl. I remember that every Sunday the entire family went to Grandma's for dinner. There were ten children in my dad's family so this was not a small group! My job was to watch the pies that were sitting on the porch railing and let my grandma know when they were cool. I wonder what I did to get that job! I did get to sit in the big porch swing while I dutifully watched the pies.

There was nothing better than Grandma's rhubarb pie. Sadly, the recipe did not get shared so I have been on a quest for a rhubarb recipe that can be shared with the family and will take satisfy my hunger for great rhubarb.

Today I made Kristin's Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp at The Kitchen Sink. It was not overly tart or sweet. It was delicious! T loved the crunch of the oats in the topping. It is worth a repeat. We loved it.

At a family reunion last summer I got to go to Grandma's old house and sit in the old porch swing. There weren't any pies to watch cool but I did visit with cousins and we tried to figure out what it was that I could have done to be given the dubious honor of "pie watcher!"

My Culinary Boyfriend

Last night, K. and I had some friends over for the first time.  How better to impress them than by making ice cream!  We ended up making David Lebovitz's Malt Ball Icecream from his cookbook, The Perfect Scoop.  When we scooped it out for dessert last night it didn't have enough time to freeze all the way so it was more like Malt Ball Soft Serve.  I may have stolen a spoonful this morning as I waited for my morning coffee to brew, and it froze perfectly!  

Speaking of Mr. Lebovitz, K. and I fight over who would get to be David Lebovitz's boyfriend because he's so freaking cool. His blog is also awesome. (Case in point: he just posted a recipe for absinthe ice cream!) Part of the reason why I love him so much is that he posts about recipes that don't come out perfectly.  It takes a person secure in their cooking skillz to admit when he has failed, my friends. Plus, the same blog entry yielded this gem:

So yesterday I made an appointment for a spa day (well, my ship hasn't quite come in yet, so for now it's gonna have to be a half-day) which seemed like a great idea so I barreled my way through the harrowing crowds on the streets of the Marais, a magical place where people lose sense of time and place, and the idea of walking in a straight line is come bizarre concept that eludes the masses. Something seems to happen to people when they enter that quartier; the rest of the world magically vaporizes and it's as if no other person exists but them.

In my haste to avoid being crushed, or bruised by gold chains on jeans, slashed by a zipper on an errant backside, or blinded by sunglasses where the D&G logo dwarfs their well-tanned ears, I passed a store window and saw the shoes of-my-dreams inside, which cost roughly the same amount as the few hours of horizontal, oily bliss I was planning on having later this week.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Pacific Northwest Treat

On a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest to visit my daughter and son-in-law we ventured into the farmers’ market. I saw so many beautiful flowers and vegetables....row after row of tulips and daffodils! Unique to me, were the fiddlehead fern. I had no idea what to do with them and left them at the market! Our upcoming feast would be fine without them, I was certain. We love to cook together and had planned a wonderful meal for the next day. My daughter invited some friends who were bringing something special. My son-in-law made a wonderful pork loin stuffed with peaches. It is a Jamie Oliver recipe. It was delicious, a definite repeat!

I had just purchased the cookbook, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day by Hertzberg and Francois. Never having actually made my own bread before, this intrigued me. My mom always made bread and sticky buns. I love the smell of the baking bread and was anxious to try this new approach to bread making.It was simple and I needed simple on my first attempt. It was also a great success!



The crust was crunchy and the crumb was soft and delicious. The best part is that one batch makes four loaves of bread. You can have fresh delicious bread quickly and easily! I must admit that a good oven is helpful. A and K are now the proud owners of an awesome new r
ange and oven.

Our dinner guests surprised us with Fiddlehead Fern! I have to admit, I was a skeptic but I really enjoyed the crunchy and delicious flavor! They were sauteed in a little olive oil with garlic and Pancetta then sprinkled with bok choy flowers.



It was a great trip. I am ready to go again!