Rhubarb Muffins

I love rhubarb.  I’ve also discovered Norwegians in general love rhubarb. It’s one of the first signs of spring in Moorhead, Minnesota.  People in Norway greet it with cheers and festivals.  There’s something about the sweet and tart aspect of rhubarb that totally appeals to everyone in Scandinavia.

So, why do we love rhubarb so much?  Because we’re smart, we have great taste, it’s good for you, it’s very versatile, it’s a hardy plant that comes back year after year.  My mom always canned rhubarb sauce each spring.  You never see it anymore, but that would be dessert.  It was fabulous.

The first book I ever bought written by Martha Stewart was Entertaining.  It was a glorious book with a fabulous idea on every page.  One of the recipes was for rhubarb bread.  I’ve loved that recipe since I first made it a zillion years ago.  These muffins are a riff on that recipe.  I’ll hunt up the bread recipe soon and share that with you as well.  You’ll love it.

4 tablespoons room temperature butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 to 8 ounces rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch chunks, approximately 1 1/2 cups

1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  With an electric mixer, beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until smooth.  Beat in egg; add buttermilk and beat to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add to butter mixture; beat until smooth.  Fold in rhubarb.

Spoon mixture into prepared muffin tin, dividing evenly among 12 paper lined cups.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

*  From the Recipe Box:

Now, I freeze containers of rhubarb.  If you put 2 cup ziplocks filled with rhubarb in the freezer, you always have rhubarb when you feel the need for a hint of spring.

and remember:  I dream of a better world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.  Big kiss, Lynn

Pshaw on Scones

I give up.  I’m done with scones.  I’ve tried several more recipes and the hockey puck industry has filed a cease and desist order on me.  They say I’m interfering with their ability to have a monopoly on hockey pucks.  I truly don’t get it.  I follow the instructions, I use the perfect ingredients, I don’t over knead.  Frustrating!  This is the second thing I’ve given up on.  Remember the baked donuts.  Oy!

So, I’ve chosen to move on.  I’m still looking at scone recipes, but I change the ingredients into muffins.  I’m usually not a quitter, but the whole scone thing has defeated me.  The next scone I was going to try was dried cherry.  This makes a great muffin.  Since the muffin batter is mildly sweet, adding the tart dried cherries is the perfect counter balance.  I didn’t have a full cup of dried cherries so I added some craisins as well.  We’re big craisins fans and like them in sweet and savory items.  Dried blueberries would have worked as well, but there weren’t any.  We are big nibblers.  C’est la vie!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

topping:

14 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

14 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

muffins:

2 cups flour

12 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

12 teaspoon baking soda

12 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

13 cup vegetable oil

12   cup milk

1 cup dried tart cherries

12 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

For the topping: Combine flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; mix well.  Set aside.

For the muffin:  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.  In another bowl, combine eggs, sour cream, oil and milk; mix well. Add egg mixture, cherries and pecans to flour mixture; stir only until combined. Portion batter evenly into 12 paper-lined or lightly greased muffin cups (2 3/4 inches in diameter). Sprinkle reserved crumb topping evenly over batter.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree F. oven 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

*  From the Recipe Box:

That incredible fruit distribution is from mixing the cherries and pecans into the dry ingredients before adding the wet ingredients.

and remember:  If you knew success was a certainty, what would you do?  Big kiss, Lynn

(I know I wouldn’t waste it on donuts or scones!)

Gougeres

G and I have spa days and drink the waters.  Basically, we’re having drinks and nibbles at an Island establishment every month or so.  We like making things special and we’ll go hither and yon to find new experiences.  We’ve been together a long time and you need to keep having new adventures or things go stale.  We were lucky enough to enjoy the gougeres at Prima Bistro recently.  I’m now a fan, so I needed a recipe.

If you want to get technical, we’re talking cream puffs with Gruyere cheese.  They’re light and very satisfying.  If you love cream puffs, you will love these even more.  The flavor of the Gruyere raises these to a whole new level.  Now picture your Martini in one hand and a gougeres in the other.  Life is good.

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, cut into tablespoons
  • Large pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (1 cup), plus more for sprinkling
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg (I’m not a nutmeg fan, so you will have to decide)

*  From the Recipe Box:

I like Alain Ducasse’s recipe.  Picture a 5 star recipe with almost 5K reviews.

If you’re good with a piping bag, give it a try.  I’m not so hot, no hand strength.

I’d rather make approximately 18 per batch but still bake the same amount of time.  I like them a tad smaller and a bit firmer.  It’s all about holding the Martini.

and remember one of the best lines from the Princess Bride:  Who said life is fair; where is that written?   Big kiss, Lynn

Norwegian Seed Crackers

I think I may have OCD.  Once I get on topic, I can’t seem to shake it.  Currently, I’m totally committed to crackers.  I love, love, love crackers.  I always have and I always will.  Part of it is my deep love of soup and you have to have crackers if you have soup.

I’m also looking for things to cook with Gluten-free Girl.  She’s coming up this weekend and is always up for a new cooking experience.  Please don’t judge them until you taste them.  They are pretty good.  You simply can’t make everyone happy.

dry ingredients

  • 3 1/2 ounces pumpkin seeds (approximately 5/8 cup if you don’t have a scale)
  • 3 1/2 ounces sunflower seeds (5/8 cup)
  • 5 ounces sesame seeds (1 1/8 cups)  I used 50/50 black and regular sesame seeds.  This did affect the color of my crackers.  Next time, only a sprinkling of the black.
  • 5 ounces flax seed (1 1/8 cups)
  • 1 1/2 ounces chia seed (1/3 cup)
  • 1 ounce or 6 tablespoons psyllium husk powder
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder

wet ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  •  a smidgen less than 1/2 cup oil (I use grape seed oil, without flavor)

Directions

Mix all the dry stuff and stir it together.

Mix the wet stuff and stir it all together.

Let it rest for half an hour until it becomes a solid dough.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.

Put the dough onto a piece of baking paper. Add another piece of baking paper on top.

Flatten the dough with a baking roll or the like.

Put the dough on a baking pan while still inside the baking two papers.

Remove the top piece of baking paper.

Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes 350 degrees.  If the dough is not completely baked after 30 minutes, turn it over and remove the baking paper to make it easier for the steam to escape. The paper might stick a bit.

Take it out of the oven, remove the baking paper and allow it to cool. I use a cooling rack. If the paper sticks and is hard to remove, the crispbread is not fully baked.

Break it gently into bits the sizes you prefer.

*  From the Recipe Box:

Until you have tried the recipe a few times in your own oven, it’s a good idea to check the dough when it has gotten 20 minutes. It is so thin that it easily burns in the corners. For example, in my oven, I have to both turn the baking trays and switch the top and bottom trays after 20 minutes and then every 10 minutes.

Check out more Nordic Nut Breads at Kvalifood.com

and remember:  Pain makes you stronger; tears make you braver; a broken heart makes you wiser; and alcohol makes you not remember any of that crap.  Thank you alcohol.  Big kiss, Lynn

 

Cranberry Orange Muffins

This recipe really takes me back.  Once upon a time, there were small 25 to 30 page cookbooks at every grocery check out.  I’m fairly sure Mom and Julie bought every one.  The cookbooks  would focus on a specific subject like all the Pillsbury Bake-off winners for that year.  This recipe came from one of those.  When I originally made it, the recipe called for a bundt pan.  The trouble with that is leftovers.  We don’t get the company we used to.  I find it much easier to freeze a muffin than 3/4 of a bundt pan.

This is from one of mom’s books.  She wrote ‘fantastic’ next to the recipe.  I have to agree with her.  The orange is subtle.  The cranberry is sharp.  The apple adds mellowness.  It’s refreshing and not at all heavy as muffins can be.  I wish I’d kept more of the books.  Like the mid-west church books, these come from a simpler past and have a wealth of good ideas in them.

Ingredients

  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 large apple, peeled and chopped

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk the egg, milk, orange juice, oil and orange zest; stir into dry ingredients just until blended. Fold in the cranberries and apple.
  • Pour into two greased 8 x 4-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

*  From the Recipe Box:

I did not peel my apple.  As if!!!!

I wanted a streusel top, so I mixed up 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour and 3 tablespoons butter until crumbly and sprinkled it over the top.  I wish I’d added pecans as well.

I baked my dough in muffin pans.  Optimally, this would have made 14 or 15 muffins, but I only have one muffin pan.  Bummer.  Next time I’ll make 6 muffins and one loaf.

I didn’t use to be a messy cook, but this is my total prep space.  I do have a great view though.

And yes, that is one half of a Death Star bowl.  I’m cool, I own both halves.  Eat your heart out.

and remember:  I am only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand.  Big kiss, Lynn

 

 

Grandma Olson’s Bread Pudding

I do love bread pudding.  I know I’m constantly telling you how much I love sweets, but ultimately I’m not sure it’s true.  I love “sweetish”.  Not Swedish, but marginally sweet.  This is not a sweet dessert.  It’s more of a custard and you know how we Norwegians love custard.  I think my mom’s favorite pie was custard.  I’m not going that far, but I do love a good custard.

This is Grandma Olson’s bread pudding.  As you can see, it is totally unfancy.  With basically 6 ingredients, you can make this with ingredients on-hand.  I doubt if Grandma specifically called for an Italian boule, but it’s the closest thing I could find to the bread she would use.

The other thing you’ll notice is the lack of a sauce.  Grandma never made a sauce for the bread pudding when she served it.  So often you will see vanilla or rum sauce to serve alongside the pudding, but Grandma always served it with whip cream and a sprinkling of sugar.  Not whipped cream, but straight out of the milk jug cream.  She might froth is up with a fork, but truly this is a simple dessert.

3 cups cubed Italian boule, allowed to stale overnight in a bowl

2 cups granulated sugar

5 beaten eggs

2 cups whole milk or half and half

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins soaked in bourbon for 10 minutes or so

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8 x 8 inch pan.

Combine the sugar, eggs, vanilla and half and half in a bowl.  Pour over the cubed bread and let it sit for 10 minutes, so the bread can absorb the liquid.  Add the raisins.

Pour into the greased 8 x 8 inch pan.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set.

There’s not much to this recipe.  I’ve even fancied it up a bit from the way Grandma did it.  I do not remember her soaking the raisins.  I’d eat it right after it comes out of the oven.  You’ll like it; I promise.

*  from the Recipe Box:

A boule is basically a round, fairly dense loaf of white bread.  It is much thicker than a French loaf or baguette.

You’re on your own if you want a sauce, but they are all over the Internet.

and remember:  Tell the truth or someone will tell it for you.  Big kiss, Lynn

Banana Bread/Muffins

I can’t remember a time when my mom did not make banana bread.  She always had a loaf or 2 hanging around.  As I write this, it happens to be her birthday so my thoughts are with her today.  While I rarely make banana bread, I did have a request for the pumpkin muffins made with chocolate chips instead of pecans.  That sounds totally ka-ka to me, so I’ve been thinking about alternatives.  Up popped mom’s birthday and the rest is history.

Chocolate chips do not ring my chimes, but I think I’m the only person who feels that way.   This is a truly fine banana bread recipe.  I just decided to add chocolate chips to make my little sous chef happy.  He’ll do anything for me, it seems only fair I do it for him.

If you choose to follow the recipe as originally intended, you will end up with 2 moist loaves with intense banana flavor, although a smear of butter makes it even better.  If you choose to make it into muffins, you will still get a moist muffin but with J’s requested chocolate chips.  You choose and let me know what you think.

½ cup butter

1 ¼ cup sugar

2 eggs

¼ sour cream

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons rum (or milk if you’d rather)

1 cup mashed bananas, very ripe

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon soda

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cup chopped nuts or mini-chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar; beat in eggs and sour cream.  Mix in almond extract and rum.  Add dry ingredients alternately with bananas, beginning and ending with flour.  Stir in nuts.  Bake in 2 greased 8 x 4 loaf pans at 350 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes.  Cool on racks.

To make the muffins, follow all the steps until “stir in nuts”.  Instead, add a cup or a cup and 1/2 of mini chocolate chips.  Using an ice cream scoop, portion into paper lined muffins cups.  This will make approximately 18.  Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

*  From the Recipe Box:

This is mom’s recipe.  The woman could bake!  I’ve tasted a lot of Banana Bread in my time, but none better than this.  Great flavor, moist, nummy and I don’t even like bananas.

One banana equals approximately 1/2 cup mashed banana.

and remember:  Never be cool.  Never try and be cool.  Never worry about what the cool people think.  Head for the warm people.  Life is warmth.  You’ll be cool when you’re dead.

Big kiss, Lynn