Thursday, January 20, 2011

Whole Wheat Ginger-Pear Snow Day Muffins!

Another snow day! Well, we don't know if school will be called off tomorrow, but today is still snow-ful. There's some sort of running joke in Memphis that people are supposed to stock up on bread and milk when a big storm threatens to shut down the city. I have no idea why. But it's completely true--the milk section at the Midtown Schnuck's was totally ransacked when I went by (innocently!) before the last snowfall.

This time, I made muffins with sour cream (kind of milk-y?) and wheat flour (kind of bread-y?) instead.

Whole Wheat Ginger-Pear Muffins
Adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe in the NY Times

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger (original recipe calls for 1, but I like-a the ginger)
2/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey (local Wolf River honey)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups diced pears (1 large and 1 small Keiffer pears from Jones Orchard)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups (or line with muffin liners). In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugars, and ginger.

In a smaller bowl, combine the wet ingredients: oil, honey, sour cream, and eggs. Whisk together.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. I don't know if this is because I used whole wheat flour, or if the humidity is playing a factor here, or what, but my mixture was pretty grainy, not runny like I anticipated. It tasted good though. Then fold in the pears.

Divide batter evenly between muffin cups. Bake about 20-25 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

New cooling racks! Another Christmas present from baking-enabling parents.

I loved the gingery taste of these, and the little embedded pear surprises are delicious, too.

Muffins in the snow, because why not?!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Curried Sweet Potato Latkes

I love these spicy little latkes. I keep sweet potatoes on hand all winter (and it's becoming easier and easier to get local ones without pre-winter hoarding --- Dodson Farms, AKA the sweet potato people, are always at the winter market on Saturday mornings in the Tsunami parking lot), and frequently make these treats. They're good for pretty much any meal and reheat well.

Plus, this was the inaugural voyage of my Christmas present, a Cuisinart food processor! (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) It made the grating so easy. Like, it's done in about two seconds easy. Way better than my old methods, which involved a vegetable peeler and muttered expletives (sorry, Mom and Dad).

Anyway. Continuons, to latke-land.

Curried Sweet Potato Latkes
From This Organic Life by Joan Dye Gussow

1 pound sweet potatoes [about two medium or one large], coarsely grated (recommended: food processors. not recommended: box graters)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon; I wimped it down)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
a neutral oil with a high smoke point (like peanut or canola--you don't want to use the extra-virgin stuff for frying because it will smoke and the flavor will be destroyed anyway)

Grate the sweet potatoes, which hopefully takes no time at all.

Mix the dry ingredients together.

Then add the eggs, sweets, and milk, just enough to make a stiff batter.

Drop by spoonfuls into a preheated frying pan with 1/4 inch of oil. Flatten with the back of the spoon.

Cook on each side until golden, and drain on paper towels. I then transfer them to a cookie sheet in a warm oven until they are all ready.

Delicious, Joan informs the reader, and they are, especially with sour cream.

I had these with a spicy squash soup that was a failure. Not of epic proportions, just not blogworthy.

If you make more than you can destroy handle, they keep well in the fridge for about a week.

Monday, January 10, 2011

School Day Snow Day!

Snow day! What better way to spend it than rereading The Portrait of a Lady and ignoring the accumulation of emails in the inbox? I'm especially pleased that the first day of school is cancelled, giving me a two-day first week back (and [thanks to Martin Luther King Day] a two-day next week, too). For the folks at home, fret not, I'm certainly not driving in this slush. Here are some pictures of the so-called thundersnow.

1/9/2011, 6:00 PM... after much beseeching of the weather gods and earnest completion of the homework, it begins.

1/9/2011, 8:00 PM. I receive an intrepid visitor!

1/9/2011, 10:00 PM. No trace of human activity here.

1/10/2011, 6:30 AM. My detective skills tell me it didn't snow much after my roommate came home.

1/10/2011, 10:00 AM... starting to melt.

Also, snowstorms are perfect turkey pot pie opportunities. Actually, I heard a story on NPR the other day that 2011 is supposed to be the year the cupcake finally meets its demise and we embrace the superiority of pie. Maybe people have happened upon the secret delight that is nibbling on buttery crust dough as it's being rolled out, or maybe people realize that essentially everything is better when it's baked into a crust, which I cannot say with confidence for cupcakes. Anyway, I'm off to make a Honey-Thyme Apple Pie. Stay warm, all!