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Entries in muffins (3)

Monday
Jul022012

Meatballs and Muffins, Muffins and Meatballs

Sometimes I can't decide what to eat - it's the age-old, "salty or sweet" question, which is often solved by either a literal or metaphorical (in terms of taste combinations) chocolate covered pretzel.

But a woman cannot live on chocolate pretzels alone. Trust me, I've tried. You need some more nutrients.

And, being Italian, what better thing to supplement chocolate covered pretzels with than meatballs? Yes - meatballs! Now, it being July 4th, you may be wracking your brains for various foodstuffs that you can throw on the grill. For me, I've always found that time awaiting the grill to be sufficiently heated a bit tedious.

Elana fires up the grill, back in the day.Myself and my guests might like munchies. Snackables. Whatever you wanna call it.

Enter MEATBALLS. These are mini bison meatballs with dill and fresh parsley. You can throw tiny toothpicks in them and serve them with a side of this yogurt dipping sauce.

Bison Meatballs
makes about 20 mini meatballs - for more, double the recipe! 

What You Need:
1/2 lb ground bison meat
4 small fingerling potatoes, boiled and peeled
4 scallions, chopped (white parts only!)
2 eggs
fresh dill - chopped (as much as you like)
fresh parsley - chopped (as much as you like)
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and black pepper to taste
Olive oil

What To Do:
Remove the potato skins andbBoil the potatoes in a pot of water until they are very soft when pierced with a fork. Remove them from the water and set aside to cool.

Place the ground bison meat in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, the crushed red pepper flakes, the dill and the scallions

Add the cooled potatoes, crushing them with your fingers as you add them to the meat.

Drop in the two eggs.

Now it's time to get dirty. Use your hands, people! That's why you've got 'em. Mix and mash all this wonderful gooey-ness together until it's holding.

Is it holding together? Good. Now, still using your hands, roll them into small balls and place them on a platter. Roll it all! You will be a master by the time this is over.

Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.

Drop in your meatballs, one at a time. Turn them around occassionally so that they brown evenly on all sides. Bison meat can be pink on the inside, but you are the master of your meatballs. Do you like them rare? Medium? Well done? For rare, I like to cook about 2 minutes on each side. I know meatballs don't really have a "side" being round, but just make it up.

Now keep in mind, bison meat has a lower fat content than beef. That means is will cook FASTER (also good for parties as your guests are HUNGRY people, I know they are). Because of this, bison tastes best at rare and medium cooked levels. It can dry out when it's well done. If you really like your meatballs well done, lower the heat and cook them slowly for a longer period of time.

Also, use tongs to rotate your meatballs...a fork will pierce them and then all the tasty juices will run away. Which is sad, especially when you've done so much work. Also, it's best to let the little guys rest for a few minutes before you throw 'em in your meatball hole. They like to settle, they've been through a lot in that skillet.

Now, I know I mentioned chocolate covered pretzels before, but instead I made muffins. You know that guests that ate all your meatballs? Well, they probably drank all your beer too. And they might be sleeping in your bathtub - watch out when you go in there in the morning! 

To be a nice host, you may want to offer them something in the morning. Something...healthy. With antioxidants. Heaven knows they need 'em.

Enter Goji Berry Oatmeal Muffins. They have lots of good grains, and Goji berries for antioxidant quality. If your guests choose to slather them with butter, just turn a blind eye. The bathtub is not the most comfortable place to sleep, after all. Here is the recipe:

Makes about 12 muffins

What You Need:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (the real stuff, if you can)
1/2 all-purpose flour (you can also use millet flour if you want to be healthier. I find it has a nice sweet taste)
1/3 cup dried Goji berries, soaked in hot water to rehydrate
1/2 cup salted pistachios
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (optional, but they're really good for you) 
3/4 cup soy milk (you can also use regular milk)
1 egg and 1 egg white
4 tablespoons of butter - at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt 
Drizzle of honey - to equal about 1/8 of a cup

What To Do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin tin, or those fancy silicone muffin cups (I have them and I love them).

Soak the dried Goji berries in hot water for about 10 minutes.

While the berries are soaking, pull out your food processor, and throw in all your flours and the oats and the flaz seeds if you're using them. Give it a pulse or two to combine.

Add in the baking powder, baking soda and salt and pulse again.

Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until it is incorporated into the dry ingredients. The mixture should resemble a coarse meal, holding together in very small balls.

Now it's time to add the wet ingredients. Pour in the milk (soy or regular), the eggs and the honey. Blend until well combined. 

Drain your goji berries and add them, along with the pistachios to the batter. Blend just a tiny bit. You don't want to mash up the pistachios too much, it's nice to get a good CRUNCH in there.

If your batter is a little thick, you can add more milk.

Fill the muffin cups 3/4 of the way to the top. You can sprinkle the tops with a few oats for decoration. It does look nice that way...

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Now wait for the bathtub sleepers to surface...

And if you're still looking for things to throw on the grill, may we suggest PIZZA? We just can't help ourselves.

Just a few of our options...

Wednesday
Jul272011

Put Some Lemon Curd On It!

Whatever it is you are eating, you should consider putting some of this lemon curd on it. Go on....spread it on there nice and thick. Trust me, it will be better.

Lemon curd is one of those things that isn't meant to be eaten with a spoon out of the jar, but I (would) do it anyway. It's sweet and tangy and slightly sour and creamy (hello, butter!), and you want to have all those taste buds fire at the same time, so just go ahead and dip your spoon in...

For me, it's kind of like the ice cream of condiments/spreads. I always want one more spoonful. Remember those muffins we talked about yesterday? Well Oscar would have been just Wilde about this as a spread for his glorious muffins. And so would Jack and Algie. Not to mention you.

What You Need:
Grated zest of two large lemons
1/2 cup strained fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

What To Do:
Combine the lemon zest, juice, eggs and sugar in a blender or food processor and process for 20 seconds.

With the machine running, drizzle in the melted butter.

Pour into a small saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat.

Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon – about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Lick the spoon.

Cover and store in the fridge for up to two weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 1 1/3 cups.

* Recipe from William-Sonoma Muffins Cookbook

Tuesday
Jul262011

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins For Oscar Wilde

We are back with another edition of Eat This Book!

As I mentioned in my last Eat This Book post (featuring lardo pizza), I like to read. And I especially like to read authors that work in nonsensical, humorous banter that is seemingly off topic.

Enter Oscar Wilde, who might be the champion of that – he certainly gets a prize, anyway. And he gets another prize for expert lounging, as demonstrated in the photo below.

And while we're on the topic of lounging, I can't think of a better lounge food than muffins. Wouldn't you agree?

When I read "The Importance of Being Earnest" back in the day (I can't even remember which day right now) I nearly hurt myself laughing over the muffin scene. Never read it? That's a shame. Here are the highlights:

Jack:  How can you sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.

Algernon:  Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner.  The butter would probably get on my cuffs.  One should always eat muffins quite calmly.  It is the only way to eat them.

Jack:  I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances.

Algernon:  When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me...  At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. Besides, I am particularly fond of muffins.  [Rising.]

Jack:  [Rising.]  Well, that is no reason why you should eat them all in that greedy way. [Takes muffins from Algernon.]

Algernon:  [Offering tea-cake.]  I wish you would have tea-cake instead.  I don’t like tea-cake. Jack, you are at the muffins again!  I wish you wouldn’t.  There are only two left.  [Takes them.]  I told you I was particularly fond of muffins.

Jack:  But I hate tea-cake.

Algernon:  Why on earth then do you allow tea-cake to be served up for your guests?  What ideas you have of hospitality!

In honor of Jack, Algernon and of course Oscar, I give you Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins with Lemon Sugar (bonus lemon sugar recipe below).

I will say this about these muffins:

1. Jack and Algernon would certainly argue over them.

2. They are WAY better than tea cake.

3. They are the perfect hand-held size for lounging.

4. They are easy to remove from your cuffs, should you get a little exuberant while eating them.

What You Need:
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup lemon sugar (see recipe below)
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Grated zest of two lemons
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

What To Do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 10 standard muffin cups with butter or non-stick spray or line with paper cup liners. I like using those silicone muffin molds.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed (or you can use a food processor), cream the butter and sugar (lemon sugar, if you are using it) until light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, poppy seeds, lemon zest and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk, then the lemon juice and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

In a large bowl, using the mixer with CLEAN beaters, beat the egg whites just until they form soft peaks (which means they will curl over at the top and form a "wave").

Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the batter until blended.

Spoon the batter into each muffin cup, filling them 3/4 full. Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with some lemon sugar.

Bake until golden, dry and springy to the touch – 20-25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin should come out clean.

Transfer to a wire rack (I actually don't own one of these so I remove one of my oven racks and use that instead) and let cool for 5 minutes.

Serve (with butter or lemon curd).

Bonus Lemon Sugar recipe:

* Both recipes from William-Sonoma Muffin Cookbook.