Vegan Banana Muffins

I was looking through an old notebook of mine and found this trusty recipe scribbled down after tasting one of these awesome muffins at the House of Commons, a vegan co-op in Austin. They are definitely more dense and less sweet than the non-vegan version below, so they seem appropriate to nibble morning, noon, and night. Let’s just say I made these a few days ago and now I have none.

Vegan Banana Muffins

  • 3 overripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vinegar

Preparation:

1. Whisk oil and sugar together in a bowl. Mash the banana and add it to the sugar and oil. Stir to incorporate. Add the vinegar.

2. Combine flours, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, together in a bowl and stir to mix them completely.

3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir to combine.

4. Spoon into paper lined (or buttered and oiled) muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted in the center and comes out clean.

Rosemary & Blueberry Muffins

I discovered some rosemary growing in an outdoor decorative vase while craving blueberry muffins and, well, there you have it, Rosemary & Blueberry Muffins began. I knew that I appreciated the piney taste of rosemary in biscuits, and was oh so pleased to discover that this unique taste also compliments sugary batters. They’re a break from the conventional, sure, but just imagine how oven avant-garde you’re going to look…

I added lemon zest and rosemary to this recipe I found on the WWWeb. I was going for a crumbly muffin, so I chose a recipe which uses butter as the fat rather than oil (which tends to produce a lighter textured, cake-like muffin). I also chose this recipe because I was extremely curious of how easy it seemed to just melt all the wet ingredients together in a microwave rather than using the creaming method (where you cream the butter and sugar together then add eggs).  I wasn’t sure at all how these muffins would turn out after baking, so I decided to add some streusel topping because it simply never tastes bad and could prevent the tops from hardening when baked.

Rosemary & Blueberry Muffins

  • 3.5 cups flour
  • 2 Tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 5 oz of butter
  • 3 cups blueberries (frozen are A-O.K.)
  • the zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbs fresh rosemary, de-stemmed and finely chopped

Streusel Topping (optional, but recommended)

  • 3/4 cup
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter (softened)

Preparation:

1. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Toss blueberries in the flour to coat.

2. De-stem and chop rosemary until you have 1 Tbs. Zest the lemon and place both in a microwave safe bowl.

3. Add the sugar, milk, sour cream, and butter to the rosemary and lemon zest and microwave in 30 second intervals, until the butter is completely melted and the liquid appears oily.

4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour melted concoction into the middle. Stir a few times and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula, but make sure to leave some streaks of flour in the batter. Don’t overmix!

5. Mix all the ingredients of the streusel topping together in a bowl (do it). I used a fork at first to combine the ingredients, but later used my hands to melt the butter a bit because I’m impatient. You’ll know when to stop when all the ingredients combine.

6. If you’re using paper liners, get ’em in place and fill to the rim of the paper. If you don’t have any, coat the tins in butter and lightly dust them with flour before filling with batter. Either way, top with streusel and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick is inserted in the middle and comes out clean.

Buttermilk Biscuits & Maybe Gravy

Obviously, there’s nothing better than a warm buttermilk biscuit. But it’s Le Sunday, so why not eat like a Queen/King and heap on the gravy? You might not feel like getting off the couch for bit, but you certainly won’t regret it.

Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbs + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt (optional)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, or 2 tsp lemon juice in 3/4 cup of whole milk
Preparation:
1. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and combine.
2. Cut chilled butter into smaller sections, and disperse throughout the flour.The goal here is to break up the butter into smaller chunks within the flour before it melts in our hands. One method involves rubbing a handful of the mixture vigorously between your palms until it sifts out, but feel out what works for you. If you’re still not getting the hang of it, check out the beginner basics on the biscuit method.
Just make sure to stop when the mixture begins to look like this:
3.  Add the buttermilk and use your hands or a wooden spoon to slowly work the liquid into the dough.
In order to make sure the biscuits stay crumbly when baked, do not over mix the dough. It should look like it’s way too dry and crumbling apart. Resist the urge to add more liquid.
4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pile the dough onto a floured surface and press it with your palms until it is about 3/4 of an inch in thickness.Use a cookie cutter or another kitchen device (like a jar lid) to form the biscuits and place them “shoulder to shoulder” on a cookie sheet (they will use each other rise -neat huh?).
5. Bake biscuits for 9 minutes or until tops and sides are deliciously golden.
Serving suggestions, as if any are needed, might include more butter, jam, honey, Nutella, leftover fried chicken. Or maybe, make some gravy.
Sausage Gravy
  • About a pound of uncooked sausage. I thought I cheaped by buying Jimmy Dean, but this guy would disagree.
  • About 1 Tbs black pepper
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1.5 cups to 2 cups milk or cream (depending on how thick you like your gravy)
  • Tiny pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Preparation:

1. Cook the sausage and spices of your choosing over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the meat it is no longer pink.

2. Reduce to low heat, corral the cooked meat on one side of the pan and tilt it slightly so that the oil goes to the opposite side. Add flour to exposed oil, one tablespoon at a time, and whisk them together until the liquid is thicker and your strokes expose the skillet.

3. Stir sausage with the flour and oil and add 1.5 cups of milk or cream. Let the gravy simmer on low heat until it thickens. If it thickens too much, add some milk and stir. If it is too thin, add some flour and stir.

4. Slop over biscuits (it won’t be pretty) and fill up for the start of the week.

Wake & Bake with Blackberry Maple Corn Muffins

Using cornmeal as a flour replacement gives these muffins an earthy, hearty taste and perfectly balances the oozing tartness of the fresh blackberries. Trust me, they won’t stick around for long (but they’ll photograph like royalty). Live long, eat muffins.

Blackberry Maple Corn Muffins

    • 1.5 cups flour
    • 2.5 cups yellow cornmeal
    • 1.5 cups sugar (divided in half)
    • 1 Tbs baking powder
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 2 cup buttermilk (or – 2 cups whole milk + 2 Tbs lemon juice)
    • zest of 1 lemon
    • 4 egg whites
    • 2 tsp pure maple extract
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

This baking adventure began with a craving that just couldn’t be satisfied with traditional cornbread doused in maple syrup – though I tried. Perhaps it was temperature contrast of the refrigerated, off brand, certainly not from Vermont “maple” syrup sliding off the hot cornbread that wasn’t working for me, but after a few unsatisfying bites I decided I wanted something less sticky and more flavor-complicated (if that’s even really a thing). I used a template recipe for raspberry corn muffins as a reasonable starting point, then tweaked the recipe according to what ingredients I had available (blackberries instead of raspberries, for example) and those that I wanted to use (unopened vial of Adam’s pure maple extract).

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin with disposable liners or coat wells with butter and spray edges with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, yellow cornmeal, baking powder, half of the sugar and salt.
3. You’re likely making your own buttermilk (because who buys buttermilk regularly anyway?) with milk and lemon juice. Simply add the lemon juice and lemon zest to the milk and let it sit for a few minutes – it’ll be nice and curdled by the time you start mixing. Otherwise, disregard this step.
4. Beat egg whites with remaining sugar (3/4 cup) until it forms stiff peaks (about 7 minutes). Add maple extract to egg whites halfway through the beating process.  
5. Add buttermilk and blackberries to dry ingredients and stir THREE TIMES. It will be ugly and lumpy and gross. Never you mind.
6. Add egg whites and slowly, patiently, fold them into the batter. Not all of the egg whites will incorporate (that’s a good thing, makes muffins lighter and more airy).
7. Scoop into lined or buttered baking tins and top with unsweetened coconut flakes.
8. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
9. Try not to eat them all at once (Note: That’s my head hovering over the muffins below, creating an imposing shadow. Apparently I’ll box out the lighting if it means my face is that much closer to a recently baked good.)

Scones Take Two

After the scone massacre a few days ago I decided to start this next batch with some research. About.com has a nice How To Make Scones guide that can basically be summarized as such: Do not overmix.

If it looks halfassed, you're on the right track.

Seems simple, but when cutting butter into a pile of dry ingredients it can be hard to resist just smashing all of it together until it looks a little more like something you might want to eat. This, I’m sure, was my problem the first time since I’m inclined to mix the shit out of everything that I make like I’m competing on Iron Chef.

As far as the flavor the basic scone recipe calls for currants, which sound entirely too expensive for me to have on hand. So, I took a risk and used some concrete hard raisins from the back of the pantry and a handful of offbrand Vanilla Wafers I had frozen from a previous (failed) cheesecake experiment. I tossed these additions in with the dry ingredients and butter and added the cream/egg mix and only sent the spoon around the bowl three or four times before turning it out on a floured surface. The dough was incredibly sticky and quite unappealing, but rolled out easily with a dusting of flour.

I cut the dough into triangles, because I felt like it, and brushed them with an egg-white /vanilla/cinnamon wash (which I might regret later) before putting them in the oven.

Fresh from the oven.

The scones came out looking like a million bucks after 20 minutes, a little longer than the recipe calls for. The exterior was baked well (an important scone characteristic) and the center was just flaky enough without being too gooey or chewy.

As far as the taste, I would say that they could use a bit more vanilla flavor (the wafers kind of got lost in the jumble, I think) so I might add vanilla to the egg/cream mix next time I make these. The raisins, though, made a comeback that rivals Mel Gibson’s new role as a depressed, puppet toting family man by transforming from tooth chipping dried fruit to the moist centerpiece of this scone. Nicely done, raisins, didn’t know you had it in you.

Basic Scone Recipe (with my additions in italics)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp salt (table salt, not Kosher)
  • 4 Tbsp butter (½ stick)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup dried currants  raisins
  • handful of crushed Vanilla Wafers that you’re trying to get rid of
Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
3. Cut butter into the flour until the mixture resembles crumbs. Do not overmix.
4. In a separate bowl, beat two eggs and stir in the cream. Then stir the egg-cream mixture into the dry ingredients. Do not overmix. 
5. Stir in currants, which no one actually has. Use old cookies (graham crackers might be tasty) and some raisins instead. 
6. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and press it together into a single lump. If it doesn’t hold together yet, add water (you could use milk, too, or more cream) a tablespoon at a time, until it does. Don’t overwork the dough, though. << See what I mean?
7. Roll dough out to a thickness of 1 inch. Cut into rounds with fluted pastry cutter. Or just cut them into triangles, or the shape of Texas, whatever. 
8. Place scones on greased or floured baking sheet.
9.Separate the third egg and beat the egg white adding a splash of vanilla extract and a pinch of cinnamon. Then brush the tops of the scones with the egg white.
10. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden.