Blueberry Cake or Muffins


This is perfect for late spring and summertime when fresh blueberries are plentiful. I love how the fragrant nutmeg complements the fresh fruit. My friend Marcia got this recipe from her mom. Our families used to pick wild blueberries with her in-laws in the New Hampshire countryside.

I changed the recipe a bit, substituting finely ground whole wheat flour, cutting down a bit on the sugar and adding vanilla. The original recipe calls for half-and-half, but I use 1 % milk and still get a tender and delicious muffin.

Makes a 13 × 9 inch cake or about a dozen muffins

Blueberry prep:

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 Tb flour

Cake:

2/3 cup sugar

1 cube (1/2 cup) butter at room temperature

2 large eggs warmed to room temperature

½ cup milk

1½ tsp vanilla

1 cup finely ground whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup pecan or walnut pieces (optional)

Topping:

2 Tb sugar

¼ tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350’

Wash blueberries, and discard overripe ones. Dry in a paper towel. Toss blueberries with 2 Tb flour so that they are lightly coated.

Sift flours, salt and baking powder and stir well to combine.

Beat butter on high speed and add sugar, beating for a few minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until the mixture is light. Scrape the bowl and add 1/4 cup milk, mixing well.

Stir half the flour mixture into the batter only until combined. Add the other 1/4 cup milk and the rest of the flour mixture and slowly stir only until combined.

Fold in the blueberries and nuts.

Put in a buttered 13 × 9 inch pan, or scoop into about 12-14 paper muffin cups. An ice cream scoop makes it easy to portion it.

scooping muffins

Mix 2 Tb sugar with ¼ tsp nutmeg in a cup. Sprinkle about 1/3 to ½ tsp over each muffin, or if making the cake, sprinkle evenly over the cake.

Bake cake for 45 minutes, muffins for 35-40 minutes, until top is light brown.

DSC00999

Eggnog biscuits

Slightly sweet, eggnog flavored biscuits! Good with a cup of coffee for the holiday mornings.

These are based on  but with the addition of eggnog and orange zest for the holidays. Perfect for a holiday breakfast. I freeze the eggnog and cream for 15 minutes before adding. Mix dough as little as possible for  tender biscuits.

Preheat oven to 450′

Makes 15 -20 biscuits depending on the size.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 1/2 Tb baking powder

1/8 tsp salt (I use sea salt)

1/2 cup cold eggnog

1 cup cold heavy cream

finely grated zest of one small orange (about 1 tsp) (zest is the orange part of the peel)

1 Tb cold butter, chopped

3 Tb melted butter, cooled

Chop 1 Tb cold butter and put in the freezer with the cream and the eggnog for 15 minutes. Melt 3 Tb butter in a shallow bowl and let it cool.

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add eggnog, cream, zest, and  chopped cold butter. Slowly stir until the dough is shaggy.

Rub an insulated  cookie sheet with a bit of the melted butter. Grab a piece of dough the size of the biscuit you wish to make. Dip each biscuit into the melted butter and place on the cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

French Toast with Fresh Fruit

This family favorite is a weekend morning treat after a week of eating muesli. Although French toast made with half-and-half is rich and sublime, this lower fat version, made with 1% milk is really good. Spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and piled high with fresh peaches and strawberries with a hint of maple syrup, it makes a satisfying breakfast.

Serves 3:

3 large eggs
¼ cup 1% milk
1 tsp cinnamon
Several shakes of nutmeg
8 slices of raisin bread
About 1 tsp butter
1 large peach
6 large strawberries
3 Tb maple syrup

 

Whip eggs with milk, cinnamon and nutmeg. Heat a nonstick frying pan and move butter stick across it until it is coated with butter (about 1 tsp). Dip slices of raisin bread into the egg mixture so it begins to saturate the bread but not make it soggy. Place bread in the pan and fry over medium heat a few minutes until it turns light brown, then flip and fry again.

Serve with fresh cut peaches, strawberries or what’s in season. You can heat frozen fruit and serve as well. I like to spread the fruit on a plate and pour about 3 Tb of maple syrup over the fruit, then microwave for a minute. No need to add extra syrup to the French toast.

Cheese Soufflé

I make this for Easter brunch and serve it with bunny biscuits (Light as a feather cream biscuits cut into bunny shapes with a cookie cutter).

My mom used to make this soufflé for dinner back in the day. I added some suggestions I found in my favorite cookbook, Joy of cooking

The key to this dish is timing. The soufflé must be served immediately or it will fall. Bake the bunny biscuits ahead of the soufflé, (wrap them in a dishtowel to keep warm), raise the temperature to 475′. then pop the soufflé into the oven so it will be ready to serve when the guests sit down.

Don’t pour the soufflé more than 1 inch from the top of the pan, or it will not cook thoroughly and spill over the top (I can tell you from experience!)

Serves 6

Nonstick spray

6 Tb butter

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese

1 large shallot

10 crimini mushrooms, well

6 Tb flour

¼  teaspoon salt

grind of black pepper

one shake of cayenne

1 shake of nutmeg

1 ½  cups milk (I use 1% to make up for all that butter!)

6 large eggs

a few shakes paprika

Preheat oven to 475’

Spray a round 8” by 3” straight-sided casserole dish (2.5 liters or 10 cups) with non-stick spray.

Grate cheddar and Parmesan cheese and set aside.

Mince a large shallot to make 2 Tb. Cut off stem ends of mushrooms and cut into quarters.

Heat 1 Tb butter in a heavy pan and cook shallots and mushrooms over medium heat until softened.

Make Béchamel (bay-shah-MEHL) sauce: Melt 5 Tb butter in a medium pot. Whisk in flour and salt, cayenne, nutmeg, and black pepper. Add milk and whisk well until thickened. Stir in cheese. Let cool.

While Béchamel sauce is cooling, separate eggs, pouring whites into a mixer bowl.  Whip egg whites until stiff glossy peaks form.

Whisk egg yolks well, then slowly whisk into the cooled Béchamel sauce. Pour soufflé base into a large bowl.

Stir a couple of tablespoons of the beaten egg whites into the soufflé base to lighten it. Then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites by dividing the soufflé in half with a large serving spoon or plastic spatula, and folding one half over the other, repeating several times until the whites are incorporated.

Pour into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with a bit of paprika.

Run your thumb along the top inside of the casserole dish, making a 1” groove into the soufflé . This will help the soufflé to rise evenly.

Place on a baking sheet in the lower third of the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 475’. Lower heat to 400’ and bake for 20 more minutes. The soufflé should rise 3- 4” above the top of the casserole and have a golden crust. It should feel firm with only a slightly wobbly middle. Serve immediately.

What to do with all those eggshells? Dye them and stuff them with confetti, then glue pieces of colored streamers or tissue paper over the broken tops . You now have cascarones! When they’re dry on Easter afternoon, crush the eggshell over your loved one’s head and they will have confetti in their hair. But watch out, they may get you back!