All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Monday, March 31, 2014

lemon poppyseed muffins & March pandemonium

The last day of what-a-March!  The grandchildren and my daughter-in-law are on their way to new lives in Minnesota (my daughter has to stay in NH a little longer for business), my son and his long time girlfriend got married , are expecting a baby, and bought a new house.  Zip, zip, zip.  Everything has happened so FAST.  I'm going to miss those children so much, but they assure me I can learn to Skype and maybe get a little glimpse of them growing up.

I've tried not to make these lemon poppyseed muffins because of the winter chubbiness I'm sporting under that coat, but I know it's there.  But first visit from the newly married couple called for them, and I remembered my son loving them as a boy.  

Perfect choice, and Rachel loved them.

I woke up to a sleet storm this morning, and made another batch - most to give away, but two for me.  I nibbled the sticky golden edges and wondered what on earth April will bring...

Happy end of March and on to Spring!  I actually saw my daylilies popping up next to the house, such a welcome glimpse of green!

Lemon Poppyseed muffins

Makes 10 or 12 Texas size muffins.

Preheat oven to 340F.
Grease two Texas size muffin tins (each tin makes 6)

zest of two large lemons
6 tablespoons poppyseeds
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
6 tablespoons milk
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened, room temperature

Grate the lemon zest into the mixer bowl and add the poppyseeds.  Stir in the flour, sugar, and baking powder.  With mixer on low, add the eggs, vanilla, and milk.  With mixture still on low, add the butter, a little at a time.

Mix until the batter is creamy, with no flecks of any cold bits of butter.

Using a standard ice cream scoop, scoop batter into muffin tins, two scoops per muffin cup. Place the muffin tins in upper third of the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes - the muffins should be fairly firm to the touch if you press the tops gently - and a lovely golden brown.  While the muffins are baking, make the glaze:

Lemon glaze

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
a pastry brush for brushing on muffins

Warm in a small saucepan until sugar is dissolved.  Simmer a few minutes, then remove to cool down.  

When muffins are done, remove from oven and brush each top with a little glaze.  Let the muffins cool and remove from tins to a cooling rack set inside a baking sheet - the glaze is sticky!  Brush each muffin mostly on the tops a few times, but also on the top edges.  


Monday, March 24, 2014

roasted chicken thighs with lemon and thyme and wishing for Spring

As I sit and wait for winter to end (hmmm, good luck with that!), I've found myself browsing blogs and Pinterest, which is where I found this delicious pan roasted chicken from Damn Delicious.  I made it last night and it couldn't be easier, though next time I would use half the chicken stock (which is intensely lemony) and twice the thyme.  I also transferred the seared chicken to a sunny yellow casserole dish, just because it was so pretty, but you can make it as she did - in an oven proof skillet.   Ohhh, this was SO good!  And you can find the recipe here.

The sugar snap peas I planted on March 11th are growing by leaps and bounds against the kitchen window  - just seeing something growing makes my gardener's heart happy.

The snow outside is still there - 3 feet of icy, rock-hard drifts that make hiking or walking impossible.  What a winter!  But it IS March, and that snow is going to have to melt sometime, right?  Wishing you all happy springtime thoughts!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

triple chocolate chip cookies

Whenever I visit family, I almost always whip up a little something special, and that was especially true of parental visits.  My father, stepmother, and mother were not bakers, but they ALL had a sweet tooth - and they all liked chocolate.  While I can take one bite of a Reine de Saba and leave the rest,  I would guess it would last a day or two at the most, especially with my stepmother.

When she tasted the first cookie,  her eyes got very big as she looked at me, and then she said, "My god, you could start a business with these!", and then proceeded to eat four more.  And these are BIG cookies, averaging out at 4 inches each.

I never did start a business with them, though I made plenty of muffins for years for a local store - these cookies are less sturdy, and the ingredients can be expensive.  But I always remember her remark, every time I make them.

Today I halved the recipe, but forgot to write down the measurements, so I'll leave that to you to figure out.  If you don't have a drawer full of measuring cups, just fill your one cup measure to , say,  3/4ths, then measure out the amount in tablespoons, then halve it to get half the amount called for.  I thought that was pretty clever for 6 o'clock in the morning:)

Triple Chocolate Chip cookies

This makes about 18 large cookies.
Preheat oven to 325F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or clean foil.

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2 and 3/4ths cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk chocolate chips (I used Toll House)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Toll House)

Cream butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs in mixer bowl .  Add the flour, cocoa, and baking soda and mix until smooth, then briefly mix in the chocolate chips.

Use a regular sized ice cream scoop (I use a spring-loaded one) place scoops of dough evenly spaced, 6 to a baking sheet.  The dough should be quite firm, and it was because the flour was cool and so was the kitchen.  If you make this during really hot weather, you can chill the dough briefly in the fridge to firm it up a little.  

Bake for 15 minutes, remove baking sheet to cool another 15 minutes before using a spatula to remove cookies to a cooling rack.  When they are warm, they are a little fragile.  

The sun is out and the snow is melting , a little, anyway -  enough to finally see the top of my birdbath emerge from a snowdrift.  Spring!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

lemon cake puddings with chopped pistachios

Snow again, but this time a pretty, not-too-serious snowfall, with huge snowflakes covering the icy driveway.  If you don't have cleats on your boots, you end up doing the Old Lady shuffle down the path to the driveway and finally, the car.  Better that than the people I see walking around with casts and braces on their arms and legs.

This is the kind of weather that makes me hungry for creamy pastries - eclairs and cream puffs, Napoleons and Boston Cream pie.  But with a firm eye on the calendar , it won't be long before we shed our winter layers - our wool coats, parkas, hats, and puffy vests that hide the winter inches.  So no, no cream puffs.

I decided instead on these airy, lemony puddings that magically transform in the oven into two layers:  the bottom a creamy sauce, and the upper layer more like a souffle.  And rather than use my vaguely remembered recipe from my mother, I used a recipe I found here.

Lemon Cake puddings

This recipe makes 5 standard servings, using various mousse cups.

Preheat oven to 350F.

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 medium lemons
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar, divided into 1/2 and 1/4 cups
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Butter 5 standard pudding or mousse cups and set aside.

Grate the lemons and measure out one tablespoon rind.
Juice the lemons and measure out 1/3 cup lemon juice.  Set aside.
Beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form, then continue to beat on low, adding 1/2 cup of sugar a tablespoon at a time .  Continue to beat until stiff peaks form, then transfer to another bowl and set aside.

In the same mixer bowl (no need to wash) beat the egg yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and mix. Add the lemon zest, the lemon juice, the milk, flour, and melted butter and mix carefully, then add the egg white mixture.   Use a rubber spatula to fold the mixture - there may be a few bumps of egg white, but that's fine.

Pour or spoon the mixture into the prepared cups and place the cups in a baking or cake pan filled halfway up with boiling water.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the tops are slightly golden.  Remove from oven and, using an oven mitt, transfer cups to the counter to cool.

While they're cooling, shell and chop a handful of pistachios and sprinkle over the puddings before serving.

Just remember -  four more days til Daylight Savings time!