All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Monday, March 23, 2015

coffeecake muffins with cinnamon topping

10 degrees again, and the snowmelt has refrozen into slick ice as I try to shuffle my way to the car.  The calendar says it's almost April and time to start walking outside, but right now?  Ice skates would be more appropriate.

It's been a long, cold, snowy winter, and my frustration with the weather showed in too many tortilla chips, leading to tighter pants and sweaters.  The diet I started was going well, but yesterday I'd had enough.  Muffins for Sunday breakfast?  Absolutely!

Instead of those buttery lemon poppyseed muffins I usually make, I opted to make light-as-a-feather, spongy, lemony coffeecake muffins again with that crunchy, sugary topping.  I ate two, and hid the rest in the freezer for my next sugar craving.

Coffeecake Muffins

This makes 5 large Texas size muffins.

Preheat oven to 375F.
Grease your muffin tin or use parchment muffin liners.

First, make the topping in your mixer bowl:

1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1/4 cup King Arthur flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt

Mix until you have a crumbly mix. If the sugar mix clumps, just chill briefly in the fridge and mix again briefly.  Scrape into a bowl and set aside.

In the same mixer bowl, mix the dry ingredients:

1 cup King Arthur all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of kosher salt
zest from half a lemon

Then add the wet ingredients:

3/4 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix until smooth, then, using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop, scoop one large scoop into each muffin cup, and sprinkle a heaping tablespoon (or more) of the topping on top.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until muffins are firm to the touch when gently pressed , then set on a cooling rack to cool.  When cool, use a dull knife to carefully remove from muffin tin.

Can you believe it's almost Easter?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Crunchy romaine salad with garlicky buttermilk, goat cheese and fresh dill dressing

I am trying - oh, am I trying!  I joined a dieting group in January, and making every effort to watch what I'm eating.  Today it was sleeting outside, sheets of ice and snow, and every inch of me wanted to slide over to making mashed potatoes, with lots of butter- after all, it's almost St. Patrick's Day, right?  But my commitment to my fellow sufferers held true, so I made this wonderful, fresh and crunchy salad instead.

The recipe is super simple - throw 11 ingredients in a blender, slice up some really fresh romaine, and there you go.

Here's how to make it:

1/2 clove peeled garlic, sliced 
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
4 tablespoons mayonnaise - I used Hellmann's olive oil mayo
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, stems removed
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup fresh buttermilk
2 tablespoons fresh goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons sliced scallions

Puree the above ingredients, pour into a small pitcher.

Scoop handfuls of sliced romaine lettuce into a big salad bowl, sprinkle with a little more goat cheese, then drizzle with the dressing.  I like to serve this with a nice hunk of rosemary bread or a roll, but this time held back, thinking of my fellow dieters.  But honestly, I wouldn't mind cheating today, thanks to Mother Nature's winter weather - yet again!

Monday, March 9, 2015

how Finnish fruit soup saved my winter

At last, at last - the sun is out and the snow is melting - not that we'd notice a few inches less in these drifts and snow corridors carved out from the house to the car, but that bone-chilling cold has lifted today all the way to 45 degrees.  I can't tell you the relief I felt when I suddenly thought winter is on the way out.  Now, I know we'll probably get a few more snowstorms - but the worst of winter, cross fingers, is over.

And I looked down at my almost daily bowl of Finnish Fruit soup and smiled.  Last night I made up a new pot of it, and thankfully wrote down the recipe, which has been slowly modified through this long winter: more spices (including those spicy green cardamom pods, which I split to flavor the fruits), lemon and orange peel, whole cinnamon sticks, a slice of fresh ginger root.

My fruit choices expanded to adding dried currants for the tang, and the usual pitted prunes and dried apricots and raisins.  Sometimes a few slices of fresh apples found their way into the pot as well.

I don't know why I abandoned the oatmeal with apples, but when winter moved in, in a serious way, I switched to fruit soup, using a recipe I got from a Finnish cook and baker on the Cape.  And every time I ate it , I noticed each spice, each fruit, in a different way - and in the process, forgot about the latest blizzard.

The recipe :

1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup dried apricots
2 tablespoons dried raisins
1 tablespoon dried currants
3 dried green cardamom pods, split 
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons thinly sliced lemon and orange peel
a thin slice of fresh ginger root

Add the above to a cooking pot and cover with cold water - just enough to cover.
Bring to a simmer, simmer for 6 minutes.
Turn off the heat and cover the pot for an hour before eating - by then, the spices and the fruits are well infused, and very delicious.  If you prefer a heavier, more syrupy juice, just simmer it a little longer - I prefer the lighter version.

Happy Monday!