I rarely forget about food, but I do forget about foods. I'm prone to obsess over particular ingredients, using them with reckless abandon, and eventually halted only by Kevin's refusal to eat dinner (e.g., "a man can only eat so much cardamom?"...Kevin, December 2008). Then I ditch my darling (the ingredient, not Kevin) and move along to my next favorite thing.
So as I thumbed through magazines at the doctor's office this morning (I was afforded a delightful two-hour wait to catch up on the past three years of Redbook and Ladies Home & Garden), I was reminded of one of my favorites: jicama.
My mom introduced me to jicama as a child, adding it to cut up carrots and celery as a crisp snack. I loved the starchy-sweet flavor, elevated by mom's simple additions of Meyer lemon juice (from our backyard tree) and a sprinkle of salt (I need to remind her of her cutting-edge, Co-op ways). And I ate it often in grad school as it worked so well in salads yet had the budget-wise, grad-student highlights of cheapness and refrigerator longevity.
Cutting to the chase, I picked up some jicama on the way home from my appointment, as well as some kiwi that were on sale for 4/$1 (my inner grad student lives on!), and made a fresh salad. I hadn't planned on posting about his, but it looked so pretty, I had to take a picture and share. And in case you are still looking for ways to use up your summer basil crop, my lemon-basil vinaigrette is wicked delicious!
Jicama-Kiwi Salad with Fresh Basil Lemon Vinaigrette
Makes 1 generous serving (but you can double or triple)
2-1/2 cups assorted greens (e.g., spinach, arugula, mache), washed and spun dry
1 kiwifruit, peeled and halved lengthwise, then sliced into half moons
1/2 cup peeled, thinly sliced jicama (sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning)
2-3 tbsp broken walnut halves, toasted
Fresh Basil-Lemon Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Toss the greens, kiwifruit, and jicama in a shallow soup bowl. Drizzle with 1-2 tbsp of the vinigrette to coat and sprinkle with walnuts. Serve at once.
Fresh Basil-Lemon Vinaigrette
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt & freshly cracked black pepper
Combine the basil, garlic and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the oil and lemon juice and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 1/2 cup. (this will keep in the refrigerator, stored in a tightly-lidded jar, for about 5 days).
I like to consider myself a reasonable person in most matters, but I am a bonafide snob when it comes to scones. I blame it all on my mother. She made scones--namely buttery, currant scones, from the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery--on a regular basis, whipping them up in minutes (sans food processor or even pastry cutter), and then presenting them at table, snug in a linen-lined basket. The scones were typically paired with an assortment of jams, as well as pointed opinions regarding what a proper scone should be: (1) made in a home kitchen; (2) served warm (preferably fresh out of the oven); (3) light, not leaden. In other words, everything a store-bought, or even bakery-made scone, can never be.
I think I've already passed along my scone-snootiness to Nick: I purchased a mini vanilla scone for him at Starbucks last week (per his request as a post-haircut treat) and he promptly declared it "yucky" (although he did lick and nibble off all of the icing). Fortunately for both of us, we have Kevin, who considers this kind of selectivity utterly ridiculous (unless, of course, one is talking about steak or pale ale).
And Kevin does love my scones, so I was happy to make a batch (pre-church) this past Sunday morning. I had plenty of time, which clashed with my deep-seated need to get dressed and ready for church at the very last minute. I have about 20 favorite scone recipes (really; cue the eye-rolling from Kevin), but settled on one that uses a combination of olive oil and butter, because (a) it's yummy; and (b) I was low on butter and eggs.
I swapped half of the a-p flour for white whole wheat flour, added the zest from the lone orange in the fruit basket, and opted for a handful of dried cherries (the last of the dried fruit) from the pantry.
Together with coffee, the newly and gloriously cool weather, & the company of Nick & Kevin, it was a pretty perfect morning. Add to that, Nick did (some) of the dishes--his new passion in life, he thinks it's one big water table--while I threw on some clothes and make-up. Enjoy!
Mom's right, scones are best eaten shortly after baking, but these are still darn good re-warmed (and, much as I may like to eat 3 or 4 scones in one sitting, 1 is typically plenty). Let them cool completely, then tightly wrap in plastic wrap, or seal in a plastic zipper-top bag. Re-warm them in the oven or toaster oven (not the microwave oven--no scone deserves such a fate)
1 cup whole wheat flour (preferably white whole wheat, but regular is fine, too)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
3/4 cup dried cherries (or any dried fruit you like or have on hand)
Optional: 1-2 tbsp Turbinado sugar
Cut the circle into 8 wedges with a knife or pastry cutter and separate them on the sheet so that they are at least an inch apart. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden. Serve warm. Wrap well and refrigerate or freeze any extras. Makes 8 scones.
Vegan Whole Wheat-Dried Cherry Scones: Prepare as directed, but use vegan margarine in place of the butter and a 6-oz container of soy vanilla yogurt in place of the buttermilk.
Great news! As I mentioned last week, I have a fabulous giveaway courtesy of O & Co!
One lucky winner will get a sampling of their top-selling products:
White Truffle Olive Oil, Basil Olive Oil, Lemon Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, and Tomato Powder!
Here's what you need to do to enter:
(1) "Like" Enlightened Cooking on Facebook (if you have not already done so): Click Here
(2) "Like" O & Co on Facebook: Click Here
(3) Leave a brief comment for this post telling me your favorite way to use good extra-virgin olive oil or balsamic vinegar.
(4) Enter (like and post comment)between now and next Monday, October 4th, 11:59 PM PST.
Nickerdoodle is home today with an earache and mild fever, so we've spent most of the day shuttling to the doctor and pharmacy and grocery store. But now we're home to stay, and savoring trains, trucks and Curious George.
The cake came out perfectly, if I do say so myself. And much to my surprise, Nick loved it too! I thought he would object to the lavender, but he proclaimed it "sooooo delicious, Mommy."
I hope you love it, too--it's a breeze to make and bake!
One-Bowl Olive Oil Pound Cake with Lemon & Lavender
Makes 12 servings
Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C)
9x5-in metal loaf pan, sprayed with nonstick baking spray with flour
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tsp dried lavender flowers
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or O & Co Lemon Olive Oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Lemon-Honey Icing (see below)
1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, lavender, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2. Add the butter, olive oil, eggs, sour cream, and lemon zest to bowl with flour mixture. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat 1 minute until blended. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with spatula. Beat on high speed 2 minutes longer.
3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
4. Bake in center of preheated oven for 1 hour and 45 to 50 minutes or until a piece of uncooked spaghetti inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert cake onto rack to cool completely. Drizzle Lemon-Honey Icing over top of cooled cake.
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and stir until smooth. Set the bowl aside.
That makes it particularly fun and satisfying to review those products that make the cut. Such is the case with Oliviers & Company. They sent me a sampling of their top products to review, and all are nothing short of stellar.
I should disclose that I am something of an olive oil fiend: I love using it in everything from salads to stews to cakes, and everything in between. O & Co included three superstar oils for me to try: Lemon Olive Oil, Basil Olive Oil, and White Truffle Olive Oil. To share in the fun of sampling, I invited a few friends over to share the bounty: Eralda, Bryan and their son (and Nick's buddy) Jack, and John, Christine, and 2-year-old Audrey (jack & Nick are battling over who will marry Audrey.) It was a hot, slow Saturday here in Texas, so it didn't take much arm-twisting to convince everyone to come over.
I kept the menu simple: chicken & chorizo paella, arugula, goat cheese & date salad, homemade flat bread for sampling the olive oils, and cinnamon flan for dessert. And Kevin made a phenomenal sangria sweetened with some of the pomegranate fruity syrup O & Co included in the gift basket (too yummy!)
We tried all three olive oils, as well as a combination of the basil olive oil with O & Co's tomato powder. I think we all anticipated that the white truffle olive oil would win hands down. The bottle alone is swoon-worthy:
But, as much as everyone loved it, it was the basil olive oil that bowled us over. If you can imagine the flavor of a fresh basil leaf coated in the finest olive oil, then you have an idea of how bright and intense it's flavor. Loved it with the tomato powder, too--next time we'll dip small cubes of fresh mozzarella in it. Cannot wait.
The lemon was a close tie for for second alongside the truffle oil--utterly fabulous with the rosemary flatbread I had made earlier. Here's Kevin and Bryan going in for a simultaneous dip (as Eralda suppresses a giggle with a mouth-ful of bread and white truffle oil):
John was heading in for a dip as well, but retracted, saying he did want his hairy arm in the shot. Put that arm back in there, John!
The olive oils further adorned the rest of the meal, including a drizzle of the white truffle olive oil over each serving of the finished paella (will I be able to eat paella without it ever again?)
Apologies for the bad lighting--it was inside, 8 at night, and everyone was ready to dig in, especially Kevin, who was giving me his "really? another photo?" look.
I used the lemon olive oil and a splash of sherry vinegar to coat the arugula leaves, goat cheese, and dates. This is one of my favorite salads: so easy, so scrumptious, and the hint of lemon elevated it further:
Now it's your turn to share in the bliss of these gorgeous products. Stay tuned: next week, it's an Oliviers & Company giveaway you will not want to miss! Happy eating until then!
Once I accepted my publisher's offer to write my new comprehensive muffin book, I was determined to offer a slew of modern options. I am exceptionally fortunate that he went along whole-heartedly. One of my favorite chapters (it's like choosing a favorite child--i love them all, for different reasons) is the Vegan Muffins (egg-free & dairy-free) chapter, which features 88 new, original recipes.
If you're new to vegan baking, fear not: the process is every bit as easy as egg & dairy baking. Milk is replaced with non-dairy milk, eggs are replaced with soy yogurt, applesauce, mock "buttermilk" (same as making quick, homemade lemon buttermilk: mix non-dairy milk with a bit of citrus juice or vinegar, and let stand a few minutes to curdle), or "flax" eggs. I know, I know, flax eggs may sound dubious, but it couldn't be simpler: ground flaxseeds are mixed in a blender until frothy. That's it. The mixture has a viscosity similar to eggs, plus you get all of the extra benefits of flax, such as omega-3 fatty acids.
A friend bequeathed a bundle of rhubarb from her garden, so my choice of vegan muffin to share was made for me. The tart flavor of rhubarb is a nostalgic flavor favorite. My mother--gardener extraordinaire--planted rhubarb every summer. By late August and early September, Mom baked it into pies and breads, or most, often, stewed (similar to applesauce), and topped with a dollop of yogurt or vanilla ice cream.
I am certain you will love these muffins, regardless of your vegan, egg, or dairy proclivities. Batter up!
Vegan Rhubarb Muffins
For sophisticated comfort, these tart-sweet, cardamom- and orange-scented muffins are hard to beat. They are equally at home with afternoon tea or a morning cup of java.
Makes 12 muffins
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
12-cup muffin tin, greased
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chopped rhubarb
3 tbsp turbinado sugar
1. In a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom and salt.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together orange zest, orange juice, applesauce, agave nectar, oil and vanilla until well blended.
3. Add the orange juice mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Gently fold in rhubarb.
4. Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 21 to 26 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to the rack to cool.
© Camilla Saulsbury, 750 Best Muffin Recipes. All Rights Reserved.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that my new book, 750 Best Muffin Recipes, was coming out. It was originally slated for an August 1st release, but kept getting pushed back: August 31st, then September 7th, then September 14th. I found out last week from my publisher that there was a problem with the printer, but it looks like all is on schedule now, so it should be out September 24th--yay! I'll definitely do some giveaways once I have copies in my hand, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, I'm going to share some recipes from each chapter. One of my favorite chapters is my "superfood" chapter, which contains uber-healthy muffins that feature an array of nutrient-packed superfoods. Here's a timely one for any jumbo zucchini emerging from your garden and/or the arms of neighbors and friends. They are super-moist from the zucchini, and have a wonderfully nutty flavor from the whole wheat.
Natural bran can be tricky to find sometimes. It will typically be shelved in either the baking aisle, cereal aisle, or health food section of the supermarket. If you cannot find it, you can use an equal amount of wheat germ or oat bran, or you can pulverize some All-bran cereal (in the food processor, or cave-woman method of placing in a ziplock bag--seal it!---and banging with a rolling pin).
Whole Wheat Zucchini Pecan Muffins
For maximum health benefits, don’t peel your zucchini before shredding. Zucchini provides large amounts of folate and potassium, and the dark -green peel contains the nutrient beta -carotene. It also adds pretty specks of emerald throughout the muffins.
Makes 12 muffins
Preheat oven to 375°F (180°C)
12-cup muffin tin, greased
1-1/3 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup natural bran
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup low-fat (1%) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1. In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, bran, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and cloves.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, oil, milk and vanilla until well blended and slightly frothy . Stir in zucchini.
3. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Gently fold in pecans.
4. Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to the rack to cool.