Blueberry Fig Muffins


I only cooked one night this weekend for a dinner party to celebrate the visit of my friend Inbal. She moved to Israel last year, but she’s back for the month to visit friends in all corners of New York State and she spent the weekend on the lovely futon in my living room. (Lovely is a bit strong. Creaky and lumpy may be more appropriate adjectives.) I decided to keep things simple by using existing recipes, so we made salsa, salad, and a summer tomato tart. We finished the night with cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar and a tasting of our friend Sean’s amazing home brewed beer, along with a few rounds of Rock Band.

This afternoon was my first time back in the kitchen, and as I assessed the contents of the fridge, I was faced with a wall of questionable leftovers. The three items that held up were the blueberries, figs, and a forgotten lemon (it should have been zested for the tart), so naturally I thought, “Muffins.”

These muffins are a take on the traditional blueberry muffin with pureed fresh fig and a dash of lemon zest. I think they have just the right level of sweetness, but you could get away with cutting down the sugar to 3/4 cup. They’re also a great way to use leftover ingredients if you make the Fig and Goat Cheese Salad I posted last week. Recipe after the jump. Continue Reading →



Chocolate and Sour Cherry Scones


I’ve been on a serious cherry bender for the past few weeks. Mounds of blushing Royal Ann, bright red sour, and purple Bing cherries seem to be around every corner in New York and I can’t resist buying a pint or two whenever I see them. They’re the perfect snack food because they take so much activity to consume that I eat less during my late night kitchen raid. I admit the image of me spitting cherry pits into a cup while watching Conan isn’t the most attractive tableau, but here we are.

Last Saturday morning was no exception during my morning trip to the Greenpoint Farmers’ Market. All of the sweet cherry varieties were $6-7 a pound, however the sour cherries were almost past their peak ripeness and going for just $3.  I decided to grab a few handfuls and try an afternoon baking experiment: scones. Continue Reading →



Quaker Lake Blueberry Cake


Both of my parents grew up going to the Jersey shore every year, but my father’s family spent the majority of their summers in a cottage by Quaker Lake. The small, man-made lake is a 20 minute drive from Binghamton, just over the Pennsylvania border, and it served as the perfect getaway for my grandparents and extended family on my grandmother’s side.

Along with clear water and scenic views, Quaker Lake also had a plentiful blueberry patch nearby. I can only assume a pail of blueberries made it from the patch to the cottage uneaten one day and someone decided to put them to use in the form of a cake. It could have been my grandmother or one of her sister-in-laws, but I’m not sure. I’m also not sure if the recipe was an original creation or was found in a cookbook, but I present the ingredients here as they appeared on the index card in my grandmother’s recipe box (by way of another index card in my mother’s stack of recipes).

What I do know for sure is that this is a great summer cake. You can serve it as a dessert (with my grandmother’s hard sauce on the side…if you dare), or enjoy its muffin-like qualities and have it for breakfast. It’s quick and easy to make as well, but I imagine it had to be with my father and his nine cousins running around outside. Continue Reading →



Ginger Pear Quick Bread

I’ve mentioned my Sunday ritual before on this blog. I wake up early, plan the menu for the week, make a shopping list, and then head to the store once Ramsey wakes up for anything I wasn’t able to grab at the farmers’ market. As budgets become tighter, I’ve also added a quick fridge and cupboard inventory to the the routine, rummaging through the deepest recesses of food storage areas to make sure I know exactly what I still have and what needs to be replenished. This was inspired by what was becoming a wasteful practice of cleaning out the fridge after returning from the store to find all sorts of items that could have been used for dishes the previous week, but I had forgotten they were there.

During my inventory this past Sunday, I found a large chunk of ginger left over from dumpling adventure last week, as well as ample sugar, flour, oil, and spices. I decided to make a Ginger Pear Quick Bread that would only require the purchase of two pears, and would also serve as breakfast for much of the week. Continue Reading →



Extreme Blueberry Muffins

I recently listened to a Radiolab podcast during which Robert Krulwich interviewed Brian Greene, a physics and mathematics professor and director of the Institute of Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics at Columbia University, about his theory that there are an infinite number of universes. He describes the universes as being like the air bubbles in a piece of swiss cheese, however the cheesy space between the infinite number of bubbles is expanding so quickly that it’s impossible to traverse. There’s also a big point about how because there’s a finite number of ways molecules can be arranged, there is an infinite number of universes exactly like ours, therefore exact copies of each and every one of us out there, but I digress.

The swiss cheese in this simile could easily be replaced with a blueberry muffin, as I often feel like the cakey space between the deep purple pockets of blueberries goes on far too long. My answer to this dilemma is a recipe for Extreme Blueberry Muffins: where extreme meets blueberry. It’s a recipe for those who love muffins, but use them as a vehicle for fruit.

This recipe is adapted from one by Alton Brown that uses no butter, but does use yogurt. The result is a very light muffin that has just the right amount of sweetness. I should also note that it’s not the most beautiful muffin, but it tastes great.
Continue Reading →