If this blog could be called anything, it would be a “grand experiment”
Maple Sage Corn Muffins
I’m constantly on the lookout for go-to recipes. The ones that turn out perfectly every time and you eagerly pass them on to friends and family. This recipe for corn muffins is almost there.
Just out of the oven they were soft and moist, but a couple hours later, they were a bit dense and considerably drier. I’m afraid I’ve experienced this issue with almost all cornbread recipes I’ve tried, but my pursuit of a reliable recipe continues. That said, they were fantastic while still warm and are worth a try if you’re looking for a good breakfast muffin or something to accompany your next barbecue.
If you do give this recipe a try, let me know if you made any tweaks to it!
Makes ~12 Standard sized muffins
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup stone ground corn meal
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup butter, melted
10 fresh sage leaves, cut into ribbons
A few notes on these muffins, I was out of yellow corn meal, so what you see in the picture above is blue corn meal. I think the color is lovely and would use it again, but as long as it’s a coarser grind, you could used meal from these guys and it would still turn out all right.
Mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls, but set the butter aside for now! Mix the wet and dry ingredients together first and then gently stir in the butter. I learned this trick the hard way after several baking mishaps. Most recipes for baked goods instruct you to let all of the ingredients come to room temperature first, but I rarely have the foresight for that. Anyone who’s tried it will tell you that mixing hot butter into cold milk etc. will get you lots of little lumpy hard butter pieces in your wet ingredients bowl.
If you add the butter to the batter rather than the wet ingredients, it stays soft and silky and it’s much easier to incorporate.
Again, I have some experimenting to do with this recipe, likely involving a little less flour and baking powder. Still, fresh from the oven, we enjoyed them so much only that a couple made it to the afternoon anyway.
And there are only two of us…
This next recipe was another experiment of sorts, but the only “tweaking” I plan to do is to make a bigger batch.
Seared Lavender Kebabs
At the beginning of the growing season, I went to the hardware store and picked out a bunch of herbs to plant in our garden plot. I’ve always loved the smell of lavender, and it’s really easy to grow outside or a in pot on the windowsill. Lavender buds are prized for their culinary use but what about the stems and leaves?
I searched long and hard for some inspiration, but most of the recipes I turned up were for sweets. Perhaps I was in a contrary mood, but I wanted savory; something to counterbalance all of the simple syrups, cookies, and lemonades. Lavender is a key ingredient in Herbes de Provence, which I use for all sorts of meat preps from chicken to beef.
That’s when it hit me. Sweet, serendipitous, culinary inspiration. More and more often I’m seeing recipes for kebabs using rosemary stalks as skewers. Why couldn’t I do that with lavender instead? Well you absolutely can, and when paired with seasonal fruit and a honey/soy marinade, I must say, it is divine.
What I love most about this dish is the gentle scent of lavender that permeates the sinuses just before you bite into it. The first bite is a tantalizing combination of sweet and savory with lovely lavender notes at the end. I paired this with one of the sage maple muffins above and was in heaven.
Makes 12 kebabs
12 lavender stalks with leaves
2 pounds beef for kebabs (or your cut of choice, divided into 24 pieces)
3 peaches (firmer is better)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup equal parts soy sauce and apple cider vinegar
In a small bowl, combine the honey, soy sauce and apple cider vinegar. Place the meat in a gallon-sized ziploc bag, pour in the marinade, then press out as much air as possible and seal the bag. Marinate overnight or up to 2 days in the fridge. The acid in the vinegar weakens the muscle tissue and increases its ability to retain moisture. This is especially important for tougher cuts of meat such as flank steak, which is often used for stews and kebabs.
When the meat is tenderized and bursting with flavor, it’s time to assemble the kebabs.
If you just snipped some lavender out of your garden, you’ll need to wash the stalks by shaking them up in a large bowl of water. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes to allow the dirt to settle to the bottom, them gently life the stalks out and pat off excess water.
Pluck off any small stems that may be growing off the main stem. The extra bulk will prevent you from easily sliding the meat and fruit on.
The easiest way to prepare the peaches is to start by quartering them.
You’ll then cut them into slices rather than wedges. You’ll want to cut them at least 3/4 inches thick to accommodate the stalk.
Run the meat through with a skewer to make it easier to slide it onto the lavender. Depending on the thickness of your stalk, you may need to make an incision all the way through with a knife to easily slide it on.
After you’ve built the kebabs, drizzle a pan with olive oil and saute them on med-high heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side, adjusting the time slightly to preferred done-ness.
We’ve found a use for almost all of the herbs we plucked from the garden last weekend! See you again on Thursday for the final installment in this herbal trilogy.