Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Monday, April 26, 2021

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins


Our breakfasts are pretty routine and simple, most days are yogurt, fruit and granola, or occasionally oatmeal.  Once in while we have waffles, although lately they seem to be a good dinner option.  And on Sunday's we usually have muffins, alternating though a few standards like banana, pumpkin, or cranberry.  A couple of weeks ago, I decided we needed something different.  Something a bit more decadent.  Since my lemon tree is back to bearing some great (and huge) fruit after a lean year, I thought Lemon Poppy Seed.  

Freakishly Large Lemons

And not the nasty lemon poppy seed muffins that are sticky, overly sweet and pre-wrapped at free hotel breakfasts (if we can remember back to those days), but bright and balanced.  And enough poppy seeds to make passing a drug test a concern.  So I googled recipes .. many were clearly lacking enough lemon and/or poppy seeds, or were more like a cake, needing to cream butter and sugar.   Then I stumbled on one from Sally's Baking Addiction that seemed close.. but it was Orange Lemon (and will someday try it when I have oranges around too).  So I made a few modifications in part to make if more like how I make all my muffins (I do this before coffee, so it needs to be something I can practically do in my sleep).  And it came out good.. very good. 

Wet Ingredients

Yes, the lemons are big


Dry Ingredients

Add dry to the wet

And Muffins!


Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

 

2 cups all-purpose flour (can use about 30% whole wheat if you like)

1/3 cup oat bran

3 Tablespoons poppy seeds

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2/3 cup granulated sugar

½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons lemon zest

3/4 cup buttermilk (or milk/yogurt combo)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Almond slivers, for sprinkling

Coarse sugar, for sprinkling 

Preheat oven to 400°F or 380°F convection bake. Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray. Melt the butter in a small bowl (about 1 minute in the microwave) so it has time to cool. 

 

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.

 

In a large bowl, whisk the egg and granulated sugar, then whisk in melted butter, then lemon juice, lemon zest, milk, and vanilla. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix together until no pockets of flour remain. 

 

Spoon the batter into the muffin pan, filling each about 3/4 of the way full. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and a few almond slivers. Bake for about 22 minutes, muffins should be browned and springy to the touch when done.   




Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Trying new things ... My store is open!

My ceramics store is finally opened, and I have even made a few sales... but there are still many things available.  I am calling it Firecooked Ceramics.  I also have a new Firecooked Ceramics Facebook page, along with my Firecooked Instagram feed. It's been a learning experience, I am using a web platform called Shopify which sets up to take credit cards, manage inventory, and provides a discount on shipping.  And for all my loyal followers (and because I am still trying to figure out what I should charge, here is a discount code for 20% off that is good for the rest of March:  GRANDOPENING )


Now a year in on the pandemic, with hope on the horizon that soon we can all gather and travel and go out to eat, I am making a list of things that have changed for the better ... I'm thinking on-line grocery shopping, the ability to do meetings on Zoom when you need to, and what is better cooked at home. 

One of the things I have added to my cooking repretare is corn tortillas. I love tacos (who doesn't?) but didn't cook them at at home that often.  It's hard to get good corn tortillas at the grocery store, then they would typically sit in the fridge a few days before I used them, at which point they were less good.  Plus I would always have leftover tortillas that I didn't use that would get tossed.  But when you make your own, you can make just as many as you need, and nothing beats a freshly cooked tortilla. Early in the pandemic, when we couldn't get basics like bread and pasta and beans, I discovered not one but two bags of masa harina (corn flour) in my pantry. You see, I have a recipe for empanadas that called for a 1/4 cup of masa .. that I have made twice.  And the second time that I made them, I couldn't find the bag of masa I thought I had (turns out it was buried in the freezer) so that's how I ended up with two bags. And while in March and April last year basic food items were hard to get, I could buy a tortilla press on Amazon and have it in 2 days.  I just followed the recipe on the bag, and got amazing tortilla's.  

Some special equipment is needed... The above mentioned tortilla press, plus some type of a griddle. I use my cooking steel (a large heavy sheet of steel that I usually cook pizza on in the oven), but you could also use any kind of griddle, or a traditional comal, which is a low sided cast iron pan. 


To make the dough, you just mix the masa with a bit a salt and warm water.  You want the dough to be springy, and neither too sticky or too dry. You let the dough sit for an hour or so, then divide and make small balls (how small depends on how big you want your tacos.. I like them on the smaller size, and make 8 tortillas from 1 cup of masa. To get even sized balls, I cut the big ball in half, then each half into quarters. 



For the filling, you can put in anything you like, including fish or chicken but lately I have been doing veggie tacos. I have nice nearby to-go options for meat loaded tacos, so rarely make those. I use either cauliflower or zucchini as the main veg, plus black beans, onion, garlic, and peppers (if I don't have fresh chili's I just use chili flakes or chili powder).  I am going to give you a recipe, but don't worry about following it too closely. 

I get everything ready (including the add-ons), then cook the tortillas, then the filling.  Both are pretty quick. 


The last part of great tacos at home is the add-ons...  I like something crunchy like radishes or shredded cabbage, something creamy like greek yogurt or sour cream, maybe something cheesy .. cotija is great but I usually don't have that, feta or cheddar are my typical go-to's, bonus points for avocado and cilantro.  Plus hot sauce and lime.  


Corn Tortillas

 

Scale to make as many as you like, this makes 8 small (5 inch diameter) tortillas, which feeds 2 of us. Water hot from the tap is warm enough, although rather than wait for the water to heat up I usually just warm the water in the microwave. 

 

1 cup of masa harina

½ teaspoon salt

¾ to 1 cup of hot water

 

In a medium bowl, mix the masa and salt, then slowly add the water as you mix (I usually just use a fork to do this, would opt for a wooden spoon if I was making a bigger batch).  As the dough starts to come together, knead with your hand several times.  If it is too dry and cracks, add a bit more water.  If it is sticky, add a bit more masa.  It should feel a bit springy when you are done.   Roll into a ball (leave in the same bowl), cover and let sit for an hour or so.  Whe ready to make the tortillas, heat up the griddle.  You are aiming for about 450F, a medium high heat that water droplets will “dance” on.  Divide the dough into 8 pieces (can do more or less depending on how big you like your tortillas).  I cut the ball in half, then in quarters to get even sized pieces, then roll each piece into a ball (they are about golf ball sized).   Place a cut open plastic baggie in the tortilla press (I think the weight that works best is the ziplock storage bag thickness).  Put a ball of dough between the sheets of plastic, then press.  Cook tortilla on the hot griddle for 30 seconds to a minute on each side.  Transfer to a plate lined with a towel, keep wrapped in the towel as you finish cooking all the tortillas.  Serve warm. 

Veggie Taco’s

 

This makes about 2+ servings.. Please use this as a guideline and feel free to improvise.  Leftovers are good in a quesadilla, on a baked potato, or in a salad. 

 

Olive or vegetable oil

Cauliflower or zucchini, about 3 cups. Cut in small pieces (about ¼ inch)

Onion, about 1 small, diced

Garlic, a couple of cloves, minced

Bell pepper, about ½, diced (optional)

Hot Peppers, diced (optional, to taste..)

Black beans, about 1 can, drained and rinsed

Cumin, about 1 teaspoon

Chili powder or chili flakes, to taste, ¼ to 1 teaspoon

Salt, pepper

 

Garnish (pick at least 2-3):

Greek yogurt or sour cream

Shredded lettuce or cabbage, maybe mixed with cilantro

Avocado. Radish slices. Cheese. 

Salsa. Hot sauce. Lime wedges

 

Warm corn tortillas (3-4 per person)

 

Heat thin layer of oil in large sauté pan over medium hot flame.  Add cauliflower or zucchini, let sear on one side.  Add the rest of the veggies, let cook a bit, then add bean and spices. Stir well and let beans heat through.  Make tacos with warm tortillas and desired toppings.







Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Firecooked Ceramics and Biscuits for Two..


My latest endeavor has been setting up a website to sell my ceramics!  For the first 30 years or so of doing ceramics, I always said that my pieces fell into two camps: ones that I wouldn't sell, and ones that I couldn't sell.  Over the last few years though, I have been fortunate to have the time to more more on my craft and have had some excellent teachers that have helped elevate my work.  So while I have been making things for a while that I would and could sell, I'm finally taking the leap to actually sell them.  I have decided to go on-line (not that there are many other options in today's environment), and directly sell from a website I am setting up on Shopify.  There have been a bazillion tiny choices to make, a lot of learning to set up a store, lots of photographs; but I am getting close to a launch, hopefully next week.  I will use this blog to announce when my store opens, as well as Instagram (@firecooked) and Facebook (Firecooked Ceramics).  My website is firecooked.com, but it's not live yet. 

Meanwhile, I'm still doing a lot of cooking.  Looking forward to summer when I'm hoping we are able to gather in bigger groups, but for now still just mostly cooking for 2.  And because its winter (although what we call winter here is not the deep freeze that most the country is currently in), we are eating lots of soups and stews that I make in family size batches, and nothing helps elevate a bowl of leftover soup like a couple of fresh biscuits. 


They come together very quickly ... I normally have all the ingredients (and if I don't buttermilk, plain yogurt thinned with just a bit of milk works), and just cook in the toaster oven.  

The butter get squished into the flour like for a piecrust, add your liquid.  


Then pat, fold, pat, the cut into squares. No rolling pin or cookie cutters needed.




Pop them into the toaster oven (which I don't bother to preheat)


And fresh, warm muffins....




Biscuits for Two

1 cup flour (can be ¼ whole wheat if desired)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons cold butter
3/8 cup (scant ½ cup) buttermilk

Oven: 425F  (can use a toaster oven)

Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl.   Cut butter into thin slices and drop individually into flour … toss as you are going so that all the butter slices are coated in flour.  With fingers, squish butter slices in the flour, until no large pieces of butter remain, but mixture still has some pea-sized lumps.   Add buttermilk, first mix together with a fork, then gently with fingers.  Knead a couple of times in the bowl to bring it all together into a ball (add a bit more milk if needed, but the dough should not be sticky.   Place ball on a floured surface.  Flatten a bit and fold over one way, then the other.   Pat the dough into a ½” thick square, and cut into quarters.   Place quarters on a baking sheet (does not need to be greased, parchment paper is optional).  Using your finger, wipe some buttermilk from the measuring cup and moisten the biscuit tops.   Bake for about 12 minutes.   Serve hot.