Poppyseed Plum Muffins

Plum Poppyseed Muffin
So, this sudden increase of muffin recipes on my blog is due to the alarming realization I had the other day when I searched for muffin recipes on my blog, and I realized I only had a handful here. This is so strange, because I make muffins all the time. Like, once or twice a week. Where have I been putting all these recipes? I’m not sure, but I’m going back and cataloguing them all, so that in the future when I search for my favorite muffins, they will all be here.

This is a recipe I worked long and hard at getting right for high altitude. I loved the idea of a plum muffin, but the original recipe (from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook), had great flavor and a disastrous texture. In fact, the muffins just blew across the top of the pan, as only muffins baked at high altitude do. So, I worked long and hard to get it right. Feel free, of course, to look up and use the original recipe, as this recipe is quite a bit changed. But if you do seek out the original, I still highly recommend 1/4 c. more sugar and some almond extract. It really makes them, well, a favorite here.

Poppyseed Plum Muffins

6 T. (3 ounces or 85 grams) unsalted butter, melted (and browned, if you have inclination)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 c. (50 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 c. (180 grams) rich, full-fat plain yogurt or sour cream
1/2 c. (60 grams) whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 c. (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1 3/4 t. baking powder (2 t. if not at high altitude)
1/4 t. table salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 t. almond extract
2 T. (20 grams) poppy seeds
2 c. pitted and diced plums, from about 3/4 pound (340 grams) Italian prune plums (though any plum variety will do)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Butter twelve muffin cups or line with cupcake liners.

Whisk the egg with the sugar in the bottom of a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter, then the sour cream (yogurt), and almond extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and poppy seeds, and then stir them into the sour cream mixture until it is just combined and still a bit lumpy. Fold in the plums.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Rest muffins in the pan on a cooling rack for 2 minutes, then remove them from the tin to cool them completely.

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A Great Grown-up Cookie

Whole Wheat Cookies with Currants
This healthy little cookie is such a nice package: nuts, cocoa nibs, and currants (think, sweet like a raisin but not nearly as big, so not quite so much chew). I loved that it works so well with whole wheat. It’s just such a nice afternoon snack, both for me and the kids. Definitely one you could have on hand all the time, especially because it keeps well in an airtight container for up to two weeks. You could also swap out the nuts and fruits for other favorites, but Alice Medrich imagined it well how it is. This recipe comes from her book , which I love.

Whole Wheat Hazelnut Cookies with Currants and Cacao Nibs

1 c. (5 oz.) whole hazelnuts
1 c. (4 oz.) white-whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur)
1 c. (4.5 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 sticks (14 T.) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar plus 1 T.
3/8 t. coarse or fleur de sel salt
1 1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
1/4 c. roasted cacao nibs
2/3 (scant) c. currants

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until they smell toasty and are golden brown in the middle when you cut one in half. Once cool enough to touch, rub the nuts together to remove as much of their skins as possible (using a towel, if you want). Chop the nuts medium to small.

Combine the flours in a medium bowl and mix with a fork. With a mixer or a strong wooden spoon, beat the butter with the sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth but not fluffy. Mix in the nibs and nuts. Add the flours and mix until just incorporated. Finally, mix in the currants. Scrape the dough into a mass and knead it with your hands a few times to make sure the flour’s incorporated evenly. Form the dough into a 12 x 2-inch log. Wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough log into slices 1/4-inch thick. Place cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on lined or greased cookie sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the cookies are light golden brown at the edges. Rotate cookie sheets halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.

Whole Wheat by Lucy

This is the picture my daughter Lucie drew for the cookie. Love it!

Allow cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes before moving them onto a wire rack where they should cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Healthy & Happy Pancakes

I was pleasantly surprised at the amazing reception these pancakes have had at my house. Usually my kids can sniff out “healthy” food before they try it, and the idea of something being good for them is so completely revolting, that they then won’t eat a bite. Luckily, these pancakes have a very normal appearance, and my kids reported that they LOVED them. I was so glad. We have had them four times in the last two weeks! I’ve intentionally doubled the recipe, and then refrigerated the leftover batter, because they are just as delicious cooked up the next day. This recipe comes from The Frog Commissary Cookbook

Healthy & Happy Pancakes

1/2 c. shredded, sweetened coconut (you can pulse this as well, for a finer texture)
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. old fashioned oats (I’ve blended these for a few seconds and left them whole–depends what type of texture you want!)
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 T. corn oil
2 c. milk
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
3/4 c. sunflower seeds or chopped pecans (optional–my kids didn’t love these, so I left them out)

Whisk together the coconut, wheat flour, oats, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the milk, egg, vanilla, and oil. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and add the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined, and cook on a hot griddle (375 degrees) until browned on both sides.

Serving suggestions: Honey butter (terrific! We love just the honey butter with these), sauteed peaches or apples, or maple syrup.

Honeyed Rosemary Goat Cheese + Whole Grain Crackers

In Lisbon this summer, we had this divine appetizer: bubbling goat cheese straight from the oven, with honey poured over the top and rosemary sprinkled over the honey. So divine. Since I’ve been home, it’s my new favorite appetizer. I’ve also found a cracker that I really like to make (yes, I have tried a few, and they are usually disappointing). The pairing of the cheese and these crackers is quite nice, but the cheese is by far the star. Great for holiday entertaining. I got the cracker recipe from Sally Pasley Vargas’ blog, and her pictures are gorgeous.

Honeyed Rosemary Goat Cheese

1 8 oz. log good-quality goat cheese
1/4 c. honey (this is really to taste, you might prefer more if placing under the broiler)
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed from stem and chopped

You can make this appetizer two ways. 1) Place the goat cheese in an oven proof dish, pour the honey and top, and place 4″ away from the broiler for about five minutes (make sure your dish can handle the heat!). Remove from oven and sprinkle with rosemary and serve immediately.

Or, 2) you can heat the goat cheese (on the stove or microwave) until soft and melted, then stir in the honey and rosemary and serve more like a dip (this seemed like a better way for a larger group–the former seems better for small dinner parties).

Whole Grain Buttermilk Crackers

1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. brown  rice flour, plus more for rolling (I grind this in my blender)
1 1/2 T. cane sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/3 c. olive oil, plus more for brushing on the dough
1 c. buttermilk
6 T. seeds such as poppy seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, celery seeds, etc.
Sea salt
1. Whisk the 3  flours, sugar, baking powder, and kosher salt in a bowl until combined. Make a well in the center and add the olive oil and buttermilk. Stir, gradually incorporating the flour into the olive oil mixture, until it forms a dough. It should be soft but not too sticky. Add additional buttermilk if it is dry.
2. Turn the dough out onto the countertop. Knead for about 20 seconds, until it is well mixed. Shape into a flat rectangle and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or as long as overnight.
3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 half sheet pans (approx 18 X 13 inches) with parchment.
4. Divide the dough into thirds. Lightly flour the counter top with brown rice flour, and flour a rolling pin. Roll one piece of dough into a large sheet that is the same size as the sheet pan and approximately 1/16-inch thick (about the thickness of a quarter.) If necessary, lift the dough and sprinkle a sparing amount of flour underneath it to keep it from sticking. If the shape isn’t working, place the flat of your hands on top of the dough to stretch it into a rectangular shape. Transfer it to the paper. Slip both hands under the paper and lift it onto the baking sheet.
5. Brush the dough with about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of the seeds and a little flaky salt. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top, and roll over the seeds with a rolling pin to embed them into the dough.  Peel off the plastic.
6. With a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into thirds the long way.  Rotate the baking sheet and cut into 4 equal pieces crossways to make 12 crackers.   Trim the uneven outside edges with the pizza cutter. Leave the edges on the baking sheet for tasting. (You can cut the crackers any size you want; this cut will make large squares.) Repeat with remaining dough.
7. Bake for 18 to 23 minutes, or until the crackers are golden brown and crisp all the way through. Let cool on the pan and store in an airtight tin.
Makes 3 dozen thin crackers