Corn Muffins

Friends, I have some very important, exciting news: today is my one year blogiversary! A year ago today, I set out to learn more about cooking, writing, and photography. On a beautiful, crisp September day, I posted my very first recipe—Caramel Apple Crisp—and Galley Kitchen was born.

I started with a very simple recipe that was not my own. In the following months, I grew more and more adventurous with ingredients and techniques, and I found that blogging was really changing the way I cook.

Thanks to Galley Kitchen, I conquered my fear of pie crust, addressed my perfectionism, made candies with Cap’n Crunch, entered a baking competition, learned to splurge on myself, and baked an apple pie with bacon on it.

I’ve had a perfectly lovely year sharing my successes and failures, and stories from my kitchen and my life.

My goals for the coming year include learning to cook fabulous dinners on an unemployed lady’s budget; learning to take decent photos after the sun has set; and learning some new adverbs. Someday I’d like to have the money to hire a designer to create a pretty, custom header for the top of my little blog, rather than the boring old WordPress default header. In the meantime, the food photos will have to suffice for decor.

For my blogiversary post, I’m sharing a recipe adaptation from my all-time favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen, with thanks to the blogstress, Deb Perelman, for inspiring me to begin writing about food. Deb’s corny corn muffins are light and crumbly, and bejeweled with sweet, chewy bits of corn. The muffins are a perfect accompaniment to the rainbow chard chili I posted last week.

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Blue Umbrella Bake Sale!

Blue Umbrella Productions is hosting an ongoing bake sale to help raise money for our summer musical, Those Were the Days: A Tribute to Television Themes. I’ll be taking and fulfilling orders Girl-Scout style, plus filling any special requests (like scones for Mother’s Day!) until rehearsals begin in June.

I’ve got a menu of both sweet and savory treats to choose from posted below. Email info@blueumbrellaproductions.com to place an order for pick up or delivery. (Twin Cities only. $10 minimum on orders outside of the Banks Building.)

Menu

Popcorn with Truffle Salt
Fresh, fluffy popcorn is tossed with aromatic, savory truffle salt for a luxurious movie-night upgrade.

3 cups: $1.75
6 cups: $3

Lemon Meltaways
These bite-size, buttery lemon shortbread cookies will melt in your mouth.

Half dozen for $2.75
Dozen for $5

Coconut Macaroons
Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, light as a cloud, with coconutty goodness all the way through.

Half dozen for $4.25
Dozen for $8

Snickerdoodles with Cinnamon Chips
Classic snickerdoodles (sugar cookies rolled in cinnamon sugar) get an extra boost of flavor with creamy cinnamon chips.

Half dozen for $5.50
Dozen for $10

Homemade “Oreos”
They’re bigger, they’re better, and they’re baked fresh with no mystery ingredients.

Half dozen for $8
Dozen for $15

Oatmeal Cream Pies
A grown-up version of the classic treat – the cookies are rich and spiced, and the creamy filling is not overly sweet.

Half dozen for $8
Dozen for $15

Mini Strawberry Hand Pies
Light, flaky butter crust filled with sweet strawberry jam.

Half dozen for $8
Dozen for $15

Sweet and Spicy Candied Nuts
Crunchy almonds and pecans baked in a party-perfect blend of cinnamon, sugar, and a pinch of cayenne.

4 oz. for $4
8 oz. for $7.50
12 oz. for $11
1 lb. for $14.50

Duck Fat Home Fries

If I weren’t way behind on posting, you’d have had this recipe months ago. I made these delightful potatoes for my Mom’s birthday dinner (her birthday is in November, y’all), and I feel just terrible that I’ve kept the (ridiculously simple) recipe from you for so long.

Duck Fat Home Fries

I like to par-bake the potatoes whole in the oven, then cut them up and pan-fry them quickly in duck fat. This keeps them light and fluffy on the inside, and crispy golden on the outside. A quick toss with chopped parsley brings a perfect bite of freshness.

Potatoes cooking

Better late than never!

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cranberry orange scones

Let’s see a show of hands: who here is having a craptastic week? (I’m operating under the assumption that anyone reads my blog.)

Sometimes getting out of bed is a challenge, when you know you’re facing a putrid garbage fart of a day.

Based on the weather alone, I’d say at least a few folks out there need a pick-me-up first thing.

Starting off the work day with a cocktail is generally not advisable, so I suggest, as an alternative, a freshly-baked scone.

The dough can be rolled, cut, and frozen in advance, then thawed and baked in about 20 minutes as needed.

These cranberry orange reasons-to-live are not too sweet, and not too tart.

They’re softer and fluffier than regular hard, dry, crumbly scones. Which is fine by me.

If you’re truly inconsolable, and even warm, buttery baked goods can’t salvage the day, perhaps Professor Meowington can bring you a little comfort:

Do you need a hug?

Recipe below the fold

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Apple Cranberry Crostata with Mascarpone

Hey, y’know what’s great about the crostata recipe I posted last week? It makes two crusts!

Last month, the Fare for All groceries I share with Mom included three golden delicious apples. You can tell just from the name – golden delicious – that these apple suck. It’s like people who tell you that they’re funny. If you were actually funny, you wouldn’t need to tell me.

These apples are so happy to not be golden delicious.

The craptastic texture of golden delicious mushballs made them excellent candidates to fill that second crostata crust in my freezer.

This recipe is adapted only slightly from Yankee Magazine, and it’s ridiculously good. The mascarpone melts into the apple juices, and makes a tangy, gooey sauce. The sugar hardens on the crust, creating a satisfying crunch. And the tart cranberries and lemon juice keep it fresh and light.

Professor Meowington says: Don't forget the lemon juice!

The only thing I didn’t love about this crostata was the sugar cinnamon mixture. It didn’t completely incorporate into the apple and cranberry filling. Next time I’ll toss the apples in the sugar and spices, rather than sprinkling the mixture on top.

Recipe below the fold

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carrot and walnut muffins

I adore breakfast. Pancakes with maple syrup, crumbly scones, fresh fruit, smoky bacon, eggs with runny yolks and toast to dip in it like fondue. I love it all.

And yet I rarely make time to eat a proper breakfast in the morning. In fact, breakfast is so regularly neglected in my house, that I’m a little surprised it hasn’t yet asked for its CDs back.

I’m not a morning person. Most mornings I eat breakfast at my desk at work, and by breakfast, I mean a mug of instant oatmeal.

On work days, I need a breakfast that’s tasty and portable. And that’s exactly what I found in these carrot and walnut muffins.

The secret to moist muffins is conjoined yolks.

They’re sweet, fluffy, moist, and robust. I hesitate to even call them muffins. They’re more like unfrosted cupcakes that one can eat in the morning, if one is providing extra special, loving self-care.

One day I’ll use this very muffin recipe to make carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, perhaps topped with candied cumquat slices. The cake? Will be exactly the same.

Recipe below the fold

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bacon scallion cornbread muffins with cheddar and honey butter

Dear Cornbread,

I will not let you break me.


These muffins had everything going for them: cheese, bacon, honey butter, bacon. I took all those things for granted.


The original recipe came from Cook’s Illustrated, and it called for cornmeal, as nearly all corn bread recipes do. I didn’t have cornmeal, but I did have corn flour. I took a chance and substituted one for the other (WHAT?! Improvised baking!), and they turned out… mostly fine.

(I also substituted brown sugar for granulated sugar, and bacon fat for some of the butter. I’m truly living on the edge.)


Fresh out of the oven they were wonderful – maybe a little less coarse than regular cornbread, but awfully tasty.

Upon reheating, the texture was off – a little rubbery, somehow. The flavor was great, and the whipped honey butter was earnest in masking the texture funk, but they still weren’t good enough for company.

When I toothpick-tested them, they seemed underdone. So I put them back in the oven, and they got a lot darker than I wanted, and yeah. Rubbery. Next time I’ll make them smaller, and take them out sooner.

I was punished for my recklessness with rubbery corn muffins. But I’ll make the adjustments and try this cornbread again.

Goonies never say die!

Recipes below the fold

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