Recipe | Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Streusel Muffins
From Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics
Makes 20 muffins

Note: Wash blueberries in a strainer under running water and pick out any stems and leaves.

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (2 half pints)

For the Streusel Topping (I double this because I looooove a good crumb topping!):

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and blend with your hands. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, lemon zest, eggs and almond. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a fork, mixing just until blended. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Don’t overmix! With a standard (2 1/4-inch) ice-cream scoop or large spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared cups, filling them almost full.

For the topping, place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until the butter is in very small pieces. Pour into a bowl and rub with your fingers until crumbly. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the streusel on top of each muffin. Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Note: These muffin expand quite a bit in the oven so tips on two things:

1. Don’t overfill your muffin pan.

2. Reapply more topping half way through baking. Once the muffin expands, the streusel topping no longer covers the entire “muffin top”. So half way through the baking, I opened the oven and applied more topping so that the entire top was covered. (Told you I like my crumb toppings)!

 

XOXO

Recipe | Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

I have my wonderful hairdresser, Danielle owner of Dia Salon, to thank for this recipe because what better way to end a hair appointment than with a homemade cookie!  On Saturday afternoon after finishing with my hair, Danielle offered me a yummy cookie. So I did what any girl would do, I took two – one for me and…..another one for me (j/k one for Ryan).  After eating my cookie, I was forced to drive back home in LA traffic with this cookie staring at me. I swear the cookie grew eyes and was begging me to eat it.  I knew this little cookie would make my husbands face fill with a smile when presented to him, so I held off and yes, made it home without even as much as a nibble. Even though I did not eat Ry’s cookie, I couldn’t get it out of my head and only wanted more.

So, Sunday afternoon after our walk, I made Barefoot Contessa’s Oatmeal Cookie recipe and substituted dried cranberries for the raisins and used a bit less sugar than the recipe recommends, just as Danielle had done . Now these cookies aren’t very sweet, which make them perfect to consume with my morning coffee.

Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

(Makes 15 to 17 Cookies)

Ingredients
3/4 cup pecans
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2  dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 granulated sugar
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2   teaspoon kosher salt  + a big pinch
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cups dried cranberries (i used Cransins)
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Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Place the pecans on a sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes, until crisp. Set aside to cool. Chop very coarsely.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, orange zest, and the vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together into a medium bowl. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Add the oats, dried cranberries, and pecans and mix just until combined.

Using a small ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop 2.5-inch mounds of dough onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with a damp hand. Bake for 13 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer the cookies to a baking rack and cool completely.

Tips:
1. According to my Barefoot Back to Basic’s Cookbook, roasting the pecans in the oven first brings out their flavor.
2. The cookies don’t spread much, if at all, so make sure you really flatten them out if you want more of a cookie rather than mound.
3. This is a “half” recipe, meaning it only makes 15-17 3-inch cookies. The original recipe makes 30-35 cookies which is way to many for the two of us, so this recipe only makes 15-17 cookies.
4. I decreased the granulated sugar from a 1/2 cup to a 1/3 cup and increased the salt a bit (i.e “+ the big pinch”). This makes them less sugary, but feel free to stick with the original recipe of 1/2 cup of granulated sugar.
4. For chewier cookies: Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet.

Recipe | White Pizza with Arugula

Since returning from Costa Rica,  I have been dying to try and make homemade pizza in hopes of achieving something similar to El Pulpo’s pizza in Santa Teresa. I received this dough recipe from Carrie J. which she has tested several times herself and decided to use the toppings from a recipe in my Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook.  In addition to the toppings Ina Garten recommended, I also added several slices of Italian meats which I picked up from Costco including: spicy sopressata and hot salame.

The pizza’s turned out awesome and I can’t wait to make again and play with more ingredients!!!!

White Pizza with Arugula and Sopressata

Makes: Two  8″ pizzas

Dough

Ingredients
  • 2  teaspoons  honey
  • 1  package active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3/4  cup  warm water (100° to 110°)
  • 2 1/4  cups  all-purpose flour (about 10 ounces), divided
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • Cooking spray
Preparation
Dissolve the honey and yeast in 3/4 cup warm water in a large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 cups flour and salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes); add enough of the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If the indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
Roll dough into a 12-inch circle (about 1/4 inch thick) on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on a rimless baking sheet. Crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim. Lightly spray surface of dough with cooking spray, and cover with plastic wrap. Place the dough in refrigerator for up to 30 minutes. Bake according to recipe directions.
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PIZZA TOPPINGS

For the garlic oil:

  • Good olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the topping:

  • 2 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 ounces)
  • 1  cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 ounces)
  • 6 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as montrachet, crumbled
  • Several slices of Italian meats: sopressata & salame

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup good olive oil (I used much less, just enough to coat the arugula)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used much less, just enough to coat the arugula)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces baby arugula

Directions

Garlic oil:
Place 1/2 cup olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is clean!)
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Portion the dough.
Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Place the doughs on sheet pans sprayed with cooking spray. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
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Stretch the dough.
Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 1 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you’ve chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)
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Top the dough.
Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.
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Make the vinaigrette.
Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
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Add the greens.
When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and a slice of lemon and serve immediately.
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TIP Make sure the bowl is warm before you put the water and yeast in; the water must be warm for the yeast to develop.

TIP Salt inhibits the growth of yeast; add half the flour, then the salt, and then the rest of the flour.

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