Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Apple Rosemary Muffins with Almond and Lemon

These were little pillows of heaven. Light. Airy. Super easy to put together. Because I didn't have vanilla extract, I used almond extract, instead. Smart move. Lots of tastes going on here, but none overpowering. They all work together. Would I add the rosemary next time? Perhaps, but only if I had it on hand.

I used White Lily self-rising flour. It is readily available here in the South. Basically, it's cake flour, but it gives the most delicate crumb to cakes and muffins such as these.

I will probably tweak this recipe a bit more. But I thought it good enough to post.

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons White Lily Self-Rising flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced, fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon (several grates) lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon apple-pie spice
  • 1/4 cup melted margarine
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 average-sized apple, peeled and cut into a 1/4-inch dice (115 g) 
  • (If using all-purpose flour, use one cup, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder.)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter six muffin tins.

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Mix wet ingredients in another bowl and gently pour into the dry ingredients. Mix just until moistened. Fold in the diced apples.

Fill muffin tins to the top. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the tops begin to turn golden brown and they easily pull away from the sides. Remove gently and place upside-down on wire rack to cool a bit. Best served warm, with butter.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Walnut Pie. With or Without Booze.

I have never been a fan of pecan pie. I find them overly-sweet. And all that Karo syrup kind of grosses me out.

So when my department boss brought me a piece of walnut pie his wife had made, I was a bit nervous and hoped my disappointed expression would not be too obvious when I hesitantly ate my first forkful.

Trepidation turned into delight. This was not a "nut pie" in the usual sense. It was creamy and brown-sugary.

After a lot of begging, I was finally given the recipe (thanks, Emily!).

Custardy in the center. Not too sweet. And look at that top crust!

Unlike a pecan pie, the filling for this pie is more like a brown-sugar custard. With walnuts. One could just as easily use pecans, but I prefer the more pronounced flavor of the walnuts. On my to-do bake list is a pie with half black walnuts.

This recipe is quite versatile. One can easily sub the milk for rum, whiskey or maple syrup or a combination. I have used rum (3 tablespoons). The taste is easily obvious the day you make the pie. The following day it is more nuanced and mellow. Feel free to add a bit of cinnamon/nutmeg to the batter.

If I were having guests, I would make the pie as is but serve it with a side of rum or bourbon-flavored whipping cream.  If not, a scoop of vanilla ice cream goes great with this.

I used a store-bought pastry which made assembling this pie as easy as one-two-three! It disappears just as easily, too!

  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 4 medium eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick), cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
  • 1/2 teaspoon rum flavoring
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple-pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons milk (I use evaporated milk)
  • 2-3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 and 1/2 cups roughly cut walnuts

Line a 9-inch pie pan with pastry of your choice. Set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 300-degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs. Whisk in the butter, milk, flavorings and rum. Set aside for about ten minutes so the sugar is absorbed by the egg. I use an old-fashioned hand mixer, but a whisk is fine. Do not use an electric mixer. 

Fold in the nuts.

Pour into pastry shell and bake for about 65-70 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before slicing.