Southern Californians are a funny lot. No matter how cold it gets, and for the past two weeks it has been very cold, Southern Californians will wear shorts and flip-flops no matter what. I noticed this strange phenomenon yesterday as I was shopping at an outdoor mall. Me, bundled in a winter coat and scarf, and everyone else lollygagging about in their Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirts and sundresses. I really admire their spirit, and for some folks it really is an endless summer. And why not. Maybe it’s the thin, east-coast blood that runs through my veins, but I was headed home to have a big bowl of chili and these homemade corn muffins. I was embracing the brisk winter weather with some down-home comfort food.
Anyway, son #1 had given me the Bouchon Bakery cookbook for a gift and I was anxious to try out some of the recipes. What I like most about the book is that it’s recipes are written in both cups and grams. As a gal whose obsession is baking, naturally I prefer gram measurements. Why, because baking is a science and grams are a precise measurement. When you weigh your ingredients your chances of a successful end product are almost guaranteed. Even if you’re just an occasional baker, I highly recommend you get yourself a digital food scale. You know I would never steer you wrong.
Thomas Keller explains in the book that the reason for allowing your batter to sit overnight is for the purpose of hydrating the flour. When the mixture absorbs the liquid ingredients, the result is a very moist corn muffin.
From Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery
- 1 1/4 cups + 3 tablespoons (201 grams) all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (51 grams) cornmeal
- 2 1/2 teaspoons (12 grams) baking powder
- 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons (135 grams) sugar
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2/3 cup (168 grams) whole milk
- 2 large eggs (90 grams)
- 1/4 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons (90 grams) canola oil
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (72 grams) frozen corn kernels
* If you do not have a scale to weigh out the eggs, take your 2 large eggs and lightly beat them in a bowl and then remove about 1 teaspoon and that will be about 90 grams.
- Place the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sift in the cornmeal and baking powder. Add the sugar and salt and mix on the lowest setting for about 15 seconds to combine. Add the milk and eggs and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, just until combined. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the oil, then increase the speed to medium-low and mix for about 30 seconds to combine.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate all the dry ingredients that may be stuck to the bottom. Fold in the corn. For best results, transfer the batter to a covered container and refrigerate overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with liners. Lightly spray the liners with nonstick spray. Spoon the batter into the cups about 3/4 full.
- Place the pan in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F, and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until muffins are lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. When done, place the pan on a cooling rack and cool muffins completely.
Makes 12 standard size muffins
So, I’ve told you that son #1 is a professional chef, and the guy works all the time. Being in the restaurant business he never has a weekend off, and I suppose that just goes with the territory. Lucky for him he really loves his job. He did however have off the other day and decided to invite his buddies over to watch some football. They were just going to order some pizzas and drink beer, typical guy stuff. Now me, being the hovering mother that I am, felt it necessary to offer these guys a healthy snack. They’re grown men actually, and I probably should have just minded my own business, but I just couldn’t help myself.
I decided to make these zucchini fries for them. I think they’re the perfect snack for sitting around and watching football, all crispy and crunchy. It was just kind of funny when I walked into the family room holding a tray of these and said”hey guys, how about some zucchini!”, they all just looked up at me with this look on their faces like, yay, zucchini…
However, when I returned about an hour later, the tray was empty. Mom’s always right. I’m just sayin’…
- 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, trimmed
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Kosher salt
- ground black pepper
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups panko or plain breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange the oven racks in the lower third and center of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the zucchini into french fry size sticks about 3″ long.
- Arrange 3 shallow bowls or pie plates in a row. In the first bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. In the second bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. In the third bowl, combine the panko, parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- Working in batches, first dip the zucchini in the flour, shaking of the excess. Transfer to the egg mixture and toss until coated. Let the excess egg run off, then coat the zucchini in the panko mixture.
- Arrange zucchini, without crowding, in a single layer on the prepared pans. Bake for 15 minutes and then rotate the pans. Continue baking until panko coating is golden and crisp, 7-12 minutes more.
- Serve right from the oven.
The first thing I did when I got off the plane on my most recent trip to Philadelphia, was high-tail it to the soft pretzel vendor right there in the airport. My husband Neil and I hadn’t eaten on the cross-country flight, and the two of us had been contemplating biting into a soft, chewy Philly pretzel. We were not disappointed.
It’s funny how different cities are known for certain foods. New Orleans is known for muffulettas, Chicago made famous the deep-dish pizza, and New York is credited with inventing the egg cream. And Philadelphia, well Philadelphia is not just known for its cheesesteaks and hoagies, but also for the soft pretzel. (Nothing low-calorie comes out of Philly.) It’s tradition in Philadelphia to eat your pretzel with mustard, so that’s how I do it.
When I returned to Los Angeles, I was still having pretzel cravings. So, I decided to pull out one of my favorite recipes and make the family a batch of homemade pretzels. They were not disappointed.
From Cooking Light , October 2005
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
- 3 cups plus 1/4 cup all purpose flour – divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- cooking spray
- 6 cups water
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- cornmeal for sprinkling
- 1 large egg
- kosher salt
I remember when I was a kid, my brothers and I used to love to stay up on Friday nights and watch our favorite 60′s television shows. What really made the evening special was when my mother would make us Jiffy Pop, that popcorn contraption that looked like a frying pan. For those of you who may not be familiar with this modern culinary marvel of the 60′s, Jiffy Pop had a foil top, and as the popcorn popped its cover would explode into a giant silver dome. Back in the day it was actually very cool. It’s interesting, but prior to the 60′s people cooked their own food. Even on modest budgets, families tended to use only fresh ingredients, and dishes were made from scratch.
But, as the sixties rolled in, mom’s home cooking was put on the back burner. Food was frozen, packaged, processed, and chock full of preservatives. My brother’s and I would plead, “please Mom, don’t make us homemade food, we just want tv dinners, they taste so good”! What did we know.
Anyway, my days of eating Jiffy Pop and microwave popcorn are over. These days I still like to eat popcorn in front of the television, but I buy the organic kind and pop it myself. This recipe adds a little kick to the popcorn and takes no time at all to prepare.
Paprika & Parmesan Popcorn
From Ellie Krieger
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
Mix the parmesan, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Heat the canola oil and 3 popcorn kernels in a medium pot with a tight fitting lid, over medium-high heat. When the kernels of corn start to pop, reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining kernels. Cover and cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until the popping stops, about 2 minutes.
Put the popcorn in a large bowl and sprinkle the parmesan mixture over it and toss very well.