11 hours ago
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, Savory Corn & Pepper Muffins, was chosen by one of my favorite food bloggers, Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake. I always know to buckle up and put down my beverage before reading one of Rebecca's posts, because it's sure to be a wild, frolicking ride. If I'm having a bad day, I can just re-read her story about her grandmother correcting her mother's pronunciation of 50 Cent's name ("Fiddy, Sherry. It's Fiddy.") and turn things right around. But unlike some other bloggers I know, ahem, who crack jokes because they have nothing else to bring to the table, Rebecca is an accomplished chef, baker, cake decorator, food stylist and photographer. Ezra Pound Cake is the holy trinity of food blogging -- amazing food, great writing and stunning photography. It's the complete package!
Therefore, I had no doubt that Rebecca would come up with the perfect pick for TWD this week. I was immensely relieved to see these Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins after having stopped just short of actually hooking myself up to an IV sugar drip in December. My plans for these muffins were greatly influenced by my New Year's resolutions. Someday, I will resolve to do something clever and interesting, but until then, every January 1st I will commit to shed a few pounds and get organized, like everyone else. And so I've kicked off Project Miniaturization, in which I will attempt to shrink things in my kitchen in 2009, starting with myself. Dr. Phil says (here is where I embarrass myself with my extensive knowledge of what Dr. Phil says) that in order to succeed with your weight loss goals, you need to create an environment that encourages success. What he probably means is that you should ditch things like the weekly online baking club, but I think that you can liberally interpret his advice to mean that you should make mini muffins instead of regular muffins. So that's what I did.
I've also unveiled Project Chaos-Be-Gone, which is a far more complex and daunting undertaking given the current level of chaos in my household. This project has numerous components, most of which are not relevant to the corn muffins, but dealing with the chaos that swirls around mealtimes in my house is at the very top of my list. I want to prepare healthy, delicious meals for my family, but I have finally accepted that I just can't be chopping vegetables at 5:00 p.m. Mostly because as I chop, the littlest love of my life stands at my feet and does this:
Or, if she is feeling independent, she'll go empty out a cabinet or two:
Or chew on one of the scores of teeny tiny Barbie shoes that infiltrated our house this Christmas:
So I have logged many, many hours in the kitchen with my littlest love on my hip, using my one remaining hand to gather things, measure things, pour things, and stir things. But I draw the line at knives. That's just the kind of mother I am. Also, it occurred to me at some point that restaurant chefs don't see an order for fajitas pop up on the screen and then commence with slicing a green pepper. No, the prep is done well ahead of time. Therefore, I decided that a central component of Project Chaos-Be-Gone would involve prepping ingredients for our dinner either the night before, or earlier in the day. And these corn muffins were my first test case.
Things were calm in the early afternoon the day I planned to make these. I mixed together the dry ingredients. Diced the jalapeno and red pepper. Measured out the liquid ingredients. Started the chili that would accompany these muffins. I was feeling quite self-satisfied as I surveyed my lineup of measured and prepped ingredients. How great would it be later on when all I had to do was mix it all together, throw it in the oven, and be treated to fresh, warm corn muffins in a mere 20 minutes? Well, dinner rolled around, and everything went right according to plan. I had the corn muffins in the oven in 5 minutes flat.
Minus the corn, which I forgot. That was the one ingredient I didn't measure ahead of time; I had just planned to get what I needed straight from the freezer at the last minute. But I failed to do one last "recipe check," and since it was depending entirely on my memory and focus, the corn never stood a chance. Apparently my new system results in cornless corn muffins. Back to the ol' drawing board.
While I really did miss the corn in these, I thought these were great savory muffins. They definitely had a kick to them, which I loved. If you need something to neutralize your spicy chili, this might not be your corn muffin, but I was perfectly fine with the heat-on-heat situation that we had going on there. David said that he really liked these muffins as well, but I think that he is a little bit afraid of me after the banana pancake post, so I'm not sure if he is telling the truth. Believe me, I do not want to be surrounded by a bunch of yes-men in my kitchen. I've carefully attempted to assemble a "Team of Rivals" who will critically evaluate my cooking and provide me with candid, constructive feedback. And I've been spectacularly successful with that up until this point; some days people in my house actually line up to offer me constructive criticism, in fact. Which is great, because this is how I'll become a better cook -- so I'd hate to think that I undermined that by going off and being a loose cannon. That said, I really do think that David liked these muffins as much as I did!
On a topic unrelated to corn muffins (but related to TWD), my older daughter just turned 4. I thought that with all of the baking that I do, SURELY I could make my own kid's birthday cake. But for the past 8 months, every time we've entered the Publix bakery section, Elizabeth has begged for this bedazzling spectacle of Disney marketing brilliance:
Yes, that's a cake. And we did get it for her for her birthday party with her friends at the Hall 'o Giant Inflatables. But I still wanted to make her a cake, so I decided to make one for our family dinner on her actual birthday. I found a Wilton castle cake pan that looked like it could be decorated to suit her divalicious tastes, and decided to make Dorie's Perfect Party Cake with Buttercream Frosting. Back in August, right after I first joined TWD, I attempted to make the Perfect Party Cake for my parents' birthdays, and it was a royal flop. The cake did not rise and was not even remotely edible. But this time, the cake did exactly what it was supposed to do:
which I view as a testament to the fabulousness of TWD and all that I have learned from my fellow bakers over the past six months. We loved this cake. And it would be even better as a layer cake with raspberry filling (as is shown in the book). As my son (and helper) pointed out several times as I was decorating this, the cake is not nearly as good as the one in the picture that came with the cake pan (nope, you never need to worry about my ego getting too big), but it tasted great, and my birthday girl liked it, so I'm calling it a success!
Thanks for the picking these fabulous corn muffins, Rebecca! I know that I will be reaching for this recipe whenever I need a little extra heat with my fire.