Tag Archives: baking


The bacon gods have once again floored me with their providence.

Let me hit ya’ll with a lil preview to the remix…

Did simply breakfast ever do photoshoots on top of her washer because the light is better? I don’t think so.

I wanted to come back from my hiatus with a strong recipe, something that made the wait worth it. While I wanted to go all out and try to recreate the Bintliff’s eggs au beurre noir but it just didn’t feel right. I also am scared to death of trying to make black butter. How do you know if you screwed it up?

The answer of this morning’s “What’s for breakfast?” was given by the garden. While the peppers, tomatoes, and onions are all truckin’ towards a high bounty, our herb pot is already pumping out deliciousness. I’ve been laying into the oregano hard, but still had yet to touch the chives. That’s when I remembered my lady Paula Deen.

This venerable, unabashedly southern butter monger has become something of my id. In the kitchen her voice in my head is always pandering to my lipid instincts. And on this day, in front of my herbs her voice cut through the din of competing recipe ideas like a beagle getting its foot stepped on, “CHIVE AND CHEDDAR CORNMEAL MUFFINS, YA’LL.”

Sure thing, Paula.

I believe that Mikey was the first one to introduce me to chives in a baked good when he described the bacon chive biscuits that commemorated he and Meg’s first anniversary. I considered just making those, but Paula wasn’t having it. She wanted cheese.

I picked up the Gourmet Cookbook to get a basic cornbread muffin recipe and then figured that the addition of cheese would probably make the muffin a little moister as it lost some of its oil cooking. The result wasn’t bad, but I changed it up a little nonetheless.

Without further ado…


Makes 12 muffins
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar

Its a lot of ingredients. Don’t trip, just preheat to 420.

Remember the dry/wet approach I use for almost all my baking? Yeah, same thing here. Remember to let your liquid absorb into the dry goods. Give it a few minutes after addition. Throw the chives into the dry part and whisk, then add all of the wet stuff that was mixed together.

Now, here is the only part that is at all tricky. It isn’t even tricky; its a thing you have to do. It is not deceiving and complicated. It is simply a step. Spoon half of the batter into the buttered tins and spread the shredded cheese over the half and then put the rest of the batter over that.

Bake it. BINGO.

If you’re like me, you’ll throw throw this next to some Bacon smoked Bacon and an uncharacteristically cheeseless grape tomato cilantro omelette. BOOYAH.

Gloomy day music. Two of the three are reposts. Cry about it.
The Supremes – My World Is Empty Without You
Avalanches – Since I Left You
Beegees – Massachusetts


Big Gaye Pancake Day

Hi my name is Matt and I have a problem. I can’t stop reading the Gourmet cookbook. What started as an exploration of the “Brunch” section quickly escalated into reading it before I went to bed, and starting back up immediately when I got up. I’ve always been a big streak reader but this is ridiculous.

My return to Gourmet also means going back to recipes. I’ve been improvising lately but when it comes to anything involving baking powder or soda, hell flour for that matter my confidence level plummets. I think that its a sign of a truly remarkable home cook to be able to riff on batter based breakfasts.

So there I was, in the kitchen, thinking about hotcakes, a kitchen stocked with everything I need to make them, and freshly ground Stumptown Burundi making a special appearance in the french. The Obama of breakfasts, this guy had a lot of promise.

The recipe I ended up going with was Gourmet’s Whole Grain Pancake. I subbed the whole grain flour for unbleached whole wheat (can someone explain to me why there are so many different flours?) and discarded their syrup recipe in favor of something more buttertastic.

These probably were good for you at some point.

Whole Grain Pancakes with Honey Lemon Butter

For Cakes:
1.25 cups whole wheat flour
.33 cups cornmeal
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, separated
.25 cups vegetable oil/canola oil/motor oil
1.5 cups milk, the richer the better to a point

For Butter:
Half stick unsalted butter (if you only have salted, neat, but just don’t add the salt)
1 tbsp honey
juice of .33 lemons

Mix your dry ingredients in a big bowl. For those of you who are intimidated by judging moisture contents, that is the flour, sugar, salt, cornmeal and baking powder. Quick tip, have a big sieve in the bowl, throw everything into it and bang out. It mixes more uniformly and provides an opportunity to use bang out in a kitchen setting.

Wet ingredients time. Mix the yolks, oil and milk. The milk won’t want to mix, but milk has always been a bit of a emulsive curmudgeon. Treat this goop like a salad dressing and emulsify a thin stream of milk at a time, whisking like a mad(wo)man. Once it is blended, mix into the dry batter and let sit. If you just immediately used that batter, your pancakes are going to taste awful. Let the flour absorb the goop. Very important.

Did you think I forgot about the egg whites? Nope. Time to get fancy. By beating them stiff it will make the fluffiest pancakes ever. If you have an emulsion blender this is a good time to use it. You want stiff peaks, and you get them by putting as much air in the whites as possible. I did this by using the Native American start a fire stick method wherein I spin my whisk between my hands a lot. This works just fine. Now, fold the whites into that soaky batter and prepare to griddle. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and hit it with a tbsp of the oil. A lot of people like to use butter, I’m one of them, but it does make the frying process quite a bit trickier.

While the first batch is going, prepare the butter. Find some way, any way to melt the butter slowly. Thankfully, we have an all but useless teeny gravy warmer that is perfect for this, you can use a bowl and your microwave. Combine all the butter things in the bowl and heat slowly. When the butter is melted, mix it up. Simple. By now your first batch of pancakes should be up and you should put them in a big stack and douse them in butter. Don’t wait, do it now.

In honor of Marvin Gaye’s birthday I have uploaded Mr. Gaye’s now famous declaration of his love for butter, at a time when margarine was beginning to seem like the future of fat consumption. Also, one for the enviros.

Marvin Gaye – Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing, Baby
Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)

A Banner Week for History and Food

Everywhere you look there seems to be a reason to celebrate. Darwin’s birthday dominated my visit to the California Academy of Sciences and NPR is definitely thinkin’ Lincoln. Around the world Robert Mugabe signed onto a powersharing deal and the California Legislature just came out of a four month deadlock on the budget. CAN IT GET ANY BETTER?!

Oh yes, my friends, it can. Its raining.

These few days of drops we’ve had aren’t going to get us back to even 70% of historic levels but they are a start. The days of mid-70’s and backyard garden maintenance are at a halt for probably the week to come as we work our way back towards water normalcy.

Its good news for farmers and good news for our yet unplanted vegetable garden.

And while no longer something I’ll be eating, Salisbury Steak day is getting a bailout as the House and Senate versions of the stimulus package each have provisions to give school food programs the opportunity to do more than just outsource their job to vending machines.

All this good news made returning from a wonderful trip to Point Reyes National Seashore more bearable.

I’d be crazy to say that I wanted to leave a place that looked like this.

But back I am, clean shaven and with a bigger than ever pipe-dream of opening a bed and breakfast somewhere around Olema. Can a recent college graduate do that? It would be like the opposite of the normal work retirement cycle, sort of the Benjamin Button of shirking responsibility and “real jobs.”

If and when my B&B/microbrewery/organic teaching farm opens up you can bet your sweet ass this recipe will be on the menu.

Marion Cunningham’s Lemon Yogurt Muffins

Preheat oven to 375
2 cups all purpose flour
1.25 cups plain yogurt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp lemon zest
.5 tbsp pomelo zest*
2 tbsp honey
.25 cup melted butter
.25 cup sugar
2 eggs

My shortcomings as a baker have been documented on this site previously so I am always cautious when trying out a recipe that requires preheating. That said one book has really made me more comfortable in the land of hot carbs, Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book.

It should come as no surprise that this book reads like morning porn. She covers all the bases and is not ingredient, but process oriented, which I like. Best of all are her baking recipes which don’t complicate the process. Wet bowl, dry bowl, put it together and bake- I love it.

This recipe is awesome, and the only reason I changed it at all (the pomelo zest) because we had a gigantic, Sputnik sized grapefruit running around our kitchen. As a means of comparison:

All the wet ingredients- that is the eggs, yogurt, honey, butter and zest get mixed up in one bowl while the flour, sugar and leaveners go in another. Mix those together, scoop into some buttered muffin tins and bake until a toothpick/fork/knife comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

When you take them out, split them in half and rebutter with a little more honey. Bingo bango.

Out of respect to Paul, Sebastian, Hope, our astrologer friend who used the moon signs of the Bush administration to get to the bottom of 9/11, and everyone else at the Point Reyes Hostel who made our stay what it was I have to say there are a number of ways to hippie this one up. The first is whole wheat flour and wheat germ. You can probably get replace 4 tablespoons of flour with wheat germ before it starts tasting weird. This recipe would also be good with some oatage.

Go and bake, but if you have time to kill certainly hit up the new hotness, brobook, a blog that hits harder than Cynthia McKinney at a security checkpoint.


When is a compliment…

Not a compliment? Perhaps when your uncle/boss sees what you’re making for breakfast and says “You should forget law and be a cook.”


I do have to agree that this morning’s breakfast was of higher quality than anything I’ve contributed to the legal field.

After Saturday’s breakfast was necessitated by the massive amounts of Pabst that accompanied the Sox Game 2 win over the LAAAAAAA and consisted of hash browns, mushrooms, eggs and cheese, today’s was necessary to diversify this blog’s portfolio.

I had previously talked up individual baked apple goodies. As I said last post, though, baking is not my strong suit. I find measurements restricting and the oven is a fickle cooking partner. I tossed my reservations aside and Googled Alton Brown’s Individual Peach Upside Down Cakes. I don’t have peaches, though. All I’ve got is my last apple from Ithaca. What to do?


Individual Apple Granola Upside Down Cakes

A quick discussion of blogademic honesty:
This reminds me of the Ship of Theseus but its not my ship, its Alton Brown’s, and its not a ship, but a ramekin full of baked stuff. I changed a lot about this recipe, the milk, amount of butter, the main fruit and the addition of granola. Is it stilljust a variation on Alton Brown’s theme? I have no problem giving him proper credit but it seems like these have departed pretty far from his original recipe. I’ll always err on the side of caution just because I take this seriously, but its something I think about a lot, and yet another reason why I’m still skeptical of baking. Just in case he reads this,


This makes four ramekins or thereabouts with a little extra batter to spill over and make a hot mess.

Oven preheated to 350
3 tablespoons salted butter
1/8 cup light brown sugar
1 crisp, tangy apple. Nothing mealy, it’ll be gross if you do. Sliced thin. You won’t use it all but you can snack on the rest.
2 ounces granola (I used my homemade stuff)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup granulated sugar (I used vegan cane sugar)
1/2 cup cream, or buttermilk, or coconut milk if you’re sassy
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prep your ramekins! From your three tablespoons, grease your rammies. Butter the sides all the way to the top (these expand!) and give the bottom a quick grease. Take the rest of your butter and melt it. Now sprinkle the bottoms with brown sugar and then do two layers of thinly sliced apples. Divide and sprinkle the granola on top of the apples and set aside.

When you’re baking something like this, essentially a quickbread you have two bowls, one for dry ingredients and one for wet. This description is inaccurate though, because the sugar goes in the wet bowl. All of the real bakers can laugh at this, but this is one of those distinctions that recipes don’t make, assuming that everyone understands.

So your dry bowl is the flour, the powder, the soda and your wet bowl is the sugar, the vanilla and your butter. Whisk the dry stuff together well, then the wet. Combine them and mix completely in as few strokes as possible. Overworking makes for dense cakes. Pour the batter in the ramekins, leaving about 3/4 of an inch at the top.

I put mine in a waterbath because I had the time and I’ve always wanted to use one. That just means I put the ramekins in a big deep dish and fill with water about halway up the rammies. It puts moisture into the air and maintains a a more even temperature. It also slows baking down considerably. According to Baking 9/11 it brings the temperature down almost 100 degrees. So in the waterbath, on 350, these puppies took about 45 minutes to cook. Drink your coffee accordingly.

Baking for breakfast is intimidating but, just like joining a fraternity or sorority, you get out what you put in. In this case I got a ton of sugar and a shit-ton of dishes, which I have to deal with now.

Also, I didn’t mention this earlier, but it was a Shins morning.

The Shins – The Past and Pending