Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Honey Cornbread Muffin Recipe

Honey Cornbread Muffins

1 1/2 cup cornmeal (regular, fine, or coarse grind)
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used goat milk)
1/2 stick of softened butter (1/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder.  Add honey, eggs, milk, and butter.  Beat until smooth (about 1 minute - do not overbeat).

Portion out into a standard muffin pan which has been lined with paper cups.  These muffins do not rise a lot, so you can fill the cups more than other muffin recipes.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Makes approximately 12 muffins.

I developed this recipe by combining a couple of recipes.  I like my cornbread to be slightly sweet, so I created a recipe with a good bit of honey.  They turned out perfectly sweet with a soft texture.

If you would like a muffin that is less sweet, use only 1 Tbsp of honey and eliminate one of the eggs.


Honey-Citrus Butter Recipe

This afternoon is my last class for Women and Reproductive Rights, and everyone is bringing food.  I decided to bring my Honey Cornbread Muffins, but I concluded that I needed to zest it up a little bit and bring some flavored butter.  I came up with this recipe.

3/4 cup of butter (1 + 1/2 sticks) softened or cut into small chunks
4 Tbsp honey
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
Zest of one orange

Using a fork smush the butter.

Add honey and stir well.

Add the zest of the lemon and orange and stir well.

Add the lemon juice and stir again.  While you are stirring, try to make it as smooth as possible.  If you are using cold butter, this is going to take more smushing.

Pop the concoction into the microwave for 30 seconds, and enjoy some delicious orange quarters while you wait (no sense in letting them go to waste).

After 30 seconds in the microwave, the butter should be mostly melted.  Stir (and smush) to encourage those final chunks to melt.  The key is to get it to melt without separating, so if you need to microwave it again, microwave for only a few seconds at a time.

Cover and allow to chill in the refrigerator or drizzle it over pancakes, waffles, toast, or honey cornbread muffins.



Saturday, August 6, 2011

Why I Don't Want to Eat at Hell's Kitchen

With a PCI alumnus competing in the new season of Hell's Kitchen, I spent some time catching up on the old episodes of the show.  While watching the show, I have been thinking about what it would be like to eat at this iconic eatery.  I ended up arriving at the conclusion that I would not like to eat there.  Here are my top 12 reasons why.

1) "Would you like some earplugs with your meal?"  When Gordon Ramsay isn't yelling at the cooks, the cooks are yelling at each other.  I have been to restaurants where I have heard yelling coming from the kitchen, it made the dining experience uncomfortable and weird.  I used to think that the insults pouring from Ramsay were creative and amusing, but after watching most of the series, it's just repetitive.  Women are cows, men are donkeys, and everything is the wrong temperature.  Shut it down!!

2) Meat with a side of seafood garnished with meat.  There is a lack of vegetarian options on the menu.  All of the entrees are either seafood or meat, and even the seemingly vegetarian risotto is made with chicken stock (admittedly, this is pretty standard).  Every once and a while, a vegetarian does go into Hell's Kitchen, but I doubt they leave feeling very satisfied.

3) This food is made with blood, sweat, and tears... literally.  I understand that some bodily fluids might end up in my food - these are real people making real food - but virtually every episode has somebody dripping some fluid into a saucepan.  I like to live my life in denial; I know that it happens, but I don't want to see it happen.  Also, don't they require hair restraints (baseball caps, skull caps, or hair nets) in California?  I'm surprised that more food doesn't come back after being garnished with hair.  Yes, the heat will kill most germs, but still, ew....

4) That handwashing rule is optional, right? When I briefly worked in the industry, and when I got my ServSafe certification, I learned that when you walk into the kitchen, you're supposed to wash your hands before touching anything.  I have never seen a contestant wash their hands.  I'm not even sure there are handwashing sinks in the kitchen.

5) You're also supposed to wash your hands after touching your face, nose, mouth, or hair.... Seriously, this happens in nearly every episode.  Watch carefully.

6) Double dipping.  Tasting the food is a great idea before it is sent out to the customer.  In fact, it's recommended, but when the spoon goes into the pan, into the mouth, and then back into the pan, it's a bit disgusting.  Ramsay is as guilty of this as any of the contestants, but usually he just taps the excess from the spoon into the pan before placing it into its basin.

7) Raw food.  Most of my meals consist of raw food.  In fact, nothing that I ate today was cooked, but I'm a vegetarian and eat tons of raw veggies.  Raw chicken, pork, and lamb are not appetizing.

8) A towel is a towel is a towel.  How many of the contestants have been caught wiping their face with their side towel before wiping down a cutting board or pan?  Now consider how many haven't been caught.  Yeah...

9) I thought cross-contamination was a bad thing.  I might be getting a little nit-picky here, but I thought that you weren't supposed to use the same cutting board for meats and vegetables.

10) If service starts at 6:00 and there's only one seating, shouldn't everyone be served before 10:00?  I'm a pretty patient person.  If the food is good, I have no problem waiting, but sometimes guests wait hours to get their appetizers.

11) The pizza shop down the street must be raking in the cash.  Sometimes the chefs do so badly that Chef Ramsay closes down the kitchen before his guests are served.  I understand having standards, but after waiting three hours, I would hope that I would get something aside from bread.

12) I probably couldn't get an invitation anyway.  *sigh*


Monday, August 1, 2011

Royally Delicious Pastries - Review

A couple of weeks ago, shortly before a trip to Wisconsin, I was invited to a dessert party.  It was scheduled for the day that I returned from my trip, and I knew that I wouldn't have time to prepare something on my own.  I also knew that I could turn to Royally Delicious Pastries in Beaver, PA to help me out.  I contacted the owner and set up delivery. 

Fast forward to the day of the dessert party.  I arrive at my apartment and the desserts are not there.  It was by no means the fault of Royally Delicious pastries.  There was a misunderstanding with the leasing office for my apartment building and my delicious treats were trapped behind the locked office door for the weekend.  Saddened by this turn of events, I ran to the grocery store, picked up something called "Magic Bars", and sped off to the party.  As I drove, I was disappointed that I wouldn't be able to share those trapped treats with some great people, but I was also happy because it meant that I would have enough delicious desserts to last for weeks.  

The next day, I went to the leasing office to pick up my package, eager to try the treats inside.  I was not disappointed.  Royally Delicious Pastries sent me a few dozen chocolate chip cookies and a batch of brownies.  Everything was exactly as advertised: delicious.  It was obvious that the chef believes that quality products handled with loving care is the only way to make quality desserts.  

The cookies were crunchy but delicate, even after their long weekend in the leasing office.  The brownies were fudgy, soft, and chewy.  Being only one person, I had to put everything in the freezer to keep it as fresh as possible.  Even straight out of the freezer, the brownies maintained their perfect texture.  I couldn't have been happier.

Now, as a side note, you may or may not know that I am on a diet and have been on a diet for some time.  I believe that the key to diet success is gradual weight loss and avoiding needless deprivation.  That said, I have been eating approximately three cookies every day since I picked them up from the leasing office a week ago.  I don't want to suggest that the cookies from Royally Delicious Pastries have some magical properties which melt away fat, but I did lose five pounds in the past week.