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    Entries in artificial colors scare me (11)


    Blue Corn Berry Muffins

    Well, I had to do it. I had to make something else in the muffin tin to see if it was totally bitched.

    And one of the small veggie places that seems to specialize in local and as-close-as-possible foods had giant vats of blueberries on sale. So of course, blueberry muffins. And blueberry smoothies. And blueberries with yogurt and granola...

    Just the muffins in this post.

    Now, those of you who've never seen me in meatspace propbably don't know that I have some issues with colour. For a lot of years I wore a lot of black because I'm just not good at matching things. Warm colours? Cool colours? Wut? Eventually I gave up and just started wearing green pants with a blue tshirt and red sneakers. Monochormatic outfits are my friend.

    And so I decided to make blueberry muffins using blue masa. Monochromatic breakfasts.

    Don't worry, Canada Customs didn't know what blue masa was either when I brought it back across the border.

    Masa is nixtamalized cornmeal. It's cornmeal treated with an alkali in order to make the vitamins in the cornmeal available. It also make the proteins in corn usable by humans. And if you mix corn, squash, and beans in one dish, you end up with a perfectly complete source of protein.

    Of course blue masa is just masa made from blue corn. If you've never had it, it's totally awesome. Tastes mostly the same, but dude! It's freaking blue!

    Think about it... naturally occuring blue stuff is pretty rare. Even moreso is naturally occuring blue food.

    Blue Corn Blue Berry Muffins

    What You Need

    • 2 c blue masa
    • 1 tbsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 tbsp lemon zest
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 c cream and or milk
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/4 c honey
    • 1/2 c melted butter
    • plus a bit more butter for greasing the muffin tin
    • blueberries!

    What you gotta do:

    So, we're going to start this off by souring our cream and or milk. If you have buttermilk, use it, and skip this step. I never have buttermilk. For some reason the smallest container I can find of it is 1 litre, and I will never use 1 L of buttermilk before it manages to go bad. Hell, half the time I can't use a litre of regular milk before it sours.

    You can sour your milk / cream by adding lemon juice to it.

    Then, in your biggest bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and add the lemon zest.

    The rest of this goes pretty quickly, so preheat your oven to 400 and melt some butter to grease your muffin tin (or line it with papers).

    To your soured cream, add the vanilla and honey.

    1/4 cup isn't a lot of honey, no. But you'll be loading these muffins with super sweet berries so you don't really need the sugar sweetness. You can add more if you'd like, but these work for me.

    Plus, if you only use 1/4 cup in the batter you have an excuse to drizzle the muffins with honey when you eat them. ;)

    Add the eggs and the melted butter. 

    Beat this liquidy stuff all together and then pour it into the dry stuff.

    Mix the two until they're just combined and then dump in the berries. At least 2 cups.

    Fold the blueberries in gently and then fill your cups with them.

    You should be able to generously fill all 12 spots with fabulously blue batter.

    Bake them for about 20 minutes, but maybe start checking around 18. You don't want these overdone. Cornbread can seem really dry if it's overbaked.

    Nothing a little butter and honey won't solve though.

    Full of explodey blue goodness.

    Let them cool a good 10 minutes in the pan before you try extracting them. If your pan is fine, you should have no problems.

    Mine was not. They totally stuck to the sides and the bottom. Just as bad as the quiches did. Pan is bitched.

    But, I'm damn good at getting stuck things out of pans, and with my trusty paring knife and spoon, I was able to do this.

    Not pretty, but it's out.

    These are best eaten the day they were made, as with all cornbread, but if you do package and freeze them, just remember to bring along some butter and honey to go with them.

    I've got honey in my desk drawer at work.

    What have you got stashed in your drawers at work?


    for the dudes who kicked the most balls

    Now, you may not be aware of this, but Spain just won the World Cup. Of football.


    You know, the game where you kick a ball with your foot. And you're not allowed to use your hands. Because it's FOOTball.

    I grew up in a household that put everything on hold during World Cup season. I'd find my step-dad watching tv at odd hours of the night so he could catch the games live. The guys at his office would not be able to talk about plays he hadn't witnessed himself. As a kid with insomnia, I suddenly had a lovely excuse to sit up at 3 am and watch tv.

    I'm not a big soccer fan myself, but I know most of the jargon and I can understand the accents of the announcers. The guys at work though, they've had the tv on in the lunchroom all day so they wouldn't miss the games. Watching youtube vids of the latest plays at your desk is apparently entirely acceptable behaviour.

    And I promised them that I'd make cookies themed to the winner of the World Cup. Of football.

    Saffron Cookies

    Saffron is the most expensive seasoning on the planet. It's practically worth its weight in gold.

    Fortunately, you don't need much of it. I bought this little box for about 8 bucks at a specialty store, and it will last a while. This recipe only needs 1/8 of a teaspoon.

    It's got a distinctly floral aroma and flavour (makes sense, it comes from a flower) but there's this underlying earthiness to it that can be overpowering if you use too much (maybe that's because it's the flower's reproductive organs).

    And because I wanted to really make sure I had the mediterranean thing down, I decided I wanted to use olive oil in the cookies instead of butter.

    Apparently some dude name Mark Bittman already came up with this combo and is regarded as somewhat of a genius for doing so. His is nearly the only recipe you can find using both saffron and olive oil. So his is where I started.

    Here's my version:

    What you need:

    • 1/8 tsp saffron
    • 1 tbsp milk or cream
    • 1/2 c olive oil
    • 1 c sugar (victory should be sweet)
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 c flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • bit of salt

    What you gotta do:

    Start with the saffron. It's awesome.

    Warm the milk or cream in a small bowl. I used the microwave for 20 seconds at 60% power. Add the saffron. At first it just sits there, looking kinda weird and out of place.

    Give it a bit of a stir or shake and then let it sit while you do the next few steps.

    Combine the oil, lemon juice, and sugar in a big bowl. It kinda smells like salad dressing.

    Beat in the eggs. Definitely salad dressing-like. I mean, this is practically mayo! Mix this with a whisk, or your fancy batter beater for a good two minutes. You want it nice and golden. It won't ever really get 'fluffy' because the oil acts differently than softened butter does, but it does need a good beating. Kinda like Italy got.

    Check on your saffron.

    Holy hell is that yellow.

    Artificial colours have nothing on this shit. Plus, the smell and taste of this... a tiny drop on your tongue. Seriously, you have to do it. It's strong, almost overwhelming, when its that concentrated, but it's amazing. Flowers, the earth, it's almost metallic, like the taste of blood in your mouth, but sweet and floral at the same time. It suddenly makes sense how this tiny part of a flower stands up to savoury dishes and adds delicacy to sweet ones. 

    Pour your yellow gold into the oil and sugar mixture.

    Sift on the flour, baking powder, and the salt.

    You want to just barely mix these.

    The dough is very soft, much more like a batter than your typical drop cookie. So I chilled mine for about 10 minutes. The consistency is perfect after a bit of time in the fridge. It's also freaking yellow.

    I used a 1 tsp measuring spoon to scoop the dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Smaller cookies means you can fit more on the sheet and they'll cook faster. It's way too freaking hot to have the oven on.

    TIP: Put a big pot of cold water on the element when your oven vent is. Change the water with every batch of cookies. Cover the pot to prevent evaporation and you've got yourself a great little heat sink.

    I recommend sprinkling a little sugar over the top of these. An extra bit of sweet. If you're feeling particularly generous, use the back of your wooden spoon to grind a pinch of saffron into a couple teaspoons of sugar.

    The tiny threads make for a nice bit of decoration on what looks like a plain and bland cookie.

    But oh my, they are neither plain nor bland.

    It's a subtle, delicate flavour, but so distinctive, and almost surprising the first time you try them.

     What's your favourite sweet / savour cross over ingredient?