Monday, May 3, 2010

BLUEBERRY STREUSEL MUFFINS

WE INTERRUPT YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING…


What a month it has been. I take a break from regularly scheduled programming – telling the tales of my week vacation out East, the recounting of fabulous, mouthwatering meals, of my falling in love with France all over again – in order just to catch up a bit, catch my blogging breath so to speak, and bake a little. I’ve been busy, so busy, and see that my kitchen has slowed down as has my blog. But where have I been?

My son, my baby boy, has flown the nest. Early morning on the last day of March we watched him walk away from us, through the metal detectors, watched the plane take off into the blue and carry him off to the other side of the world. He is now in New Orleans, volunteering, rebuilding, giving to others as he slides into adulthood, discovers who he is. He has dreamed of “becoming an American” for so many years and now he is living that dream. I hear the pleasure and pride in his voice when we speak on the phone, the surprise and thrill of doing a good job and being recognized and appreciated for what he, what they are doing for the community. He tells of neighborhood women and church groups bringing them hot meals and home-baked cakes, of local residents leaving them cold drinks and snacks at their work sites, of people recognizing them as lowernine.org on the street and in restaurants and saying hello, shaking their hands, thanking them for the effort they are doing. And my son is proud. As are his parents.


And my brother’s birthday has come and gone, this first birthday not followed up with a phone call, my sons and I singing “Happy Birthday to you, you belong in the zoo” loudly, joyously across the miles to him; no e-mails from him describing the birthday cake he baked for himself this year, the dinner he enjoyed with his friends, the concert they heard or jazz club visited. And so many thoughts flitted through my mind all day long of all the great meals he’ll never eat, wines he’ll never taste, films he’ll never see, moments in my sons’ lives he’ll no longer share with us. Tickets have been purchased, our places reserved, for that summer trip to Florida where we will be going through and dividing up his belongings and I know how many memories will slide through my mind as each object slips through my fingers, as I sit and think “is this all that is left? Is this all that it comes down to?” Yet know that his memory will live on with each cake I bake in one of his pans, each cream I turn out of one of those old copper jello molds, each pot of chili and red velvet cake made from his recipes, each time I slide one of his cookbooks off of my shelf. He loved great food and wine, was a fantastic, creative, passionate cook and baker and that, I will make sure, will live on in my kitchen.

And vacation. We took one week off and got in the car and drove off into the distance, east towards adventure and romance. We headed up into the mountains leaving computers, phones, work, worries and Boston behind and laced on our walking shoes, shrugged into our padded coats and headed even further up into the mountains, getting lost, caught in barbed wire, stared at by insolent cows. We stomped in snow and threw a real snowball or two at each other, ate soft, chewy baguette stuffed with thick slices of local cheese, laughed, chatted and felt the weight of the world slide right off of our shoulders. The evenings were spent savoring gourmet delights while candlelight flickered in our eyes and we planned the next day’s pleasures. Then off to Lyon and Annecy and some of the best meals we’ve ever eaten, one gorgeous city and a trip back in time to ancient Gaul.


We seem to only pack the restaurant guides for trips these days...

And my huge success. I am so proud. Thanks to a dear twitter friend reaching out to me, I am now a proud contributor to the Huffington Post Food section and my first article has been published. I invite each and everyone of you to hop over there, read my article and please leave a comment if you are so inspired. And all Retweets and Facebook shares are greatly appreciated! I am bursting with pride and excitement and feel appreciated as a writer, knowing now just how far and how high I can go.

All it takes is a little determination, a lot of self-confidence, patience and friends (thank you, lovely ladies, dear friends!) and slowly but surely things work out in the end. They really do.


And I will be speaking this June at Food Blogger Connect in London about, what else, Writing Style & Voice alongside the very talented Jeanne of Cook Sister! and Kerrin of My Kugelhopf. Snap up one of the last remaining tickets for this fantastic conference specially designed for the food blogger, filled with information and “secrets” from the best, networking, great food and great company!

And Clem. Lost little boy, so multi-talented, energetic (when he has something that he’s passionate about), creative and did I say talented? After a few years of sleeping, thinking and sleeping some more, he has found his passion, his calling, his thing (for lack of a better word). He is winding up his first year of architecture school top of his class, works on the side free-lancing for architects, works day in and day out all day and all night churning out project after stunning project. And on top of it all, he is as happy as a bug in a rug. What pleasure to see someone so content with what he is doing, where he is and where he is going. The world is his oyster and the pearls are his for the grabbing and will one day be tumbling from his fingertips.


I made these moist, delicate muffins for Clem. Muffins more tender than our favorite Cranberry Muffins, muffins bursting with blueberry flavor and just a hint of fresh lemon tang. Muffins so light and tender they melt in the mouth, barely sweet, just enough, topped with a gorgeous, crunchy streusel topping with the depth and warmth of dark brown sugar and cinnamon. I used blueberries left over from my Rhubarb Berry Crumbles and my beautiful Mixed Berry Pie and a new recipe for muffins from my wonderful Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook.


BLUEBERRY STREUSEL MUFFINS

1 ¾ cups (220 g) flour
1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
2 tsps baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup (200 ml) milk
¼ cup (50 ml) vegetable oil
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon (optional)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries*
1 recipe Streusel Topping (below), optional but fabulous

* I used frozen blueberries which I simply tossed (still frozen) with a large pinch of flour

STREUSEL TOPPING:
3 Tbs flour
3 Tbs packed brown sugar, light or dark but well packed
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbs (30 g) butter, preferably unsalted, cold or just slightly softened

Place the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and toss to combine. Add the butter, cut into cubes, and, using only your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients quickly until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with no large chunks of butter left. Set aside while you prepare the muffin batter.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Lightly grease twelve muffin cups or line with paper muffin/cupcake cups. **

In a small bowl, toss the frozen blueberries with a large pinch of flour if using frozen berries.

In a medium bowl, blend the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt (as well as the lemon zest if adding) and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl or large glass mixing cup, combine the milk, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla and whisk together with a fork until well blended.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir just until all of the dry ingredients are moistened and everything is well blended. Do not overmix muffin batter or the muffins will be tough rather than light and tender. Fold in the blueberries just until the berries are evenly distributed. If using frozen berries, the batter may turn blue!

Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Divide the Streusel Topping evenly between the muffins, sprinkly on the topping generously over the top of each muffin.

Bake the muffins in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes ** or until the muffins are puffed up, the Streusel Topping is a deep golden brown and a tester stuck all the way in the center of one muffin comes out clean or with only a crumb, no liquid batter.

Remove the muffin tin from the oven and allow to cool just slightly before carefully lifting out the muffins out of the tin using a sharp knife to pull the muffins up so as not to burn yourself.


** You can use pretty much any size muffin tin for this recipe, mini, regular or large. Simply divide the batter evenly between the lined or greased cups not filling each cup more than 2/3 (two thirds) full and adjust baking time accordingly, simply keeping an eye on the muffins. Mini muffins can take as little as 10 minutes, medium 18 – 20, jumbo as much as 30 minutes.


42 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Gorgeous muffins! Blueberry and streusel, perfect!

Cheers,

Rosa

Joy said...

I feel your pain about the birthday. ((big hugs))

That said, when there is sadness, there is also joy. Life's a balanced feast that way. Congrats on your HP article! Love, love. Your writing continues to captivate, one of the few that are worth sitting down for with a good cup of tea. And blueberry muffins, which I shall make very soon!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Congrats to you on your first published article! What an amazing accomplishment :), I know how much that means to you.
Am loving these muffins (as well as your description of them). They look mouth watering. They are going into my bookmarks right away :)
*kisses* HH

The Cooking Ninja said...

I love blueberry muffins. It's my all time favourite muffin in my teens and 20s. ;)

Congrats on your post at Huffington Food Post. :) Read it a day ago - that's what I love about France. My hub's family has this same tradition as I did when I was growing up in Singapore. Now with everyone working and coming home at different hours, the daily family dinner tradition is not continued anymore but the weekends still holds in Singapore. Every weekend, all couples with their kids return home for lunch and dinner.

Grumpy and HoneyB said...

Every momma loves to have pride in their children! :)

I love your muffins! They are so nice and big and BLUE! :)

The Duchess said...

Your son sounds like he is having a great time and good for him for getting involved in such a important cause/experience. Best of luck to him!

The muffins look to die for, I so miss proper blueberry muffins here in France. Will have to have a go!

Thanks!

Peter M said...

WHOA! Some of the best blueberry muffins I've seen in a long time. I'll go grab the coffee.

ABowlOfMush said...

Wow!!

These are the most gorgeous blueberry muffins I've ever seen!

Look at that streusel! :)

Cinnamon-Girl said...

I want to eat the tops of all those muffins! I have a streusel weakness! Congratulations on your article! I'm off to check it out.

Asha @ FSK said...

Oh Jamie! You must be such a proud mama with two wonderful sons!! :))

Sorry about your brother.. Hugs to you and congrats on being published!! way to gooo! :)

Maria said...

Congrats on the article!! And I love the looks of these muffins!

5 Star Foodie said...

These muffins are picture perfect and seriously tempting. Congrats on your article published!

El said...

It's great that your son is in New Orleans helping out. You must be very proud. Congrats on the Huffington Post. And, I must say...the muffins look fabulous!

Heidi Leon Monges said...

Jamie, I'm so happy to read everything is going so well for you and your kids (well, not so kids anymore).

hugs

Rambling Tart said...

My goodness, Jamie, you've been through the emotional gamut the last while! Big hug to you! I'm so glad your son is finding himself in such a worthy and caring way. May your heart be comforted as you miss your brother, and continue to celebrate the family members you still have around you. SO happy for your publishing venture! HOORAY!!! :-)

mlaiuppa said...

Why yes, Huffington Post has added a food page. So glad you're going to be a part of it.

Now I've got the perfect recipe for fresh blueberries. Yum.

Mowie @ Mowielicious said...

Oh wow Jamie! That is amazing about Huffington - I'm so happy for you! Awesome news - I'm so proud =) xxx

sunita said...

ngrats on your published article, dear Jamie, and also to both your sons for faring so well. They've certainly done their parents proud.

And, of course, those muffins look so tempting :-)

shaz said...

Such a bittersweet post Jamie, the sadness for your brother tempered by the great things being accomplished by your little boy, and of course yourself. Congatulations on the article, well done. (Loved it).

And how I wish I lived closer so I could attend FBC 10.

Must admit I don't do muffins (if I'm going to eat small cakey things, I'll go all out and have a cupcake instead), but these look so good I think I'm converted.

Brit said...

Love you Jamie. That's one of your most delicious blog posts ever, I got all teary. xxx

Junglefrog said...

What a wonderful post again Jamie; can't believe it's already been a year that your brother passed away. Time does tend to get away from us. Glad you enjoyed your trip too and - ofcourse - congratulations on your first published article (if we don't count the numerous articles you have written here that is..)! I am now off to read it! And ofcourse; your muffins are beautiful and delicious, as can only be expected!

sarah said...

Your post began sad, but ended hopeful- great job on your first job as a professional writer (very exciting)
and of course the blueberry muffins are gourgeous.

The Beso Team said...

Dear Jaime,

Thank You for entering the Bake Up Summer Sweets Contest. I hope you are given the opportunity to own a new KitchenAid mixer so you can whip up your mixed berry pie recipe with ease.
Thank You and Good Luck!
The Beso Team
Beso.com

Deeba PAB said...

Wonderful read Jamie... you must be so proud. I am bursting with pride sitting here. So thrilled for you { and for JP}. Everything seems to be falling into place & what better way to celebrate than these gorgeous muffins. Blueberry streusel are my daughters fave muffins, but sadly we don't get blueberries here. I love these! xo

theUngourmet said...

Congratulations on having your article published. You are such and amazing writer and your recipe are always gorgeous. These muffins look fantastic!

Cathy said...

I have some lovely blueberries left in the freezer that are just shouting out for these muffins. A good muffin and a cup of coffee are the perfect start to my day.

It's painful and exciting at the same time to see our babies grow up. The better they adjust to leaving the better job we've done in preparing them.

Happy Cook said...

I am sure you are really proud of what your son as achieved till now. And I am sure your bro is watching you over and enjoying your stardom starting with the HP post. Thise muffins look so so good so yumm and filled just like the one in the coffeeshops.

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Congrats on your Huffington post column. Superb! I am so proud of you...and inspired. Glad you had a great holiday too.

And to watch a child grow, to mature and to leave home. Wow. What an age. Hmmmm, we will get there! LOL

Barbara Bakes said...

Looks like a perfect blueberry muffin. Love the little tins. Also loved your Huffington Post article. Well done.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

A beautiful post (as always) of a bittersweet time. I'm sure your son will do you proud! :) And WOW, WOW and WOW congratulations on your Huffington Post gig! That's brilliant my darling! :D

Esi said...

Blueberry muffins are my favorite kind. They are made even better with streusel!

Y said...

Wow, so much to catch up on, on your blog. Congrats on the published article (and for the many others to come)! Blueberry muffins are my faaaave.

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

Beautiful muffins Jamie - and beautiful post! Congrats on all the good things happening, all richly deserved. I feel about my mom the way you feel about your brother - there are so many things she will never experiencce. She would SO have loved blogging but passed away before it became widely possible. But she is there with me every time I cook something out of her dog-eared recipe book or measure out ingredients in her measuring spoons.

Jamie said...

Thanks so very much for the best wishes and the kind words. What an emotional roller coster it has been but I truly could not have made it through without each and every one of you friends, supporters. Your kind words and encouragement mean so very much to me.

@jeanne: yes. Nothing else to say. Hug to you.

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Congratulations on your Huff piece, I really enjoyed it!

Hopefully the first of many!

Katie said...

These look divine! I have been looking for a blueberry muffin recipe like this for ages - thanks!

Sophie said...

What stunning looking muffins, so special too, dear Jamie!


MMMMMM,... areal delight!

Congrats on your 1st publiced article!! Yeah!

Nicisme said...

Congratulations on the article, how excited you must have been to see it in print!
It can be so hard to let them go, but rewarding at the same time if you know what I mean.
(((Hugs)))

Sari said...

Love this post Jamie! It's full of positive vibes and good news. You must be very proud of both of your sons. Congrats on being published. Just finished reading the article and it's fantastic!
I definitely bookmark this recipe, looks so yummy! Love blueberry muffins.

valpinkfuzzy said...

These were the best muffins I have EVER made. they didn't last in the house very long either. a must-bake!

Jamie said...

@valpinkfuzzy - I am so glad!! I think they are fabulous but always thrilled when others make something I make with great results! Yay!

asiangrrl said...

Oh, Jamie, the bitter and the sweet of this post shine through. All the ups (in your writing life and with your baby boy) and all the downs (reliving the loss of your beloved brother)--tempered with the sweet juicy blueberry of your delicious muffins.

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