I’m not sure if you have noticed. I have a thing for muffins. Muffins are not fancy. They are utilitarian. We all eat them, but usually as an afterthought. “I’ll just grab a muffin or something.” It’s a because.there.is.nothing.else option. But I love them. I love that every batch is different (mostly because I never make exactly the same recipe more than once). I can pack an unusual amount of nutrition into a small little package – or not. There are muffins that are full-out healthy (protein and veggie filled) and then there are those that are just for fun (these banana chocolate chip come to mind). They are simple and every-day to complex and fancy, and everything in between. I can whip up a batch in minutes and send the kids off to school with a relatively wholesome treat in their lunch box. Plus, and maybe most importantly, they satisfy my need to bake – without the repercussions of, say, making a chocolate cake complete with chocolate glaze for no real reason and then FORCING everyone to eat it. Problematic on a regular basis. Kids will eat the muffins. Yes, they will. And I will not feel badly about it. They are not dessert, after all. And I have found that muffins can be a great way to use up unseeming amounts of fresh fruit and veggies. Case in point. I’m buried in pears at the moment. The CSA bins have graced us with a glut of pears these last few weeks. We will eat the pears raw, just as they are only when they are not quite ripe and still crunchy. Once they are soft and juicy, dripping down your fingers juicy – they sit in the crisper until, well, until muffins.
This Pear and Cardamom muffin falls in the middle of virtuous and fancy.They are relatively low in fat, but drizzled in a sweet glaze. I’ve packed them full of fruit. Pears are always more refined and fancier than apples (IMO), so I’ve went with cardamom for its sweet exotic spiciness.
Speaking of CSA bins. This year was my first experience with a home delivery produce program and the season is almost over. I use this one. Since I don’t know what is coming every week I’ve learned to be a bit more flexible with my weekly meal plan. I tend to plan and grocery shop on the weekend and the bin comes on Monday afternoons. So I’ve struggled with planning, overbought at the store and just didn’t have enough room for all the good. Part way through the summer I fell into a methodology where instead of “Green Pea Pasta” on the menu, the plan is a bit more general “pasta with feta” and I’ll see what comes and make a last-minute decision about what exactly will go in that pasta and feta dish. There have been a few casualties. Things that I just did not have time to cook up before they went bad, but for the most part I’ve managed to use or store what came each week. There have been too many ears of corn, bags of potatoes and …turnips. And a 10 lb cabbage. (He was majestic. Obviously a “he”! What? Stay tune for a cabbage recipe in the next week or so, obviously.)
More importantly there was rhubarb and the freshest asparagus and green beans, and pretty beets and greens each week. Brief stints of berries and concord grapes! Plus all the staples that I would buy anyway – carrots and peppers, broccoli and tomatoes. My sous-chef loves opening the bin to see what arrived. He usually beats me too it. So, yes, it has been totally worth $35 per week and I will do it again next year. Besides it is fun to discover yet another bag of carrots and revisit that soup recipe I haven’t seen in a while.
Pear Muffins with Cardamom
- 1-1/2 cups pastry flour
- 1/2 cup all-purpose whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup milk your choice (soy, almond....)
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups plain yogurt I used full fat
- 1 large egg
- 1-1/2 cups peeled and diced pears
- 1-1/2 teaspoons milk
- 1/4 powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with paper cups
- In a large bowl combine flours, brown sugar, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add milk, oil, vanilla, yogurt and the egg. Gently beat the egg, then fold wet ingredients into dry until almost completely combined. A few powdery pockets are okay. Add pears, and gently fold in to combine.
- Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake at 350 for about 18 minutes. Muffins will be lightly browned on top and pass the toothpick test. Remove muffins from the muffin tin and place on a cooling rack.
- Combine 1-1/2 teaspoons milk with icing sugar and stir until a smooth, just soft enough to drip, paste forms. Once muffins are slightly cooled, slightly warm is okay, drizzle each muffin with the glaze. Best served warm, the day they are made.
- Sub in apples for the pears if desired.
- These muffins do not keep very well, the glaze will run and become sticky. Best served the day made.