Monday, July 23, 2007

Culinary Crush?

I think I've developed a "culinary crush". Or, maybe it's a "culinary infatuation"? There's nothing romantic or even malicious about it (If my vocabulary serves me well, this would exclude "culinary envy" as a label). It can best be described as meeting someone with superior culinary skills, tools and entertaining flair...and hanging on her every word.

About a month ago, I was introduced to a woman who is a marketing executive at Calphalon. ( Check out the "history" section of their website.

She has a tiny kitchen equipped with Calphalon pieces from every line . A few weeks ago, I got to enjoy a dinner party at her house. It was a casual barbecue but it included some fabulous salads, grilled veggies, seasoned burgers, and a gorgeous array of home baked pies and cupcakes. I was particularly entranced by the enormous cutting board on which she artfully arranged cheeses, nuts, dried fruit and crackers as an appetizer. In all honesty, the Glass City Gourmet has never even attempted entertaining for a crowd. It all looked so beautiful, and yet she did it all in one day. GASP!

Last weekend, I invited my heroine, her husband and son to join us for Thai night. After dinner, we went back to her house and she performed on the fly, with beautiful chocolate martinis and an array of fun cookies. I was tickled to be given a new "Calphalon Kitchen Essentials 6 Cupcake Pan with Silicone Liners". It turned out that while distribution is underway, this is a piece not yet available in stores. I was giddy with excitement.

As quickly as possible, I tested this in my own kitchen with a recipe for Blueberry Crunch Muffins. These muffins freeze well for up to 3 weeks.

Blueberry Crunch Muffins

1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1.2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg
2/3 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup blueberries (picked over for stems)

To make the topping, put the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse to combine. Drop the butter on top and pulse until the mixture begins to form small, pebble like nuggets. If you don't feel like cleaning the food processor, combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and use two knives or a pastry blender to work the mixture into the crumby nuggets.

Preheat oven to 400F. Line 12 muffin tins with silcone or paper liners.

To make the muffins, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugar. Blend in the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mix, then drop the blueberries on to of the dry ingredients and stir until just blended, being careful not to break up the blueberries.

Spoon 1/4 c. of batter into each muffin cup and top with 1 tbs of the crunchy topping. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 17-20 minutes.

“Glass City Gourmet” is a chronicle of one woman's attempt to cook, eat, diet and entertain with both flair and whimsy while based in Toledo, Ohio. I encourage you to read on as the "Glass City Gourmet" attempts grand recipes, samples locally owned restaurants, visits indigenous markets and humbly pursues her quest to be formally recognized as the official "Glass City Gourmet".

1 comment:

  1. Re: cupcake pan...I found this recipe as I was wandering the web this week. These are billed as "self-frosting." I'm not sure how accurate a description that is, but I love Nutella and the "quick-scratch" nature of including it in cupcakes.

    Nutella Frosted Cupcakes
    10 tbsp(140 grams) butter, softened
    3/4 cup white sugar
    3 eggs
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    1 3/4 cups (200 grams) sifted all-purpose flour
    1/4 tsp salt
    2 tsp baking powder
    Nutella, approx. 1/3 cup

    Preheat oven to 325F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.

    Cream together butter and sugar until light, 2 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Don't worry if the batter doesn't look smooth. Add vanilla. Stir in flour, salt and baking powder until batter is uniform and no flour remains.

    Using an ice cream scoop, fill each muffin liner with batter. They should be 3/4 full, if you're not using a scoop. Top each cake with 1 1/2 tsp Nutella. Swirl Nutella in with a toothpick, making sure to fold a bit of batter up over the nutella.

    Bake for 20 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.