I got hungry this morning and those ripe bananas sitting in the fruit bowl were talking to me. Well, actually, they were talking to my nose, but the end result is the same. I've been making a "rustic" banana muffin for years, but it had quite a bit more sugar and fat than I thought was really necessary. It was tasty, but I thought I could tone it down and still end up with a fine muffin.
I went back and forth over whether to switch to simply using oil compared to shortening. I love the ease of oil over having to cream a batter. I made the switch on a different muffin recipe I use with great success, but I thought I might need that creaming to keep the texture I wanted. I think you could probably use oil instead of shortening and the result would be pretty good, so run with it if you need to. You also have the option to use maple syrup or honey as the liquid sugar in this muffin, depending on the flavor you're going for. I love them both, but they are slightly different. Try them both and see what you think!
Briefly cream the fat and sugar together and then beat in the eggs. I'm so happy to have farm fresh eggs again. In hindsight, I had pretty good timing on that choice to raising hens last year!
Mash the bananas and then beat them into the wet ingredients. You need a cup of banana puree, which is usually two large bananas, but if you end up a bit shy, just top off with water to make the cup.
The batter will be fairly stiff and that's all right!
Sprinkling the tops with a bit of wheat bran and turbinado sugar really makes them special. Turbinado sugar is a coarse crystal, less refined sugar. It has a bit of a molasses edge and the crunch it gives to the top of the muffin is a totally not optional option in my mind.
I use a size 16 disher to make loading the muffin cups easy (that's the blue handled one, if your dishers are color coded). Sprinkle the tops and bake in a preheated 375F oven for about twenty minutes. When the tops start to brown and the muffins are no longer jiggly, they should be ready.
Look how much they rose in the oven! These muffins have a pretty tight crumb structure, but they are soft and delicious. Let cool slightly before eating so that the paper will come off easily.
Hearty Banana Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins
1/3 c vegetable shortening
1/3 c maple syrup or honey
1/4 c sugar
2 large eggs
1 c mashed bananas
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c wheat bran
1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)
sprinkle of turbinado sugar and wheat bran for the tops
Preheat the oven to 375F. Briefly cream the shortening and sugar together. Add the eggs and beat. Mash the bananas and then add to the creamed mixture. If you're bananas don't quite make the amount required, simply top off with a bit of water to make the cup and a half. Beat until well mixed.
In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir gently until well incorporated. Use a #16 (blue) disher to fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Sprinkle muffins tops with a little wheat bran and then turbinado sugar. Bake until beginning to brown on the tops and a tester comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. Muffins freeze very well. Use a microwave to thaw if frozen: 25 seconds for one and 40 seconds for two in most microwaves.
'Tis the season! Asparagus will always hold a special place in my heart as far as vegetables go. I love that it is usually one of - if not the first - home grown, fresh produce I get to enjoy from my yard every year. The excitement I experience when I notice the first sign of them punching through is indescribable!
Of course, you have to still wait a bit between seeing them first pop through and having your first harvest... and that waiting can be hard! My first harvest, which is usually less than a pound, is always roasted because that's my favorite way to enjoy asparagus, but, as the season wears on, I find myself becoming a bit overwhelmed by how much of the stuff is getting harvested on a daily basis.
That's when I turn to asparagus soup. Mainly because by that point, I'm starting to get a bit weary of roasted asparagus and partly because it's, in my opinion, the best way to preserve the harvest. I make the soup and freeze it to enjoy in the middle of winter and it tastes just as fresh and perfect in December as it does when I make it!
This recipe is great because it is easy to scale depending on how much asparagus you have. Make a big pot, enjoy a nice dinner, and freeze the rest in containers or bags (I have a vacuum sealer, so that's how I do it).
Cream of Asparagus Soup
Yield: 2 servings, double/triple, etc. as needed
1 TBS butter
1 small shallot, diced
1/4 cup celery ribs, diced
2 cups chopped asparagus spears, woody ends removed
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup cream (heavy or light, depending on your mood)
salt & pepper to taste
Sauté the shallot and celery in the butter over medium-high heat. Reduce heat as needed to prevent too much browning. When the shallot and celery are beginning to soften, add the asparagus. Sauté for another 3-4 minutes.
Add the broth and bring the soup to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are very tender, about ten minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and let cool slightly before pureeing in a food processor or blender. Return the soup to the pot and place back over the heat. Add the cream and salt and pepper. Heat, stirring, until it just reaches a simmer. Remove from the heat and serve.