While I try to adhere to being a mindful eater after the holidays, I also try to strike a balance by baking and concocting various one-pot meals. The sheer warmth of the oven, coupled with the aromas that permeate the kitchen do just enough to justify winter as carb season. In the Northeast, the months of January and February pave way for boundless culinary opportunities as we take respite indoors.
Last Sunday, my fiancé and I threw some pork shoulder in the crock-pot, which resulted in some deliciously tender pulled pork. A simple cole slaw paired well with the shredded pork, but we knew the meal was not yet complete. After leafing through the digital pages of my recipe archives, I happened upon a savory corn muffin recipe (with rosemary and black pepper) from Cook’s Illustrated. It didn’t take me long to realize why I had “dog-eared” the page as a favorite, as the rosemary-black pepper synergy struck a perfect balance (the sour cream in this recipe doesn’t hurt, either). I immediately went to work in the kitchen in order to bring these muffins back to life. They are an ideal complement to any chili or meat-centric meal and as a standalone, they shine equally as bright.
Flash forward to this Sunday, where despite the impending Super Bowl festivities, my cravings for muffins clearly have not subsided. After rounding the corner of my block to grab my morning coffee and check my Instagram, I noticed a certain NY Times blueberry muffin recipe flow into my feed. The timing of this one couldn’t have been any better. Jordan Marsh’s Blueberry Muffin recipe is quite honestly, the best one I’ve ever attempted (and tasted). The recipe itself dates back to 1987 from the (now defunct) Jordan Marsh department store in Boston.
I particularly like the subtlety of the mashing of blueberries prior to folding them into the batter, which gives the muffins a moistness that lasts for days. I add a little lemon zest (thank you, Mark Bittman) for an additional pop of flavor. And if you have access to Maine blueberries, those are not-so-arguably the best.
Easy like Sunday morning, indeed.
½ c. softened (unsalted) butter
1 ¼ c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. flour
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
½ c. milk
2 c. blueberries, washed, drained and picked over
3 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. lemon zest (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Cream the butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.
- Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder, and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk.
- Crush 1/2 cup blueberries with a fork, and mix into the batter. Fold in the remaining whole berries.
- Line a 12 cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners, and fill with batter. Sprinkle the 3 teaspoons sugar over the tops of the muffins, and bake at 375 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.
- Remove muffins from tin and cool at least 30 minutes. Store, uncovered, or the muffins will be too moist the second day, if they last that long.
Cook’s Illustrated Savory Corn Muffins with Rosemary & Black Pepper
Makes 12 muffins
2 c. cornmeal
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ¼ tsp. salt
1 ¼ c. whole milk
1 c. sour cream
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 tbsp. sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
1 ½ tsp. black pepper
- Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 F. Grease 12-cup muffin tin. Whisk 1 ½ cups cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- Combine milk and remaining ½ cup cornmeal in a large bowl. Microwave milk-cornmeal mixture for 1 ½ minutes. Whisk thoroughly and continue whisking every 30 seconds, until thickened to batter-like consistency (whisk will leave channel in bottom of the bowl that slowly fills in), 1 to 3 minutes longer.
- Whisk in sour cream, melted butter, and sugar until combined. Whisk in eggs, rosemary, and pepper until combined.
- Fold in flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Fold in flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Using portion scoop or large spoon, divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups (about ½ cup batter per cu[; batter will mound slightly about the rim).
- Bake until tops are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 13-17 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking. Let muffins cool in muffin tin on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from muffin tin and let cool 5 minutes longer. Serve warm.
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