23 December 2009

A Whole Different Kettle of Cranberries

From December 2009

As you can tell from my recent posts, I'm a bit up to my knees in cranberries. I love the tart snap of a fresh cranberry. When they pop, bursting their juices in these muffins, they add the most refreshing color to these oat-bran-heavy breakfast goodies.

This is another big alteration of an original recipe from the great new cookbook from the Moosewood folks, Cooking for Health. I'd almost begun reviewing the book again when I remembered that I already had on yet another cranberry-heavy recipe! My version of Moosewood's "Apple Muffins with Oat Bran and Dates" is vegan, and substitutes agave nectar for molasses, apricots for dates, and cranberries for the apples. I've also added in a little fat in the form of 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil.

In my baking career, I've made a few cholesterol fighters in my time, but I think these will become part of my daily diet. Between all the oat bran, flaxmeal, and walnuts in these muffins, my numbers will be decreasing in no time. Overall, these oat-y, cranberry muffins go a long way toward making healthy taste good.

Here's the recipe as I made it.

Cranberry Oat Bran Muffins (Greatly inspired by "Apple Muffins with Oat Bran and Dates" on page 52 of The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking For Health.)
Yield: 12


1/2 cup soy or coconut milk yogurt
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons flax meal
3/4 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 cup oat bran
1/4 rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Baking Spice by Pensey's
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


1. In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, vinegar, flax meal, apricots, vanilla, agave nectar, and oil until well combined.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oat bran, oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
3. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir until the dry ingredients are coated with the wet.
4. Fold in the cranberries and the walnuts.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line your muffin pan with paper liners.
6. Fill each liner to the top edge with the muffin batter. These won't puff up much at all, so don't worry about these being over filled.
7. Bake for 20 minutes or until a bamboo tester comes out clean.
8. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then tip out the muffins and let them cool completely on a wire rack. Freeze any that will not be eaten in the next 3 days.
9. Enjoy!

From December 2009

17 December 2009

Making Over Martha: Cranberry Tangerine Muffins

From December 2009

Catching up a bit from recent baking (and scholarly) triumphs, here is my latest Making-Over-Martha moment. The original recipe was called "Clementine-Vanilla Bean Quick Bread," from the November issue of Martha Stewart Living. I wanted to noodle around with this recipe for several reasons:
1. I still have a few pounds of cranberries I froze right after Thanksgiving.
2. The recipe seemed "bendable" enough for me to be able to do some alterations with it.
3. I had several tangerines in the fridge that needed to be eaten.

From December 2009

The original recipes call for making a loaf of the batter and soaking it with a citrus simple syrup. I handled it a bit differently by making muffins glazed from a mixture of simmered agave nectar, tangerine juice, and tapioca flour. That worked very well and I've since applied the technique with other flavorings to different baked goods.

To my vegan friends, this recipe can be veganized by substituting 3 oz. of solid coconut butter for the dairy butter, increasing the baking powder and baking soda to 3/4 teaspoon each, and by using 2 teaspoons of flaxmeal in 2 tablespoons of water instead of the eggs. By the way, since my cholesterol came up high again this week, I'm with you. No more butter and eggs for me. So, you'll be seeing all veganized recipes after this one.

The resulting muffins are very cakelike in texture with a lovely fresh flavor from the tangerine segments. A note about that: removing the fruit from the bitter membrane and pith is very time consuming. Build in an extra hour when you make these and put on a David Sedaris CD for some good laughs while you're doing it.

The cranberries were the exact right foil for the richness of the muffin. They paired well with the tangerines, and made me think of adding cut halves of cranberries to my next fruit salad.

Here's the recipe as I made it:

Cranberry Tangerine Muffins (greatly inspired by "Clementine-Vanilla Bean Quick Bread" on page 200 of the November 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living)

Yield: 12 large and 12 mini muffins

4 large tangerines
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup agave nectar
2 eggs
2 cups white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1/4 cup coconut flour (sifted)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soy creamer
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tablespoons tapioca flour

1. Zest and juice 2 of the tangerines.
2. Take the other 2 tangerines apart by separating the orange fruit from the white pith and membranes. It's an awful task, I know, but it will be worth it.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter with 3/4 cup agave nectar until completely incorporated. Beat in the eggs (it will look terribly globby, but don't worry about it) for 2 minutes.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the soy creamer, vanilla, and 1/4 cup of the tangerine juice.
5. In yet another bowl (I know, lots to clean, sorry), sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
6. In alternating turns, add the creamer and flour mixtures to the butter mixture. It should take about 2 minutes to add everything in and mix everything well.
7. Fold in the tangerines and cranberries.
8. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 12 cups of a large muffin pan and 12 cups of a mini muffin pan.
9. Using scoops, fill the muffin cups to the top with the batter.
10. Bake for 30 minutes for the minis and 45 minutes for the large muffins (or until a bamboo tester comes out clean).
11. While the muffins bake, make the glaze. In a small saucepan, simmer the agave nectar, remaining tangerine juice, and tapioca flour. Whisk often until it thickens, then turn off the heat and let cool.
12. After the muffins cool for 10 minutes, take the muffins out of their pans and let them cool completely.
13. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the glaze over the tops of the muffins. It will set up nicely.
14. Enjoy!

13 December 2009

Where Have I Been?

A bit chained to my desk, actually. I'm down to my last paper to be posted online on Tuesday, so please bear with me just a little bit longer.

Yesterday, after a full morning working on the paper, I enjoyed a fun Hannukah celebration at Mom and Dave's. As soon as I dig out from underneath all these papers on human computer interaction and user interface design, I'll find the very rich Noodle Kugel recipe I made for Mom's little party.

One last thing -- what I want for the holidays: Please donate or volunteer at your local food bank. Mine's Community FoodBank of New Jersey. Happy holidays!

02 December 2009

Updated Cookbook Review: Moosewood Restaurant, Cooking for Health

From November 2009 photos

That tasty vegan mix above is the topping for the crumble I made to test out the newest cookbook from the Moosewood folks, Cooking for Health. Actually, it was a blueberry, cranberry, and slightly apple crumble. I also made a few alterations to the recipe in terms of the directions and the ingredients because it seemed like the fruit would be a bit overcooked if I didn't.

From November 2009 photos

In this photo, it looks like it really shrunk down. But that's my fault. I used a very deep baking dish to test the recipe. It shrinks a bit, but not a huge amount. I'm sorry I didn't take a scoop-out shot, but this was one of the dishes I brought to Mom's for Thanksgiving last week, and I didn't want to dig into it prior to serving it to the folks. All that aside, it was a very good crumble. Healthy, full of great vitamin C from the berries and fiber from the oats and cornmeal (a surprise in crumble, but a welcome one), this is one recipe I'll use over again.

It's flexible enough to noodle with, so my gluten-free friends can easily enjoy it with gluten-free flours instead. What I liked most about this dessert (other than the flavors of the fruit and the crumble's crunch) was that it was super-easy to make and alter. I think the next time I make this, I'll use barley flour instead of the cornmeal. I really liked it in granola, and my version of the topping is much more like granola than not.

Here's the recipe as I made it. Greatly inspired by Apple-Blueberry Crumble on page 316 of Moosewood Restaurant, Cooking for Health (2009).

Blueberry-Cranberry Apple Crumble
Serves 10

4 cups cored apples chopped into 1/2 pieces (peel if you wish, but I didn't)
4 cups blueberries (I used frozen because they are not in season)
3 cups fresh cranberries (because they are in season, but frozen will do if not in season where you are)
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1/2 cup (or less, depending on your taste) agave nectar
3/4 cup rolled oats (old fashioned)
3/4 cup cornmeal (or alternate flour, such as brown rice or barley)
1 cup chopped raw pecans
3/4 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds, although you could just as easily use sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
2 teaspoons apple pie spice (I use Pensey's because it has great flavor)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup olive oil (make sure it's a nice, fruity oil, otherwise, you could use grapeseed or some other lightly flavored oil)
1/2 cup agave nectar


1. Lightly oil a 9 x 13 in. glass baking dish.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the fruit, tapioca flour, and first agave nectar measurement until well coated with the flour.
3. In another large bowl, stir together the oats, cornmeal, nuts, seeds, spices, and salt.
4. Add the oil and agave nectar to the dry ingredients and stir until you start seeing large crumbs (1/4 in.) form.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
6. Add the fruit to the baking dish and top with the crumbs. Spread the crumbs evenly over the fruit. Cover with foil.
7. Bake the fruit crumble for 20 minutes with the foil, then remove the foil and continue baking for another 15 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbly and the topping has become golden brown. Don't be concerned if you hear popping noises -- those are just the cranberries. They don't explode, just break their skins. You can avoid this by lightly chopping them prior to adding them to the mix.
8. This is best served warm, so only cool it for about 10 minutes before serving. However, you can make this ahead and re-heat it. It stays well in the fridge for a couple of days.
9. Enjoy!

It occurred to me that I hadn't actually given a review of the book when I wrote the entry above. So, here it is! There is a lot to like about the newest Moosewood cookbook. For starters, the authors took care with the design of the book so that it is very easy to use. For instance, most of the recipes appear on one page, the nutritional facts (calories, fat, etc.) are included with each recipe, the ingredients are ordered well and highlighted in a shaded box for easy reading, and between chapters there is a great deal of interesting information about ingredients.

The majority of the recipes are savory, although the one above is a good example of the Moosewood dessert style (simple, not overly sweet, and fruit-centric). The recipes are easily alterable for special diets and food sensitivities, which is such a gift. Overall, I really liked paging through the book and look forward to working my way through the savory recipes (more than likely on Here and There).