November 1, 2010

bogged down

Can we talk seriously for a moment? No?


How about a hot second? Okay.

I was given the opportunity to read and review Harold McGee's new book "Keys to Good Cooking." Folks, there's so much useful information in this tome that I don't even know where to begin. There are chapters focusing on safety, kitchen tools, and basic cooking methods. There are pages and pages about meats, fruits and veggies, breads, and, my favorite, sweets. It's written in an easily-understandable fashion, with each chapter beginning with a simple introduction followed by bullet point after bullet point of practical factoids. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it's a reference I'll be keeping within reach from now on.

Seriously. It's sitting on the desk beside me right now.

Fluffy. Fluffy like my hair on a humid day...but much more attractive.

In honor of the book, I made some cranberry pecan muffins. I know, what a way to celebrate, right? Handy tip #1: Cranberries stay fresh in the fridge longer than most fruits because of their high acidity. Handy tip #2: It's important to sort through the berries before using them in a baked good, as one sour gem can spoil the whole thing. Handy tip #3: To get a "shapely peak" (Harold's words--catchy phrase, yes?), avoid overleavening, fill the cups nearly full, and bake at a high temperature (400-425F).

Ah. I love science. And food. Ya done good, Harold.

Scientifically Superior Cranberry Pecan Muffins
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 400F. Line or spray 12 muffin cups.
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients and stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened (batter will be lumpy). Fold in cranberries and pecans. Bake 15-20 minutes.

79 comments:

jose manuel said...

Que vista tan fantastica, esta receta se ve de lujo.

Saludos

Nicisme said...

Those close-up shots are killing me Grace! Looks so fluffy and moist.

ButterYum said...

I don't know, maybe it's because I'm sitting here at 5:50am and I haven't had breakfast yet, but wow do those muffins look amazing!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.

:)
ButterYum

PS - how wonderful that you were asked to review the book. Very nice!

Chanel11 said...

It's funny how you can cook everyday and yet not know so many useful hints

Angie's Recipes said...

Fluffy, moist and BERRY delicious!

Donna-FFW said...

Cranberries and pecan sound delicious! Cranberries and pistachio is one of my fav combos too. My Marcia Brady hair never gets fluffy..

bellini valli said...

Thanks for the good tips on maing muffins. Lord knows I can always use the help when baking.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, thiose muffins are fabulöous and so tempting!

Cheers,

Rosa

Julie M. said...

I loved the line about your hair. too funny. This book sounds like a good one! The muffins don't look half bad either. Yum!

Joanne said...

I've heard such good things about that book! Definitely want to get it.

Those muffins look awesome. And to think...I have some cranberries in my fridge...and freezer...

5 Star Foodie said...

This sounds like a terrific book and the muffins look so fluffy and delicious! I like the "shapely peak" phrase :)

TKW said...

Laughing at the hair comment! The book does sound good, though--I love it when they explain the science behind things!

pigpigscorner said...

The book sounds great! I like how they link food and science, that's y I like Alton!

Gloria said...

wowww!! You always make me laugh!! and I needed! love it!! lovely! gloria

Pam said...

I have seven bags of cranberries in my freezer. I need to use them up, since it's time to stock up on more!

Barbara said...

That's my favorite kind of book, Grace. Love the tip about high heat...will try it next time I make muffins.

marla {family fresh cooking} said...

Cranberries are a very beautiful thing. Especially tucked inside this FAB muffins! Scientifically sound indeed. xo

kat said...

Looks like such a tasty treat

A Plum By Any Other Name said...

So excited we are getting into the cranberry season. Living in New England has its perks. Until January when the death of winter really sinks in.

Thanks for the scientific baking tips! I can surely use them!

vanillasugar said...

i was so fascinated by him Mr. McGeeeeee! He was on NPR last week. Such knowledge. If I had known about him sooner I swear I would had grown up to be just like him.

Pam said...

I am loving this book!!!! The muffins look tasty - I love the combination of cranberries and pecans.

Ingrid said...

Hmmm, I hadn't heard of that book. I'll check it out...just got a $5 off coupon for Borders!
~ingrid

Nutmeg Nanny said...

These muffins look delicious! I have two bags of cranberries just hanging out in the freezer. I guess they now have a mission!

culinography said...

Ahhh... cranberries, how I love thee. And I'm ALWAYS on the hunt for a nice, high dome. These will be perfect for our next weekend breakfast!

Lucie said...

Ahh, I see a hint of cinnamon here :) I'm looking forward to hearing about more baking science tips! This sounds like a really interesting book.

scrambledhenfruit said...

I can see now that those cranberries in my freezer now have a future. :)

pierre said...

with cranberries SO NICE!!pierre

tamilyn said...

"Fluffy. Fluffy like my hair on a humid day". Seriously, my favorite line in the post!

I need to check this book out. As I was reading a cookbook at the library the other day, I thought about the need for a "Dummies Guide to Cooking". A book that would actually show you in steps what: the different types of peaks in whipped cream should look like; when you are told to whip until light and frothy (what does that look like since your frothy and my frothy may look different) and so on. Any hint or tip that can make me a better cook, I'm all for!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Seriously wonderful muffins! I think they're perfect for a fall breakfast. That book sounds terrific. Must check out!

PS - Come to my blog and enter to win another great book!

lisa is cooking said...

One more book I need to get! Sounds packed with great information. I also like that these muffins are packed with cranberries. They look delicious!

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

How can I say no to scientific superiority? Looks tender and delicious as usual, Grace!

Natalya (Deliciously Suite) said...

Holy Muffin! (Corny. I know) Those muffins look delicious! Perfectly fluffy.

♥peachkins♥ said...

Can you throw away one muffin over here?

Foodessa said...

Harold should be honoured for sure...ya did darn great with those muffins Gracemeister ;o)
I have some cranberries left...hmmm ;o)

Flavourful wishes,
Claudia

Kay Heritage said...

Never liked Science until I started cooking! They sure go hand in hand. Thank you!

Kerstin said...

I love how you applied your tips to the recipe for your review! I also have been looking up stuff - such a great book! And can I have a muffin please? :)

Jaime said...

mmmm I love cranberries :) looks so moist!

The Blonde Duck said...

Oh sweet wounded wuffles.

blackbookkitchendiaries said...

i love how moist this look...yummy!

Heather J. @ TLC Books said...

I'm so glad that you've found this book to be such an excellent resource! Thanks for being a part of the tour.

Leslie said...

Mmmm Harold did do good and so did you!!!!

Lori said...

Good "peak" info. I always wondered why sometimes I get domes and sometimes I don't.

Your muffin almost looks like a firework exploding. Maybe its just me- comes from cloud watching with my kids. This muffin is very appealing.!

Meredith said...

Mouth is watering. Oh my. I need to make these!
-Meredith
meredithlockhart.blogspot.com

red ticking said...

oh my... i spotted cranberries in the store the other day and thought "hmmm they sound so good, what should i make"? ok... here is the answer... yummie

love your blog.. xx pam

Danielle said...

Sounds like a useful book. but that muffin....now THAT would be extremely useful in the morning with my cup of coffee :)

Amber said...

Since I live alone I only bake if I am going to share with others. But when I go to the bakery this if THE muffin I always order.

Robin Sue said...

Yup it is that time to buy fresh cranberries again and they sure do last long. In March i found a bag way back in the frige from last nov. Wow! These muffins look good and fluffy!

Hungry Dog said...

These look awesome. I love cranberry muffins! And I love Harold McGee! Must check out the book.

Bridgett said...

Your photography is always as delicious as your recipes. Cranberry muffins are a favorite of mine so I want to give your recipe a go. Thanks for sharing.

The Teacher Cooks said...

Sounds like a textbook that I could used in my classroom. I love cranberries!

Velva said...

Oh my! The photo just stopped me dead on the keyboard. It's beautiful photograph, and no doubt a utterly delicious muffin.

P.S. I have been following you for the last couple of years-I don't know why, I was not officially following you. I am now!!

Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said...

Interesting idea, baking at a high temperature. I'm going to try that next time.

Von said...

This sounds like a great book!! I've never had a book I liked so much that I've carried it around everywhere with me =) These muffins look really yummy- they're so light and fluffy!

Deborah said...

I wasn't a huge cranberry fan until the last couple of years, but now I can't get enough of them!

Cheryl said...

Those look delicious and tasty, I have been totally slacking!

Juliana said...

Grace, you are SO funny :-) And yes, these muffins sure look yummie, so fluffy and colorful...love the photo! Very irresistible!

THE OLD GEEZER said...

I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

God Bless You :-)

~Ron

sweetlife said...

the first pic is killer....love your muffin combo...great tips, we love pecans and cranberries are always in our freezer..

sweetlife

tasteofbeirut said...

the muffin looks so tempting I wish I could grab it and hav one for breakfast right about now!

Sophie said...

Your cranberry & pecan muffins look like the real deal, like winners!!


MMMMMM,...best enjoyed with a loved one & a good cup of tea!

Kate at Serendipity said...

Hi Grace! I only have three words for these:

A
MAY
ZING

I wonder if they can be made with wheat-free flour? Heh, we'll see!

Mimi said...

Grace you do have away with words and apparently Harold does too with his "shapely peaks". Nice review, I'm always in market for a new cookbook and it's nice to have some info before buying.
Oh and the muffin look more than tasty,
Mimi

jennaseverythingblog said...

Oh man!! Great pictures--the fluffiness is magical. Thank you for sharing this fantastic recipe!

MaryBeth said...

OMG...YUMM-O, I simply love the picture, it really is darn good looking.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Don't you just luuurve a shapely peak? I know I do! :P

Seglare said...

These look yummy! I may have to try a vegan version one day, now that cranberries are in season again. :)

Robin Sue said...

Hey Lady,
You must be busy! Hope all is well, I miss your good food. Can't wait to see what's next, always some great baked treats from you!
Robin Sue

Amanda said...

You have seriously inspired me to bake muffins for breakfast... I am so excited!

Blessings-
Amanda

Carolyn Jung said...

My favorite use of cranberries -- in a sweet, tender muffin. I think I'll be baking up these beauties all season long. ;)

WizzyTheStick said...

Shapely peaks. Yep good on muffins and uhmmm well other things too lol

stephen said...

Good stuff! I like tips etc.. I met Harold McGee last year when he was at a speaking engagement in Berkeley. I told him about my avocado findings. It seems that the volatile gasses in onions, if in contact with an open avocado, will slow down the aging process/oxidation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_aDygBYuDQ

I like the science of food :)

nazarina said...

Grace,

Hope you are well! What am I saying? by the looks of this fluffy cranberry delight, you sure as h... are!
Did you take some for your co-workers? I am telling you right now, you are in big doo doo if you did not, because when they check out these luscious pictures......

This book sounds like one's very own Culinary Institute!

Heidi - Apples Under My Bed said...

Good to know!! Thank you. I think I would love this book. These look so fluffy. And SO scientifically superior ;)
Heidi xo

laura said...

Cranberry muffins sound so good to me right now, Grace! Yours look like they turned out beautifully. ( :

Emily said...

Yummm Grace. These muffins look incredible! I love cranberries. Those are some nice peaks you have!

kimberleyblue said...

Thanks for the tips; I love cranberries in baked goods (I'm a big fan of the tart!). For the tip #2, how do you spot the sour cranberry while sorting through the batch? Is there something visual to be looking for?

elpi said...

It makes me hungry! help! yummy inside and out. I am totally down:)

Chef Fresco said...

Totally asking for that book for Christmas! Thanks for the tip and the delicious looking muffins!

Ella said...

i love to try some of you recipes...


~~~ www.sugarcoatedkismet.blogspot.com ~~~