on the menu: birdseed bran muffins

On July 19, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I enjoy cooking from flour, local chef Joanne Chang‘s first cookbook. It’s full of the kind of dessert-esque breakfast/brunch items I always want. This week I tried the addictive bran muffins (link to recipe), which won me over with the ‘birdseed’ topping.

flour bakery birdseed bran muffins

I made a few adjustments to work with what I had on hand, sour cream instead of crème fraîche, cream instead of milk, a little coconut flour and coconut oil just because, some mashed banana, some cinnamon, extra raisins. I also added white and black sesame seeds (to the prescribed flax seeds, millet, and sunflower seeds) to make things ultra-birdseedy. I also halved the recipe. With all these changes, the texture still came out nicely – to weather such haphazardness is a mark of a solid recipe.

One thing I would say is that the quantities are sometimes high. I think I routinely halve these recipes, and in this case I still made about 12 muffins, which is the yield given…so something is not quite adding up. But I don’t care, as long as the muffins are good.

flour bakery birdseed bran muffins

These are dense, not too sweet muffins, which seem not outright unhealthy, as is the case with certain muffins, and which improve with grilling or strawberry-rhubarb jam or both.

flour bakery birdseed bran muffins

Happy baking!

x

on the menu: eggs en cocotte

On May 17, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Eggs en cocotte are a surprisingly quick and simple breakfast, all you need is the ambition to pre-heat the oven.

IMG_9202

A cocotte is formally a covered casserole or Dutch oven (any size) but is also often used as a synonym for ramekin. A cover isn’t at all necessary, so any ramekin or oven-proof teacup is fine here, 6-8oz is ideal. Even a muffin pan will work, though I prefer the ease of serving and the uniform heating of either porcelain or ceramic. Great for brunch as you can put them together in an assembly line, and your serving capacity is only limited by the number of cute little oven-safe dishes you have. It’s convenient if they are all more or less the same size, so they will cook uniformly.

IMG_9188

Adorable 8oz mini cocotte from Le Creuset in Caribbean

Add-ons will improve the situation, but eggs, butter and cream alone will do just fine. I like to include any combination of the following: bacon, ham, parsley, cilantro, asiago, gruyere, cheddar, parmesan, chives, scapes, dill, basil, scallions, caramelized onions, sauteed vegetables…anything you would put in an omelet, really.

What you do:

Pre-heat oven to 375°

Heat water in a kettle

Liberally butter (unsalted) the base and sides of cocotte(s), leave a little pat of butter in the bottom.

Layer add-ons into the cocotte as desired. Here I’ve layered scallions, garlic scapes, cooked bacon lardons (+ dash of bacon fat), cheddar, asiago.

Add one or two eggs, depending on the size of your cocotte and hunger levels. Add salt, pepper, and a grating of nutmeg. Pour in a dash (anywhere from 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp) of cream (cream on the bottom also popular). Add a little more cheese on top (this is non-traditional, but I like a lot of cheese).

Place cocottes in a casserole dish (I add a paper towel to the bottom so they don’t slide around) and pour hot (not quite boiling) water around such that the water level comes half-way up the sides of the cocotte. The water bath/bain marie helps keep the eggs tender and evenly cooked.

Cook 10-15 minutes, depending on your taste and the size of your ramekins. I like to cook for about 10-12 minutes and then broil for 1 to brown that cheese but still have the yolk soft. The broiler business is non-traditional and an easy way to overcook the egg, so be careful with this if you try it.

20150517_104610

Very little trial and error is required to figure out what the best cooking time is for your favorite kind of egg. It’s never too late to add more garnish at the end, either, herbs especially. I’ve been putting garlic scapes on everything to great effect lately.

Don’t forget the coffee.

x