Saturday, February 11, 2012

What the day has wrought

Today, unless I was cooking, I was parked on the couch.  Some days we just need that.  I'll just have to remember to flip the cushion that I spent so much time on...I'd hate for my lack of activity to be so immediately obvious!

I was able to get ahead on the week in between couch visits by roasting turnips, butternut squash, celeriac, potatoes, and carrots, and boiling beets.  (Roasting is good couch-potato cooking.) I used some in tonight's brisket, (Ditto the brisket.) but the rest will be quick sides or ingredients for dinners. 

The brisket, a Tyler Florence recipe, was wonderful.  Perfect gray-day food.  And it's hard not to love something that fills the kitchen with the smell of rosemary and garlic.  Here's the link:
Those fancy-schmancy steak houses can keep their filets and t-bones.  Give me meat that's falling apart anytime!  Sometimes slow-cooking a tougher cut of meat can leave the meat dry, even though it's braising in a liquid, but this brisket was moist and crazy-tender.  There are two cups of  red wine in the recipe, and two cups of tomatoes, but everything simmers for so long that the flavors are round, beefy, and juicy.
I served it with a Maple-Pecan Oat Muffin from one of my favorite cookbooks, Maple Syrup Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner by Ken Haedrich.  (I actually made them for breakfast tomorrow, but they smelled so good...and there are were twelve of them, so we still have some for breakfast.)  I highly recommend this cookbook, particularly if you like maple syrup as much as Larry and I do, but even if you only like it a little, these recipes are brilliant.

We ate the muffins warm, and they were densely fluffy, if that makes any sense.  I suspect that cold they'd be a little less appealing, but that's why the universe contains toaster ovens.  The maple syrup is a background note, though the muffins smell really maple-y.  I tried doing what I sometimes do with wine--taking a bite and breathing in the aroma at the same time--but, well, let's just say that's not a great idea with things that crumble...come to think of it, it doesn't always turn out so well with the wine either...

Aren't you sorry you don't have me around for when there's nothing on television?

The original muffins called for walnuts, but I LOVE pecans and maple together, so I swapped.  They come together in no time flat (as long as you have all the stuff...and we've already discussed the state of my pantry...)

Maple-Walnut (or Pecan) Oat Muffins
recipe by Ken Haedrich

1 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached or all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (I went a little shy on this)
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (it doesn't specify, but I used grade B)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

1.  Preheat oven to 400 F.  Grease a 12 cup muffin tin and set aside.

2.  Process the oats in a food processor or blender until they are reduced to a coarse powder; it's okay if some larger flakes remain.  Measure exactly one cup of this oat flour and combine it in a large bowl with the other flours, baking powder and soda, and salt.  Whisk together.

3.  Beat the eggs in a medium bowl, and add in buttermilk, maple syrup, and oil.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet.  Stir just until combined.  Fold in nuts.  Divide among muffin cups.

4.  Bake for 20 minutes (mine took 16), or until golden.  Serve hot or warm.

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