Lemon-lavender muffins

From the edge of winter, my mind is already on the brink of spring (which officially kicks off in 16 days- not that I’m counting or anything) and all of its sunshine, happy flowers, and fabulous flavor trends.  Top of my thoughts this week has been lavender and creating these refreshing floral muffins that pop with the brightness of lemon in the background.  They are moist, and just sweet enough to soothe a craving without being over-the-top.  I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do!

Because the baked muffins take a dip into a butter bath, cupcake liners may be tough to use, especially if they peek above the crown of the muffin.

Ingredients
Muffins
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons lavender buds (rolled between your hands to release their flavor)
Zest of one lemon
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup whole milk
½ cup plain kefir (or plain yogurt or sour cream)
Topping
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon lavender buds (rolled between your hands to release their flavor and break up some of the buds)
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted (in a small rice bowl)

Alternate Topping
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lavender buds (rolled between your hands to release their flavor and break up some of the buds)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

 

Directions
Muffins
Preheat oven to 375° and spritz the cups of a standard 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest and set aside. Measure the milk and kefir together in a measuring cup meant for liquids and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and 2t lavender buds in a large bowl until they are light and fluffy. Using a low mixer speed, beat in egg, then add the vanilla and lemon juice. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with milk/kefir.

Divide the batter evenly among muffin cups (I found that a number 2 scoop worked perfectly for this) and bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let the muffins cool for five minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack.

Topping
Mix the sugar and 1t lavender buds in a small rice bowl. Working one at a time, dip the tops of muffins in melted butter, then roll them in lavender sugar.

Alternate Topping
Mix the sugar and lemon juice in a small rice bowl until it forms a thick but pourable/dippable consistency. Working one at a time, dip the tops of muffins in the glaze, then sprinkle lavender bits over them.

Store the finished muffins in a tightly sealed container at room temperature. Depending on room temperature and humidity levels these will keep for 4-5 days (if you manage not to consume them all before then).

Kidney Bean Soup with Lime Yogurt

Now that we’ve had the tiniest turn in the weather here in New England, I feel as though I can post a soup recipe again without being driven from the free land of the internets 😉

This soup is high in protein, low in fat, and has a wealth of vitamin A.  It’s also got a fantastic thick and creamy consistency.  As far as flavor goes you get the standard kidney bean with the tangy yogurt and sweet lime all at once.  Then that’s all rounded out with the cumin & chili powder for a wonderful finish.

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces

1 celery stalk, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces

4 medium garlic cloves, chopped

3 cups + 1 TBS chicken or vegetable broth

3 TBS tomato paste

1 TBS ground cumin

2 TBS ancho chili powder

1 TBS dried Mexican oregano

1 15 oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed & drained

salt and pepper to taste

Lime yogurt

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 TBS lime juice

1 TBS chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  • Chop onions and garlic, carrots and celery & set aside

  • Heat 1 TBS broth in medium-sized soup pot and sauté the onion in the broth over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently
  • Add garlic, carrots, celery, and continue to sauté for a minute
  • Add broth, tomato paste, kidney beans, and spices and bring to a boil
  • Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for another 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender ·
  • Make lime yogurt by combining yogurt, lime juice, and cilantro in small bowl
  • Puree the soup in a blender in small batches
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Reheat, and pour into serving bowls, top with lime yogurt, and serve

I opted to serve this soup with a side salad topped with edible flowers (greens & flowers from Old Friends Farm).

This recipe inspired by a post on WHF.

J

Barley Banana Bread

There is a new Farmer’s Market that’s started up right in my lovely little city of Holyoke.  It’s on Saturday mornings at Open Square, and it’s already growing.  You see, starting up a new market is no easy task according to farmer Dan from Astarte Farm.  Farmers don’t want to show up and have no patrons, thus make no money, and patrons don’t want to waste their time going to a new market that doesn’t have enough farmers at it to give them a great variety to choose from.  I think that this market has started off well though.  There are soaps, eggs, lots of veggies, grass-fed beef, herbs, bread, cheese and grains.  Plus it’s at Open Square, so you can really make a day of it by having breakfast or lunch at Slice Cafe, get a haircut, mani, pedi, or massage at Serene Salon & Spa, attend a yoga or dance class at Vega Yoga, the options are endless.  Plus the canalwalk is right there, as are the Children’s Museum and the carousel– all within walking/biking distance.

Speaking of the grains, the vendor at the Open Square market who brings grains for sale is Four Star Farms, and they’re pretty smart.  You see, instead of simply packaging their grains and pricing them and calling it a day, they showed up with a) their product, b) samples of baked goods using the product, and c) printed recipes and re-order forms for their grains.    That’s how they got me.  I had never even thought to bake with barley flour before.  I tried a sample of some coffee cake that they had baked with it.  I had no idea what I had been missing!  Barley flour has a moist, sweet, nut-like flavor.  While I haven’t yet tried any of their recipes, I did decide to make my own banana bread recipe with 100% barley flour.  The result was a moist, dense, darkly-colored loaf of yum!

Ingredients:

¼ cup coconut oil

2 eggs

2 cups barley flour

¼ cup raw wheat germ

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup mashed bananas

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt

a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg

Directions:

  • Cream the coconut oil, eggs, bananas, syrup, honey, vanilla and yogurt in a large stand mixer
  • Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just incorporated
  • Pour the batter into a greased Bundt pan, sprinkled with a bit of wheat germ
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F
  • Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to complete cooling

J

Cucumber Chili Salad

I love growing my own fruits and veggies.  This year I started all of the plants for the garden indoors, from seed, and just got them transplanted to small pots this past weekend.  I can’t wait until they’re in the freshly tilled garden plot.

The raspberry bush has been trimmed back a bit as have the grape vines.  Blueberry bushes have been fed spent coffee grounds.  Radishes and beets, pole beans and herbs have been sewn into huge pots and placed throughout the property according to sun requirements.  Strawberries which had spread too far out of their assigned area have been transplanted to hanging baskets and hung over budding azalea bushes.

And the Northampton Tuesday Markets begin again today for the season.  This means that I can take an afternoon break from work and walk over to pick up fresh, local produce, eggs, bread or anything else that I may have missed in the weekend’s marketing adventures.

This week’s marketing found us a beautiful piece side of salmon.  With the warmer weather moving in, my food cravings are switching over to lighter dishes and fresher ingredients so I went looking for a recipe that would pair well with the fish, and be light and crisp and tasty.  I found that in this cucumber chili salad.  Crunchy cukes, savory scallion, buttery cilantro, sweet jalapeño- yum!

cucumber chili salad

Ingredients:

3 cups thinly sliced, washed cucumber, with the peel on

2 tsp minced jalapeño pepper*, seeds and stem removed

1/4 cup chopped scallion

3 TBS chopped fresh cilantro

Juice of one fresh lemon

1 TBS soy sauce

1/4 cup chopped greek yogurt

Dash of cayenne pepper

salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Directions:

  • whisk together lemon juice, yogurt, jalapeño, scallion, cilantro, cayenne, salt and pepper
  • toss the cucumbers with soy sauce
  • dress the cukes with the yogurt mixture and serve

salmon on a bed of garlic spinach, whole wheat cous-cous, and cucumber chili salad

J

Recipe adapted from “the world’s healthiest foods“.

Raita

When I made the spicy coconut shrimp recently, I was in need of a side dish.  Since the shrimp were being served on top of rice, I didn’t want a pasta side, and I couldn’t figure what veg what go perfectly, so I went in search of something that would be cool and crisp.  This is where I discovered raita.

From what I’ve read, raita has its roots in Pakistan and/or India.  It’s typically used as a sauce or a dip, a condiment really.  I adapted it by making a chunkier version that was served as a salad.

Ingredients

1 Cucumber

1 Tomato

1 green chili, finely chopped

½ Cup non-fat Greek yogurt

Salt and pepper

Directions

  • Mix together all ingredients and serve chilled

I did find that as the salad chilled, the veggies dropped some water and the yogurt solidified a bit, looking funny.  no worries!  Just give it a good stir and it’ll look great again.

J