Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Post-Kid Kitchen: Cookbook Love & Muffins

I've said it before, but I couldn't cut it as an all-day every day food blogger. I enjoy planning meals, grocery shopping, trying new ingredients and combinations. I think about food often enough that I even find myself doing it even in my sleep. (Did I actually make those spicy peanut noodles, or was that a dream?)

While I do cook from scratch constantly daily, I'm no good at developing recipes. I can get pretty creative with substitutions, and I love throwing together a casserole from a fridge full of nothing. But building a recipe from the ground up isn't a strength of mine (yet).

Enter cookbooks. I love cookbooks. While I haven't read one from cover to cover in a while, I would much rather curl up with a cookbook than with a novel. And one of the most curl-up-with-able (curl-up-able-with?) cookbook I've met recently is Joanna Vaught's Yellow Rose Recipes.

[Image via Yellow Rose Recipes]

I'm completely ashamed to admit that I didn't own Yellow Rose Recipes until very recently, when I received a copy for my birthday (thanks, Rob!). I feel like I'm totally late to the party and dressed inappropriately. Joanna's blog is one my favorites, and her recipes are always spot-on. If I could borrow someone's recipe-crafting mojo, I'd borrow Joanna's.

Everything I've cooked from Yellow Rose Recipes has been fantastic. The Almond Milk Gravy was perfect over potatoes for Sunday breakfast. I substituted rice flour for the all-purpose, and used Sunshine Burgers' breakfast patties as my vegetarian sausage and the results were lick-your-plate good. I've already made the Wild Rice Salad twice, with some chickpeas thrown in for extra protein, and Rob has declared Mom's Lentil Soup the best lentil soup he's ever tasted. And my husband knows his lentils!

My favorite YRR creation has been the Very Berry Muffins. My copy of the book already falls open to that page after just over one month's use. Of course, I needed to gluten- and soy-free them up. And the first time I went to make them, I realized half-way through that I didn't have any applesauce. I thought briefly about coring, peeling, and cooking a single apple right there, but I wanted muffins sooner than that. I ended up using mashed banana. And I didn't have enough blueberries, but I had some walnuts, and...

This is the closest I get to developing recipes. I purposefully and not-so-purposefully muck with someone else's recipe until I have something that isn't quite the original recipe. Of course, I never think of the end result as "my" recipe. In my mind, it's always a play on someone else's creativity.

Go-To Blueberry Muffin
Out of focus, but so delicious.

Go-to Blueberry Muffins
(based on Very Berry Muffins, Yellow Rose Recipes, p. 24)
Makes 12 huge, dense muffins

1/2 cup coconut flour
2/3 cup white rice flour
2/3 cup millet flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp tapioca flour
2 Tbsp flaxseed meal
1 Tbsp egg replacer powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 cup almond milk
3/4 cup
So Delicious coconut milk beverage (or more almond milk)
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 large banana
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, sift together flours, flaxseed meal, egg replacer, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum. In a blender combine milks, water, sugar, banana, canola oil, and vanilla extract. Blend until very smooth. Stir wet mixture into the dry, and mix thoroughly. (No gluten means no need to worry about over-mixing! Yay!) Fold in the blueberries and walnuts.

Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups. Bake 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan. Seriously. If you try to eat these right away, they won't seem done in the middle, and you'll burn your mouth on molten blueberry juice. Don't do it.

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If you'd like a copy of Yellow Rose Recipes, the book is still available here, but quantities are very limited, so don't wait!

And let me know what some of your favorite cookbooks are (vegetarian or not). The more kitchen inspiration, the better - and tastier!