February 28, 2011

Millet Muffins

I have a confession to make: I don't like quinoa.  That's right, I don't like the grain (that's actually a seed) that people who eat healthy are supposed to like.  Sure it has protein and sustained the Inca's or whatever, but I'm just not that into it.  As much as I enjoy healthy food, if it doesn't taste good then you probably won't find me eating it.  So what's with all this talk about quinoa? Well, millet is another one of those "ancient grains," the principal difference for me being that it tastes great.

If you've never tried millet, you really should!  It has a mild flavor and can be cooked to have the consistency of polenta or that of, gulp, quinoa, depending on how much liquid is used.  One of my favorite things about millet is that when you add it (raw) to breads or, in this case, muffins, it lends a nice bit of crunch-- and I love a good crunch.  Have you ever had a 5/ 9/ 12 grain bread with tiny pale yellow balls in it? If so, those little balls are most likely millet and they're kind of like natural sprinkles.

So now that your a little bit more familiar with millet, let me tell you about these muffins because they're pretty perfect.  The recipe comes from Heidi Swanson of 101Cookbooks, who, in honor of her new cookbook Super Natural Everyday, generously released a six recipe sampler showcasing a handful of recipes from the book.

I downloaded the sampler right away and was immediately smitten with these millet muffins.  I made them this morning and they lived up to my every expectation (this is a rare occurrence).  They come together quickly and easily, and are full of wholesome ingredeints. They're simple, not too sweet, and very versatile (see: blueberries).  They have golden crusted tops and moist middles, and they're full of crunchy millet sprinkles. I could think of nothing better on this rainy morning.

Millet Muffins
From Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Everyday

2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup raw millet
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup plain yogurt [I used Fage 0% Greek]
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup barely melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
Grated zest and 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon

3/4 cup blueberries (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 F with a rack in the top third of the oven. Butter a standard 12 (I made 16) cup muffin tin or line with paper liners. [I suggest buttering! I lined my 4 extras and, well, butter is better]

Whisk the flour, millet, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, butter, honey, and lemon zest and juice until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until the flour is just incorporated.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups, spooning a heaping 1/4 cup batter into each one, filling it a bit below the rim.  If you'd like to make half blueberry, as I did, then after you've filled half the muffins cups with plain batter, gently fold in the blueberries into the remaining half of the batter and fill the rest of the muffin cups.

Bake for about 15 minutes (mine took a minute or two longer), until the muffin tops are browned and just barely beginning to crack. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, the turn the muffins out of the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

February 23, 2011

Chickpea Meatballs

Oh hey, it's me, the somewhat negligent blogger here at Petit Gateau... I'm sure you remember me.  The recipe I'm sharing with you today is one I had to make just hours after I saw it.  Usually when I find recipes that suit my tastes, I copy the link, dog-ear the page, or store their location somewhere in the back of my head (though that last one doesn't always work).  I hardly ever see something that I have the motivation (and ingredients) to make the very same night, but Chickpea Meatballs?  I was hooked. 

I've experimented with meatless versions of recipes that have the word meat in the title before: see"Meat"loaf, which by the way turned out wonderfully.  I ended up really liking these "meat"balls, too.  Although I think mine may have dried out a bit, so make sure, as the recipe says, not to over bake them.  Also, the sauce is very key here (especially if you over-bake yours like I did) so make sure you have one you like.  Alone, I thought the meatballs were a touch bland, but with the sauce, some extra fresh basil, and a bit of Parmigiana cheese on top, they were a great healthy comfort food.

Chickpea Meatballs
These could probably be made vegan by subbing in 2 flax eggs and nutritional yeast instead of Parmigiana cheese. If you decide to try out a vegan version, I'd love to know how it turns out!
Makes about 18 meatballs
Adapted, slightly, from linden & rosemary

1 can chickpeas, drained and thoroughly mashed (I use a fork but food processor would be magic)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 a yellow onion, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
heaping 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped, plus more for serving
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup bread crumbs (whole wheat if you have them)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiana cheese, plus more for serving
Lots of cracked black pepper
1/4- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil

your favorite pasta sauce, for serving [my favorite jarred sauces: Rao's (splurge), Newman's Own Sookarooni (budget)]

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

Combine all the ingredients (except for olive oil and sauce) in a large bowl. Ingredients should be well mixed and you should not see any whole chickpeas. Roll right away or refrigerate until ready to use.

Roll generous tablespoons of the mixture in your hands to create balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle tops with a tiny bit of olive oil. Bake for 22-24 minutes until the meatballs are lightly browned on the outside (don’t overcook or they will dry out).

While the meatballs are baking, heat the tomato sauce in a large pot, covered, on medium heat.

Making sure the sauce is hot and slightly bubbling. You can then put the meatballs into the sauce and stir them gently until well coated or serve them separately, as I did.

February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day Ideas

Because the best thing about most holidays is the food.

Unique, refreshing, and festively colored.  Plus, grapefruits are in season.

Amazingly versatile and no-doubt-about-it delicious.  Anyone who doesn't like a creamy wedge of Brie wrapped and baked in a flaky pie crust is beyond my comprehension.

Served alone or sliced a-top a green salad, these are a light and satisfying appetizer.

A meat-free take on a the traditional Beef Bourgiugnon that doesn't taste like it's missing a thing.  Plus, I just watched Julie & Julia.

Be still, my heart.

Light and chock-full of vegetables; this will leave you with plenty of room for dessert.

For all you meat lovers out there, my ex-boyfriend was (is) one too.

Because Valentine's Day means chocolate, and this would be great with some vanilla ice cream.

mini version
Always, always, a crowd pleaser.  Just ask my friend Pamela-- it was her birthday cake two years in a row (wish I could make it for you this year!).

If chocolate isn't your thing; I'd like to meet you by the way-- but actually, we probably wouldn't get along.

If you still want to keep it healthy, these are great.  I'd probably be making some today if I had any dates (the fruit, mind you)!

Hope everyone has a good Valentine's Day! I'd love to know if you try any of these recipes! xo

February 12, 2011

Good to the Grain

I don't normally write about cookbooks because, for one, I don't own that many (the internet is my recipe mecca), but it would be a near sin if I didn't purchase Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce.  If you can't tell from the title (or the picture, heh), Good to the Grain is all about baking with whole grain flours-- everything from the commonplace whole wheat to the not so commonplace teff is used.

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of baking with whole grains, but I know a lot of people aren't.  Whether it's through bad reputation or eerily cardboard-like cookies, most people think whole grains detract from baked goods, but in my experience, this is simply not the case.  I think Boyce's book does a wonderful job in proving that pie crusts, muffins, and cookies made from whole wheat, millet, buckwheat, or kamut can be just as delicious as those that result from white flour.  The book's recipes are rustic and homey-- don't expect to find your next celebration cake here, perfect for everyday baking.  

I've already made two recipes from Good to the Grain and both were thoroughly enjoyed by myself and others.  First, I made the Grahams (lately, I seem to have a penchant for recreating childhood snack classics) and, then, the Pear Compote (the last chapter of the book is on jams and compotes that serve to complement the other recipes).  Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures, and perhaps more unfortunately, I don't think I can provide you with the recipes because of copyright issues.

Although I really like the book, I do wish some of the recipes called for larger quantities of whole grain flours (luckily, I'm not afraid to experiment on my own).  Still, I understand the delicate nature of baking and realize that certain flours just won't yield the same results as their more refined siblings (I often discover this in my own kitchen when rampant substitutions lead to less-than-desirable consequences).  I also know that Boyce didn't set out to make a purely health-oriented cookbook.  These recipes are more about celebrating the taste and integrity of whole grain flours than they are about creating a low-fat dessert, and that I can appreciate.

Edited to add:
Since I can't publish the recipes (Grahams, Pear Compote) here, I thought it'd be nice to guide you to some people who've feature Good to the Grain recipes on their blogs.  Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Cakelets via the Kitchn
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies via Orangette
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookies via 101 Cookbooks (whole wheat cc cookies in cookie cake form!)
Rustic Rhubarb Tarts via Smitten Kitchen
Oatmeal Pancakes via Smitten Kitchen
Iced Oatmeal Cookies via Smitten Kitchen