Sunday, April 1, 2007

Sunday Brunch

Since I actually woke up early enough to eat brunch today, I thought I would try two new recipes from two cookbooks I've never used before. (To be fair, I just got one of them in the mail this week, so there's good reason for not using it sooner.)

The Best Bacon comes from the cookbook Celebrate the Rain. The salty flavor of the bacon along with both the bite of cayenne pepper and freshly ground black pepper and the sweetness of the brown sugar makes this bacon recipe a winner. The brown sugar mixture carmelizes the bacon strips with a heat and sweet flavor combination. Delicious!!!

The Best Bacon

Source: Celebrate the Rain - The Junior League of Seattle

2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound thick-sliced bacon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Set a wire cooling rack or other slotted rack on top of the foil-lined pan.

Stir together the brown sugar, cayenne, and black pepper in a small bowl until well blended. Lay the bacon strips in a single layer on the rack. (Use 2 pans if all the bacon will not fit in a single layer.) Sprinkle the bacon with the brown sugar mixture. Bake until the bacon is browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the bacon immediately to individual plates and serve warm.

Makes 6 servings.

Notes: I halved this recipe. Make sure you use a rimmed baking sheet as there is a lot of fat that bakes off the bacon as it cooks. Use freshly cracked ground black pepper, too. The shaker kind would be too fine and too overpowering for this recipe.

Roasted Cornmeal Blueberry Muffins comes from the cookbook The Family Baker. The toasted (and beautifully fragrant) cornmeal adds a nice crunch, and the maple syrup adds a nice sweetness and flavor that regular sugar cannot. Make sure you use real maple syrup (not maple-flavored pancake syrup). I used No. 2 Amber and it was perfect. I also only used one cup of blueberries and the muffins were fine. Of course, you can use the 1 1/2 cups the recipe calls for, but if you only have one package of blueberries like I did, there's no need to run out to buy more. Also, I forgot to sprinkle sugar on top of the muffins before baking, but they were fine without it. Of course, I'm sure the sugar on top would add a nice crunchy sweetness and make them even better, but again, if you forget to sprinkle the muffin tops like I did, it's no big deal. The muffins are dense and just the right texture...not too moist, not too dry.

These two recipes were made to go together. Try them. You'll see. Enjoy!!!

Roasted Cornmeal Blueberry Muffins

Source: The Family Baker - Susan Purdy

Butter-flavor no-stick vegetable spray
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, picked over, rinsed and blotted dry on paper towels (or whole frozen unthawed berries with all ice particles removed)

Granulated sugar

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Roast the cornmeal. (To pan-roast cornmeal, place cornmeal in an ungreased frying pan over medium heat and stir the cornmeal on and off for 7-10 minutes, until it begins to turn a light tan color and smells aromatic. Or, roast the meal in a metal pan at 350 degrees F about 20 minutes, stirring often.)

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, maple syrup, melted butter, vanilla, milk, and sour cream (or yogurt). Directly on top of this wet mixture add--but don't stir in--the flour, baking powder, salt, and roasted cornmeal. Stir the dry ingredients all at once into the wet, mixing just to combine; do not overbeat. Add the berries and stir once or twice.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups, filling them generously three-quarters full. Sprinkle some sugar on top of each muffin. If you have any unfilled cups in your muffin pan, carefully ladle a little water into each empty cup.

Bake the muffins about 20 minutes, or until they rise, look golden brown on top, and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then coax them out of the pan with a fork and serve warm.

Notes: I used non-fat plain yogurt.

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