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You know how when the sun comes out in the middle of winter it’s like you’ve never seen it before? Even if it was out the day before? (But especially if like here in Seattle it was raining cats and dogs?)
You know also, how when you actually get to go outside and let your totally bundled up self absorb some of that sunlight it makes you feel really warm and happy and want to skip around in a meadow somewhere.
Yeah me neither. Not at all.
Recently I made muffins that pretty much served to encapsulate that breath of sun in a slightly sweetened fluffy goodness. They had apricots. Lots and lots of them. Frozen at the peak of summer but then folded into a muffin batter hearty enough to sustain you on even the coldest winter day.
The bad news about these muffins is that you probably don’t have several gallon sized freezer bags full of apricots with which to make them over and over, like I have. The good news about them is that you really could use just about any type of fruit in them. They could have frozen berries, or peeled and chopped apples or pears, or even frozen peaches.
Oh, I thought of some more good news about these muffins. They are pretty healthy, since they’re whole wheat and oat and have a whole mess of protein rich ingredients alongside that pile of fruit. They are a great breakfast or snack for this time of year, when most people are trying to eat a little bit lighter. Even more good news is that they are great slathered in butter, in case eating light isn’t a priority.
Sun is Shining Good News Muffins
makes 12 regular sized little cups of joy
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup oat flour
- 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
- 1/4 cup ground flax
- 1/2 cup bran flakes
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt (I like to use greek, it’s tangy!)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
- 1 1/2 cups frozen berries or chopped fruit, loosely measured
Preheat your oven to 500°F. This will make the muffins rise up a lot and have a nice domed top. Don’t worry, you’re going to turn it down when you actually put the muffins in.
Beat the liquid ingredients together until well combined, then add the bran flakes and stir till they’re mixed in all the way. Let it sit while you whisk together the dry ingredients and prepare your muffin tin.
Whisk together all the dry ingredients, including the flax, in a large bowl. Then add the fruit and nuts and stir around to coat all the pieces in flour. This helps to keep them all from sinking to the bottom when the muffins bake.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and combine just until you don’t see any large streaks of flour left. It’s ok if the batter doesn’t look completely smooth.
Fill the cups of your tin about three-quarters full, maybe a little more. Place muffins in the oven and immediately drop temperature to 400°F. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until muffins test done with a toothpick.
I’m not usually susceptible to winter time blues, but I have been in a funk this week for sure. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that a lack of sleep has had something to do with it, as well as it being cold but refusing to snow.
Yesterday though, I got determined to get myself out of that mood. You know how they say that sometimes it has to get worse before it can get better. Yeah, that’s pretty much true. I had to miss not one but two events that I had planned on attending yesterday evening and it made for a sort of wretched early evening thinking about the fun and friends I was missing. After a dinner of ravioli in brown butter sauce made by Joe and a roasted veggie jumble made by me, he and I decided to watch a movie (after, of course, doing a ridiculous number of sit-ups) and eat popcorn.
This was a most excellent choice. Excellent as in we watched Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, which was totally perfect. It was nice to laugh as something you’re supposed to laugh at for a change. Not to mention eat a dessert that wasn’t chocolate…but that’s another story.
Anyway, I was going to make turnovers last night for breakfast this morning, but then decided that no, I would get up nice and early and make them instead. And then instead of making turnovers it morphed into a jalousie.
I haven’t made a jalousie probably since pastry school. Which is a shame because they are incredibly easy and incredibly delicious. I sense a lot of puff pastry in my near future. Maybe I’ll even make the dough next time around.
So once I got tired of a toddler clambering over me in bed this morning I left her with her papa and came down to brew coffee and turn the oven on nice and hot. It was still just almost too dark to even realize it was morning, unless you were looking for less obvious signs.
But I soldiered on and ended up with a breakfast that most people could never eat on a Friday morning unless they were on vacation. I had the last of this years fresh pluots in the fridge, waiting for a dish worthy of them, and also a handful of fresh cranberries. It might not sound like much, but it ended up being spectacular.
Plum and Cranberry Jalousie with Fresh Ginger
Makes 4 servings
A jalousie is a window shutter, the kind with horizontal slats. This pastry resembles it when finished, and if made properly will also give you a new outlook on life, almost as if you were opening a window on a brightly lit morning.
One sheet frozen puff pastry
3-4 smallish plums or pluots
1/4 cup fresh cranberries, cut in half
zest from 1/2 an orange
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/4 tsp or so freshly grated nutmeg
1 Tbsp of sugar, more if your plums aren’t very sweet
Whole milk, cream or half & half for glazing
Preheat the oven to 400ºF
On a parchment lined baking sheet, place the puff pastry. It will thaw while you prepare the filling, especially if you leave it by the oven. You want to cut the sheet in half, but not quite in half. Also not in thirds. The bigger half needs to be about 1″ wider than the narrower half. This wider half will become the top of the pastry. Set it aside on another sheet of parchment.
While the pastry thaws, prepare the fruit. Wash and slice the plums, each one in 8 or 10 wedges. Halve the cranberries and add to the bowl with the plums. Add all the other ingredients and toss to coat until the sugar starts to break down in the juices from the plums. Let rest until the dough is completely thawed, so the flavors can marry.
Pile up the fruit in the middle of the bottom half of puff pastry, being sure to leave at least 1/2″ all the way around for sealing the top half on. Before placing the top half on, cut about 8 slits, each an inch apart but 1 1/2″ from the ends, in the dough. The slits should be about 2″ long. (This is a step I forgot…do as I say and not as I do, I guess?) Using a pastry brush, lightly dampen the bottom pastry around the edges and then place the top on. You may need to stretch the dough a bit to match up the edges. Using a fork or a chopstick, press the two halves of dough together, sealing completely. Brush the entire pastry very lightly with the milk, then sprinkle just the littlest bit of sugar on top.
Bake for about 1/2 hour, rotating once to brown evenly (if you can remember…it proved too early for me to follow my own directions).
Let rest for about 5 minutes and slice, pouring a little bit of milk or cream over if you desire a little hint of creaminess.