Monday, September 27, 2010

Cranberry Harvest Muffins for Autumn~

I know! It IS Monday! And to lift your spirits after the weekend, I want to remind you all of our beautiful harvest moon with harvest muffins made with lots of cranberries and nuts, served with coffee or hot tea. Perfect for cooler weather. I haven't mentioned one of my favorite chefs, Ina Garten, but I really like the way she simplifies recipes for everything, especially French food. With her, it's all easy. Her favorite line is, "How easy is that!"

This cookbook of Ina's is The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and on the front it says: "Secrets from the East Hampton specialty food store for simple food and party platters you can make at home." Hmmm...she has a lot of faith in you. And I do too!

Ina had her specialty store for 20 years and many of her recipes for creating wonderful parties in a few hours are in this cookbook. Make ahead dishes, such as, crab cakes with remoulade sauce, cheddar corn chowder , and grilled salmon salad can all be prepared ahead and put together before serving.

Ina got this wonderful autumn recipe from Sarah Chase's Open House Cookbook, which has inspired her for years. Sarah had a famous store appropriately called Que Sera Sarah, on Nantucket, where cranberries are harvested. And Ina has definitely road-tested these muffins, as she and her crew made them thousands of times at The Barefoot Contessa, her specialty store, where they were a hit every time.

Cranberry Harvest Muffins
Makes 18 large muffins
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 extra-large eggs
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup medium-diced Calimyrna figs
3/4 cup coarsely chopped hazlenuts, toasted and skinned
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the milk, eggs, and melted butter. Stir quickly just to combine. Add the cranberries, figs, hazelnuts, and both sugars and stir just to distribute the fruits, nuts, and sugar evenly throughout the batter.

Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each one to the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned on the top and a toothpick comes out clean.
Note: This batter can be made a day ahead, and scooped and baked before breakfast.

I remember that Linda, Kelly's mother-in-law, made a cranberry bread, and I still have the recipe as I've made it several times. It's very good.

I hope you have a great week! Remember to do many acts of kindness and thank God many times a day for all your blessings.

Blessings to you all...Mimi

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