Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day: Beach House & Blueberry Muffins

Here it is Labor Day weekend, and I've never talked about something dear to my heart. Beach house kitchens. Some of my most notable cooking disasters have occurred in them. Some of the most delicious things, too. This one, however is shockingly good and well-stocked. New appliances and all. So many summers, when we rent a place, I usually have to pack half of my home kitchen up just to get a decent breakfast on the table. Bless the owners of this place, they must like to cook and eat. We eat breakfast in. Our lunch is often cheese, fruit and crackers, or eaten at the beach, and dinner is without fail, eaten out, preferably in a dockside restaurant served with the sound of seagulls.

My husband's requirement, when we get a rental at the beach, is simple. It has to be on the water. Over the years, I've come to prefer a place that has at least enough space and tools to make a meal for anywhere from seven to twelve. Sometime we have a lot of people stopping by. When I have to bring my own equipment, we end up looking like the Beverly Hillbillies driving down the Garden State Parkway. We're only missing Granny in a rocking chair on the roof. Now, I don't ask for a whole kitchen full of All Clad or Mauviel, but having more than one working burner  and running water is a necessity. A working fridge is good, too. Heaven knows I've cooked in some summer kitchens that were one step removed from camping. This one is so good, that instead of having to cart down a frying pan, a baking dish and a roll of knives, I just brought  a good knife and muffin tins. Turns out there are even muffin tins here, so I could make these wonderful Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins that I found on Joy the Baker's blog a while back. This is a go-to recipe.They are really spectacular, but even better if you can eat them in view of a bay...

Browned Butter Fresh Blueberry Muffins
More blueberry than muffin = GOOD!
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook and Joy The Baker
makes 12 glorious ( you’re not kidding) muffin
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
(opt. 1 TBLS lemon zest, heaping)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
For the Topping:
3 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
Put a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375ºF.  Line muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Keep an eye on the butter.  Melt and cook down the butter until little brown bits appear in the pan.  The crackling will subside, and butter will begin to brown fast after that.  Keep a close eye.  Remove from heat. Let cool for a minute or two.
Whisk milk, egg, yolk and vanilla until combined.  Add the brown butter and stir to combine.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest if using, and salt in a medium bowl  Add milk and butter mixture (don't add too many of the browned bits) all at once and stir gently to combine.  Fold in the blueberries.
Divide the batter among muffin cups and spread evenly. This batter is THICK.
To make the topping combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly over the batter in the cups.
Bake until golden and crisp and a wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.  Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes then remove from the pan.  Serve warm or at room temperature.
"These are mine. What are you having??"

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