Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why I cannot follow the rules

I am a kitchen hypocrite. I hate following recipes. No sane person would ever allow me to be a baker - ever. (Sorry Matt S.) I can never recreate a dinner I make... why so few complete meals are posted here. I took a class with Sheryl Julian who insisted the answer was keeping a notebook in the kitchen, no dice. I just stop writing things down or "guesstimate" how much of 17 different spices I dashed and sprinkled into a dish. 

Telling me to follow a recipe is like telling handing a painter a color-by-number book. Sure, something awesome might result, but there is thrill and creativity in the unknown, in the experimentation. I love the culinary high of thinking a flavor thought, being so sure I can mentally taste it, and then try to make it. There is a rush to being right, and a buzz to being able to course-correct when its not quite right. Oh this ends in some fantastic crash and burns. (Isn't that a necessary part of the thrill?)

Blogging has forced me to at least attempt to write things down. I have taken to bringing my laptop into the kitchen with me. I don't recommend this. It is really a horrible idea. I have nearly dumped almost every flour, powder and almost egg yolks into the keyboard. But I still do it, otherwise I don't write down what I cook.

But I still do things like make boss enchiladas with homemade salsa verde and not write down a damn thing:

I have had the idea for apple sauce muffins for a week. I bought a half bushel of seconds apple and pears a few months ago, and made a lot of sauce, the freezer is getting a bit snug. I didn't want them like spice cake, not super moist, no. These muffins were going to be moist but with the texture of regular muffins. The last batch of muffins I made turned out really well, so I followed that recipe... well sort of.

I did succeed in writing down the creation. I used coriander in stead of cinnamon or allspice, which you could easily substitute if you desire a more traditional flavor. These are hands down, the best ____ muffins I have ever made.  Positive reinforcement. Why would I follow the same recipe twice?

Coriander ApplePearSauce Muffins
yield 12 muffins
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
2 egg whites (or one whole egg, I just had extra whites lying around)
1 1/2 cup apple-pear sauce (I went unsweetened here, use what you have or like)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp sweet rice flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup potato starch flour
1 tbsp psyllium husk fiber (optional - extra fiber)
1 tbsp flax seed meal (optional - extra fiber)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp ground corriander
1 tsp xanthan gum

1. Cream the butter and the sugar. Do this for at least 3 minutes, until it becomes light, fluffy and has worked up the sides of the bowl.
2. Add in the egg whites and mix until it completely combines. (This is going to take a while, be patient)
3. Add in the apple sauce and vanilla. Mix until well combined.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix together pretty well (you don't want lumps of fiber or xanthan balls in your muffins)
5. In 3 or 4 additions, add the dry ingredients into the mixer. Mix till almost combined before adding more.
6. Portion into lined muffin tins.
7. Bake at 325F for 25-30 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick into the center and it comes out clean

UPDATE - these became a little dry and rice after the first day. If I hadn't run out of arrowroot starch and millet flour I would have probably used some of each and less rice.

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