To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.
- Oscar Wilde
Comfort Food. It's all I could think of today. I needed comfort food. I wasn't sad, I wasn't heartbroken. I wasn't even wistful, contemplating better worlds and future hopes. Nope…. I was exhausted. Two weeks solid, non-stop of helping my younger son organize his internship in Germany, find housing, figure out transportation, yadda yadda yadda, Marty recovering from his surgery and older son off in the wilds of Senegal, working and partying amid the threat of ebola (images of The Masque of the Red Death dance through my head although I know I am exaggerating), not to mention our own waiting for our own plans to fall into place (fingers crossed). I was simply and utterly worn out. But don't get me wrong: all is good.
Very good. My Pot-au-Feu feature appeared on the news stands in the latest issue of Fine Cooking magazine, a coup that I am particularly proud of. Both the article and the recipe are also available online on the Fine Cooking website.
The book proposal advances, thanks to the dogged persistence and brilliant vision of Ilva. Marty is as happy as a bug in a rug, vivacious and back to his old self, the Marty that we haven't seen for ages. My son continued to work on my online portfolio and made plans with me (read: urged me) to begin making cooking videos upon his return later this autumn. Does that plan include something called French Fries Pizza? Rumors, I tell you, only rumors.
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
- Albert Einstein
I was still riding high on the success of the Fast and Fabulous French Bread (one is safely tucked away in the freezer for any emergency) and so was still in the mood to bake. I wavered between baked custard like this one or a fruit clafoutis or flognarde like this one or panna cotta like this one or an old-fashioned summer fruit cobbler like this one. I even considered making French riz au lait after seeing Ilva's post for Swedish rice pudding.
But I decided to make muffins. With chocolate for sweetness with a slightly bitter edge and pecans for a toothsome bite. Muffins not too sweet, not too moist (I did not want cupcakes), just cakey enough, just tender and sweet enough to make the best little breakfast treat, the perfect little snack. Comforting.
In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.
- Robert Frost
CHOCOLATE CHIP PECAN BUTTERMILK MUFFINS
Perfect comfort food, ideal for breakfast, brunch and snack. Feel free to replace the chocolate chips with fresh blueberries.
2 ½ cups (320 g) flour
¾ cup (150 g) sugar
2 tsps baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Finely grated zest of ½ to 1 orange, to taste, optional
¾ cup (about 100 g) mini chocolate chips
½ cup (50 g) coarsely chopped pecans
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup (180 ml) buttermilk
2/3 cup (160 ml) vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly grease or line with paper cupcake cups 12 regular-sized cupcake tins.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and orange zest (if adding) in a large mixing bowl and whisk to blend. Whisk in the chocolate chips and chopped pecans.
Combine the egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla in a large measuring cup or a bowl and whisk until well blended.
Using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until all of the dry ingredients are moistened and the batter is well blended. Do not overbeat or over mix the batter as this can lead to a tougher muffin.
Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups, filling each cup ¾ full and bake for about 20 minutes (time may vary depending on your oven) until the muffins are puffed, golden and set and a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven and carefully lift each muffin out of the tin and allow to cool on a rack.