Lemon sour cream muffins with blueberries and ginger

So good, people just might think you bought these at a bakery!

These are my new favourite muffins, and that’s saying a lot since I have posted many muffin recipes on this blog. The sour cream gives them a rich texture and the addition of ginger and lemon both in and on top of the muffins makes them fantastically flavourful. For the longest time I did not appreciate the value of adding sour cream to baked goods, but these doughnuts absolutely hooked me. You can easily adapt this recipe to make it lactose-free by substituting with the ingredients given in brackets below. While they are truly spectacular fresh out of the oven, these muffins also freeze beautifully, by the way, and the recipe can be multiplied to feed a crowd for a brunch or picnic.

These rich, delicious muffins get their flavour from lemon, ginger, sour cream and blueberries

Ingredients

Muffins:

  • 1 3/4 cups (415 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) salted butter, melted (or canola oil)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) sour cream or plain yogurt (or lactose-free yogurt)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) milk (or water)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) freshly grated gingerroot
  • 1 cup (250 mL) fresh or frozen blueberries

Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) freshly grated gingerroot

Method

  • Preheat oven to 375F. Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and powder and salt; stir to blend.
  • In a medium bowl, combine melted butter or canola oil, sour cream or yogurt, beaten egg, milk or water, lemon zest and juice plus grated ginger. Stir to blend well.
  • Add the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir gently until just blended. Add berries and finish stirring so all dry ingredients are moistened.
  • Use a scoop to fill muffin cups about 2/3 full.
  • Bake for 18 minutes, or until browned and a tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of a muffin.
  • While muffins are baking, put lemon juice, sugar and grated ginger in a glass measure. Microwave for 30 – 40 seconds until just bubbling; stir to dissolve sugar and set aside.
  • When muffins are baked, remove pan(s) from oven and let sit for 3 minutes, then transfer muffins to a cooling rack placed over a baking sheet or piece of parchment paper.
  • With a toothpick or small skewer, poke the top of each muffin several times, then use a small spoon to drizzle glaze evenly over the muffins.

Makes 16 muffins.

These rich, delicious muffins get their flavour from lemon, ginger, sour cream and blueberries

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Asparagus recipe roundup

So many ways to enjoy one of spring’s delicious delights!

Cooking with the seasons just make sense, don’t you think? I feel fortunate to be able to grow some of my own herbs and vegetables and also to have easy access to several different farmers’ markets when I can buy the freshest, tastiest local produce. I’ve been feasting on asparagus this spring, coming up with new recipes and enjoying some tried-and-true favourites. Here are a few ideas that I hope might provide you with some delicious, seasonal inspiration (just click on the titles below to access the recipes).There are so many delicious ways to prepare asparagus - find great recipes at constantlycooking.com

 

Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Rolls

Lightly cooked asparagus wrapped in smoked salmon is an easy yet impressive appetizer

Grilled asparagus with mustard sauce and toasted panko

Warm Brown Rice Salad with Asparagus, Grapefruit and Shrimp

This grain-based salad offers tons of flavour while packing in a lot of nutrition at the same time.

Grilled asparagus with za’atar and creamy harissa sauce

Grilling is an easy way to prepare asparagus and this creamy harissa sauce adds a ton of flavour

Asparagus and leek soup with herbed goat cheese  

asparagus soup with herbed goat cheese

Grilled Asparagus and Spring Onions

asparagus and spring onions are a perfect combination especially when grilled

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Shrimp and asparagus Pad Thai

Tasty twists freshen up a classic Thai favourite!

There are probably thousands of different ways to make Pad Thai, one of the most ubiquitous and popular street foods in Thailand. Stir fried rice noodles and vegetables in a tasty sauce make this dish fast and flavourful. In this variation, I’ve chosen to include shrimp, asparagus and red peppers for a big dose of colour and taste. I’ve also switched things up a little by replacing the traditional bean sprout garnish with fresh, crunchy pea shoots. For a lacto-ovo vegetarian version, omit the fish sauce, substitute 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) of cubed firm tofu for the shrimp and use vegetable stock in place of chicken broth.

Pad Thai with shrimp asparagus and pea shoots

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon (2.5 mL – 5 mL) Asian chili-garlic paste (to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free version)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) fish sauce (optional but delicious)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) ketchup
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) chicken broth

Noodles

  • 10 oz (285 g) medium-sized rice noodles
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) canola or olive oil
  • 12 stalks asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup (250 mL) slivered red pepper
  • 16 – 20 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • White parts of 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Toppings

  • 2 cups (500 mL) pea shoots, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup slivered green onion tops
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh coriander leaves

Method

  • Put all ingredients for sauce in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to combine. Set aside.
  • Put noodles in a broad bowl and cover with hot tap water. Let soak for 25 – 30 minutes to soften. If desired, cut softened noodles in half with kitchen shears.
  • In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and red pepper and sauté, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  • Add shrimp and white parts of green onions and sauté, stirring constantly, for 2 – 3 minutes more, until shrimp is pink.
  • Add beaten eggs and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.
  • Drain noodles thoroughly and add them to pan, stirring gently but thoroughly. Add sauce and stir again. Cook for 4 – 6 minutes until noodles are tender, adding a bit more chicken broth (or water) as needed to make sauce the desired consistency.
  • Transfer cooked Pad Thai to warmed bowls and garnish with pea shoots, green onion tops, peanuts and coriander. Serve immediately.

Serves 3 – 4.

shrimp and asparagus Pad Thai

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Small batch hard iced tea cupcakes

A tasty treat for summertime entertaining!

A lifelong fan of iced tea, I didn’t know what to expect the first time I tasted a ‘spiked’ version. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the tea and lemon flavours still predominated and found the drink to be quite refreshing. A recent offer to try a new-to-me version called MadJack Hard Flavoured Iced Tea got me to thinking about how alcohol can really perk up the flavour of some baked goods….and so, this cupcake recipe was born. The malt beverage’s unique flavour shines through in a subtle but pleasing way in the cupcakes and the lemon buttercream icing also gets a boost from MadJack. I’m so happy with the way these turned out, I’ll likely repeat the experiment with some of their other products – the Apple Lager in particular sounds quite intriguing!

cupcakes made with hard iced tea malt beverage topped with lemon buttercream

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) salted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) grated lemon zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) MadJack hard iced tea

For the buttercream

  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups (500 mL) icing Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) MadJack hard iced tea
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice

To garnish

  • Thin lemon slices and edible flowers

Method

  • Make cupcakes by preheating oven to 350F. Line 12 compartments of a muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.
  • Beat sugar, butter and lemon zest together for 2 minutes until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  • Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture in two parts, alternating with hard iced tea.
  • Beat just until blended.
  • Fill lined muffin cups with batter and bake for 18 – 20 minutes, until tester comes out clean.
  • Make buttercream by beating together butter and lemon zest on medium speed until fluffy.
  • Add hard iced tea and lemon juice, then beat until well-incorporated.
  • Add the icing sugar, 1/2 cup (125 mL) at a time, and beat until smooth before adding next amount.
  • Check consistency and add a bit more icing sugar or lemon juice as needed until it is the right consistency for spreading (a little thicker) or piping (a little thinner).
  • Spread or pipe a generous amount of buttercream onto each cupcake and garnish as desired.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

delicious cupcakes with lemon buttercream on top

Disclosure: I was given sample products from MadJack to develop this recipe. Opinions expressed are, as always, entirely my own.

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Asparagus and leek soup with herbed goat cheese  

A lighter, more flavourful version of a favourite springtime soup!

This cheerful soup embraces all that’s wonderful about springtime – fresh new vegetables and herbs just waiting to be transformed into bright, tasty dishes. Asparagus is ideal for soup and this variation is lighter than some as it has less cream, yet is full of flavour. I love this recipe because it uses all parts of the asparagus – the tough ends to enhance the stock; the middle parts to give the soup substance and the tips for an impressive garnish, along with the deliciously flavoured goat cheese. Use minced chives if you can’t get your hands on pretty little chive blossoms.

asparagus soup with herbed goat cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds (675 g) fresh asparagus (about 20 – 24 stalks), rinsed
  • 4 cups (1L) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter
  • 3 leeks, white parts only, split lengthwise and well rinsed
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) minced shallots
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) minced fresh parsley
  • dash cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) each salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) heavy (35%) cream
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) softened goat cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) minced chives

asparagus and leek soup

Method

  • Cut one inch (2.5 cm) off the top of each asparagus stalk, reserving these pretty tips for the soup’s garnish.
  • Flex the remaining stalks near the bottom and snap off the woody stem ends; set aside.
  • Cut the remaining tender stem middle pieces into 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) lengths.
  • Thinly slice the cleaned; mince the shallots, garlic and parsley as well.
  • In a large pot, bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Add the tough asparagus stem ends, cover the pot and reduce heat until it is just simmering; let cook for 10 minutes then remove the asparagus ends with a slotted spoon and discard.
  • Put the asparagus tips into the stock and cook for about 1 minute, just until they begin to soften. Remove the tips with a slotted spoon and place them into a bowl filled with ice water, to stop them from cooking further. Once the tips are cooled, place on a clean towel to dry thoroughly, then set aside.
  • Pour the stock into a large heatproof bowl or measuring cup and set aside.
  • In the same pot (now empty), melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and shallots; sauté until they are softened (about 3 – 4 minutes). Add garlic, parsley and cayenne; cook 1 minute. Add the chopped tender asparagus stalk pieces and cook 2 minutes more.
  • Add the reserved broth and turn up the heat until the liquid just begins to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover pot, and cook until the asparagus is tender (12 to 15 minutes). Note that you don’t want to overcook the asparagus or it will lose much of its vibrant colour.
  • While the soup is cooking, zest the lemon. Put the goat cheese in a small bowl and add the lemon zest and chives. Stir together until well blended; cover and refrigerate until serving time.
  • Once the asparagus is tender, remove the soup pot from the heat. Puree the soup mixture using an immersion blender, or in small batches in a blender or food processor. You want it to be very smooth.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. The soup can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated then reheated prior to serving.
  • Just before serving, add the cream. Juice the lemon that was zested for the goat cheese garnish and add the juice to the soup as well. Warm thoroughly but do not let soup boil.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each one with a dollop of the herbed goat cheese, several of the reserved asparagus tips and a sprinkling of chive flowers.
  • Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4.

asparagus and leek soup with herbed goat cheese

Posted in Soups and stews, Vegetables, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rhubarb recipe roundup

So many ways to enjoy delicious, versatile rhubarb!

One of my fondest childhood memories is of sneaking out to the rhubarb patch and pulling a stalk to devour it on the spot as a tasty snack. I wasn’t as fond of the stewed rhubarb my mother often prepared so I felt that I was getting my fair share of this juicy springtime treat by eating it straight from the garden. Today, I love rhubarb in just about any form. Rhubarb freezes beautifully so it’s a good idea to harvest it before it starts to get tough (and high in oxalic acid) towards the end of June.

Below are a few of my favourite rhubarb recipes; click on the titles to access the details:

Rhubarb Crumble Pie

Rhubarb Mousse

Rhubarb mousse can be served fresh or frozen

Roasted Beet and Rhubarb Salad

roasted beet and rhubarb salad

Rhubarb Collinsrhubarb collins

Upsidedown Mini Rhubarb-Ginger Cheesecakesrhubarb cheesecake

Sweet & spicy rhubarb chutney

rhubarb chutney

Make-ahead rhubarb scones

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Ice cream with vodka cooler marinated berries

An easy, elegant dessert for entertaining

It’s astounding how many varieties of cooler-style beverages one can find at ‘bottle shops’ these days. Of course many people enjoy them for summertime sipping , but did you know they can be the basis of some great desserts too? I’ve discovered that they coolers also a great way to add a little pizzazz to ice cream, gelato and even grilled pound cake. These grown-up floats were my go-to last summer; this year I’m switching things up with some fresh fruit. I really liked how the flavour of Blackfly Sour Raspberry Vodka Cooler, made with cane sugar, enhanced the fruit’s natural flavours without adding too much sweetness. Given the wide array of cooler flavours available today, the possibilities for this dessert are endless!

Ingredients

  • Assorted fresh berries (I used blueberries, blackberries and raspberries)
  • 1 can fruit-flavoured cooler
  • Vanilla ice cream (or your favourite flavour)
  • Edible flowers to garnish

Method

  • Measure out 2 cups (500 mL) of fresh berries. Rinse and pat dry. Place in a broad, shallow dish.
  • Pour the cooler over the berries and stir, pressing gently on the berries to soften them so they will absorb liquid.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 – 6 hours, or place in the fridge for up to 48 hours. Stir occasionally during resting time, pressing gently on the berries each time.
  • To serve, scoop ice cream into four serving bowls. With a slotted spoon, scatter berries over ice cream, then drizzle a few tablespoons of the liquid from the fruit over top. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings and can easily be multiplied.

Disclosure: I was given sample products from Blackfly to develop this recipe. Opinions expressed are, as always, entirely my own.

 

Posted in Dessert, Desserts, Fruit | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment