Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins

Dark winter mornings are a little sweeter when I can start them with a small muffin along with my coffee. The tang of lemony cake, a burst of blueberry, and a slight crunch of topping — it’s just a nice, cheery way to begin the day. I want a muffin in a manageable size, not those ginormous monster muffins you get in stores. And I want it to taste fresh, yet I definitely don’t want to haul out of bed early every morning to make myself a fresh batch.

These Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins work perfectly for all of the above. A little fruit, a little butter, a little crunch . . . it’s all there. And they freeze well so you can pull them out as needed. They’re tasty for a snack anytime. Cupcake-sized, they’re super portable and an easy food to gift because they don’t have to be eaten instantly.

This recipe is adapted from Deb Perelman’s great- and liberating – Smitten Kitchen cookbook, and there’s also a website to check out.  I make these in cupcake size baking cups and freeze them so as to have muffins handy. They keep fine covered on the counter for a couple days.

This recipe has two parts, batter and streusel. This is the total ingredient list for both:

  1. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  2. 2/3 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt (nonfat is fine)
  3. 1/2 to 3/4 tsp fine lemon zest (add more if you want batter more lemony. One lemon should give you enough)
  4. 1/2 tsp good vanilla
  5. 4 large eggs
  6. 3 cups of sugar, divided
  7. 1/2 generous tsp fine kosher salt
  8. 4 tsp baking powder
  9. 1 cup and 2 TBS cornmeal, divided
  10. 2 3/4 cup flour, divided
  11. 1 1/4 cup butter (2 and 1/2 sticks), divided
  12. 4 cups of blueberries, washed and dried or, if frozen, defrosted. Basic frozen blueberries work fine in this but the nicer they are, the better the muffin.

Assembly and Baking:

  1. Soften 1 cup/2 sticks of the butter for about an hour or more on the counter. Take the chilled 4 TBS of butter and cut it into small pieces while cold and set aside for the streusel
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Get out your muffin pans and cupcake liners and set those up. This recipe makes about 36 cupcake sized muffins or 24 bigger muffins
  3. Whisk dry ingredients together in two different bowls:
    • Set #1, main batter: 2 cups flour, 1 cup cornmeal, all the baking powder and salt
    • Set #2, streusel:  3/4 cup flour, 2 TBS cornmeal, all the cinnamon, pinch of table salt plus 1 cup of the sugar
  4. In a high sided bowl, beat 2 cups of sugar into the butter for at least two minutes, until fluffy and well combined
  5. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla and lemon zest
  6. Toss the blueberries with about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dry ingredient mixture (Set #1) You want those berries coated but not extra flour floating around
  7. Add half the remaining flour mixture to the batter bowl and stir until just combined
  8. Add all the sour cream/yogurt and stir until just combined
  9. Add the other half of the flour mixture and stir until just combined
  10. Taste batter. If you want it more lemony, add more zest
  11. Add coated blueberries and stir until just combined
  12. Add butter to streusel (Set #2) flour and combine using a pastry blender or fingers
  13. Put batter into muffin cups:
    • For cupcake sized muffins, about 1.5 heaping scoops using a large cookie scoop. Or fill the cup to 1/2 to 2/3 full, depending on how big you want your muffins
    • For big muffins, fill 1/2 to 2/3 full
    • For small, 3oz muffins, use small cookie scoop to fill cups 2/3 full. (Love those Simply Baked stand-alone baking cups when I’m in splurge mode. So, so pretty!)
    • Mini muffins: haven’t tried yet. Will update if I do
  14. Top each muffin with streusel:
    • For cupcake sized muffins, 1-2 teaspoons
    • For big muffins, about 1 TBS
    • For others, eyeball it. The streusel adds a yummy sweetness and crunch
  15. Bake on middle rack for about 35-40 minutes until cake tester comes out clean (note: streusel will cling to the tester so test a bit not covered in streusel)
  16. Allow muffins to cool in tin or turn out right away depending on your confidence level of doneness
  17. Plate and cover the quantity of muffins that will be eaten in the next two days and leave on the counter. Freeze the rest in a zip bag and take out as needed. These defrost quickly on the counter. Serve at room temperature or warm.


Blue? Green? Something Else?

So the slate blue chalk paint on the dining chairs just wasn’t working.  First I thought it was the brown fabric on the seats that wasn’t right. It was pretty but somehow, the beauty you could see when you really looked at it wasn’t coming out. And the slate blue in the design wasn’t coming out despite the chairs being that same blue. Humph.

Here's the slate blue version of the chairs. Hoped it would bring out the blue embroidery but . . .
Here’s the slate blue version of the chairs. Hoped it would bring out the blue embroidery but . . .
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. . . only the cat liked it.


Next step: I hacked up a favorite sarong and slapped that over it the brown. I love this sarong, so much that I almost made it into an ottoman cover. (Impractical, too much pet hair against the black. Somehow the Mints aren’t drawn to the dining chairs.)2015-05-23 13.00.16

It looked better – and I do love blue and black together – yet still not great. Time to try painting the chairs over.

Happily, Internet wisdom is if you waxed your chalk paint, you can repaint if the wax fully cured. Roughly, that means if the wax has been there three months, it’s no big deal. I sanded lightly anyway before starting.

The new fabric has a streak of . . . midnight? blue running through it so, hoping to bring that out and make the chairs fun, I took a strip of fabric to the paint store and got a sample to match. And this is the result:

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In some lights, it looks great and fun. In others, maybe a little too quirky. Also, I’m not sure anything will bring out that blue in the fabric. Is this too bright?

Shooting for more contrast, I decided to open up the paint options to green. Maybe it’s time to let go of my dream of blue chairs. So I mixed up some chalk paint with some leftover martini olive. The fabric does have several shades of green so even though it’s not an exact match . . .2015-08-17 09.14.36

Now I’m torn. This could go a couple ways.

1) All green. There’s something really nice about the all green. And the thing about having the chairs the same color is that there’s a serenity to the dining room that I want. The goal is to have a sort of pretty quiet little surprise in the dining area, a little fun. But I don’t want them to demand attention.

2) All blue. I’m leaning away from this one. Somehow it’s just not working, even though I was so careful about the match. Am I wrong? Is it me? Or does this blue demand too much attention?

3) Four colors? I could do the dark pink and a deeper green, black or white on the other two chairs so nothing is too matchy. But then, when I ruin the fabric as I — or the Mints — inevitably will, it will be hard to find a replacement that works with all four colors. Also, there’s the demand attention issue.

4) Two and two? Three and one? The question then is, are the blue and green to jarring against each other? Again with the demanding of attention?

What do you think? Now that I’m happy with the fabric, where should I go with the color issue?

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