Rentrée Blues

1 09 2009

Once again, it’s official.  La rentrée is upon us once more, and my days as la cheffe are up.  Having lost the responsibility is worse than never having had it, because now I have a better idea of how I would run things, and I find myself getting annoyed when le chef doesn’t do them that way.  But it’s not just in the kitchen.  All over Paris, people seem a bit down – it’s always hard going back to the routine after whiling away the long summer days on vacation.  Trust me, I know.  My rentrée was at the beginning of July.

Foodwise, the end of summer always heralded blueberries for me, growing up in the Pacific Northwest where berry season comes pretty late.  So when I saw piles of blueberries at the market a couple of weeks ago, I had to buy some.  And following a disaster (well, ok, not disaster, but less-than-satisfactory outcome) involving Ruhlman’s muffin ratio, I wanted to give him a chance to redeem himself.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Hopie tagged mewith this surprisingly addictive game: find seven blue objects in your house (although I see no reason not to expand the field of view) and do a little show-and-tell.  Like Hope, I decided to focus on my kitchen, seeing as this is a food blog, but now that my eye is trained to scan for blue things, I can’t stop!  Everywhere I go, I’m looking for seven blue items!  Hopefully posting this will purge that impulse.

The very first thing that comes to mind when I ask myself, “what’s blue in my kitchen?” is my beloved Emile Henry ceramicware.

I am inordinately pleased that my dishes match.

From soufflé-type desserts, to custards, to portioning out peanuts for snacking, the ramekins certainly get a workout.  As does the oval gratin dish, especially in the colder months, with treats like tartiflette, ham-wrapped endives, stuffed cabbage, and even the occasional gratin benefiting from the large exposed surface to get browned and crisp.  Quiches, tarts, and sometimes casseroles keep the fluted round dish busy.

A peek into the fridge revealed this:

Yay for homemade dressing!  And reusing containers!

Homemade bleu cheese dressing, made with the end of a wedge of bleu d’Auvergne, a pot of yogurt, and some chopped green onions.

You can see from that last photo that I reused/repurposed the crème fraîche container.  Yes, I am a card-carrying tree-hugger, as evidenced by the next couple of blue things:

Why is the GREENpeace brochure blue? 

Time to take out the trash... er, recycling.

A brochure from Greenpeace about harmful fishing practices (honestly, though, I think a brochure about which fish I CAN eat is more useful than one outlining the ones I shouldn’t eat); and my (rather full, but since emptied) recycling bins.

Are we having fun yet?  There is still the matter of that muffin recipe…

But first, one of my most-used kitchen tools.  (Very useful in muffin making, I might add.)

Well, it used to be all blue...

My favorite silicone spoonula is blue, and evidently, my dishtowels are, too.

I love that my kitchen is open to the living room – it makes it feel so much bigger, plus I can chat with dinner guests while I put the finishing touches on the food.  So this painting isn’t actually in the kitchen, but I can see it clearly while I’m working in there, and it makes me happy.

The depth of the sky is just amazing.

We bought it from our friend and former neighbor, Xavier de Maisonneuve, who also happens to be the artist.

As a dedicated cook/food blogger/aspiring writer, I always have a notebook and pen close at hand.  This one was a gift from my former boss, and I use it to jot down dessert inspirations and elaborate menu plans (like for Thanksgiving and such).

It's a cocoa ad, how appropriate.

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

Blueberry-Almond Muffins

The blueberry muffins!  Actually, they’re blueberry-almond, because I like something crunchy on top of my muffins, and sliced almonds toast up beautifully.  Plus, the almond is a great friend of the blueberry.  (And most other fruits, truth be told.)

Just one more piece of business, and then I’ll let you go to make your very own muffins.  I’m supposed to tag seven people to play along.  So, Hails, Loulou, Trisha, Andrea, Ann, Jenni, and WMDA crew, what’s blue in your kitchen/garden/suitcase/library/town?  Creative interpretations welcome.

Cooling on the ledge

Blueberry-Almond Muffins 

These scrumptious muffins make an excellent late summer breakfast, sure to cure those rentrée blues.  Crunchy toasted almonds are a delicious partner for the musky sweetness of fresh blueberries, while a hint of lime zest punches it up.  A little almond meal added to the flour makes for a slightly richer muffin with great almond flavor.  The recipe can easily be halved, but leftovers have never been an issue in my house.

225 g / 8 oz. All-purpose flour
113 g / 4 oz. sugar
28 g / 1 oz. almond meal (optional)
1 tsp. fine sea salt
2 tsp. baking powder

225 ml / 8 oz. milk
2 eggs
113 g / 4 oz. butter, melted
Zest of 1 lime
113 g / 4 oz. fresh blueberries
Sliced almonds for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 175 C / 350 F.  Line muffin tins with paper liners or grease the tins with a little butter.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, almond meal, salt, and baking powder) in a bowl.  In a separate bowl or measuring jug, whisk together the wet ingredients (milk, eggs, melted butter, and lime zest) until well mixed. 
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dries and gently stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the batter is just combined.  Fold in the fresh blueberries.
  4. Fill the muffin cups about ¾ full.  Sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top of the batter.  Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the almonds are toasted and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs (and maybe a little blueberry juice).  Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.
  5. Uneaten muffins will keep 3-4 days in an airtight container at room temperature, if they last that long.

Makes 12 muffins.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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18 responses

1 09 2009
onlinepastrychef

Ooh, ooh! I made blueberry muffins today! I love Hinternet Synchronicity:) The formula I used is very close to this one–a little less milk; a little more butter, but otherwise, pretty similar. I subbed some corn meal for part of the AP ’cause I love the blueberry-corn combination.

I’m not really a Blue Person, but I’ll see what I can come up with. Is it okay if I have to punt and go with brown or green? :)

1 09 2009
Trisha

Lovely tour of blue, Camille. As luck (fate?) would have it, I’m feeling kind of blue today (something about not pulling up enough in the driveway and scratching my bumper with the garage door), so this is a fitting game.

1 09 2009
Loulou

Thanks for the tag! I’m definitely in.
You’re lucky, we hardly ever see blueberries down here. Those muffins look divine!

2 09 2009
Ann Mah

Thanks for the tag! I’m reading your post at work (shh!) and going through my apartment in my mind… Fingers itching to get at the camera. Mouth watering for almond-topped muffins.

2 09 2009
hungry dog

The muffins looks great–the last time I made blueberry muffins I thought they needed a little crunchy top too–I’ll have to try the almonds. I like this post and it seems like it was fun to write. Also, love the painting.

2 09 2009
croquecamille

pastrychef – Yay for synchronicity! Corn is so good with so many summer fruits, don’t you think? And hey, I said creative interpretations were welcome… I say go for it!

Trisha – Well, then I hope it will help you feel better! :)

Loulou – Blueberries are pretty rare around here, too, at least affordable ones are. And thank you!

Ann – You’re welcome. I had pretty much the same reaction. :)

hungry dog – It was fun! Feel free to play along, if you like.

2 09 2009
chocolate shavings

I love the addition of the almonds on top of the muffins – looks delicious!

2 09 2009
ABowlOfMush

I would never have the blues if i ate these! What fab muffins!!

2 09 2009
Jen @ MaplenCornbread

Yes I am a blue person! Lovely!! And these muffins are fabulous!

3 09 2009
Paulita

Finally, one advantage to living in the U.S. Plenty of blueberries. But today I made a peach raspberry cobbler. And I think the sliced almonds on top might have worked there. I’ll try your muffin recipe.

3 09 2009
Cookie

I love all the cruncy almonds you added on top! What a great recipe for the end up summer when we have to say good-bye to fresh local berries on sale and hello to over-priced berries from somewhere tropical. That’s definitely a good reason to start baking pumpkin muffins and zucchini breads though!

3 09 2009
TasteStopping

Love your blue review! Our ramekins, though not blue, get sooooo much use. I think we have around twelve of them now (and counting). And your muffins sound divine. I love the almonds on top, because it seems that they would stay crunchy even a day or two after baking (and that’s what most people crave, isn’t it? The elusive crunchy muffin top?). Great details all around.

Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my new site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.

Best,
Casey
Editor
http://www.tastestopping.wordpress.com

3 09 2009
Jessica

Those muffins look delicious. How are you liking Michael’s Ratio? I’ve almost picked up the book so many times, but just can’t bring myself to buy. Let me know what you think!

3 09 2009
Hopie

So did it cure the blue obsession?? Those blueberry muffins look scrumptious. Where are you finding blueberries in France that don’t cost an arm and a leg! (Although for those muffins I might be willing to pay one ;-))

3 09 2009
croquecamille

chocolateshavings – Thanks, they taste that way, too!

Bowlof Mush – :)

Jen – Thank you!

Paulita – Please do, and I think you’re right about the cobbler.

Cookie – Mmmm… pumpkin bread.

Tastestopping – Top o’ the Muffin to ye! Heh. Love your blog concept – what a great idea!

Jessica – I like Ratio a lot. It’s a great set of basics upon which to build, which is awesome for anyone whol likes to play around with recipes. I definitely think it’s worth buying, as it’s a book you’ll likely want to go back and reference often.

Hopie – You know, it did! And I must admit, the blueberries were un peu cher – I got them at the bio market – but totally worth it.

6 09 2009
Lucy

I love all your pretty blue things, including, of course, these gorgeous muffins! I adore the slice almonds on top adding more crunchy flavour: makes a nice change from a crumble topping :)

3 10 2009
Betty C.

Your blog is looking as lovely as ever. I have a piece of Emile Henri ceramic too — I think maybe in a darker blue. The ramekins I posted were, I think, from Geneviève Léthu, which we don’t have anymore here in Rodez — a pity.

5 10 2009
croquecamille

Lucy – I agree, crumble topping is good, but nuts make a nice change.

Betty – Thank you! Oooh, I like Geneviève Léthu, too. A friend once gave me some fun, twisty-stemmed glasses from there – so pretty!




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