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.
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:
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:
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.)
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.
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).
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
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.
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
113 g / 4 oz. butter, melted
Zest of 1 lime
113 g / 4 oz. fresh blueberries
Sliced almonds for garnish
- Preheat oven to 175 C / 350 F. Line muffin tins with paper liners or grease the tins with a little butter.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.