Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rhubarb Muffins, and green & black beans

The first rhubarb of the season was most welcome after a long winter, and it has the honor of going into some sweet and vegan-buttery muffins. I was going to make some frosting to turn these into cupcakes, but they really were good enough on their own, without the lily-gilding of frosting. Muffins are the only baked good where I feel comfortable winging it, since I've learned that they're pretty tough to screw up. As long as the muffin batter is somewhere between bread dough and pancake batter, the results will be pretty good. I know that real bakers have much higher standards, but as long as the ingredients are good, the texture of muffins is really forgiving and encourages lots of experimenting.

These muffins are pretty basic, with benefits of good rhubarb, a healthy dose of ground flax seeds, and a little apple cider vinegar to compliment the rhubarb flavor.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (all purpose flour with a little whole wheat flour would be fine too)
Four 6 to 8 inch stalks of rhubarb, diced
3/4 cup, plus 1 tbsp., brown sugar
2 tbsp. ground flax seeds
1/2 cup softened vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance), or 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
about 3/4 cup of non-dairy milk (I used almond)

1. In a saucepan, heat the diced rhubarb over medium heat, with about a tbsp. of water. After the rhubarb begins to soften, add 1 tbsp. brown sugar, and continue heating and stirring frequently until the rhubarb is very soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 375 F, and lightly oil your muffin pan - this recipe produced 7 muffins, in what I guess is a standard sized muffin pan.

3. In one mixing bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and flax seeds. In a second bowl, mix the sugar, margarine, and vinegar. Combine the two mixtures, and add enough non-dairy milk - about 3/4 of a cup worked fine - to make a smooth batter. It should be too thick to pour, but thinner and wetter than any bread dough. Fairly vague instructions, yes, but I won't pretend to be an expert :) - this is just what worked for me.

4. Spoon the batter into prepared muffin pan, with equal proportions for each muffin. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, and remove from oven when the muffins are golden brown on top. Cool and enjoy!

Here's a couple other tasty pics from the past few days, both from cookbooks I've been enjoying lately:

Here's a plate of twice-fried green beans. Check this out - fresh green beans are fried in peanut oil, next cashews are fried in peanut oil, and than crumbled tempeh is fried until crispy in even more peanut oil. Then, everything is thrown together and stir fried in a little more peanut oil, with a simple tamari, sugar, and red pepper sauce added at the end. Pretty greasy, and pretty awesome.

Finally, this is a black bean tortilla soup, another one from Rick Bayless. The greens are bok choy, and the soup has great texture and flavor from rehydrated and pureed ancho chiles. I want to learn how to use dried chilis more often - it's a whole dimension of flavors that I don't really have any experience with cooking, and I'm looking forward to fooling around with the huge selection of chilies out there. Any ideas for varieties I ought to try?


The Voracious Vegan said...

Too much deliciousness to handle! Great post.

I don't think I've ever had rhubarb but I am just like you, I always wing it when it comes to muffins. They are one baked good that is pretty hard to mess up. Pack enough good stuff in there and it'll be alright.

WOW. Those twice fried green beans look GOOD.

And I'm always up for a delicious bowl of soup, yum.

Sal said...

I have memories of my nan cook up soggy rhubarb, i think that's why I've avoided it so long. But those muffins look great!

That soup looks great too.

Bianca said...

Oooh, me too...on the dried chilis. I never use them because I don't really know what to do with them, aside from grinding them into chili powder.

The muffins sound fantastic. And I like that idea of "anywhere between bread dough and pancake batter" as a standard for muffin-making. So true!

jessy said...

oh my goodness, your rhubarb muffins look gloriously good! you're a helluva lot more brave than i'll ever be - i am way too intimidated by baked goods to try & experiment with 'em - even muffins! i’ve never had rhubarb before and i want to try and find some at the farmer’s market this weekend so i can make these! mmmmmmmmmm! twice fried green beans sound rock’n – greasy ‘n awesome, indeed! that's what i'm talking about! yay! the only dried chili i’ve ever used was just chili pepper flakes (the red ones), i think your idea to use more dried chilis is great – and keep us posted on what you do with them – i’d love to know so i can try ‘em out, too!

Jenn said...

Mmmm dried chilis. I have some in the pantry I've been neglecting. That tortilla soup looks amazing.

Anonymous said...

"lily-gilding of frosting" - lol. I loved what you wrote. That's an awesome description.

Per usual - great food!!! Jealous! *smacks ya

As for the chili - hmmmmm I'm not much of a dried chili gal but y'know the Chinese do an awesome dish of dried chili, cashews and black bean paste. Usually with chicken but I'm sure we can substitute with tofu. The gravy is like a sweet sticky glaze. I hope you know what I'm talking about.

And lastly, I'm more than happy that you like the humble card:)

Later dude!

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