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?