Laura Avery chats with Zoe Nathan, who is the pastry chef at Rustic Canyon Wine Bar on Wilshire in Santa Monica. She and proprietor Josh Loeb do a Saturday brunch from 9am to 1pm. Featured are Zoe's baked goods including her blueberry corn muffins.
Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins
Makes approximately 24 muffins
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 1/4 tsp salt
- 7 oz unsalted European-style butter
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 oz vegetable oil
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 3 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 3 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder & baking soda.
In a mixer on medium speed, combine cream butter, salt and sugar with the paddle attachment. When nice and fluffy, slowly add vegetable oil, honey, eggs and vanilla. Mix until incorporated, turn the mixer down to low and add 1/2 the flour and mix for a few seconds. Turn off the mixer and add the remaining flour and the ricotta cheese.
Mix on low until just incorporated, then turn off the mixer and fold in 2 cups of the blueberries.
Scoop evenly into muffin tins and top with the remaining blueberries and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until nicely brown on top and springy to the touch.
Fava beans are in season now. These harbingers of spring require two shellings - the first from their puffy, ugly outer pod and the second from the soft, whitish skin that encases the small bean inside. The actual bean is bright green and delicious and can be sauteed and prepared many ways.
Richard Sager, of Two Peas in a Pod farm, brings in fava beans as well as fresh dried Black Turtle beans and Mexican Red beans. These beans can be prepared in many ways and don't need to be soaked overnight.
Here's one of Evan Kleiman's suggestions for preparing fava beans.
Antipasto of Fava Beans and Pecorino Cheese
- 2 lbs fresh fava beans, unshelled weight
- 1/3 lb Pecorino Romano cheese
- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
Shell the fava beans. Carefully remove the waxy outer covering of each bean. Cut the Pecorino Romano cheese into 1/4 inch dice. Mix the beans, cheese, olive oil and plenty of coarsely ground pepper. Let marinate at least one hour. Serve with crusty bread as an appetizer or as a salad.
Music break: Mountain Greenery by Larry Elgart