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Blog

bella terra: pick-me-up

Andrea

When I bought three raspberry plants (two red, one golden) from my local nursery last year I had no idea what to expect. We’d had mixed luck with berries - the blackberry bush we’d planted the year before was showing a lot of promise for its second summer but the blueberry bush we’d put in 3 years prior hadn’t grown a bit and typically yielded a harvest of only one dozen berries each season. I was taking a chance, but the raspberry plants were inexpensive and I was determined to have long branches loaded with berries twining through the fence surrounding our garden.

RasMuffins - Merge 1

We got lucky.  Their first year the raspberries didn't do much.  We were rewarded with a couple of small handfuls of fruit - really only enough to snack on as you wandered through the garden checking on other plants, certainly not enough to actually do something with.  But this year - the berries' second year - has been quite the surprise.  Maybe its because I wasn't expecting much from them, or maybe its that their location in the garden is a bit out of the way, but just a few weeks ago I was shocked (shocked!) to discover that the raspberry branches had reached clear out of their intended boundaries and were loaded (loaded!) with plump berries.  I wish I could show you photos of their progress, but the general unruliness of the garden has left me embarrassed to share the evidence.

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Its hard to not get excited about being in the kitchen, concocting new recipes when your fridge has a constantly rotating bowl full of red raspberries, golden raspberries and blackberries.   Unless, like me last week, you come down with a bug right in the middle of berry season.  It was nothing too serious, but provided enough sour feelings to keep me completely out of the kitchen and away from the blog. I had no interest in cooking food, writing about food or editing images of food for five full days. It was all I could do to get the tomato soup post up Tuesday night, and the next day I couldn’t even bring myself to read comments because the mere thought of tomatoes gave me a queazy feeling. Finally, on Saturday, as I was laying on a towel in the middle of our living room floor after a particularly hard 4-mile run, thoughts of homemade muffins popped into my head.

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I jumped up, so excited to have the urge to bake without a queazy feeling following along behind that urge. It was getting worrisome, this lack of desire to stand at my kitchen counter, because I had promised some dear friends that I would make cupcakes for their daughter’s third birthday party the next day. And, we had raspberries. Several bowls of raspberries freshly picked from our garden just waiting to be folded into muffin batters and buttercream frostings and made into jam (peach + raspberry = yum!). The opportunities were endless, yet until Saturday I’d done nothing to seize them.

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These little raspberry almond muffins pulled me out of my funk, with some help from Ellie Krieger, whose book I had picked up at the library a few weeks prior. They are hearty, made with a mix of all-purpose and whole-grain flours, and pack nice little raspberry punches into each bite.  Made moist by applesauce instead of butter, and topped with a crunchy cinnamon and almond topping, they provide an adequate amount of sweetness countered by the slightly tart raspberries - a sure pick-me-up for any slow morning or afternoon.  I've frozen a bunch of them to use as my own little weapon against future kitchen blues...

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Raspberry-Almond Muffins

makes 16 muffins

adapted from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave, Apple-Pecan Muffins, pg 22

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp light brown sugar, packed

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, chopped finely

  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup whole-grain pastry flour

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 cup canola oil

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup natural unsweetened applesauce

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 3/4 cup fat free buttermilk

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries


Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400*.  Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray, along with 4 wells in a second muffin pan.

  2. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tbsp of the brown sugar, the almonds and the cinnamon.  Set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt.

  4. In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar and the oil until combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition.  Whisk in the applesauce and vanilla.  Stir in the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk, just until combined.  Gently stir in the raspberries.

  5. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling each about 2/3's full, and sprinkle evenly with almond mixture.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

  6. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing from pan.


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What about those cupcakes I mentioned before?  Well, I made these again, along with a vanilla version for the adorable 3-year-old's birthday party.  They were a big hit with the young-uns, but I think the adults enjoyed them even more...

Cupcakes-Merge

Other Bella Terra posts this season:

Bella Terra: Preparation

Bella Terra: Chives

Bella Terra: Herbs

Bella Terra: Sugar Snaps

Bella Terra: Red Beets

Bella Terra: Kale

Bella Terra: Cucumbers

Bella Terra: Blackberries

Bella Terra: Tomatoes, Part 1