Thursday, June 05, 2008

Workin' those fresh cherries into vanilla muffins...

I was a little worried that we would be cherried out by now, but we're not showing any signs yet... still love 'em! I have already made the remaining two recipes that used them, since they probably would have been a little on the icky side by now, and we are finishing up the last two Cherry-Vanilla Ricotta Muffins tonight that I made earlier this week.

With the ricotta in these golden treats, they are not exactly the lightest muffin on the block (unlike those pancakes from the other night, these don't have the benefit of beaten egg whites to add that airy quality). While they are a little dense, they are not heavy and do still have a little lift to them. I liked that these muffins were not too sweet with just a half cup of sugar in them, but you may want to bump that measurement up to two-thirds cup if you like muffins on the sweeter side.

A full cup of buttermilk keeps these muffins extremely moist and the delightful tang worked well along side the zesty punch from the added lemon. As usual, we used a combination of whole-wheat pastry and all-purpose flours, but if you don't have the former handy, completely all-purpose would be fine. We used fresh cherries, but I don't see why you couldn't use frozen - if you do use frozen, I would wait until the last possible minute to add them and quickly fold them in so they don't stain the pale batter too much. The one thing I would do differently to these is scatter the tops of the unbaked muffins with a crunchy sugar like turbindo for a little contrast in texture.

With their crisp fresh flavor, sugar snap peas have really grown on me lately and I'm always keeping my eyes out for interesting recipes to use them. While there isn't anything too unusual about this Ham Risotto with Sugar Snap Peas recipe I made for tonight's dinner, their vibrant nature helped to lighten up a heavier starchy dish.

We have made quite a few risottos over the years now - besides *usually* tasting well, they are a snap to prepare and the mindless work of stirring the rice is an oddly relaxing process, at least for me. The only real extra work for this risotto is blanching the sliced snap peas - besides keeping the peas bright green, it takes the edge off their crunch, but allows them to retain some crispness. Milder leeks and a couple cloves of garlic flavor the base of this dish before the rice is added to toast slightly.

As with most recipes, this one includes a few splashes of white wine for the needed acidity and depth. Once the broth has been added (you may or may not need all of the broth called for) and the rice becomes tender and plump, a scant cup of diced ham is tossed in. The total time for the rice is probably around 15 to 20 minutes - while the grains should be tender, they should also have a bite to them in the center. Right before serving, a generous shower of sharp Parmesan cheese is stirred in, along with the peas and fresh ground black pepper to taste. If you spot some gorgeous asparagus, I think that would be a very appropriate substitution if you don't like the sugar snaps or the peas don't look too well at the market. As an afterthought, a sprinkling of snipped chives on top would be a nice spring-y addition to finish this dish off.


  1. I will never tire of posts with cherries in them, keep it up!

  2. I really should comment more often. I read this blog everyday while eating my afternoon snack. I love how often you post.

  3. Hi Joe - I was wondering if you could do a small favor for me and open a restaurant?


  4. These look just delicious, I think I'll try them with low fat ricotta and buttermilk and see how they go!

  5. Brilynn - We're tryin'!

    Karen - Thanks for checkin' us out and taking the time to leave us a comment!

    Quinn - If only!

    Jenny - I think those subs would be just fine!

  6. I tried the rissoto Friday night and it was fabulous. I subbed in chicken because my husband doesn't like ham. A very easy stovetop dish.

  7. Tdeane - Glad to hear it worked well with chicken!

  8. If you haven't tried the chocolate version of these, they are absolutely out of this world amazing. For some reason, they were a little less dense than when I made the lemon ones.

  9. Liz - I'll have to see if I can find that version!