Saturday, November 5, 2011

'Basic to Brilliant Y'all', a cookbook by Virginia Willis

Scrolling through my favorite food blogs this afternoon (while enjoying the leftover coffee cake muffins from this morning!) I came across a new cookbook that was shot by Tartelette.  Chef Virginia Willis's Basic to Brilliant Y'all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company looks incredible.

I love cooking homestyle Southern food for my guests, and I'm always looking for ways to make the presentation more elegant and the taste more sophisticated.  Shrimp and grits with a basket of cornbread muffins is delicious fare, but sometimes you just want to elevate the meal.  As we know, my silver spoons are still in Texas... so if the placesetting isn't going to provide the extra panache, the food needs to rise to the occasion.

I'm going to peruse this new cookbook and try out some of the recipes this month.  Will let you know how it goes!

Coffee Cake Muffins with Pecan-Oatmeal Streusel

First post from the new kitchen! Still waiting on all my baking gear to arrive (two weeks to go!), but we've made do pretty well with the bare minimum. For the past week we've had Texan friends of friends staying with us: our first houseguests in our new home! We've had a great time getting to know them and showing them the sites (and tastes) of this beautiful city.

This morning we cooked up a big breakfast, including these coffee cake muffins. I saw a recipe on Cooking Light for a coffee cake that grabbed my attention because it included toasted oats-- what a great concept! I adapted the recipe for muffins, reduced the sugar and cholesterol, amped up the cinnamon, and subbed pecans for walnuts. The result is a light and deliciously spiced muffin that perfectly evokes Texas weekend brunches.
Southern Spoon blog: coffee cake muffins with pecan-oatmeal streusel
coffee cake muffins hot out of the oven
I used self-raising all-purpose and whole-wheat flours because that's what I had on hand. If you have plain flours just add 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the dry ingredients. For a large cake instead of muffins, just bake the batter in a greased 9-inch round springform pan. Enjoy!
Southern Spoon blog: coffee cake muffins with pecan-oatmeal streusel
oatmeal, cinnamon, brown sugar, and pecan goodness

Coffee Cake Muffins with Pecan-Oatmeal Streusel
Makes eleven muffins or one 9-inch round cake

3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
1 cup self-raising all-purpose flour
1/4 cup self-raising whole-wheat flour
(if you don't have self-raising flours, add 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda)
pinch of salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar, divided
1/3 cup vegetable oil (rice bran oil works well, and is good for you)
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup low-fat natural yogurt
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecan
1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
1 tablespoon chilled butter

Preheat oven to 350F/ 175C. Spray a 12-cup muffin tray or a 9-inch round springform pan with cooking spray.

Spread the chopped pecans on a baking sheet and bake at 350F/ 175C for 7-8 minutes, until fragrant and browning. Remove and set the pecans in a small bowl.

Spread out the oats on a baking sheet and bake at 350F/ 175C for 7-8 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the toasted oats. Pour the rest of the oats into a large bowl and add the other flours (plus baking soda and powder if not using self-rising flours), salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon; mix well.

In another large mixing bowl, beat together the granulated sugar, half of the brown sugar (about 2 tablespoons), and the vegetable oil. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture alternately with the yogurt, beginning and ending with flour. Stir only a few times with each addition, some lumps will remain-- do not overmix! Spoon the batter evenly into 11 of the greased muffin cups (you will get a nice, big, rounded muffin by distributing into only 11 of the 12 muffin cups).

Add the reserved 1/4 cup of toasted oats, the rest of the brown sugar (about 2 tablespoons), and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to the reserved toasted pecans. Mix with a fork. Add the tablespoon of butter rub the mixture with your fingers until the butter is evenly distributed.

Sprinkle a big spoonful of the pecan-oatmeal streusel on top of each portion of muffin batter (or sprinkle evenly over the entire cake pan if using a 9-inch round springform pan), patting down lightly with your fingers to anchor the nuts into the batter.

Bake the muffins at 350F/ 175C for 18-20 minutes (or bake for 38-40 minutes if baking in a 9-inch round pan), until risen and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool for at least 6 minutes so that the muffins slide easily out of the pan when you run a knife around the edges. Or, if baking as a large cake, cool for at least 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the springform pan. Serve immediately. These muffins store well in an airtight container for 2-3 days.