Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Some of you who subscribe to the RSS feed might have been puzzled to see that a new blog post went up yesterday afternoon for about an hour, and then came down again. It was about an old poker friend of mine who’s just confessed to murdering a prostitute in Thailand, chopping up her body and putting it in a suitcase. But I decided that was too grisly, so I’ve taken it down and I’m going to put up a recipe instead. MUCH NICER. Maybe I’ll write about the murder another time. Meanwhile, on the last post here (about poker hands), one of the commenters asked for a new recipe so here is one.
Take two Thai prostitutes….
I’m joking. Sorry.
One of the best things about going to the PCA tournament in the Bahamas is eating at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill. Mmmm. I’ve just gained half a stone, simply by remembering it.
It’s kind of a spicy, southern American type of affair. One of Bobby’s signature dishes is actually an “accoutrement”: his blue and yellow corn muffins. I tried to recreate them earlier this year, using Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill Cookbook (it seemed the obvious book to use) but it was a challenge because the ingredients are so American. “Cilantro”, for example, I decided was absolutely impossible to come by here - until I realized that, for the UK market, it could simply be translated into “coriander”. Blue cornmeal, sadly, does not translate into anything you’ll find at Tesco. Modification is required.
This is a ridiculous recipe because it contains about a million ingredients. But it’s worth it. These things are incredible. They make a brilliant side dish to almost any main course (though best to keep it light and vaguely thematic - grilled tuna on spicy rice, for example), they are a great savoury snack, and you can even put jam on them to make a weird and addictive kind of breakfast.
Tip one: Bobby’s recipe demands blue and yellow cornmeal, and the whole thing is made in two separate batches, then combined later to make multi-coloured muffins. Sod that. I have yet to find blue cornmeal anywhere in the UK, and the recipe is bloody complicated enough without two-batching it. So this is my modified, slightly easier version. It’s not impressively blue-and-yellow striped but the various ingredients make for a colourful muffin nonetheless.
Tip two: Bobby’s book says this makes 12 muffins. It doesn’t. It makes about 200 muffins. Course, this might be because I don’t have a muffin pan so I used a mince pie tin. Using a muffin pan, it might only make a hundred. I won’t mess with Bobby’s measurements, just in case that screws things up, but bear in mind you will be living off these for a fortnight. So:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C, bit lower if it’s fan-assisted). Grease a muffin pan (or mince pie tin) with butter. That’s what Bobby says - grease one tin. Ha! Be prepared to re-use the same tin over and over and over before the mixture’s finished. Or, if you live inside a branch of John Lewis, grease ten tins.
2. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Add half a cup of diced red onion and cook for a few minutes until it’s softened. Then add 4 chopped cloves of garlic and cook briefly. (This is where Bobby would be getting out two bowls and starting to do something complicated; never mind all that. Just leave it in the saucepan)
3. In a bowl, whisk together a cup and a half of whole milk, 4 eggs, 2 tablespoons of honey, half a cup of diced red peppers, 2 diced jalapeno chillies, half a cup of sweetcorn (tinned is fine) and 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh coriander. (Or “cilantro”, as Bobby calls it). No kidding about the millions of ingredients. Now, I personally don’t like the taste of fresh coriander. It makes me feel a bit sick. Nevertheless, once it’s cooked it is (a) tasty and (b) buried under such a weight of other ingredients that its main contribution is to make pretty green strands through the muffins.
4. Time for the 97,000 dry ingredients. For this you’ll need another bowl. Don’t whine to me about having to wash two of them up - if you were following Bobby’s recipe, you’d be on your sixth bowl by now. For this simplified version, put two cups of cornmeal into the new bowl (or coarse polenta - which may be the same thing, I’m not sure, but I’ve tried making it with both and they’re both fine). Add one and a half cups of flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and 4 teaspoons of salt. Mix mix mix.
5. Now combine the contents of both bowls and the saucepan, and mix. That’s your batter. It’s probably the most labour-intensive batter you’ve ever made, but just think of the satisfaction when it’s finished.
6. At this point you transfer the batter in appropriate-sized dollops to your muffin or mince pie tin. You can just put it straight in (Bobby does), but a really handy tip is to cut thin strips of baking paper and put one across the middle of each hollow in the tin, before adding the batter on top (making the strips long enough to leave yourself little “handles” on either side of the batter). It’s slightly boring to cut all the strips, but it makes lifting them out really easy when they’re cooked. Definitely a good thing to remember when mince pie season comes around.
7. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until they seem golden and springy to the touch. Let them cool in the tin for five minutes or so, then move onto a cooling rack.
It is at this point in the process of making fairy cakes, muffins or pies, that you would be tempted to try a couple while they’re warm, but you’d be afraid of running short. No such worries here. Eat twenty of them while they’re warm. You’ll still have enough left to feed an army.
There! A lovely muffin recipe, and no murders.
If you’re a keen cook, frustrated by my provision of one recipe every eight months and a lot of waffle about poker in between, my beautiful sister-in-law has a proper food blog full of delicious things, and she never wastes time with bad beat stories or grisly anecdotes about criminals she has known.