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Friday night I saw the the film The Lunchbox, a love story of sorts centered around Mumbai’s incredibly efficient lunchbox delivery system. If you watch this movie hungry your stomach will be grumbling throughout, craving the mouth-watering curries that the lucky character Saajan gets to eat each day for lunch. It also made me want to remake my red lentil tarkaspicy coconut curry, and quick curry.

But this post takes a different tack. Inspired by the craze of cross-pollinating baked goods all over this town I read Julia Moskin’s story in this week’s Times with interest. I can’t really say or write “scuffin” without smirking (cronut is easier for some reason), so I’m not calling these that. These are basically muffins filled with jam. I didn’t include the cream from the original recipe although I’m sure that would be tasty (I just rarely have cream on hand and it didn’t seem totally necessary here). I also added whole grain rye flour instead of using all-purpose pastry flour, making for a richer, slightly denser flavor that I like, kinda the philosophy of Tartine’s Book No. 3, on baking with whole grains.

If you’re avoiding butter and eggs (I’m looking at you my vegan friends) you could substitute coconut oil for the butter, and half a mashed banana for the egg. Check out this post for a few different vegan egg replacements for baking. And if you use the coconut oil instead of butter, use 1/4 c additional coconut oil instead of the olive oil that’s called for below, that will just keep for a more consistent flavor.

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Whole Grain Muffins with Jam
adapted from Julia Moskin, The New York Times

4 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for greasing muffin tins
1 c whole-wheat flour
3/4 c rye flour (you can use all-purpose or any other type you like)
1/4 c wheat germ
3 tbsp raw sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 c whole milk
1/4 c olive oil
approx. 1/2 c of your favorite fruit jam

Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease 12 muffin cups with butter and set aside. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt the butter and add to the dry ingredients, mixing with a fork until just combined.

In a separate bowl whisk together the egg (or 1/2 banana if using), milk, and olive oil, and add to the dry ingredients until just combined.

Scoop the dough into the muffin tins, reserving about 1/4 of the dough for topping. Make a small well in the dough and drop in a spoonful of your favorite fruit jam. Using the remaining dough cover the tops of the muffins, across the top you can scatter a little sugar, or flax seeds, or poppy seeds, crushed nuts might be good too.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until browned. Let cool then, using a butter knife, transfer out of the tins to a rack.

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Yields 12 muffins

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Like most New Yorkers (heck, New Englanders, East Coasters, Mid-Atlanticers) I feel that spring can not get here fast enough. I want to start making and blogging about produce-based dishes with exotic ingredients like asparagus, ramps, and spring lettuces. I fear I may be in a dessert–breads–grains rut for lack of seasonal inspiration. Alas, this yummy gooey breakfast-or-is-it-dessert (does it matter?) banana bread.

I’m not want one to roll my eyes at excessive chocolate. In fact, I open them wide and grin a wide grin. My friend @superdaniela tipped me off to this double chocolate banana bread over at smitten kitchen and I decided to give it a whirl, substituting and creating variations on a theme as I so often do. (Maple syrup instead of sugar, for instance.)

Last year at this time I was blogging about spicy carrots and the year before a chickpea sauté with pickled shallots and there are actual photos in that post with blossoming trees! One day, I’m told, spring will come again.

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Chocolate Banana Bread
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 medium-to-large very ripe bananas
1/2 c Earth Balance or coconut oil, melted
1/2 c maple syrup
1 large egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
1/2 c semisweet or dark chocolate chips or pieces
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan (8 x 4 or 9 x 5 in.) and set aside.

Mash the bananas in the bottom of a large bowl. Add the melted butter, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla. Combine. In a separate medium bowl, sift the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, flours, and cocoa powder. Add to the banana mixture, stirring just until combined. Then stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for approx. 55 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean (save for some melted chocolate chips!). Cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes then run a butter knife enough along the edges and flip upside down onto a cooling rack.

Store at room temperature wrapped in foil or wax paper.

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It is said that moving is one of life’s biggest stressors. Moving and cooking is particularly challenging. Your cutting boards are packed away. You can’t remember where you stashed your favorite knife. You tossed all the half-bags of flours, dried beans, and pastas from your pantry and need to start over. (I should’ve kept that buckwheat flour.)

But moving is a chance to start over, to recycle reams of old bills and pay stubs, donate books and embarrassing shoes worn to first job interviews, re-order surroundings and re-sort the mind. Packing is revealing. It had been three years since my last move, and this would be my fifth apartment in Brooklyn in nine years. I came across car registration paperwork from the city of Cambridge c. 2005; acceptance and rejection letters to grad school; final papers from my senior year of college. Stacks of business cards from a job I haven’t had in years! Why had I been holding onto this stuff all these apartments later? It’s interesting that, with each move, you become willing to throw more and more away. The half-life of my nostalgia seems to be about 8-10 years. So, yes, I’m just now tossing birthday cards from 2006 (not the pretty handmade ones) and more Verizon flip phones than I care to admit.

I spent days eating cheap takeout amid boxes and boxes, just like in the movies. And around Day 5 I’d had enough. I dug out a couple of pans and utensils and made my inaugural meal. Kosheri from the first Ottolenghi cookbook. A humble meal really. Basmati rice that’s toasted with cinnamon and nutmeg, mixed with lentils, and served either with a tomato sauce or yogurt and cucumbers. Topped off with crunchy fried onions, the best part. It tasted so good. I felt brought back to life a little.

I’ve never been to Glasserie in Greenpoint. And I moved to Ditmas Park which might as well be another country from North Brooklyn. There are probably more people between me and Greenpoint than in the entire state of Vermont. (Population of Vermont: roughly 600,000; population of Brooklyn: roughly 2 million). But one day I hope to eat there, after a long journey on the Q, then the L, then the G train. And once there, I will eat cardamom sugar buns, pickled prunes, pistachios with kaffir lime leaf. I hear their flaky bread is divine. So until I can make it to the old glass factory building on Commercial Street, this homemade version will have to do. Not bad for having moved one week ago.

Glasserie’s Flaky Bread
via Bon Appétit

1 tsp salt
3 c all-purpose flour (or 2 c all-p, 1 c whole wheat)
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (I used cultured butter) + more at room temp for brushing
Good crunchy sea salt, like Maldon
Olive oil

Combine the salt and flour in a large bowl. Drizzle in the melted butter and mix well. Add 3/4 c water and combine. Kneed the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes, until the dough is shiny and soft. Cover with plastic wrap and rest in a warm spot for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight.

Divide the dough into 10 pieces and shape into balls. Place the balls on a baking sheet, cover with plastic, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Working with 1 piece at a time, roll out balls on an unfloured surface with a rolling pin into very thin rounds or ovals (about 9″ in diameter). If the dough bounces back, cover with plastic and let rest a few additional minutes.

Brush the tops of the rounds with room-temperature butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Roll up each round onto itself to create a long thin rope then wind each rope around itself, creating a tight coil.

Working with 1 coil at a time, roll out on an unfloured surface to 10″ rounds, no more than 1/8″ thick. Stack as you go, separating with parchment paper brushed with oil to make things easier.

Heat a large cast-iron griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. And one at a time, brush both sides of the dough with more room-temperature butter and cook until lightly blistered and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer bread to a wire rack to cool and sprinkle with more sea salt.

Serve plain, with shakshuka, your favorite jam, avocado, labneh, hummus, the possibilities are endless really. Next time I’d toast some sesame and poppy seeds and add this to the dough before rolling out, or fresh herbs.

You can also roll out the coils and freeze, wrapped tightly, up to one month. Cook from frozen, adding an additional 1-2 minutes cooking time.

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