A few weekends ago, Jared and I went to my grandparents’ house for the evening. After dinner, my grandma, mom and aunt started talking about how my grandma prepared the delicious meal: how she roasted the vegetables, how she cooked the corned beef (it was a St. Patrick’s Day meal after all) and how she assembled the cheesecake. At some point during the conversation, my grandma got up from the table and went to one of her kitchen cabinets, where she pulled out a tattered old cookbook that’s seen better days.
“This is my cookbook,” Grandma said. “The one my grandma gave to me before my wedding. I’ve been using it forever.” She proudly showed her cookbook, with its pink and white speckled cover and wobbly binding, carefully taped back together (on numerous occasions) to hold the pages in place. It’s smaller than most of the books stacked in my kitchen, about the size of a hardcover Harry Potter (think The Sorcerer’s Stone, not The Order of the Phoenix). Clearly, it’s a cookbook that’s seen a lot of kitchen time, a lot of meals and a lot of love. I was feeling downright sentimental.
I wonder how many of us will have beloved cookbooks like that when we’ve reached that point in our lives. I’m so into my Essential NYT Cookbook now, but will it still be on my shelf 50 years later? I hope so, and I hope it’s speckled with batter, wilted at the pages and bound together with good tape. When recipes are timeless, they’re certainly worth hanging on to. I’m quickly learning that the memories of foodstuffs are long lasting — and unexplainably special.
In the spirit of timeless recipes, I thought I’d share these blueberry muffins from The Essential New York Times Cookbook. It’s one of those that you make and then think to yourself: “Yes, that’s what baking is supposed to feel like. I’ll be making these forever and ever.” A blueberry muffin is a classic, like an apple pie or roasted chicken, and something every baker, whether homegrown or professionally trained, should probably have in his or her arsenal. This is a great one to add to that growing lifelong repertoire.
Jordan Marsh’s Blueberry Muffins
From The Essential New York Times Cookbook (Amanda Hesser, p. 635)
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
• 1 ¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
• 2 large eggs
• ½ cup whole milk (or ½ tablespoon heavy cream and the rest skim milk)
• 2 cups blueberries, rinsed and picked over
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups (or line with paper cups). Sift together flour, salt and baking powder, and set aside.
Cream butter and 1 ¼ cups sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add to the flour mixture, alternating with the milk and beating just until smooth.
Crush ½ cup of the blueberries with a fork, and mix into the batter. Fold in the remaining blueberries.
Fill muffin cups with the batter, and sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar over the tops of the muffins. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan.
There’s something so amazingly satisfying about blueberry muffins, especially when they’re this fresh. And I love that ½ cup of the blueberries get a nice squashing before heading into the batter; it spreads that wonderful blueberry taste throughout the muffins while keeping them light and fluffy. Perfection!
What timeless recipes are you whipping up these days? Do you have a beloved cookbook that’s beginning to show its age? Any classic food memories you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about it!