Yesterday we talked about underrated foods, à la walnuts. Today I’m thinking about later-in-life foods. As in, stuff you just didn’t eat until you were adult-like. But now that you’re older and much, much wiser, you enjoy your new culinary discoveries all the time!
A lot of people tell me that avocados are their LIL foods. Also fava beans.
One poor soul told me that Jolly Ranchers were his LIL food. I gave him a hug and we cried together.
Pistachios are my later-in-life food. I honestly can’t remember eating them at all until I met A., who is a true pistachiophile. He taught me proper cracking technique.
I really grew to appreciate the unique flavor of pistachios, but it wasn’t until I started reading about working them into cakes, cookies, flans and even moles that I was truly hooked.
Today we’re making little, green pistachio muffins. For breakfast!
I have this idea that muffins can be quite boring, which is why I like to play with their texture when I make them.
These pistachio muffins involve the nuts two ways: ground into a pistachio ‘pesto’ and chopped whole kernels.
If you’re lucky enough to find a sack of shelled pistachios, you’re money. If not, pull up a chair, throw on a good movie, and prepare to crack your face off: we need 1 1/2 cups of pistachio kernels for these muffins.
But it’s so, SO worth the effort, you know?
I generally don’t care for nut extracts -they taste alcoholic and medicinal to me- and I’ve tried pistachio puddings and the like. Nothing really matches the flavor of the actual nut.
We’re going for true, unadulterated pistachio here.
I made these muffins for A. to take to work so I had to use my manliners, which are simply squares of parchment paper that hold the batter. Words were never exchanged to this effect, but let’s just say that a lot more of my muffins began finding their way into A.’s lunchbox when I switched from pink hearts and rainbow liners to these manliners.
Apparently a grown man eating a muffin out of a pink hearts and rainbow liner doesn’t play around the watercooler.
Look at that! Gah, do I love pistachios. If only I had met them sooner. Must have been distracted by the Jolly Ranchers…
2 c. white sugar, granulated
1 c. vegetable oil
2 large eggs
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. pistachio kernels, roughly chopped
3/4 c. pistachio kernels (see below for instructions on grinding)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare the pistachio ‘pesto’, place 3/4 cup of pistachio kernels in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process the nuts for 30 seconds and scrape down the side of the bowl. Process for another 30 seconds. Finished pesto will be the consistency of a dry, coarse paste. If you need to process for an additional 30 seconds you can. Set aside.
Meanwhile, cream the sugar and oil in a large bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, beating until incorporated.
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed sugar, alternating with the buttermilk, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary and beating until just incorporated. Beat in the pistachio pesto and fold in the chopped nuts.
Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spoon or scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin – you will want to fill each cavity to just below the top lip of the liner.
Bake the muffins for 24-28 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool slightly before unmolding.
YIELD: 24 muffins