Wednesday, January 5, 2011

223. Lemon-Pecan Muffins, Grating Trick

A lemon has a certain special aromatic freshness we all seem to love and its recognizable flavor lends itself to  many of our favorite recipes. As wonderful as it is, the lemon has given me a few problems over the years. I have learned the hard way that if I buy large bags of lemons, I have to squeeze the juice out of most of them right away and immediately freeze that juice in tablespoon-sized cubes for later use.

Before doing this, I would often find sunken, moldy lemons in the bag because I did not use them up when they were at their peak. At other times, I would discover hard, shriveled lemons that had been forgotten in the bottom of a refrigerator drawer. Either way, I was not making good use of those lemons that I had originally purchased in bulk to save money.

Another problem had to do with the concept of grating the lemon rind. No matter which grater I used, I had problems…the rind got stuck in the blade holes, the lemon slipped across the blades and did not grate well and some of the white, bitter pith would always become part of the mix.

I found out a neat trick, however, that solved all of those grating problems. If the grater is covered with plastic wrap, the rind will grate easily and if the wrap has been folded across the back of the grater, it creates a little pouch that catches the grated lemon rind neatly. (see pix at end of recipe). For some reason, the plastic keeps the white pith from mixing in with the zest. (Pith is not wanted as it is bitter).

Today’s recipe makes a family-friendly muffin that has wonderful lemon flavor combined with crunchy pecans. These muffins are dense and more like a quick bread; they store well and are great a great addition to lunchboxes.

Lemon-Pecan  Muffins

½ C margarine (Smart Balance), melted
1 ½ C sugar
2 large eggs
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
2 ¼ C flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ C chopped pecans
½ C milk or soy milk with vanilla

Grease or line muffin tins with paper. In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat eggs well and combine with creamed mixture. Add lemon zest, milk and juice. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt an nuts. Add to butter mixture and mix until just blended.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin tins 2/3 full. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with sugar (optional). Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes until muffins are slightly browned. Place muffins on a wire rack to cool. Makes a baker’s dozen (13).


Back of plastic-wrapped grater, lemon peel collected in wrap.


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