Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cilantro Corn Cupcakes

If you've been reading this blog for the last several weeks you've seen a clear pattern of flavor combinations - something sweet paired with something savory. And today's cupcake is no exception. There's also been another trend at work; cupcakes that showcase some summer flavors. Again, this variety is no exception. We're big fans of cilantro in this house, which definitely grows well at this time of year; and the fresh corn I bought at the farmer's market last weekend could not have looked more beautiful with its big, plump, and perfectly formed kernels.

One thing I have recently learned during my forays into the world of cupcake-making is that, if I'm adding icing to these individual cakes, then I don't need much sugar in the cake itself. Another thing I've learned is how crucial it is to balance major flavor ingredients in each variety of cupcake. With those ideas in mind, I substituted a little honey for a larger quantity of sugar in the batter, and enhanced the corn flavor a bit by substituting corn meal for some of the flour.

The corn in this recipe provides natural sweetness and a bit of texture, while the cilantro adds a pungent counterpoint. See if you agree that this recipe is another tasty ode to summer:

Cilantro Corn Cupcakes
Makes about a baker's dozen - 13 cupcakes

1/4 cup oatmeal, ground to 'flour' in the food processor
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced very fine
1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) cooked and cooled corn

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together all dry ingredients. Add eggs, olive oil, yogurt and honey, combining all ingredients thoroughly. Fold in cilantro and corn.

Fill 13 cupcake papers, approximately 3/4 full. Bake about 22 minutes, until golden brown on top. Make icing as cupcakes bake (see recipe below). Allow them to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, remove, cool 15 more minutes and then remove cupcake papers.

When completely cool, add icing:

2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) cooked and cooled corn, mashed to 1/4 cup
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced very fine
milk (optional)

Cream together the butter, cream cheese, and confectioner's sugar. Stir in corn and cilantro. If the icing is too thick to spread easily, slowly add a little milk to thin the icing to the desired consistency. ENJOY!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Brews Made in Kansas City

It isn't often that an advertisement draws my eye and camera. But this ad was a rare exception, because I have watched these companies grow up and, more importantly, I appreciate the products that both companies offer to the Kansas City area and beyond.

Danny O'Neill, founder/owner of The Roasterie, caught the coffee bug while living in Costa Rica as a high school exchange student. Today, O'Neill's Kansas City, Mo. coffee roasting company imports coffee from more than 17 countries and serves customers in every state. And he is just as passionate about his brews as he was the day he began roasting coffee in his basement, in 1993.

John McDonald, founder of Boulevard Brewing Co. also opened his first brewing operation in a Kansas City neighborhood. Just like O'Neill, international travel had inspired McDonald to create a business fueled by passion. While in Europe, McDonald became entranced by the craft of brewing beer. He then created a Bavarian-style brewing operation when he opened the company in 1989. Boulevard Brewing Co. has since grown into the largest specialty beer brewer operating in the Midwest.

Want to learn more about this great coffee and beer? Consider touring either of these facilities. Free tours take place at Boulevard Brewing Co. on Wed./Thurs., 3 p.m.; Fri., 1 & 3 p.m.; and Sat., 10, noon, 2 & 4. Learn how coffee travels from field to cup at The Roasterie during free tours on Saturdays, at 9 (large groups also may tour at 11 a.m.). Just be sure that you make a reservation at either company.

You'll never look at your favorite brews the same way again!