• Mad for Muffins, my newest cookbook, is hot-off-the press from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (look for it in bookstores and online). Filled with "pick-me-up-and-eat-me" muffin photographs, the book contains more than 70 recipes -- with an emphasis on the nutritious (see the What's New page for two of my favorite muffin recipes). There's immense variety in the world of muffins, yet muffins are the easiest, quickest quick bread of all, just the thing for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacking. And now a brief preview:
"Muffins are quick, muffins are easy and practically fool-proof if a few simple rules are followed . . . Dry ingredients combined in one bowl, wets in a second, then the two mixed -- but barely. This is key if muffins are to be fine and feathery. The wets and dries should be mixed only enough to combine, in fact muffin batters should be lumpy with flecks of flour clearly visible. If not, your muffins will be peaked, rubbery, and riddled with tunnels.
"Muffins launched me into the world of baking and I'd barely soloed before I was improvising with the basic recipes. My itch to improvise has never waned, in fact my reason for writing Mad for Muffins was to create a portfolio of muffins that captured the unusual, often seductive flavors I'd discovered as a food and travel writer constantly on assignment -- in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America.
"So why not the curries and chutneys of India stirred into a muffin batter? The lemon-grass of Thailand? The coconut milk of half a dozen Asian countries? The falafel and hummus of the Middle East? The sun-dried tomatoes, pepperoni, and exquisite cheeses of Italy?
"And how could I neglect the peppery accents of our own Southwest . . . the whole-wheats and ryes, other grains and brans of the prairie states . . . the silken stone-ground cornmeals of the South to say nothing of its 24-carat sweet potatoes . . . the maple sugars and syrups of New England as well as its cranberries now available dried as well and fresh and frozen? Oh, yes, and the sharp Cheddars of Vermont and Wisconsin to say nothing of the country hams of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.
"My mission, too, was to reduce whenever possible, as much as possible, the amount of sugar now integral to so many of today's muffins. Have you noticed that 'muffin' has become a euphemism for 'cupcake?' Do we really feel less guilty scarfing down a sugary muffin than a cupcake? Well, as one friend commented, 'At least muffins aren't frosted!' True, but they may be strewn with a buttery, sugary topping.
"OK. OK. To salve America's sweet tooth, I've added a chapter called Party Pleasers, a collection of -- dare I call them 'dessert' muffins? -- just the thing for birthday parties, showers, and other celebrations.
"No, I haven't forsaken basic muffin recipes in the pages that follow nor ignored the fruit-nut muffins handed down from our grandmothers. They're all here -- in abundance -- though perhaps a tad less sweet.
"So, I hope you'll give my muffins a try -- the plain, the fancy, the familiar, the exotic. They're all here along with the tips and techniques you'll need to produce proper muffins. Every time."
• What people are saying about Mad for Muffins:
||"Baking fads come and go but muffins are forever! I love the recipes in this book -- fun, clever, and so easy to make. It's time to rediscover an American classic."
-- Barbara Fairchild, former Editor-in-Chief, Bon Appetit
|"Jean Anderson, a seasoned professional, is the go-to person for muffins. With her new book's helpful hints, many options, and informative baker's tips, your first attempt with muffins is bound to be a success. So there is no excuse not to have warm muffins in your daily bread basket."
-- Jan Hazard, , blogger, Food Editor of kitchengadgetgals.com and former Food Editor of Ladies' Home Journal
• Listen to my half-hour CELEBRATE NC radio show the last Thursday of every month, live at 11:30 a.m., rebroadcast at 6:00 p.m., streaming worldwide, and on-demand anytime. Host Mike Moore and I talk about all kinds of things -- food safety, Southern foods and their whacky names, professional cooking tips, etc. We also give away an autographed copy of one of my cookbooks each month. For more info, click on CelebrateNC.com. To listen in, click one of the links below and press the button:
August 2014 Show
• I have just finished my next Houghton Mifflin Harcourt cookbook, Crisps & Cobblers, Custards & Creams. It's a big book, some 175 recipes -- the haute, the humble, the glamorous, the every-day. Pub date? April 2016.