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October 1, 2006

Absinthe, kirsch, and lemon curd (Recipe: zucchini lemon muffins)

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How do you discover new things to add to your pantry?

You travel.

You taste.

You try foods introduced to you by friends.

And, sometimes, you're lucky enough to get all three of those experiences in one! That's the great fun of Blogging by Mail, graciously hosted by Stephanie of The Happy Sorceress. It's an annual online "event" for food bloggers all over the world. The idea is simple: you send a package to someone, and someone else sends one to you. This year, 90 food bloggers participated. Stephanie makes the match; then, you have three weeks to ship your package.

I sent some lemon biscotti, Rhode Island specialty foods (coffee milk syrup, preserves from a local farm, and stone-ground cornmeal), and a cookbook to Ed of Tomato. He lives near Melbourne, Australia, and tells me that everything arrived intact.

A few days later, hooray! My own wonderful surprise package arrived from Switzerland, from Pamela of Posie's Place. Along with the goodies you see in this photo, she sent a lovely note explaining why she'd selected each of these items:

  • Absinthe-filled chocolate, a Swiss specialty.
  • Hachez hot chocolate. Pamela's favorite. Perfect after the sunny but chilly day we spent in the garden.
  • Lebkuchenkrachers, from a food fair in Germany.
  • McKay's Lemon Curd, Pamela's favorite topping for brioche or warm croissants. Brought back from travels in Scotland.
  • Basler Pfefferkuchen, cookies made from a 200-year-old recipe.
  • A bag of Kir Royale herbal tea, from a degustacion in France.
  • Kirsch, from the Black Forest.

I didn't have any of these things in The Perfect Pantry, so you can imagine how much fun Ted and I have had tasting each one. The chocolatey bits disappeared right away, but the lemon curd sent me searching for a recipe for something sweet and baked.

Thanks so much, Pamela!

Zucchini lemon muffins

Adapted from the indispensable King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion, this recipe makes 12 muffins that would be great with afternoon tea.

Ingredients

2 cups (8-1/2 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (3-1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup (2 oz) chopped walnuts
1/2 cup (3 oz) raisins or currants
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk
1/2 cup (3-1/2 oz) vegetable oil
1 cup (8-1/4 oz) packed shredded unpeeled zucchini
1/2 cup lemon curd
Additional walnuts, very finely chopped, for topping (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Stir in the walnuts and raisins. In a smaller bowl (or a 2-cup liquid measure), combine the eggs, milk, and oil. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Stir just until barely combined, and then gently fold in the zucchini.

Spoon the batter into a greased 12-cup muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the muffins spring back when you press them with your fingertips. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes on a rack, then turn out of the pans to finish cooling.

When the muffins are cool, cut a small hole in the top of each one with a tiny melon baller or a knife, and fill the holes to overflowing with lemon curd. Top with a sprinkling of finely chopped walnuts.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

Comments

Well it looks like you have quite the haul there. I love the muffins!

Ooh, what lovely treats! And the muffins — King Arthur is a pretty reliable source for ideas.

What a great idea! Maybe we could send "virtual" items with reasons why we have them in our pantry. Semms to me we could uncover all kinds of interesting ingredients.

I love that! Treats in the mail - almost as much fun as getting money in the mail! I'm curious about which cookbook you sent Ed...

Kate: The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook, by Linda Beaulieu.

Pauline, what a fun idea!

Ivonne and Mimi, you both do so much baking -- please share links to your recipes that use lemon curd! My own baking repertoire is really limited.....

That sounds like so much fun! What a great way to try things you usually wouldnt think of sampling. :)

You can read about what I sent to Ed, in Australia:

http://www.tomatom.com/2006/10/rhode_island_by_mail_customs_s.html

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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