Tuesday, March 18, 2008

March Showers Bring April Flowers...May Babies are on the Way

Sigh... Today is the first day of Spring. Just saying those words make me smile. Spring is my most favorite season. I can't believe it is finally here.

I am very late in posting and am very sorry for my tardiness. I actually began this post on Tuesday, but didn't get it posted until today. I have a million and one excuses, but none worth boring you with. Last week did culminate into a very big event. I had the honor of hosting a baby shower for my very good friend, Annie. She is pregnant with twins, so it was only natural to give her an elegant baby shower in the form of a a ladies brunch.

I must begin by admitting that I could not have done this without help. I have to give a big shout out to my friend Frannie. Not only was she there for moral support, but she single-handily turned my home into a beautifully decorated festive tea room. The main table looked beautiful, as did the side tables of desserts and drinks. It was confirmed when the guests asked who catered the brunch. Here is a picture of the table. This was still early, so not everything was on it. I was remiss in getting a good photo once we had the table completely set. But let me tell you, it was stunning.

Now, what was on the menu? If you look closely, you can see the fruit salad, the pedestals which would eventually showcase the quiches, the muffins, mixed green salad, cocktail shrimp, and cupcakes. It was beautiful. We filled the tiny espresso cups with roasted red pepper soup topped with chives. We served brownies topped with a light and fluffy cherry mousse. We had peanut butter cups, chocolate raspberry cups, a chocolate fountain with pound cake, strawberries, and marshmallows.

The shower was a success! It was a perfect ladies brunch. Annie received many wonderful gifts for her new babies. It seemed as if everyone had a great time.

The menu was diverse, so it was difficult to pick something to share with you. I'm sorry to revisit the topic of blueberry muffins, but I must share this new and improved recipe. They were SPECTACULAR. If you read last week, you know that I did a trial run on the muffins and came out disappointed. The muffins were okay, but not special. They just wouldn't do for this shower. So, I went back to the mixing bowl and stumbled upon these divine creatures from Dorie Greenspan. They are in her cookbook Baking From My Home to Yours. They were excellent - so moist with a perfect balance of orange and blueberry flavors. They are my new and forever Blueberry Muffins. I will never eat a muffin in the same way again. For the shower, I made the Blueberry Muffins as well as the Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (both from Dorie and both delicious).

What to Drink: For the shower, the main beverage of choice was champagne. We created a drink buffet with a tea punch, orange juice, and a sherbet punch. All could be mixed with champagne. Many ladies elected to have the champagne solo (which was my beverage of choice).

Orange Berry Muffins
by Dorie Greenspan

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
About 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons honey
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries - fresh, preferably, or frozen (not thawed)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Pour the orange juice into a large glass measuring cup or a bowl and pour in enough buttermilk to make 1 cup. Whisk in the eggs, honey and melted butter.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough - the batter will be lumpy and bubbly, and that's just the way ti should be. Fold in the blueberries. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. When fully baked, the tops of the muffins will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.


Deborah said...

I have been wanting to try these muffins, but have not done so yet. It looks like the baby shower was a complete success!

Renee said...

It was! And, I have to tell you - I those muffins were great. When you rub the orange zest into the sugar, the fragrance makes your mouth water. Thanks for the comment!