These originally started as corn fritters and kind of morphed from there. I made these for picnic of dietetic students this last weekend. I was assigned to make an appetizer for the potluck and was intrigued by the idea of a corn fritter and hush puppies recipe I saw in an old cookbook. They obviously wouldn’t work for this exact occasion (they need to be hot, and I wasn’t really cooking for a fried food audience), but they got me thinking about flavors and ingredients.
David and I have been watching a lot of the TV show Chopped, on the Food Network. It’s an elimination-style cooking show where contestants have 20 or 30 minutes to put together a composed appetizer, entree, or dessert using an odd combination of ingredients. And they throw everything in the oven. So I thought, if I want to cut out the fat, why not keep the flavor combination and make little corn fritter cakes? So I went out and bought fresh corn on the cob with the best of intentions. But then Sunday morning (the day of the potluck) rolled around, and I didn’t feel like bringing such an experimental dish. So I punted and made these muffins instead.
The recipe, adapted from Bon Appetit, uses browned butter, which adds a really nice, nutty background for the cornmeal, and the zucchini keeps the muffins moist, even a few days out. Browning the butter is a step to watch: it’ll foam a bit, masking the darkness of the butter solids underneath. Use a whisk to reach to the bottom of the pan when you stir to check the color. The muffins turned out well, the cornmeal had sweet crunchiness, and the zucchini wasn’t too powerful. But by the time they were done baking we had smoke billowing out of our stove from some mysterious prior spillage (I think it was pizza). Dealing with the clean up took awhile and I didn’t actually make it to the picnic after all. So David and I wandered down to the Waterfront to catch the Packers game. It was a great way to spend a Sunday.
Zucchini Cornbread Muffins
Adapted from Bon Appetit
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup clabbered milk (1/2 cup milk + 3/4 teaspoons vinegar), or buttermilk
1 large zucchini (3/4 pound)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1) Preaheat the oven to 350-degrees, with a rack centered in the middle of the oven. Use cooking spray to grease the cups of a 12-well muffin tin or line with paper liners.
2) Brown the butter: melt the 1/2 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. After the butter melts, continue cooking until butter solids turn golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape butter into a medium bowl and allow to return to room temperature. Whisk in the eggs and milk.
3) Trim the ends off the zucchini and coarsely grate the zucchini with a box grater. Add the shredded zucchini to the butter and milk bowl and stir until well combined.
4) Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir in cornmeal.
5) Fold in the zucchini mixture and mix until just blended. Using a large spoon, transfer a large dollop of the batter into each muffin tin well, about 3/4 of the way full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire cooling rack.
Store any remaining muffins in an airtight container or bag at room temperature.