Orange Pomegranate Oat Muffins with Blood Orange Curd

While I couldn’t be more pleased that spring is around the corner, if we could ever get it to stop snowing in the Pacific Northwest, there are a few great things about winter that I’ll miss. Pomegranates and citrus fruit rank high on that list. I baked these muffins as something of a last hurrah for the chilly season. They have a delicate crumb, a crusty top, and this twist on classic Lemon Curd made with blood orange juice is luscious, tart, and comforting all at once.

Orange Pomegranate Oat Muffins

5 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
6 oz flavored yogurt (I used Tillamook Orange Creamsicle)
1/2 tsp finely minced orange zest
1/4 tsp orange oil
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup pomegranate arils

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
Beat butter, sugar, and egg together. Add yogurt, zest, and orange oil.
In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients thoroughly. Incorporate into the wet ingredients, being careful not to over-mix. Carefully fold in pomegranate arils.
Fill standard muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden-topped.

I tried a number of different Lemon Curd recipes before hitting upon the right variation for this Blood Orange Curd. In the end, my mother’s recipe won out. This was the first Lemon Curd I fell in love with, but I don’t usually make this version as it leaves me with a few extra egg whites on my hands. What, meringues? Me? Please.

Blood Orange Curd

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons finely minced blood orange zest
1/4 cup blood orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
3 slightly beaten egg yolks

Combine sugar, cornstarch,  zest, juice, and butter in a small, heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until thickened and bubbling. Remove approximately 1/2 cup of the sauce and beat into the egg yolks. Return this mixture to the saucepan, and bring to a gentle, bubbling boil. Cook, stirring for two minutes more. I confess to adding one (just one!) drop of red food coloring; the egg yolk distorts the beautiful ruby red of the blood orange juice otherwise.

Be sure not to use Meyer lemons for this recipe, as the tartness of yellow lemons is needed to balance out the almost-sweetness of the blood orange juice.

Prepare a nice cup of tea and enjoy! The muffins aren’t half bad with a little pat of butter, too.

This is an earlier version of these two recipes. That single drop of food coloring makes as significant a difference in appearance as the use of only egg whites and a half orange juice, half lemon juice mix does in texture and flavor. Not these muffins didn’t get devoured, too, though…

Breakfast and cultural identity

So yesterday I’m following a one-armed used car salesman around the car lot with my fussy daughter on one hip. I’m speaking to her in Spanish, ’cause I’m pretentious like that, and we want to expose her to all the languages we speak, and ’cause when she’s understandably fussy my natural inclination is to speak to her in the most tender language I know. Plus, the salesman’s heavy accent reminds me that I ought to be speaking more Spanish to her. Sometimes I forget.

Anyway, he overhears me and asks where my husband is from, assuming he must be the reason this güera speaks passable Spanish. No, mi esposo es africano, I tell him. So how come you speak Spanish, he wants to know. En mi corazón soy mexa, I reply. Tapatía, de hecho. I explain that I spent five and a half years in Mexico, most of that time in Guadalajara, and really came to identify with that city. Turns out he’s from Guada, too. I would have called him paisa if I’d liked him more. Smarmy used-car sales guy.

I was thinking about that statement this morning as I made breakfast. For a long time I have asserted that what people choose to eat for the first meal of the day is a true indicator of their dominant culture. Your average North American might be a very adventurous eater when it comes to lunch or dinner, but we really tend to stick to what’s familiar when it comes to the most important meal of the day. Why is imported boxed cereal so outrageously expensive in stores that cater to expats? They know they’ve got us right where they want us.

The Better Half, incidentally, shoots down this theory. He couldn’t care less what he eats for breakfast. He has, in fact, developed an affinity — bordering on obsession — for maple syrup since our marriage. He’ll make French toast just so he can douse his plate in maple syrup. Still, there is no way anyone would claim that his dominant culture is North American. He believes himself physically incapable of eating a sandwich for lunch two days in a row. If he goes more than a week without some egwusi or ogbono and fufu, you can tell something’s wrong. It’s like his world is just slightly off-balance and he has trouble being his usual wonderful self.

Back to my breakfast. If you were to ask me what my favorite breakfast food is, I wouldn’t have to think about the answer for even a second.

Chilaquiles rojos, with queso fresco, a little bit of cremita, and un huevo estrellado. OK, the ones in the picture are verdes, but this photo looked the most appetizing. To my way of thinking, there can be no better breakfast food. Now, ask me when was the last time I partook of this soul-soothing dish that makes such a bold statement about how I view myself and who I think I am… I couldn’t even tell you. It’s not like it’s that hard to prepare, but in the mornings, I just can’t be bothered.

Sigh. Better finish off my English muffin…which I’m really enjoying, by the way. Those things were hard to come by in China, outside of McDonald’s.