Magic Muffins

Ok, they’re not really magic, they’re just blueberry. But the way people scarf them down, you’d think they were magic. When I lived in NYC back in 2005-9 I had an office job at a fantastic music publishing company. Usually once per week I would bake these muffins and share them with my coworkers. It’s amazing how fresh baked goods really brighten someone’s day, particularly in an office setting. I hadn’t made this recipe in almost two years, mostly because when it comes to self control, I have zero, and having an entire batch of muffins laying around is never a good idea for me… in fact it can get downright ugly.

Right now it is blueberry season in SoCal, so everywhere you go you find vast quantities of the berries for little money. I had a giant bucket of blueberries sitting on my counter over the weekend that I got from Trader Joe’s for only $5.99 – a serious bargain. As you read in yesterday’s post, I decided baking muffins for my friends would be the perfect way to start off our Sunday.

Truth be told, the recipe is not of my own creation. It is actually a recipe from Ina Garten called “Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins.” And she is right to call them that – the muffins are just like coffee cake except without the crumbly topping… and blueberries… fluffy, eggy, and not too sweet. It’s a fool-proof recipe that is always a crowd pleaser. Definitely worth sharing, even if it isn’t mine. Thanks, Ina!

Blueberry Muffins (Recipe PDF)

Rock the Hawk

Mohawk Bend, Ramona Room

This weekend was quite a busy one: a concert on Friday night, two films I worked played in a festival on Saturday, social outings on Sunday, and all while battling yet another throat infection. Blech. But, as my mother can attest to, I’m not very good at being sick, so on I went, though I did make sure to get quite a bit of sleep on Saturday evening. Of course business and social outings mean culinary outings to go with them. Yum.

Friday night included a quick dinner before the concert at one of the hippest and most unique venues in East LA called Mohawk Bend. Converted from an old one-screen movie theatre, the restaurant has transformed the space into a retro modern eatery that retains the original cathedral-like shape of the theatre as well as brick walls and an outdoor patio where the ticket booth used to be. The food is just as hip as the décor with a new, date-stamped menu printed daily that changes with the whim of the chef and the local markets. It is also entirely vegan unless noted otherwise, but don’t let that intimidate you – nearly half the menu is labeled “NV” and they certainly know how to NV. There are just as many menu staples as there are rotating items, including the Flash Gordon salad, which I had on this visit. Flash grilled baby gem lettuce with dill dressing, avocado, pine nuts, pickled red onion, and citrus.

Flash Gordon Salad

My roommate goes here for the brussels sprouts, roasted with almonds and apples. I am perpetually mesmerized by their spicy and refreshing house-made ginger beer and have shamelessly assisted in devouring their vegan skillet chocolate chip cookie on more than one occasion. My friends also enjoy the pizza and flatbreads, though for me if I’m going to get pizza it’s going to be at a pizza joint. The starving artist raises his eyebrow at the $3.50 per glass of ginger beer with no refills… really? How expensive can that fresh ginger be? Still, despite one thinking there may be an air of pretension to contend with, all of my experience with the wait staff has been warm, friendly, and helpful. As for one’s wallet, it is clearly a place designed to nibble and share, so if you’re looking to get out for there for less than $15, that’s the way to go. The proverbial icing on this trendy cake is definitely the massive beer and wine selection, which ultimately makes Mohawk Bend a perfect weekend hang fit for being cool and feeling so totally LA.

Saturday night was another visit to my local tavern, Franklin and Company, where I dined on a brussels sprouts salad with nuts, bacon, and a light lemon vinaigrette. Perfect feel good food that is affordable at only $10. Though I can’t seem to get out of there without ordering their scotch egg… damn you and your lustful deep fried egg sorcery. The friend I was with ordered something I had never noticed before, The English Burger, which must be new since it’s not even on their online menu. Served on a grilled english muffin and topped with blue cheese, it was ridiculously juicy and delicious – and I don’t even like grilled cheese. Like Mohawk, this place has a tremendously huge beer list and is great for a hangout… but you already knew that from the blog post I wrote several weeks ago.

Yesterday (Sunday) was the monthly date of the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, which transforms the Rose Bowl into a gigantic flea market filled with untold treasure (and crap). I went several months ago and this time around three of my friends decided they wanted to make a day of it. Me being me and having a huge tub of blueberries on my counter that I bought from Trader Joe’s for $5, I invited everyone over for blueberry muffins before we departed for the flea market. It’s a killer recipe that I used to make all the time for my co workers at my job in NYC, but hadn’t seen the light of day in well over a year. So, shockingly, I arose at 730 to get them ready for my friends’ 830 arrival. I daresay I would never get up that early for work…. Alongside I threw together a fruit salad with the leftover blueberries and some strawberries I had in the fridge. Tossed it with a little sugar and let it sit on the counter for a bit before serving it with a side of greek yogurt that I mixed with vanilla and honey as a topping. A splendid (though not entirely healthy) Sunday morning breakfast if I do say so myself. In the end I never made it to the flea market. As the morning went on my head began to reel from my infection, so I decided to bail. I got back into bed, slept until 2pm, and then rejoined my friends for an early dinner at Fred 62 in Los Feliz, which I posted about yesterday.

Now as the week begins I will be contemplating more uses of blueberries as well as peaches as I work on the remaining music for a feature film I’ve been scoring.  Hope everything is enjoying their first glorious weekends of summer.

Mohawk Bend
2141 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles
http://mohawk.la