There are a few things I couldn’t live in rural Ireland without. High speed internet is definitely first on the list, but then there’s: a good library system (the tiny local branch has a surprisingly good YA shelf, and the librarian is always offering to order things for me . . . I think I’m just about the only adult who regularly checks out books there), decent coffee, and several friends who’ve lived both here and in America. That ‘outlander’ feeling never quite goes away . . . and no, I’m not talking about this Outlander feeling. Tragically.
And then there’s food. I hit maximum potato saturation some time ago, and I would have gone absolutely mad by now if I didn’t have access to my trusty spice rack and a few specialty shops around Galway.
Before I had a car, I could usually only go food shopping in a tiny local rural market, and their flavorings on offer were salt, pepper, “mixed herbs,” and “mixed spice.” I realize that there is a whole epic history of reasons why Irish food tends to be so unadorned, and I have gone on my share of rants about how the potato famine was actually genocide, but . . . I was still sad about the lack of spices. As soon as I got my car, you can bet I stocked up.
To be fair, there are plenty of natural and specialty food shops within even a ten-mile radius of our rural cottage, and even more in Galway City itself. Ireland is basically a big green cornucopia of amazing fresh produce and some of the best meat and dairy in the world, too, so I really have nothing to complain about.
But whenever I bring home blue cheese or cardamom pods or some non-native fruit, Horseman still laughs at me fondly, because why do I need all this weird stuff? He’s always appreciative of my cooking, but food is essentially just fuel to him. I kind of envy that, in a way–a combination of no food issues and the highly physical work of training horses means that my husband is ridiculously fit in a way that I, writer and emotional eater extraordinaire, will never be.
But on the other hand, good food is a sensual joy for me, one that I don’t think he experiences in the same way. I wouldn’t want to give that up, not even for a six-pack of my very own.
Anyway, all of this is to say that I baked muffins the other day. Even though they’re fairly basic and hardly exotic by most people’s standards, they’re really, really good. So good that I want you to make them, too, and I’m posting the recipe here.
MANGO ALMOND MUFFINS
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Perfect Blueberry Muffins)
5 tablespoons butter, softened (I used Dairygold, the best butter in the world)
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup unflavored Greek yogurt
1/4 cup whey (or buttermilk, but I always have whey left over from cheesemaking)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoon (7 grams or 1/4 ounce) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
1 fresh mango, diced
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well, then yogurt and whey. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and add half of this mixture to batter. Mix until combined. Pour remaining dry ingredients into batter and mix just until the flour disappears. Gently fold in mango. Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full and dust each with a little more almond meal. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of muffins comes out mostly clean (there may be mango juice). Let cool on a wire rack, except don’t do that. Eat them warm.