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by meg

Now that I've eaten my weight in berries this season, I've been looking for ways to use them in cooking projects. Of course, there are lots of creative ideas floating around out there, but sometimes simplicity and familiarity are in order--the sort of lackadaisical recipes that are perfect for summer vacations and lazy mornings.

It's easy to forget about blueberry muffins. For me, at least, they were a ubiquitous childhood mainstay. My mother made them often, and she served them warm, split open, with a goodly amount of salted butter spread on the inside. As it should be.

As an adult, my muffin consumption has dropped off quite a bit. I no longer need to be cajoled with sweet offerings to eat my breakfast. But I would argue that muffins have more than earned their keep in the culinary repertoire.

But let's talk for a moment about the misadventure of the modern muffin--far too large, far too sweet, and far too bready. I could go on, but I have a suspicion that you know exactly what I'm talking about. We, however, would never subject you to such a thing as a frankenmuffin. We like to eat reasonable breakfasts that energize and fortify, not ones that sit ponderously in our stomachs for hours to come.

These blueberry muffins are stone simple. We use a blend of flour and cornmeal for flavor and texture (yellow cornmeal gives these muffins a sunny disposition), some grated lemon zest, and just enough sugar. You can use butter for these, but I love using extra virgin olive oil. I also top mine with turbinado sugar, but you can use cinnamon sugar, vanilla sugar, or nothing at all. You might also consider using half blueberries and half chopped peaches or doing a berry medley.

Other articles you might enjoy: Blueberry Blintzes, Huckleberry-Peach Buckle, Berry Shortcake With Bourbon Hard Sauce Glaze

Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins
Makes 12 standard-sized muffins

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a standard 12-muffin pan or line with paper liners. I don't like to buy paper muffin liners, so I simply cut parchment paper into squares that fit my muffin tins, crumple the squares to make them easier to manipulate, and tuck them into the tins.
Whisk together in a large bowl:
           1 1/4 cups yellow or white cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
           3/4 cup all-purpose flour
           2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
           1/3 cup sugar
           1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Add:
           2 large eggs
           3 tablespoons melted butter, vegetable oil, or olive oil
           1 cup milk
           Grated zest of one lemon
           1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
           1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine with a few rapid strokes. Stir in:
            1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Sprinkle on top:
            (Turbinado sugar, cinnamon sugar, or vanilla sugar)
Bake until a toothpick inserted in 1 or 2 of the muffins comes out clean (test the ones in the middle of the muffin tin, as these tend to take a little longer), about 17 to 20 minutes. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before removing from the pan. If not serving hot, let cool on a rack. Serve as soon as possible, preferably within a few hours of baking.

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