Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Amy Vanderbilt's Sour Cream Muffins

Most of us who love the kitchen have probably way too many cookbooks in our collection. However, once in a while, trolling thrift stores and tag sales sometimes yield an irresistible vintage culinary jewel or sometimes a decades old cookbook that's just kitschy and fun.

"No cookbook fills all needs. If there were such a book, I would have it and not the 300 odd books I have in my collection."
-Amy Vanderbilt

For 50 cents, I picked up Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Cookbook, which is a little of both. It's also packed with personal and collected recipes from "America's Foremost Etiquette Authority"

"I believe that the ability to prepare and serve good and attractive meals is a delightful feminine virtue."
-Amy Vanderbilt

"A woman must know all the household arts whether or not she has servants to instruct."
-Amy Vanderbilt

Amy Vanderbilt (1908-1974), educated in Switzerland and in the USA, descended from the famous Vanderbilt family, once one of the richest dynasties in America.  Amy was a radio and television host and worked in PR and advertising and once was a consultant for the US Department of State. Her book,  Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette is still in circulation.

"Good Manners have much to do with the emotions. To make them ring true, one must feel them, not merely exhibit them."
-Amy Vanderbilt

Fun fact: The book's simple illustrations are attributed to "Andrew Warhol" who in fact, yes, was THAT Andy Warhol.

"The running of a home and the preparation of food is creative. This is something that is too often missed entirely in the education of our American girls."
-Amy Vanderbilt

The book's forward is priceless and contains many of her quotes I used in this post.  In the forward, she talks about her rigorous home economics schooling in Switzerland which served her well.

"I was once able to make a perfect zabaglione on a kerosene stove by the light of an oil lamp in a Virginia Cabin."
-Amy Vanderbilt

For all it's girth, the book is a collection of fairly simple, straightforward recipes. These easy, few ingredient, sour cream muffins caught my eye because of the fact I have too many leftover jars of jams, jellies, curds and spreads in my fridge from filling endless French macaron recipes. I was looking for a few fast and easy to make recipes to serve up to weekend guests to help use up the leftovers. These are a lovely option to set out on the table along with a variety of different spreads.

"I enjoy preparing any kind of meal- but I prefer meals that have a special kind of meaning- meals for guests."
-Amy Vanderbilt

The batter for these muffins is very thick and produces quite a dense, almost biscuit-like muffin. In my case, this might have something to do with being a little short in the 1+1/2 cups of sour cream required by the recipe. But they were so dense, I don't think it made much of a difference in the final result. Regardless, these sour cream muffins are very tasty and, like I suspected, the perfect pairing for any leftover spread. Thank you, Amy.

"We sometimes hear complaints that women spend too much time in the exchange of recipes, that this is a very trifling activity indeed. If this is so, then I am very guilty."
-Amy Vanderbilt

Sour Cream Muffins
(From Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Cookbook, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York 1961)

  • 1+3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1+1/2 cups sour cream


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Grease a 12 cup muffin tin.
Sift dry ingredients together into a separate bowl.
Beat the egg until foamy, add the sour cream and mix well.
Slow the mixer down to low and add the combined dry ingredients until just mixed.
Spoon the mixture into the wells of the greased muffin pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
Remove from oven and transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool.

Yield- 12 muffins.

"Cooking was presented to me as a privilege. You had to be responsible and orderly to be allowed to proceed in the kitchen."
-Amy Vanderbilt

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