Two weeks ago something remarkable happened. After five years of providing three meals a day for her, my kindergarten-age daughter, Rosa, made lunch for me. And man, was it good: spicy barbecued shrimp and chicken, tangy coleslaw, and scrumptious corn muffins.
She’s a prodigy, right? A chip off the old block.
Well, maybe. Truth be told I really can’t take any credit other than having the good fortune to be on the invite list to an event at Virgil’s Real BBQ to celebrate the opening of a Virgil’s outpost at the Atlantis Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas.
At the Virgil’s in Times Square Rosa and I were met with delicious pina coladas (virgin of course…don’t be crazy) and yummy finger foods. But within minutes Rosa was whisked off to a special kids-only cooking class. After donning a chef’s hat and apron, and under the friendly and enthusiastic direction of chefs from Virgil’s and Atlantis, she and several other kids made their proud and hungry parents a gourmet lunch.
Apparently, this is one of the many activities kids can do at the Atlantis kids club, Atlantis Kids Adventures. They can learn to make everything from pizza to frozen fruit treats in a huge, colorful kitchen while their lucky parents lounge on the beach. Sounds like a plan to me!
After their cooking adventure we ate the fruits of our children’s labor: the muffins, chicken, shrimp, and cole slaw, plus barbecue brisket and mac ‘n cheese. Dessert was scrumptious banana pudding.
Rosa and I left Virgil’s stuffed and happy. She is ready to book her trip to the Bahamas, and heck, if she keeps cooking for me I’ll even buy the ticket.
The corn muffins were one of the highlights of our meal, and, happily, I scored the recipe so I could make them at home. I’ve simplified the recipe a bit, but they’re still savory and delicious thanks to the flavorful add-ins. One word of warning: the first time I made them I thought I was being clever by baking them in paper muffin cups. Bad idea! These muffins are so moist that they stuck to the paper, and I lost about a quarter of each muffin. Just grease your muffin cups well with Pam, bake, and then use a knife to gently loosen them from the sides of the cups.
Virgil’s Cornbread Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins
½ cup yellow cornmeal
¼ cup flour
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 Tablespoons melted butter
2 oz. shredded cheddar cheese, about one cup
corn from one ear, or about one cup frozen corn kernels
2 scallions, chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray, like Pam.
2. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
3. In a large bowl whisk together the buttermilk, milk, egg, and melted butter.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the cheese, corn, scallions, and cilantro.
5. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes.
6. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer the muffins to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.