Cheddar and Leek Muffins

leek and cheddar muffins

 

I’d never made savoury muffins before, but I had actually been planning to make them for a different challenge each month for the last three months.   Typically, it’s only now, third time lucky, that I’ve managed to get around to it.

I love muffins, although normally the sweet kind.   I have a particular fondness for blueberry ones and I would never say no to a chocolate one either.  You could say that I am a bit of a novice where savoury muffins are concerned, as I have to admit to not being able to remember ever even eating a savoury one before making and eating these.  Of course, that means I have nothing to compare these to.   I wasn’t completely sure if they had turned out exactly as they should.   That doesn’t mean they are not good.   Oh no, they are very tasty indeed, but just how much should a savoury muffin rise?   You see, they didn’t rise much at all, yet they weren’t heavy.   They still tasted light and moist, cheesy and leeky.

So what was I to do?  A search for pictures of savoury muffins of course and after trawling through Pinterest I am happy to conclude that savoury muffins are supposed to look a bit messy and unrisen.   Feeling reassured, I think these muffins have turned out as muffins should after all.   They are adaped from a recipe at the Cheese Warehouse.

Ingredients – Makes 18 small muffins

225g self-raising flour

1 leek, diced

1/2 tsp paprika

Salt

Black pepper

1/2 tsp mustard

120g mature cheddar

180ml milk

60ml olive oil

1 egg

How to Make Cheddar and Leek Muffins

1. In a large bowl add the chopped leek, grated cheese, paprika, flour, salt and pepper.  Stir so all the ingredients are coated in the flour and mixed evenly together.

2. In a measuring jug add the olive oil and milk, mustard and egg.   Beat together.

3. Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients.   Mix together until just combined.

4. Spoon the mixture into a muffin tin, lined with muffin cases.   Place in a preheated oven at 200c for about 20 minutes.

5. Best served when warm and freshly baked

leek and cheddar muffin open

I am linking these to Love Cake, hosted by JibberJabberUk.   The theme this month is savoury.  As savoury muffins are a great way of using up vegetables that might otherwise go to waste (the leek was beginning to go a little bendy), I am also linking these to Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary’s No Waste Food Challenge, hosted this month by I’d Much Rather Bake Than…

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Tomato and Nigella Seed Bread Rolls

tomato nigella seed rolls 2

I used to make bread in my breadmaker all the time, at least every two or three days and that meant I almost never bought a loaf of bread.    That was before I had children.   Now I find that homemade bread disappears so quickly that I’d be making it every day if I had kept that up.   Instead, I started buying bread and before long I was hardly using my poor old breadmaker at all.

Well, with bread week on the Great British Bake Off I decided it was time I made some bread again.  I chose to make tomato and nigella seed rolls as I’d never made tomato bread before but I had been thinking of trying it at some point.   And the nigella seeds?   Well, I just love nigella seeds in bread and I often used to add them to my everyday bread.

A tomato bread could have a mediterranean feel but the nigella seeds give this one more of an Indian flavour and also make it a little bit different to any bread rolls you can buy, or at least any that I’ve seen – you’ll just have to make them yourself!   The finished rolls were a lovely orange colour, soft and very tasty, great for sandwiches and burgers so perfect for any picnics or barbecues at the moment.  The recipe made 12 and they didn’t last long at all, but of course you could freeze some.

Ingredients – Makes 12

500g strong white bread flour

7g sachet of fast action dried yeast

10g salt

1 tsp nigella seeds (black onion seeds)

3 tbsp tomato puree

Just under 350ml milk

15g olive oil

How to Make Tomato and Nigella Seed Bread Rolls

1. Put the yeast in the bottom of the bread maker.   Add the flour,  salt and nigella seeds.

2. Put the tomato puree in a measuring jug and fill it up to 350ml with the milk.   Pour it into the breadmaker and add the oil.   Set the breadmaker to the dough setting and leave it to work.

3. Take the dough out and cut it into 12 pieces by cutting the dough in half and then each piece in half again. Cut each of those pieces into 3.   Take each piece and roll it under your hand to get a round roll and put the rolls on a baking tray with a gap between each one.   Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

4. Put the rolls in the oven at 200C for 15 minutes.   When they are done they should sound hollow when tapped underneath.

I am linking this to The Great Bloggers Bake Off at Mummy Mishaps, The Spice Trail at Bangers and Mash and Tea Time Treats at Lavender and Lovage, hosted on alternate months by The Hedgecombers.

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Chocolate Ice Cream Mousse

Chocolate ice cream mousse

This was not meant to be a mousse.  This is in fact just an unfrozen ice cream that has actually become the most delicious rich chocolatey almost ganache-like mousse you could possibly imagine.  I would have put it in my ice cream maker and turned it into ice cream but it was far too thick.   I have learnt from experience that if the custard is too thick the paddle jams and you just get a slightly cold custard.  Of course I could have just put it in the freezer and made it into ice cream the old-fashioned way but I’m afraid I never got that far.  In fact, it didn’t occur to me until just now.   Maybe because once I’d tasted it I just wanted to eat it as a mousse.  Maybe that’s because I’m greedy.  Or maybe it’s because I’m not really a chocolate ice cream kind of girl.  Give me fruit any day for my ice cream.

So why did I set out to make chocolate ice cream in the first place?  Well this month Random Recipes teamed up with Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream for a joint challenge. We had to pick an ice cream recipe and I ended up with the chocolate ice cream recipe from Michel Roux’ Eggs.   Unfortunately, as I haven’t ended up with ice cream, I’m not sure if that eliminates this from the challenge or not.  Of course, I could have remade the ice-cream and not let the custard get so thick, but I’d have had to wait until we’d eaten all the mousse, and buy more cream, and fit it in between all the other sweet things I want to make at the moment.  It was definitely good enough to get remade, but not this month.

Ingredients

150ml double cream

150ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)

80g caster sugar

3 egg yolks

100g plain chocolate

How to Make Chocolate Ice-Cream Mousse

1. Put the double cream, milk and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil gently.   Stir to dissolve the sugar.

2. Put the sugar and egg yolks in a bowl and whisk until the mixture has turned a pale yellowy colour and forms light ribbons.

3. Pour the cream mixture onto the sugar and egg mixture, whisking as you pour.   Then pour the mixture back into the saucepan.

4. Stir the custard mixture over a low heat to thicken it.   When it begins to thicken, take it off the heat and stir in the chocolate.  I think my mistake was to let the custard get too thick at this stage.

5. Pour the custard into a measuring jug and stand the jug in a bowl of ice cubes to cool.   If you are going to make ice cream, it is easier to pour the mixture from a measuring jug. If you are planning to leave it at chocolate mousse then any container is fine.

6. Eat the mousse. OR put it in an ice cream maker and good luck turning it into ice cream!

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Crab Salad with Avocado Sorbet

Crab and avocado sorbet

I know this recipe is a little different to my usual ones.  Avocado sorbet is not something I’m in the habit of making every day, and pairing it with a crab salad is not everyday home cooking, at least not in my house.  But hey, it’s good to push yourself a little sometimes.

It’s actually inspired by a starter I had at James Martin’s restaurant at the Talbot Hotel in Malton.  I was impressed and I really liked my starter. There was something about the dish that made me want to do my own take on crab and avocado.  Now, I should make it clear that the starter I had was quite different.  It did contain crab and avocado sorbet but it also had fennel in and a few ingredients that would be impossible for me to source/prepare and so this is definitely just an inspired by dish.

I had never had avocado sorbet before but I had had avocado ice cream.   As you’d expect, avocado ice cream is very rich and creamy.  Because of the natural creaminess of avocado, this sorbet still tastes quite creamy, but it’s also zingy and fresh from the lime with just a hint of coriander.  To me it almost tastes of apple, but maybe that’s just the greenness playing tricks on my tastebuds.  It’s sweet too so you only need a small amount of sorbet with the crab.  The recipe makes much more than you will need but luckily it also makes a lovely dessert.

What about the crab salad?   Well, lime juice, chilli and crab – It’s a perfect simple combination.   What more can I say?   If you are not quite ready to whip up a batch of avocado sorbet, don’t let that stop you making the crab salad.

Ingredients for the Crab Salad

120g white crab meat

1 chilli pepper, thinly sliced, some seeds removed

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt

Black Pepper

1/2 cucumber

Ingredients for the Avocado Sorbet

2 avocados

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp chopped coriander leaf

80g sugar

How to Make Crab Salad with Avocado Sorbet

1. First make the avocado sorbet. Put the sugar in a saucepan with 100ml of water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved.  Leave to cool.

2. Put the flesh from the avocados, the lime juice, coriander leaf and sugar syrup into a food processor.

3. Pour the avocado mixture into an ice cream maker and leave to churn.

4. Make the crab salad by mixing together the crab with the lime juice, chilli, olive oil, salt and pepper.

5. Serve the crab salad with the cucumber and just a little avocado sorbet.

As this dish was bit of an experiment for me and a little outside my comfort zone, I am linking it to Our Growing Edge at Bunny Eats Design, hosted this month by Lindsey from Sneaks and Sweets. I am also linking it to Cooking with Herbs at Lavender and Lovage as the sorbet contains coriander.

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Parmesan and Basil Thins

parmesan basil thins

I have to say, I am loving the Great British Bake Off this year.   I watched the biscuit episode wanting to make everything.  So many savoury flavours in the first round, florentines in the second round and then 3d biscuit creations in the third round.  Well, I’ve started with these savoury biscuits and I stress the word, ‘started’.  I’ve got a 3d idea in my head and I would love to have a go.   It may not stand up.   It may look a mess when it’s finished but I’m itching to get creative and make more than just a biscuit next time.

But wait, this post is about parmesan and basil thins.  I must stop myself talking about my next idea and bring myself back to this one.   Yes, this one.   Firstly the biscuits have a lovely break.   Is that the correct terminology?   Or was it crack?  Or snap? Basically, they are crispy. They also score in the all important taste test.  They are scrumptious – strong and cheesey, which is what I want from a cheesy biscuit.   The parmesan is quite strong and the basil is subtle, but you can still taste it.  They are also small or at least mine are, which is good because you can eat one and then just eat another, and another, and another.  You won’t feel like you are overeating.

Go on.   Help yourself!

The recipe is adapted from Step-by-Step Baking by Caroline Bretherton

Ingredients – Makes approximately 25 small biscuits

85g plain flour

60g butter at room-temperature

60g parmesan

1 tbsp chopped fresh basil

Freshly ground black pepper

How to Make Parmesan and Basil Thins

1. Put the flour and butter in a food processor and pulse until it forms a breadcrumb consistency.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse again until they are all combined.

3. Knead the mixture briefly to make it into a smooth dough.

4. Put a little extra flour on the work surface and roll out to a thickness of about 2mm.  Cut out the biscuits using a cutter and place them directly on a baking sheet.   I needed 3 baking sheets for this amount of dough.

5. Bake the thins in the oven at 180C for 5 minutes.   They may have puffed up in the middle.  Turn them over and press them down onto the baking sheets as you turn them to make them flat again.  Cook for an extra 5 minutes on the other side.

6. Take them out and cool them on wire racks.

I am linking these to the Great Bloggers Bake Off 2014, hosted by Mummy Mishaps and Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too. I am also linking them to Alphabakes hosted by Caroline Makes and on alternate months by The More Than Occasional Baker. The letter this month is P.

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Slow Cooked Mexican Beef Stew with Lime and Coriander Rice

Mexican beef stew 2

Beef stew in the slow cooker is one of my favourite easy homemade meals.  I have to admit though, that I am often a little unadventurous with it.  It’s one of those meals I just throw together and know it’s going to be good with little work needed in the evening.   Always a bonus.

I really would like to be more adventurous with my slow cooker and even make some cakes in it one day.  One day…

Maybe I just need some encouragement.

Anyway, this year Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen started the Slow Cooker Challenge and I have loved looking through all the recipes that have been linked up every month.   In July, Janice made a slow cooked Mexican chicken stew from The Slow Cooker Cookbook by Gina Steer. As I was thinking about it later, I decided a variation using beef would also be lovely and a nice change from my more traditional stew, which I notice is still in my drafts folder and has never actually been posted on here.  Again, one day…

I’m sure this stew is lovely with chicken but it is absolutely gorgeous with beef.   It has a lovely rich flavour which I imagine is from the chocolate, although it doesn’t taste chocolaty.   I will definitely be making it again so thank you for the inspiration Janice.  I served it with lime and coriander rice which is my current favourite way to serve either rice or couscous as a side dish.

Ingredients – Serves 2

450g stewing steak

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 chilli pepper, sliced

2 large tomatoes, diced

1 tbsp tomato puree

200ml beef stock

20g dark chocolate (I used one with 74% cocoa solids)

2 tsp cornflour

Black pepper

Salt

How to Make Slow Cooked Mexican Beef Stew

1. Put the beef, onions, garlic, chilli and tomatoes in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Stir the tomato puree into the beef stock and pour into the slow cooker.

2. Cook on low for 8-9 hours.

3. Dissolve the cornflour in a little water.   Pour it into the stew and stir to thicken.  With my slow cooker I do this by taking the pot out of the cooker and putting it on the stove top.   Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Ingredients for Coriander rice

Enough rice for 2 people

2-3 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

Juice of 1 lime

Salt

Black pepper

How to Make Coriander Rice

1. Cook the rice according to the packet instructions.

2. Stir in the coriander, spring onions and lime juice.    Add a little salt and black pepper at the end to taste.

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum, to Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too and to the Weekend Social.

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Cantaloupe Melon Frozen Yoghurt

cantaloupe frozen yoghurt 3

Not long ago I hadn’t used my ice cream maker in about a year.   Now I’ve made two frozen yoghurts within a month and am already planning more.   While the blackcurrant frozen yoghurt was a strong in-your-face flavour, this cantaloupe melon frozen yoghurt is a little more delicate, both in looks and taste.   Don’t let that put you off though.   Although it’s more subtle, it’s still delicious, refreshing and incredibly easy to make.   It’s also much healthier than a typical ice cream.

As melon can be quite a gentle flavour, it’s best to use a really ripe sweet melon so it has as much taste as possible.  I used cantaloupe but you could use any melon.  This recipe would also work really well with fruit like peaches and nectarines, which is another flavour I almost made instead and am wanting to try in the next few weeks.

I ate some of this as soon as it had stopped churning and put the rest in the freezer.   It freezes quite hard but if you leave it out of the freezer for a few minutes before serving, it is easy enough to scoop out.

Ingredients

300g melon (half a melon)

40g runny honey

250ml yoghurt (I used low fat)

How to Make Cantaloupe Melon Frozen Yoghurt

1. Blend the melon in a food processor or with a stick blender.   Mix in the yoghurt and then the honey.   You may need a little more or less depending on how sweet you want the frozen yoghurt to be.   Keep tasting and add more or less if necessary.

2. Pour into an ice cream maker and leave to churn.   Alternatively, look at the method here if you don’t have an ice cream maker.

I am linking this to The Vegetable Palette, hosted by Allotment 2 Kitchen.  This month the colour is mellow yellows and (orange).

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Blackcurrant Frozen Yoghurt

blackcurrant frozen yoghurt

Until a few weeks ago I had never ever been to a pick your own.   Apart from blackberries I’d always relied on someone else, usually the supermarket, to pick, package and provide me with the fruit and vegetables I ate.  And I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables.   Half my fridge is probably dedicated to them and they rarely go off.   I’m quite good at eating them all up.  And yes, I’m quite smug about it too!

But, going back to the subject of pick your own.   This summer it has become a weekly trip out for Little Miss Spice, Master Spice and me.  Little Miss Spice is very picky eater so we try to pick something new each time, as well as lots of strawberries and raspberries.   I’m hoping it might help encourage her to try/eat a few more vegetables and although she was happy to try the broccoli we picked last week, it didn’t stay in her mouth long and one try was enough.

Fruit is not such an issue and she happily ate a few blackcurrants before we made the frozen yoghurt, although I didn’t manage to persuade her to try the finished product.   I don’t think she trusted it after seeing my natural yoghurt go into it.

It was the first time I had made frozen yoghurt and the first time I’d used my ice cream maker this summer.   I love yoghurt and using it instead of cream gives a much lighter dessert and as I used low fat yoghurt, a much healthier dessert too, although I can’t claim the amount of sugar I put in is healthy.  The finished frozen yoghurt had a lovely strong blackcurrant flavour and I could happily have eaten more and more of it, but I forced myself to put some in the freezer for later and it kept in the freezer really well too.   It didn’t go too hard and was still easy enough to scoop out whenever I wanted just one more spoonful!

The first time I had and heard of frozen yoghurt was as a child on holiday in Spain in the 1980s.   At the time most ice cream in the UK was pretty boring – strawberry, chocolate or vanilla.   In Spain you could get all types of combinations and flavours.   I remember one cafe we used to go to with about 40 different flavours and I would have a different one every day.  Some of the flavours were frozen yoghurt and I remember trying a lemon one and a red one although I can’t now remember what flavour the red one was.   Maybe it was blackcurrant, maybe not.   Anyway, as this frozen yoghurt is also a reminder of those first ones I tried all those years ago, I am linking it to Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream at Kavey Eats.   The theme this month is holiday memories.

As the blackcurrants were picked and bought locally at Garsons (which is the UK’s largest Pick Your Own with over 40 fruits and vegetables) I am linking to Shop Local at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.  I am also linking to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season, hosted this month by My Custard Pie. I am also linking to Our Growing Edge, hosted this month by Organic Ash, as this has been my first attempt at frozen yoghurt.

Ingredients

200g blackcurrants

100g caster sugar

50ml water

250g yoghurt (I used low fat)

How to Make Blackcurrant Frozen Yoghurt

1. Put the blackcurrants, sugar and water in a saucepan.  Bring to the boil and let it bubble for about 5 minutes.  The blackcurrants will break down quickly and the mixture will go quite syrupy.

2. Press the mixture through a metal sieve and leave to cool.

3. Stir the yoghurt into the berry mixture.   I used an ice cream maker and then poured it into the machine.   When the ice cream maker finishes, either eat it immediately or transfer it to another container and put it in the freezer.

4. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, put the mixture into a container in the freezer.   Take it out after an hour and whisk it.  Return it to the freezer and keep taking it out and whisking it every 20-30 minutes for the next 1.5 hours.  It should then be fairly stiff and you can leave it until you are ready to eat it.

blackcurrant frozen yoghurt in box

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Olive and Dukkah Pasta for the Secret Recipe Club

dukkah pasta (1024x713)

A few years ago I attended a cooking class about cooking with spices.   One of the things we made was pitta breads which we ate by dipping in oil and then dipping the oil covered pieces of bread into little bowls of dukkah which then stuck to the pitta bread.   It was the first time I had heard of and tasted dukkah and I loved it.

After that class I wanted to use dukkah at home.  As you couldn’t find it in the supermarket then, it meant I would have to make it myself.  At the time I didn’t have any children so I had much more time for making things completely from scratch.  I had good intentions and planned to make my own but somehow or other it got forgotten about.

Fast forward a few years and I still love to make things from scratch but I tend to opt for things that are quick and will definitely take the shortcut of buying a ready-made spice mix if it’s going to help me make something tasty.   After all, the alternative is probably to not make that tasty dish at all.  Luckily, it is now possible to find dukkah in some supermarkets so even if you can’t motivate yourself to research and make it yourself, you can still try this lovely pasta dish.

I found the recipe for the olive and dukkah pasta on the blog, Rachel Cotterill, which I was assigned to for this month’s Secret Recipe Club challenge.  Rachel is one of those people who seems to do everything: blogging, cooking, travelling, writing books, archery, even coppicing … and that’s not all.  As someone who can’t even find time to make her own dukkah, I was impressed!  Her blog is packed full of mainly healthy vegetarian recipes, and many of them, like this pasta dish, are vegan. Some of the recipes I was really tempted by were Armenian Spinach Puffs and Cheese and Onion Cookies.

The dukkah with the pasta is an unusual combination but it’s really tasty.  Normally I can’t resist topping my pasta with lots of cheese but it wouldn’t go with the dukkah so you end up with a much lighter and healthier dish too.   Well, now that I think about it, some crumbled feta or a similar cheese probably would be quite nice but I didn’t think about it at the time and didn’t miss the lack of cheese either.  I stuck fairly closely to the original recipe but used a green instead of red pepper and also added some garlic.

Ingredients – Serves 2

180g pasta

1 green pepper

15 (approx) baby plum tomatoes

1 garlic clove

60g olives

2 tbsp tomato puree

2 tbsp dukkah

Olive oil

How to Make Olive and Dukkah Pasta

1. Put the pasta on to boil.

2. In another large pan heat the oil and then add the green pepper.  Keep giving it a stir.   Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook for another minute.   Don’t cook for too long or the tomatoes will break down too much and it’s nice for them to keep their shape.

3. When the pasta is ready add it to the pan with the tomatoes and peppers, along with just a little of the cooking water.   Add the tomato puree, olives and dukkah and stir till it is all heated through.

dukkah pasta in pan

To see what other Secret Recipe Club participants have made, click on the link below:

 

Cannellini Bean Dip

cannellini bean dip

Summer is definitely the time for dips and celery, for raw food and salads.   It’s not really the time for slow cooking.   But, however much I love salads, I don’t want to eat them every day.   I still love my slow cooker and still make and enjoy more wintery meals along with all the salads.

When I heard that this month’s Slow Cooker Challenge at Farmersgirl Kitchen was to make a summer meal I really had no ideas.   That’s just not the way I use my slow cooker. Luckily I had recently made a roasted carrot dip and although not made in the slow cooker, it made me think of dips.

I found a recipe for cannellini bean spread in Slow Cooking for Two by Cynthia Graubert, which rather appropriately I won from Janice in one of the earlier slow cooker challenges.  It was nice and simple and I had all the ingredients to make it straightaway which was another advantage.

We ate it with bread and vegetable sticks for lunch.   If you look at the list of ingredients, they look rather like those you would put into a soup and that is a bit how I felt as I was eating this.   It was the consistency of a dip, but because of the herbs and the stock, it tasted like a soup.   Just a bit more stock and it would be a really lovely soup.   So, although the recipe was a success, the taste was perhaps not as summery as I was hoping for and I suspect it will reappear on my table but in a different form next time.

Ingredients

400g tin cannellini beans

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 tsp dried rosemary

Salt

Black pepper

120 ml chicken stock (or use vegetable for a vegetarian version)

How to Make Slow Cooked Cannellini Bean Dip

1. Drain and rinse the beans and put in the bottom of the slow cooker along with the garlic and rosemary. Pour over the stock.   Cook for 3 hours.

2. Remove everything from the slow cooker and transfer to a food processor.  Blend until smooth and add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Serve warm or cold with vegetables and bread.

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