Goats Cheese and Red Pepper Savoury Muffins

I was just flicking through some pictures on my phone and suddenly remembered these tasty treats that I must make again soon! I came across this recipe in the GBBO Everyday book last year, and I couldn’t resist having a go. I’d just started my new job at Citi and thought a good way to win favour with my new colleagues by baking them something interesting but I know that not everyone has a sweet tooth to I made raspberry shortbread and these. They went down a storm and made me lots of new friends!

cooked muffins

They make a great breakfast or you could eat one for lunch with some soup, but the best things about them in that people just aren’t used to eating a savoury muffin so everyone will be taken by surprise by how tasty they are. One guy from India who I work with had never eaten basil before and fell instantly in love with it.

Here’s the recipe I used:
Ingredients:
100g goats’ cheese
1 medium red pepper cut into chunks
300g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Salt and pepper
Big handful of fresh basil chopped
225ml buttermilk
1 medium egg
100ml extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 190°C and line a 12-hole muffin tray with cases. Crumble goats’ cheese into pieces, tear or chop your basil (not too small) and cut your pepper into chunks. I like the chunks nice and big. Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl then add the red pepper, basil and cheese and mix together.

Beat the egg, buttermilk and olive oil together in a mug or a bowl with a generous pinch of salt and a splash of cayenne pepper. Pour into your dry ingredients and mix everything to combine until you have a nice rough and chunky mixture but with no dry clusters of flour. Spoon equally into muffin cases. You’ll end up with a really lumpy mixture and don’t be put off by its chunky appearance in your muffin cases as you want these to have a really rustic look and feel.

Bake for 25-30 minutes in the centre of your preheated oven. Leave them to cool for a few minutes and then you can eat warm if you can’t wait!

My notes: a sprinkling of cayenne pepper is optional (I added to the recipe to give a little aftershock). I’d also advise to be generous with your salt as this will bring out the flavour of the goats cheese. Don’t scrimp on the basil either – this adds a lovely streak of colour beside the red peppers and of course a beautiful flavour.

prebaked muffins

Et voila, why not try these and wow your colleagues at the next charity bake sale.

Week 4: 25th of January – Brazil Nut Brownies

Now presentation-wise, these brownies did not impress when I took them from the oven. But taste-wise… WOW. These are by far the tastiest brownies I’ve ever made (although I may have over banked very slightly as they did break a bit but that could also have had something to do with using too generous a helping of brazil nuts!)

I run a monthly book club in Blackheath and I like to sometimes bring along something I’ve baked for the gang. I’m giving them my brownies tonight; I hope they like them! Here they are hidden in my bag where nobody at work can eat them…

hidden brownies

They were a hit! Book clubbers loved them, and I had one left over to take home for Rob! Two people asked for the recipe and they were described as ‘melt in the mouth’ (someone who shall not be named ate four!).

Here’s the recipe: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cuisine/exotic/american/brazil-nut-brownies.html
My recommendation would be to cut the brazil nut pieces really small. I cut my brazils into thirds as I wanted big chunks but this is what made the mixture difficult to hold together.

Brownies are such an easy treat to assemble but the tricky part is the bake. One minute too long and you over bake, one minute too little and you end up eating them with a spoon, but either way the taste is great so enjoy the trial and error!

My First Coffee

I’m an adventurous foodie – I’ve dabbled in all sorts of exotic meats such a zebra, kangaroo and crocodile. Last year I wrote a log about my first experience of eating snails! I always live by the rule ‘don’t knock it til you try it’ and the only place a draw the line is smoking (eurgh).

Now as ridiculous as it sounds, it’s taken me almost 28 years, but yesterday I had my first ever taste of coffee. I’ve always steered well clear as the smell makes me throw up. Don’t get me wrong, the smell of freshly ground beans is a phenomenal aroma and although I don’t hate it, I don’t love it either. But the smell of a cup of coffee has been known to make me vomit or pass out, especially in a confined space like on the tube or a train.

Last night I got off the tube a stop early on my way home in order to have a nice brisk walk in the crispy cold January night air. My route took me past a tesco metro so I popped in to grab some dinner, and as I walked down the refrigerator aisle I suddenly became overwhelmed with the desire to drink a chocolate milkshake. Chocolate milkshakes in whatever form they take are not particularly diet friendly, so I stood and pondered infront of them for a while until I came to me senses and told myself I DID NOT deserve a milkshake of any sort. Then in my peripheral vision I spotted a chilled, Starbucks ‘Seattle Latte’ for only £1. Without thinking any further, I popped it into my basket, purchase it, stepped out through the electric double doors, popped in a straw and sipped.

seattle latte

I had just had my first ever taste of coffee.

I managed to drink half of it before getting home and I can honestly say, I thought it was actually quite nice! Whether this had anything to do with the fact that it was sealed shut so I couldn’t smell it may have been a factor but nevertheless, I had just drunk my first coffee! I don’t think I’m going to become a coffee drinker now. If I’ve managed without it for 28 years I think I’ll be ok to continue as such.

The moral of this story is never say never, you only live once, and it’s never too late to try something new!

Best Invention Ever

That is all.

apple

Midweek Meal: Pork Stroganoff with Three Mustards

Over the Christmas period I was staying a my boyfriend’s Mum’s house (Mummo) down in Brighton. After 3 days of solidly eating nothing but turkey we all needed a bit of a rest, so one evening she cooked us up a really quite and easy Stroganoff. I always though stroganoffs were something you had to leave to cook slowly and would therefore only be a weekend option, but I was wrong. Last week I found this excellent Delia recipe online that we tried on Sunday evening and it was ready in 20minutes so it definitely qualifies as a midweek meal as well as a winter warmer!

The recipe: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cuisine/european/english/pork-stroganoff-with-three-mustards.html

Now I know 3 mustards sounds excessive, but it is imperative in my opinion that you use them all. We get through mustard like it’s going out of fashion n my house so we always have a big stock of it in the fridge and some standby jars in the cupboard, but if you don’t keep a full stock of mustard at home, I urge you to buy all three if you want to try this dish out. You will not regret it.

We used pork loin medallions cut into thin strips – it was 300g as opposed to the 350g that Delia suggests but this was more than enough, and we bulked it out with some extra mushrooms. Here you’ll see in this ‘big man portion’ we accompanied it with garlic and rosemary roasted baby new potatoes (super simple to do – I’ll add a mini recipe below) and a rocket salad, but I imagine it would go equally well with mash, rice or even a jacket if you wanted to whip this up super quick midweek.

strogIf you want to try with our potatoes (best for the weekend as they can take about an hour) buy a bag of salad potatoes – any kind will do. I like the tinier the better as you get more crispy skin but an Anya (the little knobbly ones) work really well too cut into rounds. Cut them into halves and boil for 15mins or so in well salted water. In the meantime, heat a roasting tray with about 2 tablespoons of sun/olive oil in a hot oven (about 200degrees). Drain your potatoes and drop carefully into the hot oil, throw in a few crushed whole garlic cloves in their skins and a handful of freshly picked rosemary. Crunch sea salt flakes all over and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper and toss it all together before returning to the oven. You can leave them in for as long as you like – I find that about 25 minutes is best to give them a lovely crispy outside.

Week 3: 19th of January – Oatmeal & Raisin Cookies

I’m going to let you in on a secret… I don’t actually like raisins. I’ll eat them if I’m given something with them in but I’d never choose too, and in my opinion there is just nothing worse than savoury food where a raisin or a sultana rears its ugly head. Coronation Chicken is the biggest culprit for this. I’m just not a fan. But something I do love is biscuits and believe it or not, give me a biscuit with a raisin in it, and I will be your friend forever. It’s funny isn’t it, how our little brains work and say ‘no, this raisin is completely out of place in this curry’ but then ‘yum, I’m glad you put raisins in these biccies’. Anyway, I digress.

In short, I don’t usually like raisins, but I do like them in biscuits (I’d probably eat anything in a biscuit though). Note: I’ve just noticed that I’ve been prattling on in terms of ‘biscuits’ but what I made were in Delia’s words ‘cookies’. Is there a difference? If there is an explanation it would be much appreciated. I suppose in the US biscuits are those little crumbly bread rolls so they need another word for proper biscuits?

Out came ‘Delia’s Cakes’ again to look at what I’d planned to bake for the week ahead and I noticed that I had scheduled her oatmeal and raisin cookies for this week… but it was 9pm on Sunday night! It had to be done. The oven went on and my mixing bowl came out and by 10pm we had 24 oatmeal and raisin cookies cooling on the rack.

Here is Delia’s recipe: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cuisine/european/english/oat-and-raisin-cookies.html

cookies

I’m slightly ashamed to say that I didn’t quite trust Delia’s recipe… I thought it was way too heavy on the dry ingredients and when I mixed in the butter and egg I felt the mixture was far too crumbly so like the idiot I am, I defied her by adding a tablespoonish sized squirt of golden syrup to help bind my mixture but this instead just made it very sticky and harder to shape (most of it ended up stuck to my hands and the bowl) and as you can see my cookies splayed a little more than ideal so I’ve ended up with something a bit flatter than desired. Despite all this, they taste absolutely fantastic!

They actually act as a great breakfast on the move – the cereally quality leant to them by the oatmeal makes them a kind of cookie shaped cereal bar!

Week 3: 15th of January – Traditional Madeira

I really love Madeira. I know some see it as boring but if you get a good one it is such a lovely clean taste, it lets you really appreciate the quality of the sponge without bogging you down in loads of fancy flavours. My favourite way of eating Madeira is with a little spread of jam or on its own with a cup of tea. But as it’s essentially a lemon cake, it goes really well with a bit of lemon curd and well would you believe it, I made five jars of the stuff earlier this week! What are the chances?

As always I used a recipe from good old reliable ‘Delia’s Cakes’ because if anyone knows how to make the best Madeira you’d imagine it would be a close call between Delia and Mary Berry… but I think Delia would probably clinch it.

So here’s the recipe I used – it really couldn’t be simpler: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cuisine/european/english/madeira-cake.html

Madeira

I followed this recipe TO THE LETTER and got a perfect result. When sifting the dry ingredients from height, don’t be put off by the big white cloud that will envelope you – it will be worth your while I promise. Due to the high sifting, this is probably the lightest sponge I’ve ever produced and it had a lovely rise.

A tip to make life easier – prepare all of your ingredients beforehand so all you have left to do is combine. By this, I mean chop and weight your butter in a dish, beat your eggs and zest your lemon in advance. The only reason I say this is that sometimes these bits can be a bit time consuming and can put you out of step with the recipe if you have to stop halfway through and start zesting and chopping. Read through the whole recipe first and prepare anything that needs preparing. Then you can follow the recipe more smoothly and easily and you’re less likely to miss a step or an ingredient out!

I served mine with a mug of hot lemon tea and a dollop of my home made lemon curd. Delicious 