Monday, November 30, 2015

Mince Pie Muffins #MuffinMonday

Sticky fruity mince pie filling, baked in a light, fluffy muffins, flavored with orange zest! These make a lovely treat for breakfast or with a cup of tea midmorning. 

For many of my British friends, the holiday season, from mid November through December, would not be the same without mince pies. Little shortcrust pastry pies filled with mince pie filling and baked to golden, flakey perfection. Which gave me an idea for this month’s Muffin Monday.

I have to tell you that this was pure experiment. I wanted the batter to be flavored with orange zest, just like the best mince pie shortcrust and the muffins had to have a generous scoop of mince filling.

This could so easily have gone very wrong. But, in the words of one of my favorite guinea pigs, they are orgasmic. Okay, okay, she tends to hyperbole, and I don’t think I’d go that far, but these muffins are seriously good. The mince pie filling stays pretty much in one place, giving you a good couple of bites of fruit, but it is also soaks the bottom of the muffin just enough to make it a little sticky, in a very good way.

And if the crunchy orange sugar topping isn’t enough for you, go ahead and put a sprinkle of the traditional mince pie powdered sugar on the very top.

1 cup or 200g sugar
Zest 1 orange
2 cups or 250g all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup or 240ml milk
1/2 cup or 12ml canola or other light oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 cup or about 300g mincemeat pie filling

Optional to decorate: powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C. Generously grease cups and top of 12-cup muffin or line them with paper baking cups. I give the whole baking tray, including the baking cups, a light spray of Pam.

Zest your orange into the sugar and mix well. Remove 1/4 cup or about 40g to use for topping.

Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the orange sugar. Mix well.

Then whisk together milk, oil, eggs and vanilla in another bowl.

Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture.

Gently fold just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon a little more than half of the batter into the prepared muffin pan.

Add a generous spoonful of mince pie filling to each.

Top with the remaining batter and sprinkle on the reserved orange sugar.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until muffins are golden.

Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before removing muffins from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Sprinkle with some powdered sugar, if desired.


Check out all the lovely muffins we have for you this month!

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Moroccan-style Lentil Chickpea Stew #SundaySupper

This dish is traditionally made with ground or minced lamb and is a favorite in Moroccan cuisine and in our house too. But, if I’m honest, I prefer my version substituting lentils for the lamb. The onions, lime and all the spices make this a bright and deliciously warming stew to serve over rice or couscous.

This week my Sunday Supper family is sharing veggie main dishes, making vegetables the star attraction of our supper table. This is the perfect time to share my adaption of a favorite recipe, this lentil and chickpea stew. Just take a look at that list of ingredients! There's so much flavor that you will not miss the meat, I can assure you. Do give it a try! If you are looking to add more veggie-centric meals to your family menu, make sure to scroll down to the check out the link list of our 30 delicious dishes.

This is adapted from a recipe on My Recipes.

1 cup or 210g green (preferably French Puy) lentils
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra drizzle for serving
2 large onions, peeled (13 3/4 oz or 390g)
1 large carrot, peeled (5 oz or 140g by weight)
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne or to taste (I added a whole teaspoon.)
2 cups vegetable stock from cubes or homemade if you are so inclined
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons lime zest
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste (This is going to depend on the saltiness of your stock.)
1 (15 1/2-ounce can) chickpeas
Small bunch cilantro plus extra for garnish, if desired
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Note: I’ve given the weights of my onions and carrot to give you an idea of size. Don’t get too hung up on this. A little more carrot or a little less onion and it’s all going to be just fine.

Cook 1 cup or 210g green lentils in a small pot with ample water to cover, until tender. This only takes about 20 minutes so keep an eye on the pot and add more water if necessary. Drain and set aside.

Make up vegetable broth, set aside. Drain and rinse the can of chickpeas. Zest your lime and then juice it.

Cut your carrot up on the diagonal and slice your onions vertically into strips rather than rings. Measure out all your spices. Chop the cilantro.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat then add the olive oil to the pan. Add onion and carrot to pan; sauté for a few minutes.

Add cumin, cinnamon, coriander, and pepper; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Add cooked lentils, tomato paste, grated lemon rind, 1/4 teaspoon salt and chickpeas, then pour in the vegetable stock.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until mixture thickens.

Remove from heat and give the pan a little drizzle of olive oil, then stir in cilantro and lime juice.

(If you aren’t serving right away, wait to reheat then add the cilantro and lime juice just before serving.)

Sprinkle on a little extra cilantro for color, if desired.

This dish is perfect served with couscous or rice.


Many thanks to our Sunday Supper hosts this week, D.B. from Crazy Foodie Stunts. I know this meant he had to work through the holiday weekend so let me just say, you rock, D.B.! Hope your Thanksgiving was fabulous!

Veggie Mains
Snacks and Sweets

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 p.m. ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat.

To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.
 Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It's easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Dark Chocolate Orange Crostata #FridayPieDay

A traditional combination, especially around the Christmas holidays, orange marmalade and dark chocolate melt together to create a rich dessert tart that is perfect for a dinner party or a special family feast. I recommend serving it sliced thinly with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or unsweetened whipped cream. 

All these years as an expat, I’ve missed Thanksgiving at home with extended family, but especially in the early years, it was all good. We didn’t have aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins around, but we had each other. Creating our own traditions together, celebrating as a small nuclear family, bonded us perhaps more tightly than we would have been in different circumstances. Indeed, moving to new countries without friends or even familiar faces, we had only each other to rely on for entertainment or comfort. At least until friends were made. Making a home out of each new house in each new place was how I made sure my girls felt safe but the truth is, that's also what kept me sane.

We’ve only lived in one foreign country where Thanksgiving was a school holiday for our girls and that’s just because in Singapore they attended the Singapore American School. We hardly knew what to do with ourselves! We were used to celebrating our own Thanksgiving on the Saturday after the actual holiday and suddenly Thursday was open. Well, for the girls anyway. It was still a normal work day for their father. Ah, well.

This year we’ve decided to do something completely different. Our girls are celebrating Thanksgiving with friends and family in the States, but as you read this, my husband and I are probably soaking up the sun and sea view in the Seychelles. It’s just a few hours’ flight from Dubai and since we can’t have a family Thanksgiving, we might as well make the best of it! Meanwhile, I leave you with this lovely crostata, which is just a fancy Italian way of saying tart.

This recipe is adapted from one on Real Simple.

For the dough:
2 1/3 cups or 290g flour, plus extra for rolling out dough
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup or 170g unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
Ice water – 4 tablespoons to start then maybe 2 more

For the filling:
3 1/2 oz or 100g dark chocolate
1 1/2 cups or 450g orange marmalade

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Cut the cold butter into cubes and add them to the flour. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour until you have crumbles.

Add the egg yolks and 4 tablespoon of cold water. Mix it up lightly with a fork.

Add one or two more tablespoons of cold water, mixing again until the dough just comes together. (I did take photos of these steps for you but they were blurry. Perhaps due to excess flour on the camera. Poor Canon. Unfortunately my furry helper is useless at taking photos for me.)

Form the dough into a disk. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C and line a cookie sheet with baking parchment or a silicone liner.

Chop the chocolate into small pieces.

Roll 2/3 of the dough out into a circle of about 14 in or 36cm on the parchment paper or silicone mat.

Spoon the marmalade in the middle. Sprinkle chocolate over the top. There will be some chocolate crumbs and dust left on the cutting board. Set it aside to save these for sprinkling over the finished crostata.

Roll the remaining dough out to the same thickness as the bottom crust and slice it into strips.

Place them in a crisscross pattern over the marmalade/chocolate.

Carefully fold the sides up and over the crisscross and up to the marmalade, patting the folds down gently to seal.

Bake until lightly golden, about 40-45 minutes. Remove the crostata from the oven.

Use the blade of a knife to scrape up the crumbs of chocolate from the cutting board and sprinkle these over the warm crostata.

Allow the crostata to cool completely on a wire rack before attempting to move or cut it. You will see that it's still a bit jiggly until it's cold and the chocolate has set once more.

Once cool, cut in slices and serve. This goes really well with vanilla ice cream or unsweetened whipped cream.


This dark chocolate orange crostata is my contribution to this month's Friday Pie Day, the brilliant creation of Heather from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen. (Formerly girlichef.)

I am pleased to join her on the last Friday of each month for pie and crust recipes, techniques, tools of the trade, and other inspiration.

This month Heather has baked a cranberry apple crumb pie! Wouldn't that be perfect for Christmas too? Do go over and have a look.

For more information and recipes, please check out her #FridayPieDay page!

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