Monday, December 28, 2015

Sticky Toffee Bran Muffins #MuffinMonday


Just as in sticky toffee pudding, Medjool dates sweeten these tender bran muffins but since we are making muffins instead of dessert, no added sugar is necessary. That doesn’t mean these wouldn’t make a lovely sweet thing to end a meal with. But they’d also be a delightful breakfast.

Despite the holidays, or perhaps because of them, we’ve got some lovely muffins for you this month. When complicated holiday baking starts to overwhelm you, always remember that muffins can be baked quickly, often in less than half an hour.

This recipe takes just a bit longer since one must wait for the scalded milk-soaked dates to cool, but that step can actually be done ahead of time if you are going to be pushed for time before baking. But it’s worth it, I promise!

Make sure you scroll down to see all the muffins my Muffin Monday bakers have for you this month! As usual, they’ve out done themselves and I love the challenge of keeping up with their creativity.

Ingredients
9 large Mejool dates, separated
1 cup or 240ml milk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup or 160g all-purpose flour
1/2 cup or 70g oat bran
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1⁄4 cup or 60g butter, melted and cooled

Method
Pit and chop your dates, setting one aside for garnish.

Put the rest in a heatproof bowl. Add in the half teaspoon of baking soda. Scald the milk and pour it over the chopped dates.

Stir to help separate the bits of sticky date and set aside till cool. It will cool faster if you stir it occasionally. You’ll notice it begins to thicken as it cools as well. At this point, you could just eat it with a spoon, but do resist!

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin pan by greasing it with non-stick spray or line it with muffin paper cups.

In a large bowl, sift your flour with the baking powder and salt and then add in the oat bran. Mix well.

Add your eggs to the cooled date mixture and whisk with a fork to combine.


Add the butter and whisk again.

Fold your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.



Divide the batter evenly between the 12 cups of your prepared muffin pan and then top each with some of the reserved chopped date.



Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until springy to the touch.

Cool for a few minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.



Enjoy!


Check out all the fabulous muffins we've got for you - sweet and savory - 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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Friday, December 25, 2015

Easy Cheesy Salami Tomato Tart #FridayPieDay

Easy to throw together, this tart starts with puff pastry, topped with pesto, salami, fresh tomatoes and semi-soft cheese, for a savory slice of deliciousness that’s perfect for lunch or dinner. Or enjoy it cold the next day for breakfast. I did!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

It is my pleasure to join my friend, Heather, today for another edition of Friday Pie Day. Make sure to scroll on down to the bottom for the link to her take on classic mince pies.

One of the standard items in my freezer is pre-rolled puff pastry. It thaws fairly quickly and I find it can be ready to unroll by the time my oven preheats, which makes tart making a breeze. The filling is easily adapted to whatever you have on hand - as long as you make sure to include some melty cheese! - so it’s perfect for busy days when you want a special meal but are short on time. Like during the holidays.

This tart is adapted from a recipe at cuisineAZ.

Ingredients
8 oz or 225g all butter puff pastry dough
3 1/2 oz or 100g salami
3 medium tomatoes (Mine weighed about 9 oz or 260g.)
8 3/4 oz or 250g semi-soft cheese (I used Morbier.)
3 tablespoons fresh pesto (Mine was made with wild rocket or arugula.)
Freshly ground black pepper

Optional garnish: chopped green onions

Method
Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C and line your tart pan with baking parchment.

Unroll your puff pastry dough circle (or roll it out with a rolling pin if it’s in a block) and fit it into your tart pan.

Dock the dough with a fork and bake in your preheated oven for about 8-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and then turn the temperature down to 350°F or 180°C.

Spread the base of the tart with the pesto.



Top with salami.



Slice your tomatoes very thinly. Cut the hard rinds off of your cheese and slice it as thinly as possible, which frankly is a little tricky with a semi-soft cheese. Do your best.



Top the salami with the tomato slices.



Then top the tomatoes with the cheese slices and give the whole tart a good few grinds of black pepper.



Bake in your preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is all melted and golden.

Sprinkle with chopped green onions, if desired.



Allow to cool slightly before cutting and serving. You can also serve it at room temperature.


Enjoy!

This easy cheesy salami tomato tart 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 mini cranberry mince pies, an essential for Christmas!

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


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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Mini Party Crab Cakes #SundaySupper


Heavy on the crabmeat with a few toasted fresh bread crumbs and an egg to hold them together, these crab cakes are seasoned lightly with green onion, salt and pepper, so the crab shines through.

Way back in the Sixties, my husband’s grandparents made a decision that blesses us to this day. They sold up their home in England and retired to the island of Jersey in the English Channel. They bought a house that is square and solid and will probably outlast us all. It’s not fancy but it is comfortable and we like to head here every chance we get. Yes, even as you read this, we are preparing to celebrate Christmas in Jersey and the refrigerator is full of special treats, like Jersey cream, butter and milk from genuine Jersey cows! Man, I love this place! I mean, just look at it! This view is a two-minute walk from our front door. And down below, it's a gorgeous white sand beach.



Since Jersey is an island, fresh seafood is plentiful. One of our favorite lunches is simplicity itself. There’s salad and bread, sure, and there must be chilled white or rosé wine, but the focus of the meal is large brown crabs or as they are known on the island, chancre crabs. Everybody gets one to hammer and pick at. These are large guys and they have a lot of meat in them!



Their meat is also perfect for making crab cakes. I must confess that I am a crab cake purist. A little toasted breadcrumbs, some green onions, salt and pepper, plus an egg for binding. That’s it. No dipping them in stuff and adding more breadcrumbs to the outside. No frying in a lot of oil. And definitely, definitely, no Old Bay spices! I know they are traditional in a lot of places but I want to taste the CRAB, not mustard, paprika, celery salt, bay leaf, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, mace, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger. What a mouthful. Go ahead, leave me a comment about how fabulous Old Bay is and I’ll surely thank you for stopping by, and I hope we can still be friends, but I say bring on the crabby tasting crab cakes!

These little guys are perfect for serving as an appetizer, straight, just as they are. Or pop them on to some pretty greens tossed with a light vinaigrette for a salad starter, perfect for any dinner party. They can be pan-fried ahead of time and rewarmed in the oven, or just formed into cakes and chilled, then cooked as guests arrive and passed 'round hot.

Nowadays pasteurized fresh crabmeat can be found in the refrigerator section of most supermarkets and will last for ages unopened. Since the other ingredients are staples in almost any kitchen, last minute guests can pop by and you can have these babies ready to serve in very little time.

And that is why they are perfect for our Sunday Supper theme of last minute holiday recipes! Many thanks to Wendy of Wholistic Woman and T.R. of Gluten Free Crumbley for hosting this helpful event! If you are still scrambling for holiday recipes, make sure to scroll on down to check out the whole link list.

Ingredients for about 20 crab cakes
1.1 lbs or 500g crab meat
1-2 slices fresh brown bread
Large bunch green onions
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
Drizzle olive oil – for the pan

Method
Toast your bread in a warm oven to dry it out, then use a food processor to make it into bread crumbs. Ideally, you’d like to end with about 2/3 cup or 60g of crumbs. Bread slices vary in size so use your judgment about how many to toast.

Pick through the crabmeat carefully to remove any bits of shell that might have been missed.

Chop your green onions – just the green bits – into small pieces.



Combine all of the ingredients – except the oil - in a bowl and mix well.



Cover a large plate with cling film. This will make it easier to remove your crab cakes because you can lift the cling film to tip the cakes up so you can get under them, if necessary.

Dampen your hands with water so the mixture doesn’t stick to them. Scoop a couple of tablespoons of the crab into your wet hands and mold your crab cakes, setting them on the cling film covered plate. Keep your hands damp or the crab will start to stick!



At this point, you can chill them, covered with more cling film to cook later.

Or warm a non-stick pan over a medium heat and drizzle in a little olive oil.

Fry the crab cakes a few at a time for just a few minutes on each side, until they are golden on both sides.

Get two pans going if you need them done quicker and you can multitask!


If you aren’t passing them right over to your waiting guests, remove the cakes to a foil-lined baking pan and keep them warm in a very slow oven. They can also be chilled at this point and rewarmed later in a medium oven.

Twenty little crab cakes all in a row. 


Enjoy!



Looking for last minutes holiday recipe inspiration?

Beverages
Breakfast
Appetizers
Main Dishes
Side Dishes
Desserts




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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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hot Buttered Rum Bundt #BundtBakers


Lots of butter and rum in a small Bundt cake, topped with hot buttered rum glaze – it’s perfect for a cozy dinner party this holiday season.

This month’s Bundt Bakers theme is Naughty or Nice! Although I am sure you will agree after taking a look at our link list of recipe titles, even the naughty ones look pretty nice.

The challenge set by our lovely host, Olivia from Liv for Cake, was as follows
Sometimes it’s nice to be naughty! Choose one of these directions for your Bundt this month. For "Naughty” think boozy or things like Devil’s Food Cake. "Nice” Bundts can be of the more traditional, innocent kind — Gingerbread, Peppermint, etc. Naughty or Nice, all Bundts should share the flavors of a WINTER HOLIDAY.

I guess we all know which way I went on the Naughty to Nice scale. Don't you love that sign hanging from my rum bottle? I bought it from a crafty friend at the American Association of Malaysia Christmas Bazaar last month.

Ingredients for a six-inch Bundt cake (I used the Nordic Ware Anniversary pan. <affiliate link)
For the cake batter:
1 1/2 cups or 190g flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup or 150g sugar
1/2 cup or 113g butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup or 60ml gold rum, topped up with milk to equal 1/3 cup or 78ml
3/4 cup or 105g chopped pecans

For the Hot Buttered Rum glaze:
1/4 cup, packed, or 50g brown sugar
1/4 cup or 60g butter
1/3 cup or 80ml whipping (heavy) cream
1/4 cup or 60ml gold rum
Good pinch of sea salt

Method
Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.  Grease and flour your 6-in Bundt pan or spray it with non-stick baking spray with flour. I often use the baking spray but since more butter in a butter cake is always better, I did it the old fashion way this time.

Sift your flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add in the rest of the ingredients – except the nuts - and beat for a minute until combined. Scrape down the bowl and beat at high speed for 4 minutes.

Do NOT taste the batter or there won't be any left to bake. You have been warned! 


Fold in the pecans.

Spoon into your prepared Bundt pan.


Bake 30-40 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.


Cool in pan 15 minutes on a wire rack, then turn the Bundt out to finish cooling on the rack.

For the hot buttered rum glaze:
Mix all ingredients in 1 1/2-quart saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Boil 3 to 4 minutes, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened. Allow to cool until it thickens even more, whisking occasionally to check consistency. You don’t want it to drip completely off the cake.

Spoon over cooled cake.



Enjoy!


Have you been naughty or nice this year? Never mind - My Bundt Bakers still have cake for you!
BundtBakers

#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving Bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all of our lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest Board. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers can be found on our homepage.


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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Gingerbread Biscotti #CreativeCookieExchange

All the spicy flavors of gingerbread, ramped up a notch or two with the addition of chewy crystallized ginger and crunchy toasted almonds, are represented in these very dunk-able biscotti, decorated with the requisite royal icing. They are perfect to enjoy on a winter morning with a hot cup of something special, or to wrap up as gifts. 

When my girls were growing up and we neared Christmas on the calendar – we lived far too near the equator for the other usual harbingers of the season like falling leaves or a nip in the air – I often baked gingerbread for their after school snacks. And we always made some gingerbread men together as a weekend project, decorating them lavishly with royal icing. The smell as the gingerbread bakes is heavenly!

Yes, somehow gingerbread and the Christmas season just go together. How could I resist turning gingerbread into biscotti for this month’s Creative Cookie Exchange? And don't forget, being twice baked and crunchy, biscotti are very good travelers, in case you need a homemade gift for someone far away.

Many thanks to Laura from The Spiced Life for organizing us each month and for coming up with this great theme!

This recipe is adapted from one at Christmas Cookies.

Ingredients for about 55-60 biscotti
For the biscotti dough:
1 cup or 150g almonds, blanched
3/4 cup or 150g sugar
1/2 cup or 113g butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup or 120ml dark molasses
3 eggs
3 cups or 375g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or 75g candied ginger, coarsely chopped

For the royal icing:
1 1/2 cups or 190g icing sugar
1 egg white (Do not serve raw unpasteurized eggs to persons with compromised immune systems.)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch salt

Method
Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and line two cookies sheets with baking parchment or silicone baking mats.

Toast your almonds for about 10-15 minutes in the preheated oven using a small baking pan where they can fit in one layer. Keep an eye on the almonds and shake or stir the pan at about the five-minute mark to make sure they aren’t scorching on one side. You are looking for a nice golden color.

Let the almonds cool, chop them very coarsely, and set aside. Turn your oven temperature down to 300°F or 149°C.

In large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the sugar, butter and molasses until smooth.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Your batter may look a little curdled at this point but it's nothing to worry about.



In another mixing bowl, sift together your flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and salt.

Add the candied ginger to the dry ingredient bowl and use your fingers to separate the pieces and coat them with the dry ingredients so they don’t stick together again.



Add in the almonds to the dry bowl and mix well.



Tip the dry ingredients into the egg mixture; mix well to combine. The dough is going to be quite sticky.

Divide your dough up into four equal pieces and wrap each in a large piece of cling film. Use the cling film to shape the dough into four flat loaves, about a 1/2 in or 1 1/4cm thick and 2 inches or 5 1/2 cm wide.



Turn your dough loaves out on to your prepared pans, leaving plenty of room between them for expansion as they bake.



Dampen your hands with water so they won't stick to the dough and to pat the loaves into shape, if necessary.



Bake in your preheated oven until browned at edges and springy to touch, about 25 minutes. Depending on how well your oven circulates, you might need to rotate the pans midway though the baking time so everything gets evenly browned.

Leave the loaves to cool for about 15-20 minutes on the baking sheets.



Remove the loaves to a cutting board and use a serrated bread knife to cut them into long, 1/2-inch or 1 1/4cm thick diagonal slices.



Return the slices to the baking sheets, with one of the cut sides down.



Return to the oven and bake about 15 to 18 minutes longer, turning the biscotti over once halfway through the baking. Once again, rotate the pans if necessary to get an even bake. They should be slightly more brown around the edges.


Transfer biscotti to racks and let cool completely.

To make the royal icing, sift your sugar into a small bowl, then add the pinch of salt, the lemon juice and the egg white. Mix together until smooth.



Spoon the icing into a piping bag and use a small tip to decorate the biscotti.



Serve, or store in an airtight container of up to 1 month; wrap well and freeze for longer storage.

So much gingerbread biscotti! 
Enjoy!



Biscotti (or mandelbrot or any other twice baked cookie by any other name) are one of the perfect Holiday tin cookies! They last forever, and there are so many ways to make them festive. So Creative Cookie Exchange has got you covered--sweet, savory, low fat, loaded with decadence, you name it, we’ve got it! Happy Holidays!


Creative Cookie Exchange is  a great resource for cookie recipes! Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them at The Spiced Life). We post together the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!


Looking for more gingerbread deliciousness?

Check out my Rich Gingerbread Muffins with Honey Ginger Glaze

Or my Dark Chocolate Gingerbread Muffins. Both perfect for a special tea or breakfast!

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