Monday, August 31, 2015

Pesto Pine Nut Parmesan Muffins #MuffinMonday

Savory mini muffins with pesto, pine nuts and Parmesan make the perfect snack at cocktail time or really, anytime.

A little #MuffinMonday history
Food Lust People Love was almost one year old before I joined my first baking group in June of 2012. Muffin Monday was run by a talented blogger named Anuradha from Baker Street. We became friends over the next year and a half that we baked muffins together. Even though she worked full time, her blog was filled with lovely baked goods and she was very active on social media. The first year or so, Muffin Monday had a steady stream of participants but then they dwindled until it was just the two of us baking each week, for more than six months. I offered to help with sending out the emails or adding folks to the group but she would assure me that a work project was about to finish and then she’d have more time.

And then she stopped updating her blog and seemed to drop completely out of the social media circus that is blogging. I can’t tell you how sad I was but I completely understood how sometimes life can get in the way of all the things we want to do and something’s gotta give. I will be forever grateful to Anuradha for starting me on this path. Maybe someday, if she gets back to blogging, we can bake together again. I’d really like that.

As for me, I wasn’t done with muffin baking. I love the ease of the muffin baking method, the flexibility for adding ingredients to a sweet or savory batter, the short baking time and the portability of the muffins themselves. It seemed that the hashtag #MuffinMonday was widely in use on the internet, so I went solo and continued Muffin Mondays on my own for another 73 editions. For anyone who is keeping count, that means 153 muffin recipes on my blog. It’s quite the collection.

The future of #MuffinMonday
This summer I took a few weeks off, as I was traveling anyway, but also because I wanted to think about Muffin Monday and what the future might hold. I decided that if I really wanted to spread the love of muffins, I should open it up. So I have invited a small group of like-minded recipe creators to join me here for Muffin Monday. And since a weekly post is a large commitment – and I wanted them to say yes to the invitation – we will be posting only once a month, on the last Monday of every month.

I hope you all enjoy our creative muffin recipes. Make sure to scroll down to see what my Muffin Monday baking friends have for you today!

I’m kicking this one off with mini muffins that are great to serve at cocktail time. And, bonus, they freeze beautifully so make them ahead for your next party. What better way to celebrate baking muffins with a group again?

Pesto Pine Nut Parmesan Muffins

Ingredients for 18 mini muffins
1 cup or 125g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup or 80ml milk
1/4 cup or 60ml olive oil
1/4 cup or 60g classic pesto
1 egg
3 oz or 85g Parmesan
1/4 cup or 40g pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C and grease your mini muffin pans with a little olive oil or non-stick spray.

Grate your Parmesan and set aside a good handful for sprinkling on the muffin tops before baking.

In one big mixing bowl, add your dry ingredients, that is, the flour and baking powder. Add in the larger pile of grated Parmesan and stir well.

In small mixing bowl, whisk the milk, olive oil and pesto with your egg.

Fold the liquids to the dry mixture, stopping when they are just mixed.

Set aside a small handful of pine nuts for topping and fold the rest into your batter.

Divide the batter between your prepared muffins cups,  then top each one with a few pine nuts and a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Bake in your preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Remove from the muffin pans and finish cooling on a rack.


The new Muffin Monday won't have a theme or a necessary ingredient so members are free to create muffins with whatever inspires them, wherever they may live. I look forward to seeing what they'll come up with each month! A drumroll, please, for the inaugural line up:

Many thanks to my daughter, Cecilie, for creating our badge. 

#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.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Brown Sugar Nectarine Tart #FridayPieDay

Sprinkling fresh nectarines with brown sugar and a little sea salt enhances their summery sweetness in this baked tart that is easy enough to make any day of the week.

Sometimes fresh nectarines can be a disappointment. They smell all nectarine-y in the stores so you take them home with great anticipation of that first juicy bite and the inevitably sweetness dripping down your chin. And then the sadness hits. The nectarines are juicy enough, even somewhat sweet, but they just don’t taste as strongly of nectarine as their aroma promised. That, my friends, is when I figure I have a couple of choices: make jam or tarts. Either will use sugar and heat to concentrate the flavors of the fruit and restore your good temper with deliciousness to share.

This is my contribution for this month's Friday Pie Day! Scroll down to the bottom to see what my fellow baker, Heather, is sharing today.

1 frozen puff pastry sheet, 8 3/4 oz or 250g, thawed – preferably all butter
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 nectarines (about 10 1/2 oz or 300g, whole)
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Generous pinch fine sea salt
2 teaspoons butter
2 tablespoons apricot (or peach or nectarine) jam

To serve: thick cream or vanilla ice cream - optional

Preheat oven to 425°F or 218°C and line your baking tray with parchment or a silicone baking mat.

Unroll your puff pastry onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle a circle in the middle with the cornstarch.

Cut your nectarines in half and remove the pits. Slice the halves thinly.

Starting in the middle of the circle, lay your nectarines slices out, overlapping them slightly. Keep going until the entire circle of cornstarch is covered, using all of the nectarine slices.

Fold the sides of the pastry in about 1/2 an inch or 1cm and sprinkle the tops of the nectarines with brown sugar and the generous pinch of salt.

Now fold the pastry over again to cover about one quarter of the fruit, all the way around.

Dot the top with butter.

Bake in your preheated oven for about minutes or until the pastry is puffed up and golden all over.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Loosen the jam by adding a little water to it and warming it gently in the microwave or in a small pot on the stove.

Brush it on the top of the nectarines when the tart has cooled. I used some homemade caramel apricot lime jam but you can use whatever jam you have open in the refrigerator.

Cut into four equal pieces and serve with thick pouring cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or perhaps a complementary slice of buttermilk pie. (See Heather's link below!)


FridayPieDay is the brilliant invention of Heather from girlichef and 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 went traditional southern with a creamy buttermilk pie, and it looks delicious!

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


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Passion Fruit Vinaigrette

Passion fruit vinaigrette is tangy and light, with just a hint of fruity sweetness, the perfect dressing for salad or to spoon over pan-fried fish. We especially love it on salmon.

Most of the year I tend to have a jar of homemade vinaigrette lurking somewhere in the refrigerator, nestled amongst the myriad jars on my over-packed top shelf.  It invariably contains some combination of lemon juice or vinegar, olive oil, garlic, mustard, salt and black pepper and perhaps some honey or pomegranate molasses. I fish the jar out and let it rest for about 10 minutes at room temperature until the olive oil turns liquid again and then I give it a shake. If there’s not enough dressing left in the jar for that night’s salad, I add more of this, a little of that, until there is, once again, enough. Measurements are not really necessary but a general rule of thumb is one part acid (vinegar or citrus juice) to three parts oil.

Early this summer I was making up a fresh jar of vinaigrette when I spied a few passion fruit languishing in the fruit bowl. With passion fruit, there’s a narrow window where the fruit is wrinkled and ripe and wrinkled and dried out inside and mine were approaching the other side. So I scraped the black speckled pulp out of four of those little orbs of tartness and added them to the dressing I was creating. We ate it over everything for the next couple of days! And then I made some more. It keeps for a week or more in the refrigerator, if it lasts that long.

Pulp of 4 small passion fruit – 1/4 cup or 65g
1 small purple onion
4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon flakey sea salt (I use Maldon’s.)
Several generous grinds of fresh black pepper
1/2 cup or 120ml extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Peel and mince your onion. Add it to a small bowl with two tablespoons of the vinegar. Add in the sea salt and a few good grinds of the black pepper and set aside. Marinating the onion in the vinegar mellows some of the sharpness and bite.

Put your passion fruit pulp in a clean jam jar and mix it around with a knife or fork to loosen it up and separate the seeds.

Add in the olive oil, the onion/vinegar mixture and the last two tablespoons of vinegar. Give the jar a really good shake.

Now add in the dry mustard and shake again until very well combined.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to use, shaking well again before lightly dressing salad or spooning it over cooked fish.

Here are a couple of photos to give you an idea of uses for the dressing. The first is a simple salad with butter lettuce, ripe tomatoes, cheese and shoestring carrots. The passion fruit seeds add color and crunch!

The second is pan-fried salmon the flavor of which far exceeds its accompaniments of fresh corn on the cob and peas. As much as I love sweet corn it still would have been a rather bland meal without the passion fruit vinaigrette!

Enjoy! Go ahead and make a jar! I’d love to hear what you’ve tried it on.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Pork Prawn Wonton Soup

Well-seasoned pork and prawn parcels are boiled in rich pork broth for a deliciously warming wonton soup, a favorite of locals and visitors alike in Singapore. The added green vegetables make this a full meal.

I’ve been traveling to Singapore rather regularly since 1981 when my father moved to Jakarta and it was a convenient stopover on a very long trip from the United States. (And if you've read my About me, you know I've had my own homes there as well.) One of my favorite childhood friends lived there with her parents and, if they were in residence when I was coming through, I was welcomed into their home like a second daughter. During our teenage years, her mother was at a loss to connect with her obstreperous daughter so I think my visits came as a relief, finally, a young person who would actually converse with her without raised voices and animosity. I’m pleased to say that my friend came around when she gave birth to her first daughter and her mother was once again raised to oracle status - Woman Who Knows All. Singapore was safe, even back then, and we were allowed to roam free, taking taxis and buses into all the seedy corners of the little city-state, eating at scruffy outdoor stalls, enjoying the spectacle on Bugis Street and drinking chilled Tiger beer.

One of my favorite breakfasts – yes, breakfasts, as folks in Southeast Asia tend to eat noodle soups for their morning meal as well as lunch or dinner – was wonton soup. The tender wonton skins are filled with a mixture of pork and prawns (or sometimes just pork) with seasonings and boiled in a rich pork stock, then topped with shredded vegetables. Sprinkle in some chili peppers and another dash of soy sauce and you’ve got yourself a filling bowl of savory goodness. To make the dish even more filling, often extra fresh egg noodles are added in addition to the wontons. This is a dish that turns up on our family table fairly often. Try it and you’ll see why.

This week, my Sunday Supper family are taking a virtual Asian foodie holiday and sharing Asian dishes.  This great event is hosted by Amy of kimchi MOM, whose photos cause me to drool every time I read her blog. Make sure you scroll down past my recipe to see all the great Asian-inspired dishes we have for you today.

For the wontons:
12 1/2 oz or 355g ground or minced pork (not too lean)
4 3/4 oz or 135g, peeled and clean, prawns or shrimp 
1 medium bunch green onions (Some will go in the soup.)
Generous 2 in or 5 cm piece fresh ginger (Some will go in the soup.)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 egg white
1 teaspoon salt
1 red chili pepper (optional)
50 fresh wonton skins (These are sold in most Asian markets. If you can’t find them fresh in the refrigerated section, ask for help. If turnover isn’t great, they are often put in the freezer to extend their shelf life. Just thaw in the package and use as fresh.)

For the soup:
2 1/2 quarts or 2.4 liters pork broth or stock
Fresh ginger
Green onions
1 red chili pepper (optional)
Assorted green vegetables, thinly sliced or shredded – cabbage, lettuce, asparagus, snow peas, etc.
Soy sauce to taste

Peel your ginger and slice half into thin sticks for the soup and mince the other half finely for the wonton filling. Chop your red chili peppers, if using, and divide the pile in three. Two bigger ones for the pork and broth, a little one for garnish. Cut half of the green onions into 1 inch or 2cm pieces for the soup and chop the rest finely for the wonton filling and set a couple of teaspoons aside for garnish.

Finely shred or thinly slice your extra vegetables for serving with the soup.

Put the stock on the stove and simmer slowly with the sticks of ginger, the long pieces of green onion and one of the bigger piles of chopped red chili pepper, if using.

Use a sharp knife to finely mince your peeled and cleaned prawns or shrimp. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine your ground pork and minced prawns with the minced green onions, ginger and minced red pepper, if using, along with the Chinese wine, sesame oil, sugar, egg white and salt.

Mix very thoroughly to combine.

Line a clean plate with cling film and set aside.

Take six wonton skins out of the pack at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth to keep them from drying out. Lay them out on a clean work surface and brush each a pastry brush dipped in cold water.

Add a scant teaspoon of the meat mixture and start folding the wonton skins in, first from the bottom corner to the top, then the sides and finally fold the top down, to create a little package.

Place your wontons on the lined plate and repeat the process until all the pork/prawn mixture is finished or you run out of wonton skins. If you need a second layer on your plate, cover the first with cling film.

(If you have extra wonton skins, you can cut them into pieces and boil with the wontons and serve. If you have a little extra filling mixture, it can be added to the simmering broth and whisked to break it up into little flavorful bits.)

If you are serving everyone at the same time and won’t have any leftovers, you can now put all the wontons in your broth and turn the heat up to a gentle boil. Add the vegetables just before serving so that they are just cooked but still crunchy.

If you know that you will have leftovers, you don’t want to add the wontons to the broth because they will continued to suck up your broth as they sit overnight in the refrigerator, getting mushy in the process. So, use a metal strainer submerged in the broth to cook several at a time.

Add a few shredded vegetables when the wontons are cooked through and you are almost ready to serve up that bowl. Cook them for just a couple of minutes.

Pour the contents of the strainer into a bowl and top with more broth. Garnish the soup with some green onions, sticks of ginger and red chili peppers. Serve with soy sauce, allowing each person to add a drizzle to suit his or her taste.


Here's the whole round up of Sunday Supper's Asian recipes!

Small Bites
Soupy Goodness
Big Plates
On the Lighter Side
Oodles of Noodles


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Nutella Bundt with Nutella Glaze #BundtBakers

Nutella Bundt with Nutella Glaze #BundtBakers  Fudgy and soft with a subtle nuttiness, this Nutella Bundt cake with Amaretto and ground almonds, topped with slightly warmed Nutella, is a brownie-like confection that every chocolate or Nutella fan will love.
Fudgy and soft with a subtle nuttiness, this Nutella Bundt cake with Amaretto and ground almonds, topped with slightly warmed Nutella, is a brownie-like confection that every chocolate or Nutella fan will love.

When they were growing up and still at home, I would occasionally find an empty Nutella jar in one of my daughter’s bedrooms - most often the elder, if truth be told - scraped clean of sticky hazelnut chocolate and abandoned under the bed. They spread it on toast, rolled it up in crepes and, as just mentioned, ate it with a spoon. They come by Nutella love naturally, a tale you can read about here, along with a recipe for my Nutella Swirl Muffins. When they went off to university in Providence, no stores near them seemed to carry the creamy delight of our young lives. One year I even sent them jars ordered on Amazon as a special treat, in celebration World Nutella Day. When they were coming home for Christmas last year, I bought a very large jar of Nutella in anticipation (750g or 1.7 lbs by weight) and stashed it in the cupboard. It was opened, a little Nutella was eaten and then, the holidays over, they left. That big jar has been languishing there for eight months now, mocking me each time I opened the cupboard door, threatening to turn rancid, as old things with oil will ever do. I began to scour the internet for recipes with Nutella and finally settled on this one from Nigella Lawson’s site.

I had to adapt it slightly for lack of all the ingredients, but this is essentially Nigella’s cake, fudgy, soft and brownie-like in texture. The additional Nutella warmed and poured on top is mine though. I had to get through that jar, folks!

Without further ado, here’s my contribution to this month’s Bundt Bakers Sprinkles theme, hosted by Terri of Love and Confections. August is Terri’s birthday month and what better way to celebrate than with Bundts with sprinkles. Hope your birthday was the best, Terri!

For the cake:
6 large eggs
1/2 cup or 120g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups or 400g Nutella or whatever hazelnut chocolate spread you have on hand
1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur
1 cup (spooned in, not tightly packed) or 100g ground almonds
3 1/2 oz or 100g dark chocolate
1 pinch salt

For the glaze:
1/2 cup or 135g Nutella

To decorate:
Some sprinkles, of course, to fit our theme

Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your Bundt pan by buttering and flouring it, or use the baking spray that already has flour in it. That's what I usually do.

Carefully separate your eggs into whites and yolks. Melt the chocolate for your batter in a microwaveable bowl using a few short zaps and stirring well in between. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, use your electric beaters or stand mixer to beat the butter and Nutella together and then add the Amaretto, egg yolks and ground almonds. Beat well.

Fold in the cooled, melted chocolate.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites with the pinch of salt until soft peaks form.

Add a large dollop of the fluffy whites into the chocolate bowl and stir with a spatula or spoon to loosen the chocolate batter.

Now add the rest of the egg whites, a dollop at a time, folding gently to combine the whites with the chocolate batter with each addition. You are trying to keep it light so this is not the time to mix vigorously. Just gently fold.

Spoon your batter into the prepared Bundt pan, making sure to fill all the curves and crevices. I used my Nordic Ware heart pan (<Amazon affiliate link) with a 10-cup capacity.

Bake on the center rack of your preheated oven for about 40-50 minutes or until it is all puffed up and springs back when touched.

It was even higher when I first took it out but it didn't seem to appreciate my big oven mitt thumb on the tip of the heart. 

It starts to deflate when you take it out of the oven, but don’t be alarmed. This is just concentrating the fudgy-ness inside. Cool for 10 minutes then turn the cake out of the Bundt pan onto a wire cooling rack.

Allow to cool completely before attempting to decorate.

When the cake is cool, warm the Nutella gently in a microwaveable vessel until it can just pour. If it gets too hot and runny, let it cool until it is just pourable but won’t run down the sides of your cake too quickly. Scoop a little up with a spoon and drizzle it back into the vessel to test the consistency.

Pour the warmed Nutella onto your cake and decorate with the sprinkles of your choice, or perhaps some chopped nuts.


Here are this month's "Sprinkles" Bundts:


#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 our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

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