Showing posts with label cheddar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cheddar. Show all posts

Monday, March 2, 2015

Salami Cheddar Lentil Muffins #MuffinMonday

Spicy salami, extra sharp cheddar and tender lentils combine to make a delicious savory muffin that’s great for breakfast or lunch, with flavor and protein enough to get you through the day. 

If you’ve never cooked lentils before, you can surely used canned ones for these tasty muffins, but lentils are one of the easiest legumes to cook, taking only about 25-30 minutes and no soaking beforehand. Just add a little salt and cover them amply with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer until tender. Rinse and use how you will. (I save the broth for soups too!) I often make a pot of lentils and then drain them and freeze the little green nuggets of goodness. They are great in salads, soups, muffins and quiches or throw a few in an omelet. I also make a lentil burger that I should share someday. Meanwhile, there are muffins!

2 cups or 250g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 1/3 oz or 150g extra sharp cheddar cheese
7 slices salami (about 2 1/4 oz or 65g)
1/2 cup or 105g cooked, drained lentils (I like the French Puy lentils.)
3/4 cup or 180ml milk
1/4 cup or 60ml canola or other light oil
2 eggs

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin tin by spraying with non-stick spray or lining with muffin papers. I tend to just use the spray when I’m baking a cheesy muffin, in case the cheese sticks to the paper liners.

Grate your cheddar if it didn’t already come grated and slice your salami into long strips. Set aside a handful of the cheese, a handful of the drained lentils and 12 of the longest salami strips for topping. Chop the rest of the salami up in smaller pieces.

Combine your flour, baking powder, paprika and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Isn't that paprika a fabulous red?!

Add in the smaller pieces of salami, the bigger piles of cheese and lentils and mix well. Use your fingers, if you have to, to separate the pieces of salami from each other.

In another smaller bowl, whisk together your milk, eggs and oil.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stop when it’s just mixed.

Divide your batter between the 12 muffin cups.

Sprinkle the tops with the reserved cheese and lentils. Roll your long strip of salami up into a spiral and poke it into the top of the muffin batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan and then remove to continue cooling on a wire rack.

If you can't stand it, go ahead and cut one open and eat it. They are lovely inside.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Jalapeño and Cheddar Bagels #BreadBakers

Spicy fresh jalapeños give these bagels just a little hit of heat, while the sharp cheddar cheese adds both a boost of flavor and extra chewiness most welcome in a bagel. 

Growing up in Houston, Texas, you’d think I wouldn’t know what a New York bagel was. After all, the bagel craze, and the proliferation of chain bakeries selling them, didn’t really gain momentum until I was married and living overseas. But I did. They came from one bakery. It is a family-run business and located in what was a predominately Jewish neighborhood, not far from my elementary school. Nearby is the Jewish Community Center with a great gymnastics program that attracts students from all over the greater Houston area, and just across the bayou, a synagogue. All I know is that, back in those days, before Einstein’s and other chains, and before every supermarket decided to jump on the bagel bandwagon, there were New York Bagels. And they were crispy-outside chewy-inside perfection. The line was out the door every weekend as folks lined up patiently to get their bagels. And I am delighted to say, it still is.

When my regular supply of New York Bagels was cut off, that is, when I moved away from home and was feeling particularly homesick, I had to resort to baking them myself. Steaming up windows of my kitchens in Paris, Balikpapan, Kuala Lumpur, Macaé, to first quickly boil and bake these lovelies, mine never did match the originals but they were still a chewy, yeasty, welcome mouthful of home. When this month’s Bread Bakers host, Heather from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks suggested bagels as the theme for February, I was all in!

My favorite bagel is a toss-up between cinnamon and raisin or jalapeño and cheese. What’s your favorite?

Ingredients for 12 bagels
7 oz or 200g extra sharp cheddar cheese
2 small fresh jalapeños – about 25g or just under 1 oz in weight, stems and all
1 cup or 240ml warm water
1 packet active rapid rise dry yeast (1/4 oz or 7g)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups or 150g wholemeal bread flour
1 1/3 cups or 170g bread flour
1/2 cup or 65g flour, if necessary
1/2 teaspoon salt
Olive oil for oiling bowl

For the water bath: 1 tablespoon sugar

Optional for baking:
1 3/4 oz or 50g extra sharp cheddar, grated

Cut off the stems and mince your jalapeños and cut the cheese for inside the bagels into little cubes. Set aside a tablespoon or so of the minced jalapeños for adding to the top of the bagels before baking.

Add all the bread flour to the bowl of your stand mixer. (You can do this by hand but get ready for some hard labor.) Make a well and add in the yeast and the tablespoon of sugar.

Pour your warm water into the well and wait about 10 minutes.

If the water has gone all bubbly, that means your yeast is active and you may continue. If not, buy some new yeast and start over.

Give the whole thing a good stir then add in your cubed cheddar, the bigger pile of the minced jalapeños and the salt. Stir well.

Using your dough hook, start mixing in the wholemeal bread flour a little at a time. Keep going until all of the wholemeal is incorporated.

If it’s still too sticky, start adding normal flour until the dough is firm and kneadable. I ended up adding 1/2 cup or 65g. You may need less.

Knead for several minutes.

Go, Kenwood, go!

Remove the dough from your bowl and form it into a ball. Drizzle a little olive oil into your bowl. Put the dough back in and turn it around to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave the dough to rise for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and cut it into 12 equal pieces.

First into four, then the each fourth into three. Easy!
I like to use my kitchen scale to even them out but if you aren't anal, you can skip that step. Each of my dough balls weighed between 65 and 70g. Cover the balls with some cling film and let them rest for 15 minutes.

Make holes in the center of each ball by sticking your thumb through and gently easing the hole open with thumb and fingers.

Cover once again with cling film and leave the the dough to rise again for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare your baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone mat and put it at the ready, next to your stove, with a clean folded kitchen towel nearby. I ended up needing two baking pans because I didn’t want the bagels too close together in case they rose more while baking.

When your second rising time is almost up, preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C and put a large pot of water (about 2 quarts or just shy of 2 liters) on to boil. Add one tablespoon of sugar to the water.

Here they are after the second rise.

Turn the pot down to a low boil and add the bagels a few at a time. Boil for just a minute or two on each side.

Remove each one with a slotted spoon and rest the spoon gently on the clean towel to absorb the excess water, then transfer the bagel to your prepared baking pan or pans.

Sprinkle the bagels with the grated cheese and the small pile of minced jalapeño. I must admit that I was disappointed that my jalapeño pieces didn’t stay green and decorative but they did add some nice little crispy bits on top.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until the bagels are golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Despite their well-plumpedness when rising and boiling, mine fell a little bit while baking. I’ve never had that happen before so I’m going to put it down to the wholemeal bread flour, which was a new experiment in bagel baking for me. They are not rounded pictures of perfection but they were delicious.

My favorite part was actually the bottom of the bagels, which turned out beautifully golden and cheesy and crunchy.

Many thanks to Heather at Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks for hosting this month’s Bread Bakers and for giving me a chance to reminisce about a childhood favorite.

Check out all the fabulous bagels we have for you!

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send me an email with your blog URL to

Monday, January 5, 2015

Ham and Scalloped Potato Muffins #MuffinMonday

A scalloped potato casserole-inspired muffin, with sliced potatoes, lots of cheese, cream and smoked ham. Perfect for breakfast, snack or even lunch. 

For the last couple of weeks our house has been a bustle of creativity and laughter, both in and out of the kitchen. Favorite dishes were cooked, touristy places were visited, a gingerbread mosque was baked and erected, many a cocktail was imbibed and a thousand backgammon games were played amongst the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree and our ancient rag-tag manger scene, which includes such witnesses to the Miracle Birth as a headless wise man, a longhorn and a small rhinoceros, along with the usual shepherds, cows and sheep.

Now the busy bathrooms and crazy kitchen are empty. The forlorn tree, stripped naked of its finery but for the occasional missed wisp of golden tinsel, has trailed fallen needles all the way to the curb of rejection. The dog circles just me now, every hopeful. And the baby Jesus and his eclectic entourage are back in the doll stroller box from Christmas circa 1995, which is their home for 50 weeks of the year.

I look around at the now reassembled living room, furniture back in its accustomed places and I am working on being grateful rather than sad. As much as it would give me joy to keep our daughters with us always, I am grateful that they are exceptionally capable of looking after themselves and are avidly pursuing their dreams.

Trying to look on all the bright sides of this situation, another bonus is that I can cook and bake exactly what pleases me. Last week a post from a friend and fellow blogger Kelli from Kelli’s Kitchen arrived in my email inbox with a recipe for one of my favorite casseroles, scalloped potatoes. Her version is a family favorite, cheesy and creamy but with the welcome addition of ham. If that divine top baked to a golden crunch doesn’t sell you, the tender, cheesy potatoes inside should do the trick. Do go have a look. My thoughts turned, as they do, to the possibility of a ham and scalloped potato muffin but I figured it wouldn’t be very popular with the sweet muffin crowd in residence. So I waited a week. (As it turns out, most of them didn't buy the PR for dried plums vs. prunes anyway. Hey, I tried.)

Totally worth the wait. These guys are delicious. All potato-y and cheesy and that ham? The perfect addition, for sure.

A good savory muffin is great consolation. And you can be sure I have saved some ham to make the original casserole as well.

6 oz or 170g smallish new potatoes
2 cups or 250g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup or 180ml milk
1/2 cup or 120ml whipping cream
1/4 cup butter or 60g, melted and cooled
7 oz or 200g extra sharp cheddar, grated
2 1/3 oz or 65g Parmesan, grated
1 cup or 150g baked smoked ham, chopped

Put a pot of water on to boil with a teaspoon or so of salt, as you would to boil pasta. Fill a bowl with cold water and a few ice cubes and set it aside.

Slice your potatoes and pop them in the boiling water.

Cook for about 4-5 minutes, until they are just done. Pour the cooked potato slices into a colander and drain. Transfer them to the bowl of ice water till cool.

Return them to the colander to drain again.

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

Combine your flour, baking powder, salt and mustard powder in a large mixing bowl.

Set aside 6 slices of the cooked potato and a couple of small handfuls each of the cheddar, ham and Parmesan for topping the muffins before baking.

Just a little pile of each for topping.

Add the rest of the cheddar into the dry ingredient bowl and stir.

Now add the rest of the sliced potatoes into that bowl. Use a spoon to break the slices into pieces as you stir to combine. Finally, mix in the Parmesan and the ham.

In another smaller bowl, whisk together your eggs, milk, cream and cooled butter.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stop when they are just combined.

Divide your batter between the 12 greased muffins cups.

Top with reserved Parmesan cheese and ham pieces. Cut your potato slices in half and insert one half slice of potato into the batter in each cup.

Now try to get some reserved cheddar cheese to sit on top and around each potato slice. We aren’t looking for perfect here. Just some cheese on the potato.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Remove the muffins from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan and then remove to continue cooling on a wire rack.

Since the cheese melts out a little while baking, you may have to run a knife around the outside to remove them, depending on how well you greased the pan.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Spicy Cheesy Bacon Ranch Muffins #MuffinMonday

Extra sharp cheddar cheese, crispy bacon and ranch dressing seasonings are combined in these flavorful savory muffins, making them perfect brunch fare for game day or tailgating picnics. 

Ranch trumps plans
I had a complete different muffin planned for today. I had bought the ingredients and it was going to be sweet and fabulous. But then, I saw this. This, my dear readers, is the even more fabulous Cheesy Bacon Ranch Dip from my friend, Carla, over at Chocolate Moosey. 

© Carla Cardello at Chocolate Moosey. Used by permission.

I am a huge fan of ranch dressing and ranch dip and ranch pretty much everything. My suitcase returning from the US to whichever country we are living is regularly stocked with packets of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, unless it’s available where I am. I hate to be without it. I also stock up on the buttermilk ranch seasonings from Penzey's. One cannot ever have too much ranch. It’s great for dipping carrot sticks or potato chips and there's hardly anything that makes me happier than cutting an avocado in half, removing the pit and filling the holes with ranch dressing so I can eat it with a spoon. Unless it’s being home alone when I do it so that I don’t have to give someone else one of my avocado halves. Dang moochers. 

The upshot of it was that when I saw Carla’s spicy cheesy bacon ranch dip, I knew all those flavors – that bacon, the cheese, that hot sauce, the ranch seasonings! - would also make a fabulous muffin. And I wasn’t willing to wait. As I sit here typing this, I have just polished off my second muffin. Then I licked my finger and picked up the crumbs from the saucer and cleaned them off too so, unless someone is counting muffins, it looks like I haven’t even started yet. And that, friends, would be the truth. Two down, just 10 to go. Don't bother to knock. I'm not answering. 

2 cups or 250g flour
5 oz or 140g extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons ranch seasoning (About half of a ranch dip packet. I used my Penzey's for this.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup or 240ml sour cream
1/3 cup or 80ml milk
5-6 slices bacon, fried and chopped – approx. weight after frying and draining: 1 3/4 oz or 50g
2-4 tablespoons hot sauce, depending on your taste and how spicy your chosen hot sauce is. Know thyself, as the ancient Greeks said. 

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

Separate out small handfuls of both your grated cheese and your bacon for decorating the muffins before baking.

In a large bowl, mix together your flour, the bigger of the grated cheddar, ranch seasoning, baking powder, baking soda and salt, making sure that the cheese is well coated in flour and is not sticking together in clumps.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together your eggs, sour cream, milk and hot sauce.

Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients stir until just mixed.  Then fold in the larger pile of bacon pieces.

Divide the batter between the muffin cups.

Top each with the reserved smaller piles of grated cheddar and bacon.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for a few minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.


And, just a side note that I found amusing. Muffins are not a stable building material. I was stacking them like this.

And then this happened. One went off the left and one went off the right. And that is the story of how my helper got a muffin. Three down, nine to go.