Monday, November 5, 2012

Cranberry Clementine Muffins #MuffinMonday

Is there anyone who isn’t a fan of Nigella Lawson?  Okay, don’t answer that because I don’t really want to know.  This season of US election vitriol has left me weary of dissension and backbiting and intolerance.   Plus I adore Nigella so I would have to leap to her defense and, frankly, I have been traveling and staying up late nattering with good friends, eating good food and drinking good wine, and I just don’t have the energy for jumping about defensively.  Anyway, the point is she has some wonderful recipes and even if you don’t like her seductive manner or are jealous of her ample cleavage, you have to agree about that.  One of my very favorites is a clementine cake (originally from her How to Eat) which calls for boiling the whole fruit and then pureeing it.  When I got the recipe for this week’s Muffin Monday, I was mulling the options for a dried cranberry muffin and the friend I am staying with this week said, “Why don’t you add orange zest?  Orange and cranberry go so well together.”  And Nigella’s clementine cake recipe jumped into my mind and I responded, “You are so right, but I think I’ll go one better than zest.  I’ll add whole clementines!  (We happened to have some handy.)  And so I did and, if you are a fan of orange marmalade, you will like these muffins.  They are not very sweet so they are definitely a breakfast type muffin rather than dessert.  The original recipe is from

4 oz or 100g whole clementines (I used four of those little babies.)
1 cup or 140g dried cranberries
2 cups or 300g self-raising flour
3/4 cup or 155g brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or 120ml milk
1/2 cup or 120ml vegetable oil
1 egg

Pop your whole clementines into a small pot and cover with water.  Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, for an hour.  Check occasionally and add more water to cover if needed.

Preheat oven to 400°F or 200°C.  Line your 12-cup muffin pan with paper cases or grease it well.

Combine flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.

Whisk milk, oil and egg together in another bowl.

When the clementines are done, drain off the water and cut them open to remove the seeds.  Puree them in a food processor and allow to cool.

Add the cooled clementines to the liquid ingredients and whisk again.

Add liquid mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Gently fold in the cranberries.

Divide your batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Turn onto a wire rack and allow to cool.  These are best served warm.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cheesy Ham Waffles

Grated extra sharp cheddar and sliced smoky ham make a great addition to buttermilk waffle batter!

Once upon a time, I saw a post on another blog for cheese and ham waffles.   And I bookmarked it to make on the weekend.  But I must confess that I didn’t read the whole post and when the weekend came, and when I DID read the whole post, I realized that the waffle was just topped with cheese and ham.  And that was certainly not what I had been dreaming about all week.  So I decided to make my own version, the one in my dreams.  And it was perfect.  And dreams can come true.

The End. 

1 3/4 cups or 220g flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda or bicarbonate of soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 cups or 475ml buttermilk or 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and milk up to the two-cup or 475ml measure.
1/3 cup or 78ml canola or other light oil plus extra for greasing the waffle maker
2 eggs
3.5 oz or 100g strong cheddar
3.5 oz or 100g smoked ham
Butter and syrup, if desired, to serve

Preheat your waffle maker as per manufacturer’s instructions.

Grate your cheddar and finely chop your ham.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

Add in the buttermilk (or milk/vinegar mixture which is an excellent substitute for buttermilk) and oil and the eggs.   Beat until thoroughly blended.

Add in the ham and cheese and mix well.

Using a pastry brush, grease your waffle maker with some canola or other light oil.

Pour batter into the center of the lower half of the waffle maker, being careful to leave room for when the batter spreads out as you lower the lid and also for when the waffle starts to rise when baking.

Close the lid and watch for the signal that your waffle is cooking.  On my waffle maker, the light goes green when it is ready for batter, red when it is cooking and then green again when the waffle is ready.  I leave the waffle in just a little bit longer after the light turns green the second time so the waffles are nice and crispy.  But if you like them less crunchy, by all means take them out earlier.




Serve smeared with butter and drizzled with syrup.  And your preferred beverages.   As you can see, this story has a very happy ending.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Hazelnut Marshmallow Muffins #MuffinMonday

This week’s Muffin Monday recipe was left WIDE OPEN.  No specific recipe to recreate, just a main ingredient to include: Pumpkin.  I think the point was Halloween but I decided to go all Southern Christmas on you.

You know those baked yams or sweet potatoes we make for the holidays down south?  You’ve had them:  Baked with brown sugar and cinnamon and nuts?  Plus mini marshmallows sprinkled all over?  (If you haven’t had them, my condolences.) Anyhoo, here they are in muffin form but made much easier because you just have to open a can of pumpkin, which is an excellent substitute for sweet potato, and you are ready to mix it up and bake.

Then again, sometimes the hardest part is opening the can.

Guess whose can opener went in the airfreight shipment to Dubai?  Thank God for my handy husband and his hacksaw.
The whole house smelled like Christmas.  Is it too early for your house to smell like Christmas?  I thought not.

For the muffins
2 cups or 250g plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or 95g light brown sugar
1/3 cup or 80ml buttermilk (You can substitute 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and enough milk to make up 1/3 cup or 80ml - which I did.)
2 medium eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup or 80g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
11 1/2 oz or 330g canned pumpkin (about 3/4 of the regular sized can)
3/4 cup or 120g hazelnuts or pecans (Set aside 12 for the tops of the muffins after roasting)  I used hazelnuts.
1/2 cup or 25g mini marshmallows

For the topping:  About 1/4 cup or 55g sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons cinnamon plus one nut per muffin.  You may not use all the cinnamon sugar but save the balance in a Ziploc for cinnamon toast.  Your family will thank you.

Preheat the oven to 375°F or 190°C and grease your muffin tin well or line with papers.

Pop the nuts in a baking pan and put them in the preheating oven.  Set a timer for three minutes.

Put flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger into a large bowl.  Mix and mash the lumps of brown sugar until you have a lovely homogeneous mixture.

Yeah, the cinnamon and ginger aren't there in the photo but they got in the muffins. 

Shake the nuts when the timer goes off and reset it.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk (or substitute), vanilla and butter together.

Shake the nuts when the timer goes off and reset it.  The brown skins should start coming off as your oven gets up to speed and the nuts start actually toasting.  (If you are using pecans, just remove them from the oven at this point or after they have browned slightly.)

Add the pumpkin to the wet ingredients and whisk to incorporate.

Shake the nuts when the timer goes off.  If they smell like they are toasted and the skins are mostly starting to fall off when you shake the pan, they are probably done.

Pour the nuts into a clean dry tea cloth or towel and rub them until the peels are off and you can pick out the clean nuts.  Keep rubbing until the hazelnuts are all (mostly) peeled.  A little skin won’t kill you, as far as I know.

Set aside 12 nuts to top the muffins and chop the rest roughly.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold until just mixed through.

Fold in the marshmallows and chopped hazelnuts.

Divide the batter between your muffin cups and then top with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon sugar and one toasted hazelnut each.

Bake in the preheated oven for around 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing the muffins from the tin and cooling further on rack.

May I be the first to say to you, Merry Christmas!   If I am not the first, you need to find some less crazy friends to hang around with.  It’s not even Halloween, for goodness sake!