Monday, December 10, 2012

Rich Gingerbread Muffins with Honey Ginger Glaze #MuffinMonday

Rich Gingerbread Muffins are perfectly complemented by a honey ginger glaze and decorated with crystallized ginger. These are a treat for autumn, Christmas or anytime! 

When my girls were still living at home, we had an afternoon routine.  When they got back from school, I had a snack ready for them.  Sometimes it was simple and healthy like apples cut into little boats with sweetened yogurt in which to dip them.  Often it was cookies or muffins or a cake that I had baked.  We’d sit around the coffee table and they would eat their snacks and we would talk about the day, anything interesting that happened at school or something they learned.  Then we’d move onto what they had for homework.

This took as little as 15 minutes or sometimes as much as half an hour but I loved the time reconnecting with them and fueling them for the homework ahead.  Around this time of year, one of the favorite treats I would bake was gingerbread.  I’d usually double our favorite Good Housekeeping recipe to make a big pan and it didn’t take more than a day or two for the whole thing to disappear.

We lived in the tropics so there weren’t any seasonal hints that Christmas was coming.  But the rich, spicy aroma of gingerbread baking in the oven was enough to get us all thinking Christmassy thoughts.

When I got this week’s Muffin Monday email, I was delighted to see a gingerbread recipe.  I haven’t made any yet this year and my Christmas spirit could sure use a boost.  In usual Holiday Series pimp-my-muffin fashion, I have added in mincemeat pie filling, a honey ginger glaze and some chopped crystallized ginger for topping.  

Rich Gingerbread Muffins with Honey Ginger Glaze

The house smelled like old times and I am grateful that my girls will be home soon for the Christmas break, because it made me miss them even more.  

For the muffins:
1/2 cup or 110g sugar
2 1/2 cups or 315g flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup or 120ml molasses or treacle
1/2 cup or 155g mincemeat pie filling
1/4 cup or 60ml milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup or 120g butter, melted and cooled

For honey ginger glaze:
1/2 cup or 120ml honey
Small slice fresh ginger
1 tablespoon butter
Pinch salt

For sprinkling on top:
1/4 cup pieces of crystallized ginger

Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper cases or butter your muffin pan liberally.

Mix your sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground ginger and cinnamon in a big bowl.

In a smaller bowl, mix your molasses, mincemeat pie filling, milk, eggs and melted butter.
Whisk well.

This stuff looks black and, frankly horrible, and it made me burst into a song from my childhood.  Which is still circling in my head like an earworm so permit me to share.  After all, an earworm shared is a gift that keeps on giving.  Merry Christmas!  No need to thank me.

“When up through the ground come a bubbling crude.  Oil, that is!  Black gold!  Texas Tea!”   Sorry, sorry!  Back to the recipe at hand.  Like Jed’s find, your black gold is going to make you rich.  A rich gingerbread muffin, that is.

Pour your wet ingredients, here on out to be known as black gold, into your dry ones and fold until just combined.

Told you it was black!  Everybody, sing with me! 

Spoon or scoop the batter into your prepared muffin cups.   I could have managed to just squeeze all that batter into 12 cups but my dear husband was taking these muffins in to his office to share and I figured 16 was better than 12 for those purposes.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick or wooden skewer comes out clean.

Meanwhile, chop the crystallized ginger into little bitty pieces and set aside.

Remove the muffin pan from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely on a rack.

Once your muffins are cool, you can make the glaze.  Measure out your honey and butter into a small saucepan, adding the one slice of fresh ginger and the pinch of salt.

Let it come to a boil and then continue to boil for a couple of minutes.

Allow to cool slightly and then, using a spoon, start drizzling your glaze on the muffins.

Top each glazed muffin with some crystallized ginger and then drizzle a little more glaze to make sure the ginger stays on.

If your glaze starts to get too thick as it cools, just warm it gently on the stove until it is drizzling consistency once more.

This one is for Cecilie.  The cut of wood off the bottom of our Christmas.  Mmm. Pine.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Easy Tasty Turkey Potpie

Every year after roasting a turkey and making tons of giblet gravy, I look forward to the leftovers.  Not that I don’t enjoy the original meal, because I do, but one of my very favorite things is potpie.  And leftover roast of any fowl is likely to see itself again as potpie in our house, if there are indeed any leftovers.  It is also a well-established fact that leftover roast beef or lamb turns into shepherds’ pie here.  Also a fact, but less well-known, is that I don’t have a recipe for any of these.  Pie interiors depend upon what is leftover.  You got mashed or roasted potatoes?  Excellent.  Buttered carrots or peas?  But, of course.  Brussels sprouts or green beans, cooked with garlic and bacon.  You betcha.  I’ve even been known to throw in some maque choux.  About the only turkey dinner things I won’t throw in there are stuffing (soaks up all the gravy) and jellied cranberry sauce and candied yams for the obvious reason:  too sweet.  So, as you can imagine, it would be hard to follow a recipe.

This year though, at the request of a reader on Facebook, I tried to quantify the amounts and not use just leftovers that you might not have.  Feel free to substitute for the potato and carrot if you do have already cooked, leftover vegetables. Also, play free and loose with the amounts.  Potpie is the most forgiving of meals.  This one is for you, Denise from Succasunna, New Jersey!  You’ve been on my mind and I apologize for the delay.

Also, lovely people:  Consider this your heads up to make lots of gravy if you are planning a Christmas turkey.  So you can make potpie!

Yep, those are frozen peas, still frozen.
And congealed gravy.  It's all good. 
Ingredients for a three-four person potpie
8 oz or 230g leftover turkey, off the bone
1 cup or 240ml turkey gravy – still chilled is good.  No need to warm.
1 medium carrot
1 medium potato
1/2 cup frozen or leftover peas
1 fresh red chili – optional
1 sheet puff pastry or enough to cover an 8in x 8in or 23cm x 23cm pan
1-2 cups or 240-480ml turkey stock or salted water for cooking carrot and potato
Sea salt
Black pepper

Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C.

Peel and dice your carrot and peel and cut your potato into small cubes.

Cut the turkey into medium pieces and set aside.  Chop the red chili finely, if using, and set aside.

Cook the carrot and potato in leftover turkey broth or salted water until just tender.

Remove the carrot and potato to a mixing bowl with a slotted spoon so you can save the stock for soup, if using.  Otherwise, drain the pot of the salted water and put the carrot and potato into a mixing bowl.

Add in the turkey, chili and peas.  Stir well.

Add in the gravy and give it a good couple of grinds of fresh black pepper.  Stir well.  Taste the mixture and add a little salt, if needed.

Spread the mixture evenly in your pan.  Do not be concerned that it looks dry because remember that your gravy will turn liquid again when heated.

Top with the puff pastry, tucking the ends under, if necessary, to get side to side coverage.  Push the pastry gently up against the sides.

Poke holes in the pastry with the tip of a sharp knife to let the steam out.

Bake in your preheated oven for around 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and you can see the filling bubbling up a little bit around the edges.

Serve alone or with a mixed green salad.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Muffins with Pecan Filling #MuffinMonday

I’ve got another special one for you this week!  And it smells just like Christmas.

The original recipe for this Muffin Monday was a delightful one that called for rolling the batter in cinnamon sugar like a snickerdoodle.  But it also sounded much more like making cake batter than muffins, with its creaming the butter and adding the eggs one at a time, then adding the flour and sour cream in alternating steps.  Not that it was too complicated, but muffins, for me, should require that I dirty only two bowls:  One for dry ingredients and one for the wet ones.  And certainly should not involve my beloved Kenwood mixer.

So I adapted the recipe to fit the appropriate muffin pattern:  Mix dry.  Mix wet.  Add wet to dry.  But since we are still in the holiday series of Muffin Monday, I couldn’t leave it at that!  So I dirtied another bowl for you, good people, and made some pecan filling as well.  Because I love you.  And, because Christmas is coming, I made some cinnamon sugar for the topping in snickerdoodle fashion.  Yes, we are really pushing the boat out in the lead up to Christmas!

These would be great on Christmas morning.  Your components can be made ahead of time and mixed together in the morning while your oven preheats.  (Just put the eggs/milk/sour cream mixture in the refrigerator overnight and substitute canola oil for the butter.)  Overachievers can even prepare the muffin tin ahead of time.  You know who you are!

For the muffin batter:
2 cups or 250g all purpose flour
3/4 cup or 170g dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup or 120ml milk
1/2 cup or 120ml sour cream
1/2 cup or 115g unsalted butter, melted and cooled or canola or other light oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs

For the pecan cinnamon filling:
1 rounded 1/4 cup or 35g plain flour
1 rounded tablespoon or 15g soft unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt (a good pinch)
1/2 cup or 75g pecans
1/2 cup or 60ml Karo or golden syrup (I used clear Karo.)

For the topping:
3 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
12 pecan halves

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and grease your 12-cup muffin pan or line with muffin papers.

Chop the pecans for your filling finely, either by hand or in a food processor.

The food processor is soooo much easier.  

Mix them in a bowl with the rest of the filling ingredients.  This will end up quite a sturdy paste.  Set aside.

In a large bowl mix together your flour, dark brown sugar, baking powder, salt and then grate in your nutmeg.

In a smaller bowl, whisk your milk, sour cream, vanilla, melted butter or oil and eggs.

Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Using a scoop or a tablespoon, put about two tablespoons of batter into each prepared muffin cup.

Evenly distribute the pecan filling among the muffin cups.  Gently press it down into the batter.

Top with the remaining batter.

Put one pecan half on the top of the batter in each cup, gently pressing it down as well.

Mix three tablespoons of sugar with one teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle liberally over all of the muffin cups.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Remove the muffins from the muffin pan and cool further on a rack.