Monday, June 27, 2016

Sweet Corn Muffins #MuffinMonday

Just a little cornmeal adds a lovely flavor to these tender sweet muffins, without making them as heavy as cornbread could be. It’s all a manner of ratios, more flour to less cornmeal. 

It’s Muffin Monday time again! Somehow the last Monday of the month always seems to sneak up on me but I am delighted to say that my Muffin Monday bakers are clearly more organized than I am and are turning out in force this month. We’ve got seven wonderfully creative muffins for you and my rather normal sweet corn muffins. That said, sometimes normal can be terrific.

My younger daughter is home for a visit so I let her choose the muffin I’d make this month. After all, she’d probably be the one eating most of them. She told me of a sweet corn muffin they used to serve when she was still in school. It was sweet, but not too sweet, with a subtle corn flavor. It did not have any actual corn in it. In fact, when I asked that question, she looked horrified. You might remember my discussing her assertion that everybody likes plain things. Anyway, if there wasn’t actual corn, I had to presume that it was made with cornmeal. Last but not least, it was light in texture, not heavy like cornbread.

So, here you go. I think this muffin fulfills all of her requirements: A tender, light, fluffy, sweet corn muffin. Perfect for breakfast or snack time. As a bonus, the muffin top edges are almost crunchy from the cornmeal. She's still sleeping as I post this so I'll have to report back later on her verdict.

Update: She says the muffins are very good but the ones at school had more corn flavor. Next time I'm going to up the ratio of cornmeal to flour a little.

Make sure you scroll down to see the link list of the other more creative muffins!

1 1/2 cups or 190ml flour
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1/2 cup or 85g yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 or 300ml cups milk
1/2 cup or 120ml canola or other light oil
2 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C. Grease or paper-line your 12-cup muffin pan.

Whisk together your flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.

In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together your milk, oil and eggs, until fully combined.

Fold your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients, until just combined.

Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups. They are going to be pretty full but you can manage to fit it all in.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until muffins are golden brown around the edges and a toothpick stuck in the middle of one comes out clean. Cool in the pan for a few minutes then remove the muffins to a wire rack.


Check out all the great muffins we have for you 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


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Waffled Falafel Sandwiches

Waffled falafel sandwiches are made by cooking your homemade falafel mix in a lightly oiled waffle iron which gets the falafels crispy outside and fluffy inside without frying. Stuff them in flatbread, drizzled with tahini sauce.
Food Lust People Love: Waffled falafel sandwiches are made by cooking your homemade falafel mix in a lightly oiled waffle iron which gets the falafels crispy outside and fluffy inside without frying. Stuff them in flatbread, drizzled with tahini sauce.

We were living in Sydney almost 30 years ago when my husband came home from work one day with the news that he had been offered a transfer to Abu Dhabi. What did I think? 

We had been in Australia for a number of months on a temporary project, and I had resigned from my dream job to follow along. The friendly yet unaccommodating folks at Australian immigration had stamped my passport Employment Prohibited and, because of strict quarantine laws, we had left our furry son in the care of friends. 

My first question was, can I work there? The second was, can we import the dog? When the answers were yes and yes, we looked the United Arab Emirates up on the map and made our decision.

Abu Dhabi in the 1980s was a special place, a city that felt like a small town. The only fast food joints were Kentucky Fried Chicken – where the only choice was original recipe – and the small, family run shawarma and falafel places. After a busy day at the office, we’d stop by and order shawarma sandwiches to go. 

The falafel guy sat on the sidewalk just outside the small café, his enormous pot of boiling hot oil heated by a gas burner, much like the ones we use in the US to heat water for boiling crawfish and crabs. As we waited for our wrapped sandwiches, he’d hand us each a freshly fried falafel in a bit of paper, compliments of the house. They reminded me of southern hush puppies. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. In a word, just perfect.

When we left the Middle East for Southeast Asia a couple of years later, I pined for the falafel guy. Eventually I got over him, but I’ve never forgotten how a real, freshly cooked falafel should taste.

Sure, you can buy falafel mixes at the grocery store, but homemade falafels are super easy and so much more tasty. You control the salt and spices and all the ingredients are wholesome and good for you. The only downside of falafels, healthy-wise, it that they are fried. I know, I know, some people say you can bake them, but I’ll be honest, if I’ve managed to get them crunchy on the outside, the inside is often dried out.

Food Lust People Love: Waffled falafel sandwiches are made by cooking your homemade falafel mix in a lightly oiled waffle iron which gets the falafels crispy outside and fluffy inside without frying. Stuff them in flatbread, drizzled with tahini sauce.

Waffle iron to the rescue!

Homemade falafels are as quick to put together as the mixes but just require a little advance planning since the chickpeas need to be soaked first overnight. Some cookbook writers will tell you that you can use canned chickpeas – I’m looking at you, Nigel Slater. And don’t even get me started on Jamie Oliver who serves his canned bean falafels in wholewheat tortillas. – but don’t listen to them. 

Waffled Falafel Sandwiches 

Using raw soaked chickpeas is not only more authentic but the traditional recipe is the best because the resulting falafels taste right and have the right texture. Trust me.

For the falafels:
1 1/2 cups or 285g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cool water
1 small onion, (about 100g roughly chopped)
1/4 cup, packed, or 13g chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup, packed, or 13g chopped cilantro
3 cloves garlic
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg

1 tablespoon vegetable oil for your waffle iron – oils with a high flash point are best. I use peanut oil.

For the tahini sauce:
1/2 cup tahini sesame seed paste
1/3 cup lukewarm water, or more for consistency
1 clove raw garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)
Good pinch salt (or more to taste)

To assemble the sandwiches:
Arabic or Lebanese flatbread or pita
Tahini sauce
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced onions
Sliced cucumbers

Cover your dried chickpeas with ample cool water and leave them to soak overnight or even as much as 24 hours. Drain your chickpeas.

Put the soaked, raw chickpeas in a food processor and pulse a few times until the chickpeas look like big crumbles. It should still be very loose and dry. Add in the onions and herbs and seasoning and pulse until quite fine. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides a couple of times.

Add in the egg and pulse until you have a fairly smooth paste where little bitty bits of chickpea are still visible. Scrape down the sides of the processor as you do.

Transfer the paste into a clean bowl and cover well with cling film. Refrigerate for half an hour.

Preheat your Belgian waffle iron. That’s the kind with the deep squares that makes thick waffles.

Use a spoon to scoop our about on one tenth of your paste. It should fit comfortably in the palm of your hand. Form it into a patty of even thickness.

Lightly oil the waffle iron with using a pasty brush and place the patty in it.  Make more patties and add them to the waffle iron as well.

Some Belgian waffle irons have four squares. Some, like mine, have only two. Close the lid and let gravity determine how it falls. Do not push down on the lid.

Cook until the light on your waffle iron says "ready" then leave them in for about another minute or so to ensure that the outsides are lovely and crispy.

Keep the waffled falafels warm in a slow oven until all are cooked and you are ready to serve.

To make the tahini sauce

Crush the garlic clove with a garlic press or with the side of a knife. Add it to a small bowl with the lemon juice and good pinch of salt. Whisk in the tahini paste then add the water, whisking well until you achieve the consistency you want.

Slice up your tomato, cucumber and onion.

To assemble the sandwiches, put a few slices of tomato and cucumber on the flatbread. Top with the falafel, drizzle on the tahini sauce and sprinkle with the sliced onions.


I love creative waffles, don't you?

Here are a few I've loved and make sure to scroll down to see a great list of others from my Sunday Supper group.

Food Lust People Love: Cheesy Ham Waffles made with smoky ham and lots of cheese in a buttermilk waffle batter.

Cheesy Ham Waffles made with smoky ham and lots of cheese in a buttermilk waffle batter. 

Food Lust People Love: Cauliflower Cheese Waffles with steamed cauliflower, loads of cheese and a little English mustard.

Cauliflower Cheese Waffles with steamed cauliflower, loads of cheese and a little English mustard.

Food Lust People Love: Loaded Baked Potato Waffles with potatoes, cheddar, green onion, sour cream and, of course, bacon!

Loaded Baked Potato Waffles with potatoes, cheddar, green onion, sour cream and, of course, bacon!

Guess what? June 29th is National Waffle Iron Day! Who knew, right? My Sunday Supper group is celebrating by bringing you a plethora of wondeful waffle recipes, both sweet and savory. Many thanks to Sue of Palatable Pastime, our host for this tasty event, as well as Renee of Renee’s Kitchen Adventures, our campaign manager.

Sweet and Sinful Waffles

Savory Brinner Winners:

Pin it! 

Food Lust People Love: Waffled falafel sandwiches are made by cooking your homemade falafel mix in a lightly oiled waffle iron which gets the falafels crispy outside and fluffy inside without frying. Stuff them in flatbread, drizzled with tahini sauce.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Staffordshire Yeomanry Pudding #FridayPieDay

Staffordshire Yeomanry Pudding is a classic British dessert. It’s essentially a pie with two flakey sweet crusts, top and bottom, baked with an almond custard filling. 

Join me down the rabbit hole, where one book leads to another book, leads to another book.

Five years ago today, I wrote my first post on this blog, created initially to give me a place to join my two loves, cooking and writing. Over the years, as readership grew, it also became a place to connect with the world at large and make friends both in and outside the blogging community. My interest in food, culture and the history of recipes was fueled by my travels and the many countries I’ve called home. Also, I’m a sucker for any memoir that includes food or cooking as a focus.

Last year I came across the memoir, Brian Turner – A Yorkshire Lad, my life with recipes at a used book sale. I had never heard of Turner, apparently a world famous chef with his own restaurant and a successful career on television, but that didn’t stop me from buying the book. His early years were the best part of the story. I love reading about how others grew up and the poor Yorkshire lad who went off to London with just £20 in his pocket did not disappoint.

In the reading of that book, I came across another that seemed worth owning. Farmhouse Kitchen is based on the independent television series of the same name, presented by Dorothy Sleightholme on Yorkshire Television, starting in the early '70s. I found Farmhouse Kitchen online in a used book store and had it mailed to an address in the United States, knowing I wouldn’t get it till I went home in May.

Now I’m back in Dubai again and am finally having a chance to read it. It’s short on descriptions but long on recipes, one after another after another, for classic – read: old-fashioned, down home – British fare. Many use ingredients that were possibly common at the time but harder to come by now, like wood pigeon and lambs’ hearts. On the other hand, a lot of the recipes can be made with store cupboard ingredients. The Staffordshire Yeomanry Pudding is one example.

I always keep ground almonds in my freezer because they are an excellent addition to many baked cakes or cookies. (Why the freezer? The cold keeps nuts from turning rancid in a warm kitchen.) The other ingredients, flour, eggs, butter, sugar, jam, everyone will have. But where did the recipe originate and why the unusual name? Mrs. Sleightholme offers no information whatsoever, nor does the contributor of the recipe, one Miss P. M. Cherry of Penkridge.

As an initially all-volunteer unit in the queen’s own army, Staffordshire Yeomanry has a long and illustrious history of defending the crown’s interests, dating back from 1794. The Wikipedia page is full of information about its roles over the years but not once does it mention the pudding that bears the same name.

Clearly more research was necessary which led me to this post on Book Cottages where I learned that the Staffordshire Yeomanry Pudding recipe was possibly first developed "during the height of the Boer War, when wives would bake for their returning husbands a luxurious welcome home spread, comprising of the best cakes and sweetmeats they could possibly afford."

But still no mention of why the pudding was named such. Curiouser and curiouser. I had to keep digging. I must confess that I’m still none the wiser, but deep into the rabbit hole of recipe research and book buying, I’ve just ordered Good Things in England: A Practical Cookery Book for Everyday Use first published in 1932, with 853 recipes, some dating back to the 14th century. Once it arrives, I’ll be sure to report back if any light is shed on the origins of Staffordshire Yeomanry Pudding. If you happen to know more about it, please leave me a comment.

Meanwhile, if you’ve followed me down the rabbit hole thus far, you deserve some sweet pie! If you've been reading my blog since the beginning five years ago, I owe you much more, but pie and a great big Thank You will have to do.

For the sweet shortcrust pastry:
1 3/4 cup or 220g plain flour
1/2 cup or 113g butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cold water

For the filling:
 1/2 cup or 113g butter
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1/4 cup or 28g ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
1 egg white
2 tablespoons jam

Add the flour and the cold butter, cut into pieces, into your food processor. Pulse several times, until the flour and butter are combined and look like big crumbs.

Add in the sugar and salt and pulse again.

 Add in the egg yolk and water.

Pulse again, scraping down the sides of the food processor in between pulses, until the dough just comes together.

Turn it out of the processor and wrap tightly with cling film. Pop the wrapped dough in the refrigerator to chill.

Start your oven preheating to 350°F or 180°C and make the filling.

In the bowl of your processor or with electric beaters, cream the butter and sugar together until they turn pale yellow.

Mix in the extract, salt and ground almonds. Add in the whole egg and one egg yolk and process until the mixture is well combined, scraping down the side of the processor occasionally.

Roll out 2/3 of the dough and fit it into your pie plate. Spoon in the jam and spread it around evenly on the bottom.

Pour the custard filling on top of the jam and smooth it out.

Roll the other piece of the dough out in a circle and top the filling with it. Push down around the edges to seal the two crusts together. Trim the crusts to end about one inch or 2 centimeters above the filling.

Fold the two crusts over together to seal the pie and form an edge and cut three slits in the top crust.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until the crust is golden and the custard inside is set.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 20-25 minutes before cutting and serving.


My friend and creator of Friday Pie Day, Heather, over at All Roads Lead to the Kitchen has made another classic dessert with a funny name, but from the United States, shoofly pie! Head on over and pay her a visit.

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.

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