American muffin

IMG_0835American muffin, one of the easier thing you could do in the morning, forget about the ready made muffin carton from supermarket,  don’t even mention what kind of ingredient had gone into the box. When you think about it, why you have to pay the extra money for the carton box, plastic bag that holding the dry mixture? This took about 30 minutes to make from scratch to its glory finish. Unlike English muffin, American muffin are quick breads. They are light, savoury or sweet buns made with a slightly more puffed, richer dough than scone. They are very popular breakfast bread.

I remembered the first baked goods I made is while I lived in UK is this American muffin, I started to curious about food and that had inspired me to write about them. American muffin is a versatile snack for any occasion too. I remembered there is one time muffin used to be a “haute” food in Asia for years and then cupcake took over the market for a very long time until every housewife thinking to perfect a cupcake or even taking a cupcake lesson. It is like a food trend in Malaysia. For me decoration is one of the worse I ever done. I’m not like Martha Stewart can perfectly done each of them, I don’t have the patience.

I have a basic recipe and variation

  • butter for greasing
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 200ml milk
  1. Butter the twelve 6cm muffin tins or deep bun tins. Set the oven to 200°C . Sift the dry ingredient into a large bowl.
  2. Melt the butter. Mix with the egg and milk in a separate bowl. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients. Stir only enough to dampen the flour, the mixture should be lumpy. Spoon into the prepared muffin tin, as lightly as possible, filling them only two-thirds full.
  3. Bake for about 15 minutes, until well risen and browned. The cooked muffins should be cracked across the middle.
  4. Cool in the tin for 2 – 3 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Variations

  • Walnut Muffins. Increase the sugar to 100g. Add 75g chopped walnuts before adding the liquids. After filling the muffin tins, sprinkle with a mixture of sugar, cinnamon, and extra finely chopped walnuts
  • Blueberry Muffins. Reserve 50g of the flour. Sprinkle lightly over 225g firm blueberries. Stir into the mixture last.
  • Jam Muffins. Before baking, top each muffin with 1 teaspoon sharp-flavoured jam.
  • Raisin Muffins. Add about 50g seedless raisins before adding the liquids.
  • Orange Apricot Muffins. Add 50g chopped ready-to-eat dried apricots and 1 tablespoon grated orange rind before adding the liquids.
  • Wholemeal Muffins. Substitute 100g wholemeal flour for 100g of the plain flour. Do not sift the wholemeal flour, but add it after sifting the plain flour.

There still many variation of recipe you could find it online, I adored Mrs. Beeton‘s recipe simply because I like the Old English writing as you read it, as it is back in the time. I don’t really ready about the history about American muffin, I’m not sure how it appear.

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Sambuca baci

P1170077I tried it from Nigella’s recipe, as she said almost as light as butterfly kissed on flower. These almost like doughnuts but made of scented, sweet air. Italian called it kisses (baci)

Believed me your first bite of these will definitely wanting more. Beside it is easy to make too. I don’t think you can resist to eat them once is come out from the frying pan.

Here is how I started, you will need one egg, 100g of ricotta mix both in a large bowl, beat it together until smooth. Then you adding in 40g plain flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 2 teaspoons sambuca liqueur if you don’t have sambuca, you could used lemon or orange juice, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon grated orange zest. Beat the mixture again to make a smooth batter.

Pour about 2cm vegetable oil or any flavourless oil into a frying pan, and heat until a small piece of bread sizzles when you drop it into the pan and browns in about 40 seconds (the temperature should be at about 180ºC). And keep your eye on the pan at all times.

Oil a teaspoon measure and gently drop rounded teaspoons of the ricotta batter into the pan; about 4 at a time is much manageable.

The little baci will puff up slightly and turn golden underneath, if you lucky enough you will see the baci will turn itself around to get the sun tan. Otherwise you could flip them over carefully with an implement of your choice, to colour the other side as well. Watch out that the oil doesn’t get too hot: turn the heat down if they are browning too quickly.

Once they are golden all over, lift them out with a slotted spoon and place them over plate lined with 2 sheets of kitchen paper, to get rid of any exceed oil. Carry on cooking until all the mixture is used up, then turn off the heat under the oil. Once the  baci have cooled a bit, push the icing sugar through a small sieve to dust them thickly.

If you are not eating them straightaway, pop the pre-sugared, cooked baci on the wire rack over a tin in 150ºC oven and keep them warm for up to 1 hour.

If so inclined, serve with a shot of sambuca or an espresso. I might make another batch for teatime. Yum!

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Humble Mince Pie

P1160699AFestive pieces at this time of year – my humble mince pie before had snow falling on top. This is one of my favourite festive snacks at all time. If you have no time making the mincemeat you could buying it from the supermarket too. I just loved mince pie very much as it is very festive pie. If you couldn’t find suet for the mincemeat, you could substitute it with frozen butter and grating in.

The mince pie dates back to the Middle Ages when as the word mincemeat suggest, it was a savoury dish. It emerged not as a confection or dessert, but as a way of preserving meat as winter drew in. Because of shortages of fodder, surplus livestocks were slaughtered in the late autumn. The meat was chopped up and cooked with spices and dried fruits, then sealed in a ‘coffin’ – an airtight pastry case. The resulting pies – which were large, not the small, snack-sized things that we’re familiar with – could then be used to feed hosts of people. particulary at the festive season. The earliest type, known as a chewtte, contained chopped meat or liver mixed with diced hard-boiled egg and ginger. Gradually the filling became enriched with dried fruit until, as time went on, it predominated and the meat was replaced with suet. By the sixteenth century, ‘minced’ pies as they were known had become a Christmas speciality. So much so that when Oliver Cromwell was banning Christmas celebrations in 1644 he specially abolished mince pie too. That particular law has never been repealed, so it is technically still illegal to eat mince pie at Christmas – which is great excuse to bear in mind if you’re feeling too full to eat another thing but you don’r want to hurt your mum’s feeling after she spent half the morning making them. You can’t have Christmas without mince pie. Merry Christmas to all my reader.

  • 60ml ruby port
  • 75g soft dark brown sugar
  • 300g cranberries
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 75g currants
  • 75g raisins
  • 30g dried cranberries
  • Finely grated zest & juice of 1 clementine
  • 25ml brandy
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • few drops of almond extract
  • 2 tbsp honey
  1. In a large saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the ruby port over gentle heat.
  2. Add the cranberries to saucepan.
  3. Then add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves, with currants, raisins and dried cranberries and the zest and juice of the clementines.
  4. Simmer for 20 minutes or until everything looks pulpy and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan. You may need to squish the cranberries a little with the back of the wooden spoon to incorporate them.
  5. Take off the heat and, when it has cooled a little, stir in the brandy, almond and vanilla extracts and honey and beat once more with your wooden spoon to encourage it to turn into berry-beaded paste.
  6. Spoon the mincemeat into sterilized jars.

Note: If you want to revert to a more traditional, still suet-free, mincemeat, replace the fresh cranberries with a small grated cooking apple and take out the dried cranberries, adding 15g each of currants and raisins.

Make ahead tip: Make the mincemeat and spoon into sterilized jars. Seal with jam pot covers or lid and store in a very cool, dry place for up to 1 month. (an extra splash of brandy on top at this stage helps prevent the mincemeat from going mouldy.) If you are using cranberries juice in place of port, store the mincemeat in the fridge for up to 10 days.

 

Classic Sweet Pastry

  • 170g butter, softened
  • 85g sugar
  • 1 small egg
  • 4 drops vanilla extract
  • zest of half lemon
  • 260g plain flour
  1. In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until a light creamy consistency.
  2. Add egg, vanilla and lemon zest and mix until combined.
  3. Add flour and mix to paste just until paste comes clean off the bowl. Be careful not to over mix or the pastry will become too elastic and doughy.
  4. Cover and wrap with cling film, refrigerate for 30 minutes or even better overnight.
  5. Before using, gently re-work pastry, taking care to ensure it remains cold and firm.
  6. Lightly floured work surface, roll out pastry into a sheet about 3mm thick.
  7. Using the round cutter whichever suit your tin, cut out 12 bases to line 1 muffin tin.
  8. Gently press pastry inside the muffin cups tp avoid any cracking around the bases.
  9. Using a star cutter to cut 12 lids.
  10. Fill the pastry about 2 teaspoons, (is tempting to fill in more mincemeat but never ever do that otherwise the pie is too heavy to turn out and the base might broken)
  11. Damp your finger with water or use pastry brush to damp the edge of the pastry, then you can place the star pastry on top filling, ensure the corner of the star is gently press down to glue with the edge of the pastry.
  12. Bake in preheat oven of 180ºC for 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Sprinkle with caster sugar, if wished while the pie still hot. Allow to cool little, then remove from the tray and store in air tight container.

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Croûton

P1160607ACroûton, choice of my snack. although my croûton not evenly brown on the side. I do like a bit of white but normally you will have all side brown. I used up some leftover stale bread about 4 days old. I like it less salt and more herbs. Is worth a moment to rustle up this and it is useful to have it in kitchen whenever you feel like having a salad and you have some croûton to garnish.

First, cut off the crusts of 4 slices of stale white bread, then cut into crouton sized cubes. Next, they need coating in the oil mixture, and I find this easiest to do with a freezer bag. Pour into the bag 4 table spoons of sunflower or olive oil, half a teaspoon of sea salt, a dried herbs of your choice, I used two chopped sprigs of rosemary. Then tip in the cubed bread, seal the bag and give it a good shake around to make sure all of the bread is well coated with oil.

Place a non-stick saute pan in medium heat. When is hot tip in bread, strring, until golden all over. When is place it on a baking tray to cool before storing into air tight jar.

Believe me, once you done it once you may keep topping up all the time. Then you will have handy croûton whenever youu need one.

Garlic infused oil

P1160368ANo fuss garlic oil, one of my favourite cooking oil the reason is sometime I can be a bit lazy to chop garlic or mince the garlic with garlic press. I rather have this on my kitchen table and can use it at when I feel like to have some garlic flavour in meals.

I am making this 500ml of ordinary garlic oil with 1 whole garlic bulb separated into cloves, no need to peel the skin, just rub off any loose pieces of the skin. Make sure the bottle of olive oil got some room for the garlic cloves, give it a shake every now and then; leave it to infuse for at least one month before using them.

Creole prawns

P1160200AAAs I know this dish are from America’s Louisiana. Obviously I am not been introduced to Louisiana’s food, but Creole‘s food is combination of French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese. What I know in my dish is the tomatoey of Italian, Spanish pepper, French wine and Portuguese Chili.

P1160209AAAI have a confession to make here, I haven’t got energy for shopping, I decided to cheat a bit of the ingredients by using a convenient way of supermarket – canned tomatoes, and puree. I always find these stocking in my pantry cupboard, for it is well stock it up, just in case you need something quick and easy that is the convenient products from supermarket. I know is not very antithetic but it is kitchen shortcut, If I would prepare everything from scratch it will take hours to get it done. Not in the mood of grandmother’s method. Here is how I start.

Ingredient

  • 250g frozen raw tiger or king prawns
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can of plum tomato about 350g
  • 1Tbsp of tomato purée
  • 1 red pepper, cut into strips.
  • 2 red chillies, de-seed and roughly cut into small pieces
  • 150ml dry white wine, I used sauvignon blanc
  • 2 spring onion, including the green parts, finely chopped
  • Handful of Parsley, roughly chopped
  • Cooked rice, pasta, noodles or couscous whichever you prefer to serve with. I used rice.
  1. To start of by cooking 250g washed rice into pan covered with water, and drizzle with some olive oil, let it boil with a lid off, once is boil about 1 minute, turn the heat lowest heat and let it cook further about 5 minutes or until the rice cook through. Once its cooked removed from the heat, give it a good stir and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in pan then tip in the chopped onion, garlic, pepper, chillies; and moving them around, give them 5 minutes to begin to soften and colour.
  3. After that, add the frozen prawns and stir them around for about 5 minutes, until they start to turn pink on both sides. Now Pour the canned tomatoes, use the white wine to rinse out the can, then add that too to the pan. Stir in the tomato purée, along with some seasoning. Bring to the boil, give a good stir, then turn the heat down to its lowest setting and let it simmer gently for 5 minutes. At this stage sauce will pop and mass up the kitchen.
  4. Scatter with the spring onion and serve with rice. and snip some parsley on top.

Voilà. Bon appétit!

Flatbread Lunch

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Flatbread dated back to Ancient Egypt and Sumer. In Ancient Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) the Sumerians discovered that edible grains could be mashed into a paste and then baked/hardened into a flatbread.

Don’t worry about I going write about the whole history of flatbread. As its a Ancient recipe of course is going to be easy to make, simply because during Ancient City, food is essential and with simple ingredient, tools and method to produce fabulous bread like this.

My easy quick snack lunch inspired from the Ancient recipe of flatbread and leftover, I had enough sauce from the leftover of Italian Red Penne, then I quickly make some flatbread and wrap it with, boiled chicken fillet, leftover sauce, fresh lettuce. Even making the flatbread is very simple and easy.

  1. To make flatbread, mix the dry ingredients together and add water until firm dough had formed.
  2. Divide the dough into six and roll out the flatbreads thinly.
  3. Cook in a very hot, dry, non-stick pan for one minute on each side or until brown spots appear on both sides.

For the filling simply click the link of Italian red penner and omitted the cooking for pasta. You can add whatever you like, it is very versatile, yet simple to make. One of my store cupboard dish as well.

Croque Madame Muffin

P1130041AAHerewith another fabulous recipe from Rachel Khoo, I loved the way she cooking French food and I had tried it is very easy. French were  well know about the love affair with their food. This is a Classic French recipe with new twist by putting in a muffin tin instead of the classic way of sandwich it. Most of bars and bistro will serve Croque Monsieur which basically is toasted cheese and ham sandwich. Put a fried egg on top became Croque madame as it look like a lady’ hat.

  • 6 large slice of white bread, cut off the crusts
  • 3 tbsps melted butter
  • 75 g ham, cut into cubes or thin strips
  • 6 small eggs

For Mornay Sauce

 

  1. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the flour and beat hard until smooth paste. Take off the heat and let it cool for 2 minutes. Then gradually add the milk, whisking constantly.
  2. Place back the pan back onto medium heat, add mustard and nutmeg and simmer gently for 10 minutes, whisking frequently to stop the sauce burning on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Once the sauce thickens and has the consistency of a tomato sauce, take off the heat, add cheese (keep a little for garnish) and taste for seasoning. If sauce  is too thick, add a little milk, if is lumpy pass it through a sieve.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Flatten the slices of bread with rolling pin, then brush each slice on both sides with melted butter.
  5. Line a 6-hole muffin tin with the slices of bread, pressing them in with small glass. Divide the ham between the muffins follwed by the eggs. Put 2 tablespoons of cheese sauce on top of each egg, then sprinkle with little cheese and pepper.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on how runny youlike the egg. Serve immediately.

This light snack delights me. You could serve it with french fries or some salad on the side. Whichever you like it to be. I like it because it is very versatile and is one of my store cupboard dish.

Walnut Bread

P1150484AThis bread is a must on any cheeseboard. Many people suggested serving it with a ripe Stilton or failing that, try it with any other strong flavour cheese and a glass of red wine. Often in UK restaurants serve this bread before entree. If you have any leftover of this bread you could pop it into microwave about 5 to 8 second, then spread with butter and you can enjoy it on its own. Here is how I do the bread, I think if you could do it by hand is even better as I feel the food and I get exciting for it when is baked.

  1. Put all the ingredients except the walnuts into a large bowl, (make sure yeast at one side of the bowl and salt at the another side) then mix well with your hands for about 4 minutes.
  2. When all the flour has been incorporated, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, using your fingers and the heel of your palm, knead for 5 minutes. Put the dough back in the bowl and leave to rise for 1 hour.
  3. Line a baking tray. Incorporate the walnuts into the dough, shape into a ball and dust with white flour. Place on the baking tray and leave to rise for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top of the dough, then bake the bread for 30 minutes until golden. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

I promised this is the bread you should have to try to make at least once, since most of the restaurant is making this bread as a starter, maybe it can be great for your dinner party as well.

Egg & Soldiers

P1150472AEgg and soldiers is one of those easy breakfast for everyone. I can’t remember when was the last time I had this, but this classic breakfast is very simple to prepare and enjoy. No fuss at all, is depending on how did you like the egg to be.

I like the egg just set on the white and the yolk is gooey and soft, I sprinkle some coarse sea salt everytime I dip in the soldier, the gooey yolk over flow over the shell. Hmmmm! That is a really a joy for the day.

  1. Bring water to boil in a saucepan, when the water is boiling put in the matchstick. The reason to put the matchstick when the boiling water may crack the egg.  so the matchstick is to cling the white if it does happen. Boil the egg about 4 minutes,.
  2. While that is happening toast the bread and butter it then cut into strips for dipping into the egg later.
  3. After 4 minutes remove the egg from the boiling water and place onto the egg cup, cut the top off.
  4. Sprinkle some coarse sea salt before you dip in the “soldier”.

That is the real good breakfast you willaddicted to it. I promised!