Saturday, 28 September 2013

Granola and Berry Muffins with Greek Yogurt Frosting

These sound very much like something you would get from a chain coffee shop, but they have the benefit of being homemade, so they aren't dense and claggy like most shop bought muffins. The recipe I based this on was Nigella's for granola muffins. I initially thought berries would be a good addition, and then adding something yogurty seemed like a natural progression- one of my favourite breakfasts in muffin form.

The yogurt frosting is simply yogurt and sieved icing sugar, mixed together. But I was really pleased with it, as it has a slight tang from the yogurt and it sits softly on top of the muffins. It does though up a dilemma, however- if you want to eat the muffins warm (the best way) you don't want to ice them and let them sit, as the frosting will just run off the muffins. So you can have them cool with frosting, or warm without. There is the possibility of spooning the frosting on a muffin as you eat it, then you get the combination of warm muffin and cooling yogurt.

From the amount of batter I made, I ended up with 6 large muffins, and 11 mini-muffins. As I was simply bulking out the original recipe with berries, the large yield wasn't surprising.
The recipe for the granola muffins can be found here. I added about 150g berries stirred in with the granola, a mix of blueberries and redcurrants, but I most berries could be used. For the icing, I mixed about 100g Greek yogurt with 4 heaped tsp icing sugar. This didn't make enough for all the muffins, I only wanted to make a small amount as it was an experiment. So if you want to make enough for all of them, I would triple the quantity

Monday, 16 September 2013

Harissa Roast Chicken

This is a very simple roast chicken recipe, which I made when I had a chicken in the fridge, but little inclination to go to the shops to buy flavourings. Luckily, I had a jar of Belazu Rose Harissa, which is a lovely product, something I buy when I take myself out to Waitrose as a treat. I served it with flatbread, roasted tomatoes and olives with feta and some garlicky yoghurt. If I had been to the shops, perhaps I would have got some mint for the yoghurt, or may even bought the ingredients for tabbouleh (which I think this would have gone especially nicely with the chicken). Even so, it was a great meal.

1 roasting chicken
2-3 tbsp rose harissa
enough olive oil to loosen the harissa- about 1 tablespoon

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Mix the harissa with the olive oil in a bowl. Gently loosen the skin of the chicken with your hands, and spread the harissa mix onto the breast of the chicken. Spread any leftover harissa over the legs, inside the chicken cavity, all over. Sprinkle the chicken with salt- something nice and flaky, for preference.
Roast the chicken for 20 minutes for every 500g, plus an extra half an hour. Let it rest for about 20 minutes before carving and serving.

I made a little sauce to go with this- just the chicken juices scrapes up from the bottom of the pan, loosened with a little chicken stock, then boiled to concentrate the flavours. A little honey stirred in to sweeten, and served alongside the chicken.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Peach and Blackberry Galette

The blackberries growing near me seem especially good. A few years ago I went blackberry picking and the fruit I got were mean, sour little things with not much taste to them at all. But this year they have been delightful, big and plump, and nice to just pick off as a little snack when you happen to walk past a bush.

In How to be a Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson has a recipe for blackberry galette. This is the same recipe, but with one peach, sliced. I made the blackberry only version, and a week later made the peach and blackberry. I think I prefer the addition with peaches, but then I really enjoy baked peach. The contrast of late summer and early autumn fruit is lovely too- it captures that wonderful time of the year when it is still sunny and bright, but there is a chill in the air, and the promise of a warm pudding makes the dark evenings bearable.

I was a big fan of the pastry- the cornmeal gives it a slightly sandy texture, which is nicer than it sounds. It is also nice to work with, easy to roll out and handle.

The link to the recipe can be found here. But to make my version, just cut a peach into thin slices, and top the pastry with it along with the blackberries. Aesthetically, I think peaches under the blackberries is best. I didn't reduce the amount of blackberries, despite the addition of peach.
One thing I did notice was in Nigella's recipe is that after you have rolled out the pastry, she instructs you to:
'Sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons sugar, to taste, then dollop with creme fraiche'
It is better to spread the crème fraîche over the surface of the pastry than to dollop. I think she must have done this too, judging by the photos. Lumps of baked crème fraîche are OK, but its nicer to spread it all out under the fruit, so it mixes with the blackberry juices evenly.

This is a very easy recipe, and good if you have friends over. The pastry can be left for a few hours in the fridge, and rolling it out and topping with fruit takes very little time. In 25 minutes or so, you have a great hot pudding that you can serve with the rest of the crème fraîche from the recipe. And like many things, its really good cold for breakfast.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Pecan Friands with Pear and Maple Syrup

This was a very successful experiment. I used a basic friend recipe, replacing the ground almonds with ground pecans, and some of the sugar with maple syrup. The resulting friands were a little damper and heavier than normal ones, with hints of sticky toffee pudding. The characteristic slightly crispy outside and soft inside that you get in a friend made with ground almonds was turned up a notch with the pecan version, making them irresistible to me. I wanted a more autumnal addition to these friands- berries often make an appearance- so for this batch I stirred some finely diced pear into the batter.
I did notice that when they were cooking, the friands seemed to leak a bit of butter, and I when they were in the oven they looked like they weren’t going to work- almost as if the mixture had separated. Once they were out and cooled a bit they were fine, so don’t worry if this happens to you.

125g pecans
185g unsalted butter
6 egg whites
180g icing sugar
75g plain flour
80ml maple syrup
1 pear, peeled and finely chopped
Whole pecans- enough to decorate

Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees. Grind the pecans as finely as you can in a food processor. Set aside. Using a pastry brush, coat the insides of a friand tin, or, if like me, you don’t have one used a cupcake tin, or mini-muffin tin. I used a 24-bun mini muffin tin, and this filled 21 of the moulds.

In a roomy bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy- not stiff, just bubbly. Sift in the flour and icing sugar, and fold in with a metal spoon. Add the ground pecans and maple syrup. Stir in the finely chopped pear. Spoon in the tin-this is runnier than regular friand batter, so a little more care is required. Stud the top of each friand with a pecan, and place in oven. Bake for about 15 minutes. Let them cool for a bit before gently removing, running a butter knife around the edges of each cake to loosen them from the tin. If you have been thorough with greasing the tins, they should come out neatly. 

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Best Apple Pie

Not my recipe, but another one from the BBC Good Food 'Ultimate' Series. Like the other recipes I have tried from this series, I have little interest in using any other recipe for the same dish. And unlike other recipes from this series, I think it has not been subjected to being madeover into a healthy version- I have already vented about this in my post on their ultimate cheesecake recipe.

To me it seems too far early in the year for Bramley apples to be falling off the tree, but despite this my mum brought me a bag full of them from the garden along with several yellow and green courgettes. On Sunday night we ate pasta with slow cooked courgettes, lots of basil and garlic and a little cream,   followed by apple pie- a perfect transition from late summer to autumn in one meal.

One of the things I really like about this recipe are the unconventional methods used in making it. The pastry is the only pastry I have made where the butter needs to be soft, so you can mix it quickly with the sugar. It's much easier than fussing about with hard lumps of butter, iced water and cursing your warm hands. For the filling, the apples are cut up, and left to go brown, meaning the apples don't leak once they are cooked and make the pastry soggy. Magically, they lose their unappealing brown colour once cooked.

We ate this with proper custard, I used Delia's recipe. The recipe suggests cream, but this was perfect for me.