Thursday, 26 September 2013

Lemon, Poppy Seed and Yogurt Muffins

I ripped an advert for Alpro soya yogurt out of a magazine a couple of months ago, because part of the ad was a recipe for lemon, poppy seed and yogurt muffins. Alpro is wonderful stuff and I love it with a dollop of fruit compote – it’s rare that I don’t have a tub of it in the fridge – so I thought baking with it could be an interesting development.

The muffins in the advert looked lovely, probably because they’d had a team of food stylists fiddling with them for half an hour, but on closer inspection it looked a really strange recipe…there was an enormous amount of baking powder in it (2 tbsp!!), there didn’t seem to be enough lemon zest to give any flavour and it seemed like an awful lot of mixture for only eight muffins.  I sometimes wonder if anyone actually tests these recipes before they’re let loose on an unsuspecting public!

Well, in the spirit of bravery (or possibly stupidity!) I decided to give the recipe a go. With a few tweaks and twirls it actually turned out OK. I used self-raising flour instead of plain, dropped the amount of baking powder drastically, upped the amount of lemon zest and discovered that it actually made twelve decent sized muffins, not eight.

I added a little drizzle of lemon icing to smarten them up a bit and, although they wouldn’t win a prize at the village fĂȘte, they were nice with a cuppa and a good book.

225g SR flour
2 tsp baking powder
140g caster sugar
grated zest of a lemon
2 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 egg
245g Alpro Plain Yogurt
100g melted butter

2 tbsp icing sugar + lemon juice to mix

Mix the five dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix the four wet ingredients together in a large jug. Pour the wet into the dry and fold together just until no dry flour remains. Do not overmix; it doesn’t need to be completely smooth.

Divide the mixture between twelve muffin cases set into a muffin tin. Bake for about 20 minutes at 190C until golden and puffed.

Cool on a wire rack. When cold, drizzle with a little lemon icing.

Makes 12

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Green Tomato Chutney

Green tomato chutney has been made and the preserving pan has been put away for another year… or maybe not.** I’ve already made Tomato and Cranberry Relish, Red Onion Marmalade and Nectarine Chutney and I am now all chutneyed out! (I’m not sure 'chutneyed' is a word but you know what I mean…)

I thought I’d already finished for this year but the weather suddenly turned cold and wet almost overnight – summer was gone and there was no way all the green tomatoes in the garden were going to ripen. I brought them indoors to warm them up a bit but some of the larger ones were stubbornly resisting turning red so, after retrieving my spare jam jars from the back of the cupboard, I set to once again and started chopping. It’s been a really good year for our onions and apples, happily, so I was able to make good use of those, too.

I always feel so chuffed when I’m able to use our own produce – I'm pathetically easily pleased. I spiced this one up a bit more than usual – green tomatoes don’t have a lot of flavour so they need all the help they can get, poor things.

**I may have lied when I said the preserving pan has been put away… Our apple tree is weighed down with fruit and I don’t intend to waste any of it. Watch this space.

850g green tomatoes
250g onions (after peeling)
250g apples, peeled and cored
125g dates (use raisins if you like)
4 cloves garlic
30g fresh ginger root
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne
½ tsp chilli flakes
300g light muscovado sugar
350ml white wine vinegar

Halve the tomatoes, cut out the core and discard, then roughly chop; chop the apples, onions and dates a bit more finely than the tomatoes then put the whole lot into a large wide pan.

Blitz the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander and salt with a couple of tablespoons of the measured vinegar in the blender then add to the pan along with the cayenne, chilli flakes, sugar and the rest of the vinegar. Stir well, bring to the boil then turn the heat down a bit and let it bubble for about an hour or so until nice and thick.

Draw a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan and if the channel doesn’t fill up with liquid it’s ready to pot up into hot sterilised jars.

Allow to mature for 4 – 6 weeks before eating.

Makes 7 190g jars.