Thursday 23 January 2014

cheddar and jalapeno pepper muffins

So what do you do when you're stuck indoors with two poorly children, attempting to work from home, while it's absolutely pissing down with rain? You bake, obviously.

I was looking through the Internet (I like read the whole entire thing when I'm procrastinating) for a grain-free baked good recipe. I was going to make something sweet but as I'm attempting to wean myself off sugar/the need for sugar, I went for something savoury instead. And anyway, healthy substitutes for cakes always taste like a loofah covered in Stevia powder. Don't try to tell me they don't; you're just so ravenous from being on a diet that you think it tastes good. I've been there. I know.

Anyway, I decided to make something resembling cornbread muffins to go with my leftover chilli for lunch. I found this basic almond flour muffin recipe on Elena's Pantry, added some extras, and doubled it: To my huge surprise (see my comment about substitution failures) they turned out to be pretty damned tasty.

They aren't corn muffins because they don't, you know, contain corn. They do have a very similar texture and a little bit of sweetness you'd get with cornbread. They are very passable and tender cheesy muffins that went well with my chilli. And then I ate another just to be sure. It was still good, but I'll have to try another one tomorrow to make sure they're still delicious the next day. Shall keep you posted.

You could add all sorts of things to the basic muffin batter, sweet or savoury. I was thinking of doing a breakfast version with bacon (I know, I know - this will do nothing to dissuade people from posting bacon jokes on my Facebook page), spinach, mushrooms, and cheese or a pizza version with tomatoes, basil, cheese, and pepperoni. It'll just depend on how many deadlines I'm trying to avoid.

Here's the recipe.
Cheddar Jalapeno Muffins
Cheddar and Jalapeno Muffins
(Makes 8 large 'Merkin sized muffins)


8 oz blanched almond flour (approx. two cups)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup shredded mature cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced (or more if you want more heat)
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp mild chilli powder
8 oz eggs (four large eggs)
2 oz honey (approx. two tablespoons)
1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 180C/170C fan assist/350F. Line a muffin tin, or if you've got a very well seasoned tin like I do, just spray a little oil on it.

Put the almond flour, baking soda, cheese, jalapeno peppers, chilli powder, and sea salt in a bowl and combine. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, honey, and vinegar. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir well.

Bake for around 15 minutes, until the edges are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack before storing.

Friday 3 January 2014

holey tops, batman!

The other day, I noticed my black t-shirt had tiny little holes in the front, just below my belly button. Annoyed, I chucked it thinking it must have been damaged in the washing machine. Then the second t-shirt got holes in the same spot. Then a third. Either some sort of moth was living in my navel (possible as I can't actually see it) or something else was amiss.

Thanks to Google, I found out that this is a common occurrence when you switch to a granite worktop (counter.) It's caused by rubbing up against the edge and seems to affect jersey tops more than others. I cannot even make this stuff up. 

I suppose this means an apron is needed until I lose enough stomach or grow longer arms. 

Thursday 2 January 2014

aubergine (eggplant) with ragu sauce

I stopped writing about food on this blog because I thought people who were here to read all about my thrilling life wouldn't want to read about the food I make. As only about three of you read this blog anymore and food is a huge part of our lives, the food is back.

This is also to help keep me on track with the Not Eating of the Crap. If I blog about the Not Crap I'm eating, I might actually not eat Crap. (I really need to get back to work; my brain has obviously packed it in.)

Yesterday was all about carbs thanks to too much bubbly the night before. And Pringles. And chocolate cake. I made a big batch of spaghetti bolognaise last night, and the world seemed a slightly better place. A little leftover sauce made a healthier lunch for me today, with the addition of one small aubergine and mozzarella balls. I'm feeling all smug and virtuous now. I've stuck to my diet for 6 1/2 hours so far. BOOYAH.

Oh Christ, I'm annoying. Here's the recipe.

Aubergine Bolognaise With Mozzarella
(Serves 4, or less with extras for the next day)

For the bolognaise:
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 onion, oh you get the idea. Cut everything up small.
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
500g beef mince/ground beef
1 glass of red wine
1 tin plum tomatoes
1 box (about 2 cups) of passata/tomato sauce
Dash of worcester sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful of fresh basil

For the aubergine/eggplant base:
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 aubergines/eggplants, thinly sliced
250g fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil to garnish

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large shallow pan over medium heat. Fry off the beef until it browns - try not to move it around too much so you get some nice crispy bits (rather than boiling it.) Remove the beef from the pan.
Add the celery, carrots, onion and garlic to the pan, and stir until it starts to soften.
Put the beef back in the pan along with the glass of wine. Let the wine bubble and reduce a bit, then add the tomatoes, passata/tomato sauce, worcester sauce, and salt and pepper.
Let it simmer, covered, for at least half an hour but ideally 1-2 hours. This can also be left to simmer in a slow cooker, or cooked ahead and frozen.

For the aubergines, heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Toss in the aubergines and cook them off until they brown a little. Add the sauce and heat through. Just before serving, tear up the mozzarella and add it to the pan, and let it melt a little. Garnish with fresh basil if you like that sort of thing.