Thursday, 29 July 2010

Cherry & Oat Breakfast Muffins

I have been known to eat cake for breakfast on more than one (or two, or three or four) occasions, and any other number of sweet things. I'm not great at breakfast, I like sleeping in, but I do like breakfast food. I try and make up for this on weekends with pancakes or a nice bacon sandwich. Or eggs, yummmm. See I like breakfast, I do.

I have been experimenting with cupcakes and fairy cakes for a while but one of the things on my list has been a good breakfasty muffin with lots of things packed into it, but lower on the sweetness than a normal cake.

I was a bit greedy and got a kilo of cherries from the local Pick Your Own which meant I had something of a glut, brought on entirely by my eyes being bigger than my stomach. Some of the lucky things are spending time steeping in vodka, ready for a Christmas tipple, and others have gone into a juicy summer fruit cobbler (more on that soon). I had some left and they were destined for muffins!

I like real cherries and far too often you see those awful rubbery, almost flourescent, glace cherries in cakes, a real cherry cake is something much much better. I might have to go to the pick your own one more time and make a proper sweet dessert cake too ;)

These muffins have no too much sugar in them, lots of oats and some wheatgerm, and I pepped them up with some cinnamon and nutmeg.

Cherry & Oat Breakfast Muffins
makes about 8 muffins 

100g unsalted softened butter
75g granulated or caster sugar
2 medium eggs
200g fresh cherries - pitted and halved
100g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
75g oats
25g wheatgerm (or substitute with more oats)
approx 50ml whole or semi skimmed milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to gas mark 6 / 400f / 200c. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases.

Cream together your butter and sugar til light and fluffy. Then add in your eggs one at a time and combine.
Fold in your cherries, then add in your flour and baking powder and stir gently to combine.
Then fold in your oats and wheatgerm, and spices. Finally add in the milk to loosen the mixture slightly. If your mixture is quite wet you may not need to add the milk.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons into the mixture, you want the muffins to be fairly substantial, leave about 1cm from the top. Sprinkle with oats. Bake for 10-15minutes in the oven until golden brown on top, and when a knife comes out clean when inserted.

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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

first harvest - courgette and blossom pizza

Things are moving slowly in the garden this year, we've just harvested the first vegetables (ok actually we harvested some potatoes but the crop wasn't so great this year) - some teeny courgettes and some of their flowers too.

This is our first time growing courgettes successfully, last time we happily put them in the bed straightaway and they got eaten up very quickly! These were grown in the greenhouse first off and then planted out in a big pot once they were bigger. The plant has been slow moving in this weather but we've had a bit of rain now and it is growing much faster - we might even have one of these courgette gluts everyone is always going on about?

I chopped up the courgettes finely and put them on top of my favourite pizza base recipe with the flowers on top of those whole (stalks removed).

Pick the flowers in the morning or midday when they are fully open, dip them in a bowl of water to remove the little black bugs that courgette flowers attract. Then store them in a bowl of colder water in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

We treated them to some nice laverstoke mozarella and lots of herbs from the garden (sage, basil and oregano).

Such a summery meal, the taste of homegrown courgettes is nothing like the watery supermarket ones!
The flowers are lovely like this too, they are very courgetty (is that a word?) but also beautifully floral. Yum!
I am going to try them stuffed with cream cheese and deep fried soon too.

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Monday, 26 July 2010

Monday Moodboard - Lovely Lilac


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Friday, 23 July 2010

Friday Folksy Finds

Now that my Folksy shop is back and in full swing I have been finding some lovely things on there along the way. Here are some of my favourite finds on folksy for this week:

Love Birds Notepad by Tea and Ceremony

Hope you like these finds, Happy Folksy Friday!

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Thursday, 22 July 2010

Food Blog Discoveries

It has been a while since I posted some of my new favourite food blogs, I find new ones I like every week, sometimes every day.

Beautiful photos, some lovely summer recipes here. 

Absolutely stunning photographs, some of the food is like art! 
Focus on local food.
Just pure cupcake heaven!
A local (to me) baker making cupcakes for all over Cambridgeshire.
Gorgeous photographs and yummy baking, definitely trying out some of these recipes!

I'll be back again in the future once I've found some more yummy blogs!

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Monday, 19 July 2010

15% off in my Etsy Shop - Christmas in July!

This may sound very odd but I am currently celebrating Christmas in July.
No I haven't gone nuts though.

Lots of sellers on Etsy get together in July to offer customers discounts, either to get your Christmas gifts early or maybe to treat yourself before you have to start buying lots of things for other people ;)

As part of this my shop as an offer on from the 15th to the 25th July.

All you have to do is use the code CHRISTMAS during checkout.

I'll refund 15% off the cost of the jewellery and you have yourself a lovely bargain!

Hope you can stop by this week.


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Blackcurrant & Gooseberry Cupcakes

I do like this time of year, so many things are in season and it is so hard to choose what to cook with and eat next. Also the best thing is little garden gifts from relatives - their homegrown produce. We have been growing rhubarb this year and we exchanged a few stalks with my in laws for some of their lovely gooseberries and blackcurrants.

I am terrible for hardly ever just enjoying fruit as it is, I want to bake it or put it in jam or vodka, or something interesting. Rather than enjoying it in season as it is. Blackcurrants and gooseberries are different though, they do need to be cooked as they can be quite tart on their own, especially the gooseberries.

I have a shiny new cupcake/muffin pan this week and it was sitting there looking all new, so clearly - it was cupcake time!

I have a favourite basic sponge cake base that I nearly always use for cupcakes, and believe it or not it is from a book of student recipes, entitled 'Student Grub,' I don't really use many of the other recipes (you know the one for beans on toast..) but this one is quite good for adding things to.

I wanted colourful cupcakes so I pureed half the blackcurrants and put the rest in whole. The whole ones burst slightly in the cupcakes during cooking so you get lovely bursts of pure colour in the cupcakes. The gooseberries were cooked down in a saucepan with some sugar and also a stick of rhubarb I had and spooned into hollowed out cupcakes once they were cool. And obviously some of them had frosting too, yum!

Blackcurrant & Gooseberry Cupcakes

For gooseberry sauce:
100g gooseberries
1/2 stick of rhubarb (mine was quite thin so use 1/2 a normal size stick)
3-4 tablespoons of sugar

Top and tail your gooseberries and cut your rhubarb into 1 inch long pieces. Add to a non stick saucepan with the sugar and a very small splash of water. Cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the gooseberries are soft and the skins collapsed. Cool slightly and taste for sweetness, if it is too tart, add a little more and cook on a low heat and stir til the sugar is dissolved. Puree with a blender. Set aside for filling the cupcakes later.

For cupcakes:
100g unsalted butter
100g granulated or caster sugar
100g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 medium free range or organic eggs
150g blackcurrants - 75g pureed in a food processor, 75g whole.
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to gas mark 6 / 200c / 400f.
Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in your eggs one by one. Then add in your pureed blackcurrants, and vanilla. Stir lightly to combine, then add in your flour and baking powder slowly and fold in. Finally add in the rest of the blackcurrants and stir lightly to combine.

Line your cupcake pan with cases. Spoon in about 2 tablespoons into each cup, enough to fill them about 2/3 full. My mixture actually made 11 because I was a bit generous on some and less on others, but that is ok!

Bake for 10-15 minutes until tops are golden brown, and a knife comes out clean when inserted into the cake (look they are purple inside!).

Leave to cool for about half an hour, then for the fun bit! Cut little circles out the top of the cakes, go in about 1cm down and pop the top off the cake. Fill with about a heaped teaspoon of the gooseberry puree and pop the lid back on. Now you can leave them as they are or add some buttercream.

I frosted a few of mine with the rest of my butter, think a ratio of 1 part butter to 3 parts icing sugar, and I added some vanilla extract too, real vanilla bean would have been lovely though. Or you can flavour them with more pureed blackcurrant or mix in some of the gooseberry puree.

Eat immediately!

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Wednesday, 14 July 2010

wordless wednesday

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Tuesday, 13 July 2010

new packaging!

ok well just new ribbon.
I bought some gorgeous buttery yellow ribbon in John Lewis recently and it just looked so perfect against my black boxes. My summer orders will be going out with cornflower blue or yellow ribbon, gorgeous!
Needless to say the John Lewis ribbon was a little over priced so I am using my usual supplier, who has a lot more colours to choose from.

I feel myself wandering towards gingham or lilac ribbon too.

You seriously can never have too much ribbon.

Same with beads. And chocolate.

Anyway, I hope you like the new look!

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Monday, 12 July 2010

easy flourless peanut butter cookies

These have to be the easiest cookies to make ever. Four ingredients, made and in and out the oven in 30 minutes, and no flour!

They are crumbly and soft and if you want to add a 5th ingredient I urge you to press in some dark chocolate chips.

Please use good quality peanut butter for these, I opted for Whole Earth organic peanut butter which has nice chunky peanut pieces in it, and a lot less oily than standard peanut butter.

Update - 14/7 - Something I forgot to say! I tried these with a mixture of honey and sugar too, 3/4 of the sugar and 1/4 of soft set honey which works just as well. I think half and half might even work too!

Makes 24 cookies
adapted from joy the baker

1 cup (200g) good quality crunchy peanut butter
1 cup (200g) of brown or caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp of baking powder

Preheat your oven to 180c / gas mark 4. Grease and line a flat baking sheet. This recipe makes two batches, if you have two trays you can cook them at once or cook in batches.

Add your peanut butter, sugar and baking powder to a mixing bowl, stir well to combine the ingredients. Add in your beaten egg and mix for a few minutes until you have a soft dough.

Form into walnut sized dough balls and add to your baking sheet, press down with a fork. Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.
Leave to cool completely on the baking tray (I know, torture!) so they harden slightly - they are quite soft when they come out of the oven.

Serve with a large cup of tea, feet up and begin dunking!

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Saturday, 10 July 2010

slow roasted duck legs, broccoli coleslaw and harissa cous cous

Hey look I'm blogging about savoury things - how often does this happen? Not very!

I made this lovely fresh summery meal on Sunday with some duck legs I'd stashed in the freezer, plenty of spices and this really great broccoli coleslaw.

Duck loves spices and so I coated them in a mixture of most things I had in the cupboard along with some garlic cloves, put them in the oven and let them roast slowly for a few hours. The sides come together in no time which is good in this hot weather, you don't want the oven and the cooker on at the same time!

Serves 2 with leftovers for 1

For the duck:
2 duck legs
2 tsps cumin
2 tsps paprika
2 tsps ground coriander
2 tsps ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg powder
1 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper
4 cloves of garlic

For the coleslaw:
1 head of fresh broccoli
2 tbsps of creme fraiche
1 tbsps of yoghurt
about 1/4 bell pepper, finely sliced
1/4 onion finely sliced
dash of hot sauce to taste
salt and pepper
juice of half lemon

For the cous cous:
Approx 250g cous cous (mine made extra for lunch the next day)
1/2 onion
1 tsp each cumin, ground coriander, chili powder
2 sundried tomatoes
olive oil
2 heaped teaspoons of harissa paste

Heat your oven up to the highest setting, sprinkle all the spices on to the duck legs and rub in so they are completely coated, concentrate on getting the spices mainly on the skin. Put in a roasting tray with the four garlic cloves (unpeeled) underneath. Roast on the highest setting for about 30minutes to crisp up the skin. Then cover with turn down to gas mark 2 and cook for about 2-3 hours. For the last 1/2 hour remove the foil.

To make your coleslaw roughly but finely chop up the broccoli, add to a bowl with the onion and the pepper. Add in the rest of your ingredients and mix well! Season extra with spices to taste.

For the cous cous, add the dry cous cous and chopped up sundried tomatoes to a bowl and pour over approx 2 times the amount of water. Cover and leave for 10-15minutes til all the water has been absorbed.
Meanwhile fry your onion, finely sliced, in a frying pan, then add in the cumin, ground coriander, chili powder to coat the onions and fry til soft. Once your cous cous is done all this to the frying pan on a very low heat. Mix to combine the onions and cous cous. Then add in your harissa and mix together again.

Serve your duck legs with the roasted garlic cloves which should be nice and sweet and soft inside. This dish is also lovely with a dollop of houmous, which we also added!


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Friday, 9 July 2010

Friday Folksy Finds

Finds from Folksy on a Friday, yay!

Hope you find something you love on Folksy today!

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Thursday, 8 July 2010

Very summery Eton mess

I have covered this topic in a more autumnal theme already but I liked this version so much so I thought I'd share!

I made this with the berries we picked on holiday, redcurrants and strawberries along with some of our homegrown rhubarb. Then I added some creme fraiche sweetened with honey and some crushed up shop bought meringue nests.

I roasted the rhubarb in the oven with a splish of water and some ground ginger, for about 15 minutes, whilst I let the strawberries and redcurrants macerate with some sugar and balsamic vinegar.

The combinations were lovely, although I have to say maybe I picked my rhubarb at the wrong time. Being away for a week meant it hadn't been watered so it was very woody!! I think I'll give it a week or so before I pick more..

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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

wordless wednesday

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Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Back from holiday!

I have neglected the blog somewhat, I've been back from my hols for 4 days now!

We had a fantastic time in Somerset with gorgeous weather.

Lots more pictures on my Flickr account which you can find here

I'll be catching up on some blogging this week too, two new recipes and some lovely handmade finds might find their way in!

Hope you are having a lovely summer :)


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