Blackberry, Lemon, Yoghurt & Almond Streusel Muffins

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In my attempts to bake a healthier muffin, I have sacrificed so many lovely ingredients to the kitchen gods. An array of beautiful flours, the ripest fruits, different sweeteners, fragrant vanilla – they have all gone into creating some of the most unappetising muffins around. Generally dense, bland little numbers which you might only enjoy if truly committed to matyring yourself for “health food”.

And “health food” is such a loaded phrase, with such narrow parameters and misguided implications. I have not been trying to turn what is essentially cake into a “health food” but rather make it a bit more nutritious. Swapping out white flour for wholemeal, saturated fat for monounsaturated, using the sweetness of fruit with its vitamins and fibre – but still a pleasure to eat. I am soooo happy to say that the below recipe is a winner and saves me from throwing out any future dud muffins.

We used blackberries because they were surprisingly cheap – other berries (fresh or frozen) or ripe pear would go just as nicely.  Almonds could be replaced with walnuts or pecans and you could play around with the flours. When pears are plentiful, I would like to try swapping in some chestnut flour and adding pecans to the crumble.

I have played around a LOT with how much (or rather, how little) sugar I can use in this recipe without rendering the results bland or tough. The amount below seems to be the minimum required to make the muffin muffiny…  

Each small muffin has 10g added sugar from the maple syrup. The WHO recommends we limit our added sugar intake to less than 10%, ideally 5% of our daily diet. This translates to 25g sugar for adults and 12g sugar for young children.

Blackberry, Lemon, Yoghurt & Almond Streusel Muffins (makes 6 cupcake sized)

1 large egg
50g olive oil
80g maple syrup
120g yoghurt, plain (low-fat or full-fat)
½ lemon, finely grated zest of
150g wholemeal spelt flour
4g baking powder
Pinch bicarbonate soda
Pinch salt
125g blackberries

20g oats
20g finely chopped walnuts or almonds
20g wholemeal spelt flour
15g olive oil
20g maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 200’C and line 6-hole cupcake tin with liners or baking paper. Whisk the egg, oil, syrup, yoghurt and lemon zest together. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate soda and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and just barely mix, maybe just 2-3 turns of the spoon. Don’t over mix muffins! Add the berries and gently finish mixing until the flour is just incorporated into the wet batter. Divide the batter between the 6 liners.

Combine the streusel ingredients all together and sprinkle over the muffins.         Bake at 200c x 15 mins.

buckwheat and quinoa granola

GranolaBowl

I prefer variations on a porridge theme for breakfast in winter. But as variety is so important,  I like to have a jar of this delicious granola on hand. This batch is a crunchy mix of buckwheat, quinoa flakes, nuts and seeds, sweetened with pureed dates and enriched with some tahini. As with all my recipes, most of the ingredients can be swapped for tastes you might prefer or half-packets of things you wish to use up.
GranolaBfast

buckwheat & quinoa granola

  • 300g buckwheat, raw
  • 150g quinoa flakes
  • 100g pepitas
  • 150g nuts (I used a mix of walnuts and brazil nuts)
  • 100g dates
  • 75g water
  • 25g olive oil
  • 25g tahini (or a mild nut butter)
  • pinch each of salt and cinnamon

Mix the buckwheat, quinoa, seeds and nuts together. Add the salt and cinnamon. Process the dates, water, olive oil and tahini until smooth. Add 1/3 of the dry mix to the processor and pulse a couple of times until roughly incorporated. Empty the date mix from the processor onto the remaining dry mix and stir until entirely mixed through. Distribute over 2 baking trays and bake in a 150’C oven for 30-40 minutes until golden and toasted. Allow to cool completely.

Kitchen tips: we like this granola with yoghurt and fruit and it is sweet enough for us. If you have a sweeter tooth, you could always add a dash of honey or maple syrup to the date puree.

lovely buttermilk soda bread

sodabread

Soda bread is a lovely quick bread that can be mixed and popped in the oven in minutes. This recipe bows to the ingredients at hand and you can play around with the type of flour, the sweetener, the fat and any additions. The end result is a rustic loaf that pairs well with so many things. Smoked fish, cheeses of all varieties, leg ham, avocado or simply some excellent butter all raise this humble bread to glorious heights.

  • 2c buckwheat flour
  • 1 1/3c wholemeal spelt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4c golden syrup (or rice malt syrup)
  • 1 egg
  • 250ml buttermilk*
  • 1/4c olive oil or melted butter
  • OPTIONAL: fennel seeds, raisins, rosemary, thyme, etc.

*or half yoghurt or creme fraiche or sour cream/half milk.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add any optional extras. Make a well in the middle, add wet ingredients and mix. Knead lightly. I like to shape it into 2 loaves. Bake @ 170’C for 40 mins.

Shop your pantry: I have made this loaf using all sorts of flours. Less refined flours work best in terms of flavour and texture, I think, but use whatever you have at hand.

vanilla pears with baked nutty crumble

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After years of cooking in restaurants and crafting dishes of increasing complexity, I truly get the most pleasure now from recipes as simple as this crumble. A crumble is everything that is good about winter – warm, ripe fruit, a nutty crumble topping and the contrast of cold cream or ice cream.

pearscrumb

This crumble celebrates the natural sweetness of pears and the spiced topping is a mix of whatever nuts you may have in the cupboard. We had this for dessert a couple of nights ago and I have eaten it for breakfast since with some gorgeous Clevedon Valley buffalo milk yoghurt.

crumble

 

nutty pear crumble

  • 4-5 sweet, ripe pears, cored, diced (I used Buerre Bosc pears)
  • splash white wine
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 40g butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 2 tb (40ml) rice malt syrup or maple syrup
  • 1/4c almond meal
  • 1/4c oats (traditional or quick) or quinoa flakes
  • 1/4c coconut flour
  • 1/2c nuts (I used half pistachio, half pine nuts)
  • 1/4c pumpkin or sunflowers seeds
  • 1/4tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1/2 lemon, zest of

Place the diced pears in a saucepan and add a splash of wine and the vanilla. Cover with a lid and cook over medium heat until the wine starts to simmer. Remove the lid and continue cooking until wine has almost evaporated and the pears have softened. This should take only minutes. Pour into a baking dish. Cool to room temperature.

For the topping, place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mix comes together but some of the nuts and seeds are still in large pieces. Sprinkle the crumble evenly all over the pears and bake at 175’C for 20-25 mins until the topping is golden brown. Delicious served with good yoghurt, cream or ice cream. Serves 6.

Note: If you can’t find coconut flour, simply process some dried coconut until a fine powder. This recipe could also be made with apples but you may need to sweeten them if they are more tart than sweet. The topping is gluten free if using certified gluten free oats or quinoa flakes and would make lovely biscuits, I think.

parsnip buttermilk pancakes

 

parsnipfritters

There is such comfort to be found in cold-weather cooking. Creamy porridge, hot soups, hearty stews and warm bread attain medicinal status when it is cold outside. But just as soothing, in my mind, is the way we cook in winter. We take the time needed . We braise slowly, simmer gently, roast until meat falls off the bone and vegetables caramelise.

What to do then, when warming comfort food is needed and time is short? Reach for those root vegetables that you would normally roast and grate them instead. Parsnips make truly delicious fritters – creamy and nutty on the inside and golden brown on the outside. Serve them with avocado and roast tomatoes, prosciutto and a dollop of creme fraiche or hot smoked salmon and aioli.

This lovely recipe is from a blog called “Seasonal Ontario Food”. These pancakes are so delicious that I suggest this recipe makes only enough for a quick breakfast or lunch for 2 or 3 people. The mix can be made the night before.

Parsnip Buttermilk Pancakes

  •  1.5 c loosely packed finely grated parsnip (2 large or 3 small parsnips)
  • 1/4c wholemeal flour (I used spelt)
  • 1/2 tsp salt flakes
  • black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4c buttermilk (OR 1/4c milk and 5ml apple cider vinegar)

Mix the parsnip, flour and seasoning in a bowl so that the flour is evenly dispersed. Make a well in the middle of the parsnip. Add the egg and the buttermilk and mix them and the parsnip with a fork until combined. Cook in a hot pan in a little olive oil until each side is golden brown. Place the cooked pancakes on paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Makes 8 pancakes.

lazy braised lentils, ham hock, mozzarella & pesto

hocklentils

This is comfort food in its purest form.  A humble pork hock is slowly cooked in a hearty tomato sauce and finished with lentils and herbs.  Unchallenging to cook and soothing to eat, this simple dish offers delicious variations to enjoy for a warming breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Honestly, the only non-negotiables here are a daggy bag of dried lentils, a bacon or ham hock and tinned tomatoes. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. I had mushrooms and half a bunch of parsley in my fridge but you could just as easily use carrot, celery, thyme, bay or basil. Don’t have a leftover fennel stalk like I did? Don’t worry. Simply throw whatever you have in a pot and let this delicious braise become oh-so-much-greater than the sum of its parts.

Lazy lentils, tomato, fennel & pork hock

  • 2tb olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, diced finely
  • 10-12 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced finely
  • 1 fennel stalk, sliced finely
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2t smoked paprika
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 bacon or ham hock
  • 2 tins diced tomato
  • 4 tins water
  • 500g dry lentils (I used the pretty French-style lentils)
  • 1/4 bunch parsley, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large deep pot that has a lid. Saute the onion, mushrooms, fennel and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add the spices and cook, while stirring, until they are also smelling fantastic. Add the hock and the tinned tomatoes. Using one of the empty tomato tins, add 4 tins of water. Cover with a lid. Simmer very gently until the pork meat is falling off the bone, roughly 2 hours. Remove the hock from the sauce and pull the meat from the bone into bite-size pieces. Add back into the sauce with the lentils and herbs and simmer for 20-30 minutes until lentils are cooked.

Note that I haven’t mentioned adding salt – don’t. The hock is sufficiently salty that you will want to taste the final product before adjusting the seasoning.

What I did next: this dish yields 6-8 hearty serves. I froze 2 serves for a future awesome easy meal. I divided the remaining cooled pork and lentils in half. I put one half into an oven-proof dish and sliced a 125g ball of mozzarella on top. I baked this @ 180’C for 15-20 minutes until the lentils were hot and the mozzarella was gooey. I drizzled pesto on top and served it with a green salad for dinner. We had the other half for breakfast a couple of days later – baked for the same amount of time but topped with 2 eggs, fresh chilli and herbs and served with bread. Delicious!

Instead of finishing the pork and lentils in the oven, you could quite easily heat them in a pot and serve them scattered with toasted breadcrumbs and crumbled parmesan or fresh ricotta and gremolata.

Kate xx

 

zucchini buckwheat bread

 

zuccbread2

Once or twice a week I like to bake something with my 2 year old son. He loves mixing, cracking eggs and, of course, licking the bowl. We originally baked this gorgeous buckwheat loaf to have with breakfast one weekend.  This delicious bread is so good it is now the only bread we eat! We bake a loaf every Sunday.

It is absolutely divine…                                                                                                                                                            spread with avocado or sunflower seed butter.                                                                                                                     with poached eggs and smoked salmon.                                                                                                                                   with leg ham and chutney.                                                                                                                                                          with sliced tomato and ricotta.

I am keen to experiment with this recipe. I am sure that this loaf could become a beautiful Spiced Carrot and Raisin loaf, more suited to a sweet but nourishing morning tea loaf. This recipe is free of gluten and dairy.

Zucchini buckwheat bread

  • 2 c buckwheat flour
  • 1 c almond meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 c walnuts, toasted, crushed to coarse breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 c rice malt syrup, honey or maple syrup
  • scant 1/3 c coconut oil or olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 medium-large zucchini, grated

Whisk the syrup, oil, eggs and zucchini together. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into a lined loaf tin and bake for 45-60 minutes at 170’C.

Shopping the pantry?  The buckwheat flour imparts a lovely earthy, nutty flavour to this loaf but you could use wholemeal flour (spelt would be perfect) as a substitute. I have used other nuts instead of walnuts – and they were sorely missed. The walnuts give such a beautiful depth of flavour that I haven’t found in other nuts.

 

copious cups of tea and nutty buckwheat cake

nuttybuckwheatcake1

A latte is lovely but tea is heaven. As energising as a coffee but also offering more medicinal benefits, the very act of cupping a hot tea is calming and restorative. As the weather turns colder I can quite happily drink several cups a day. English Breakfast, toasty genmaicha, gingery chai and several herbal blends are on hand in the cupboard above the kettle. With 2 little people, I am most likely to rely on tea bags thrown in a mug but if I had the time to brew a pot and drink it from a beautiful cup, this is the cake I would enjoy with it. Failing that, we will probably eat slices of this at the park while I try not to drop crumbs on the baby’s head.

The batter for this rustic treat is not overly sweet and relies heavily on ripe, seasonal fruit to secure its place as a cake rather than a loaf. This is not the recipe for tart rhubarb or plums – favour soft, seasonal pears or sweet berries. Lovely eaten on its own or with sweetened, whipped ricotta, this recipe is adapted from one on the beautiful “101 Cookbooks” blog.

Nutty Buckwheat Cake

  • ½ c buckwheat flour
  • ½ c almond meal or spelt flour
  • 2 tb, heaped, rolled oats
  • ½ t baking powder
  • ½ t bicarb soda
  • ½ t salt flakes
  • 60g butter, melted or mild olive oil
  • 1/3 c rice malt syrup, maple syrup or honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon, zest of
  • 5ml vanilla extract
  • ¼ c yoghurt or buttermilk or milk with a squeeze of lemon
  • 1 ½ c diced fruit or berries
  • 1tb buckinis
  • 1tb crushed almonds
  • 1tb, heaped, pepitas
  • 1tb, heaped, coconut flakes or shreds
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp rice malt syrup, maple syrup or honey

Mix the first 6 (dry) ingredients together. Whisk the butter, syrup and egg together until pale and creamy. Gently whisk in the yoghurt, vanilla and zest, then the dry ingredients and 1/2 c of the fruit. Place the batter into a greased, lined loaf tin. Combine the last 6 ingredients together and sprinkle half of this mix on top of the cake batter. Scatter the remaining fruit over this and finally scatter remaining nut/seed mix on top. Bake for 35-45 mins @ 175’C.

 

 

 

 

 

one-handed overnight oats

My backup breakfast for chaotic mornings when I barely have a hand free is these lovely overnight oats. Your choice of grains, nuts and seeds soaked in milk and yoghurt and left in the fridge overnight to become greater than the sum of their parts. Easy to prepare, easier to eat and readily transportable if you are up and out the door first thing. If you manage to have a second hand free, top the oats with poached rhubarb or pear or drizzle with honey.

Overnight Oats

  • 1/3 c rolled oats
  • 1/3 c buckinis or quinoa flakes
  • 1tb, heaped, pepitas
  • 1tb, heaped, coconut flakes or threads
  • 1tb sesame seeds
  • 2tb almonds, chopped
  • 2/3 c yoghurt, Greek-style
  • 2/3 c milk (I like the taste of almond milk with oats)
  • 1-2 tsp rice malt syrup, honey or maple syrup or to taste
  • extra nuts and seeds, optional

Combine all ingredients and leave overnight. Top with fruit and extra nuts and seeds. Beautiful with berries, poached rhubarb or pear or sliced banana and cinnamon. Makes 2 satisfying serves.