Spiced choco chip muffin

Spiced choco chip muffin © dan and  tuesday

Spiced choco chip muffin © dan and tuesday

This muffin recipe puts a twist on the regular choco chip muffin by adding spices. I used a spice I found in the Sunday Riverside market in Cardiff. It’s called Victorian cake spice. I’m not really sure what’s in it – if you know, feel free to enlighten us! But it smells of Christmas, of cinnamon and nutmeg!

Victorian cake spice © dan and tueday

Victorian cake spice © dan and tueday

I’ve made this a few times now – to share at work, to give us a present for Kielo, and, now, for our friends Helen and Phil.

You need:

  • 100 g softened unsalted butter
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 100 g dark muscovado sugar
  • 5 tbsp milk
  • 150 ml sour cream
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 250 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200 g dark chocolate chips

dark chocolate chips © dan and tuesday

dark chocolate chips © dan and tuesday

Tools

  • 12-cup muffin tray, lined with muffin cases
  • mixing bowls
  • handheld mixer
  • pre-heated oven at 190˚C

What to do:

  1. Mix butter and sugars in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Beat in eggs.
  3. Add milk and cream and mix until everything is thoroughly mixed.
  4. In another bowl, sift flour, spice, bicarbonate of soda, and cocoa powder.
  5. Mix the wet and dry mixture very well. I just use a spoon at this stage and not the handmixer.

    making muffins © dan and tuesday

    making muffins © dan and tuesday

  6. Add the chocolate chips. Mix well, agin with a spoon.
  7. Spoon mixture on the muffin cases.
  8. Bake for about 28 – 30 mins then take out from the oven and let it  cool in the tray for about 10 mins. Transfer to a wire rack to cool properly.
spiced choco chip muffin © dan and tuesday

spiced choco chip muffin © dan and tuesday

Maybe this is more of a Christmas muffin… but so far no one has objected to a little taste of Christmas in the summer.

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Spanish manchego and courgette muffins

Spanish manchego muffins © dan and tuesday

Spanish manchego muffins © dan and tuesday

This evening I am channelling my friend and colleague, Sandy, who is the best muffin baker I know. I’ve decided to make a savoury muffin after Sandy made Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s courgette and pine nut muffins for my bbq birthday party last month.

I am using a recipe from a Marks and Spencer “magical muffins” cookbook (only £5!). This is the first muffin recipe I am using from the book. It’s a good muffins cookbook which contains sweet, savoury, and healthy muffins, and muffins for special occasions.

Most of the ingredients for this recipe are stock items in my pantry. The only things I needed were fresh flat-leaf parsley, courgette, and Spanish manchego cheese. The trickiest bit is having a shredded courgette but I have my trusty magimix food processor for that.

shredded courgettes © dan and tuesday

shredded courgettes © dan and tuesday

You need:

  • 150 50 ml vegetable oil
  • 280 grams plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp granulated/caster sugar
  • 2 medium free-range eggs
  • 175 ml milk
  • 400 g shredded courgettes
  • 30 grams grated Spanish manchego cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Tools:

  • grater for cheese and courgette
  • food processor (optional)
  • 12-cup muffin tray oiled or line with muffin cases
  • muffin cases (optional)
  • Pre-heated oven at 200˚C
  • mixing bowls
  • beater (optional)
oiling the muffin tray © dan and tuesday

oiling the muffin tray © dan and tuesday

What to do:

  1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a big bowl. Add the sugar and mix well.

    sifting flour © dan and tuesday

    sifting flour © dan and tuesday

  2. In another bowl, beat the eggs lightly with a fork or a beater. Stir in milk and the vegetable oil and mix well.

    beating the eggs © dan and tuesday

    beating the eggs © dan and tuesday

  3. Add egg mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir to mix well.
  4. Add the courgettes. Lightly stir.
  5. Add the manchego. Lightly stir.
  6. Add parsley. Lightly stir.
  7. Really, don’t over-stir. It’s fine if it’s a bit lumpy.
  8. Divide evenly in the muffin tray filling it at least 2/3 full.
  9. Cook in the oven for about 25 mins until it’s golden. You can test if the muffins are already cooked by sticking in a toothpick and if it comes clean then it’s cooked.
  10. Remove from the oven leave it on the tray for a bit and then transfer on a wire rack to cook properly. Eat it right away (most awesome idea) or you can freeze it for about a month. I like mine with a bit of butter but Dan prefers it without.
lovely savoury muffins © dan and tuesday

lovely savoury muffins © dan and tuesday

What I want to try next time with this recipe

  • use different fresh herb like oregano, rosemary or basil
  • use less oil
  • use young spinach with the cheese
  • oh, and use more cheese!
  • Manchego cheese is a bit mild for me so I might try a strong cheese like smoked applewood or even parmesan next time.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagne

This is in the oven right now as I start writing this. It’s my first attempt at lasagne. Ever. And the greengrocer seems to have sold me some slightly dodgy spinach, so I can’t really vouch for its quality just yet. Maybe Tuesy can report back after I serve it up.

Here’s what you need to do:

1 Butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper

Peel and halve the squash. De-seed that thing. Chop it into big chunks (1 inch square has to be good enough, I reckon), toss it all in a roasting tin with the olive oil, chopped onion and a tablespoon of water. Season with salt n’ pepper. Roast at about 200 degrees (or considerably less if your oven is a fan-assisted raging furnace like Tuesy’s) for 25 mins. While that’s going on, you can get started on the sauce:

25g butter
25g plain flour
1 pint milk

Melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Gradually add the milk, stirring all the time (you don’t want it to go too lumpy) and then simmer it for about five minutes. It’ll go a bit thick, but not too stodgy.

In the meantime, cook 250g of baby leaf spinach in a few dribbles of water (use a separate pan!). Add salt and pepper.

To finish the sauce, you’ll need:

250g carton of ricotta
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (Tuesy: I did the grating!!)
6 sheets of that
lasagne that doesn’t need pre-cooking (Tuesy: this means, use regular lasagne sheets but you don’t have to pre-cook even if the packet says so. As this is very saucy, the pasta will cook anyway!)
50g of parmesan cheese, grated (we like it cheesy, so we’d go up to 80g for this one. I know, we’re just wild…)

Mix the ricotta into the sauce, add the nutmeg and a bit of salt n’ pepper if you haven’t got enough seasoning already. Here, for atmosphere, is a picture of some nutmeg during the grating process:

Now you get to build your lasagne. In an ovenproof dish, put the squash and onion stuff, nicely roasted by now, in the bottom, add the spinach on top and in between and all over, then about a third of the sauce. Layer the lasagne sheets on top, pour on the rest of the sauce. Finally, sprinkle the cheese on top and still more salt n’ pepper if that’s your thing.

Bake for about half an hour, or until the top part achieves your ideal level of crispy, golden goodness. Mine is nearly ready. Hope it’s good. Tuesy’s getting ready to test out her new food processor with some cup cakes, so there may be a delicious dessert blog to come shortly.

Tuesy: The lasagne Dan made is the best lasagne I have ever had in my flat tee hee… it was the FIRST lasagne I’ve ever had in my flat 🙂 But but but! It was also the best lasagne in the whole world! I absolutely love it!

The picture below is a macro shot of the lasagne. We love a crispy top!

PS. Dan used the Good Housekeeping guide to cookery for this recipe. He got it from his brother for xmas and it has changed his life! And I am grateful, of course 🙂

PPS. Recipe for the delicious dark chocolate cup cake to be published soon!