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Posts Tagged ‘muffins’

There’s a running joke in my family about zucchini plants. When I was growing up, my mom always insisted my dad plant two zucchini plants “in case one dies.” Needless to say, every summer both plants survived and inevitably we would end up with some XXL zucchini at more than one occasion during the season.

Zucchinis in my garden

*Only* five zucchini plants in my garden this year. Trying to pick them all while still small!

I like to plant both green and yellow zucchini. I buy baby plants at the nursery. There’s always more than one plant per container. You can see where this is going…

This year I have a bed with 5 (yes FIVE) zucchini plants in it. With the recent hot weather, they’re growing like crazy. I tried hand pollination and witnessed the effects—zucchini matures properly growing big and strong instead of staying small and eventually rotting—but they don’t even need that help!

Yellow zucchini

Hmm, I see one zucchini for every day of the week (and more)!

I’m picking at least one zucchini per day. I’m giving them away. I’m gathering and trying recipes: zucchini relish (from mom and mother-in-law), zucchini fritters (fast, easy and tasty, use less oil and fry in a non-stick pan), zucchini tart, zucchini frittata (eggs, sliced zucchini, basil, goat cheese, salt & pepper), stuffed zucchini flowers (eat the flowers and I may get a zucchini picking break for a couple of days), pasta tossed with zucchini (spaghetti, sauteed sliced zucchini, basil, mint, bit of garlic, toasted pine nuts), … I’m eating lots of zucchini!

Here are two recent creations:

Recipe: Zucchini and Chickpea Salad

I just threw this salad together, so measurements are approximate (or non-existent). Adjust quantities to your own taste.

*Make this recipe at least one day ahead to allow flavours to meld.*

1 tsp cumin seed, toasted
½ tsp coriander seed, toasted
approx. 20 large basil leaves + more to finish
approx. 20 large mint leaves + more to finish
flat-leaf parsley
lemon juice, from half a lemon
olive oil
salt & pepper
2 green onion, cut into 1 cm pieces
3-4 smallish zucchinis
chickpeas

If using dried chickpeas, soak and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.

Cut zucchini into thin slices. Saute until just soft. Add green onion and remove from heat (green onion will cook lightly in the remaining heat, but not lose its colour).

Using a mortar and pestle, grind cumin and coriander seeds. Add all herbs, a bit of salt and some olive oil, and work the herbs into a paste. Once the herbs start to break down, add the lemon juice and more olive oil and keep working it to create a paste. Adjust seasoning.

Toss chickpeas, zucchini and herb paste. Let rest at least 12 hours, preferably one day, before serving.

Recipe: Apricot Almond (Zucchini) Muffins

Apricot almond (zucchini) muffins

Wet:
1 egg
¾ cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup zucchini, finely grated (2-3 smaller zucchinis)
6-8 apricots, diced

Dry:
1 ¾ cups flour
½ cup ground almonds
3 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
sliced almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line/grease 10-12 muffin cups.

Combine all wet ingredients. Combine flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend until flour mixture is just moistened.

Fill muffin cups. Sprinkle with sliced almonds if desired. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

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This story starts two years ago. I was at the Carp Farmers’ Market talking Bonnie-Jean Stacey of Take Charge Tea about the fact that elderberries—she blends a tea with elderberries, rosehips, and more—are common in Europe, but seem lesser known here. She responded that Dobson Farm grows them.

That year, the elderberry season had already passed. I went back last summer and bought several boxes of the tiny dark berries. Then it dawned on me that if Mr. Dobson was selling the berries, he would also have elderflowers earlier in the season. I asked him if he would sell me some. He agreed.

Box of elderflowers from Dobson Farm

Box of elderflowers from Dobson Farm. I find these delicate flowers absolutely beautiful.

On Saturday, I picked up a box full of delicately beautiful and subtly perfumed elderflowers—and got way more than I needed to make the planned elderflower syrup. The culinary experimentation began: steeping, infusing, drying, frying, baking, and fermenting!

Right now I have elderflower fizz enjoying the heat on the porch, elderflower syrup steeping in the cool basement, elderflower vinegar infusing in the kitchen, and flowers drying on a tray. On Saturday, David and I made elderflower fritters. On Sunday, we had elderflower pancakes for breakfast. I ended the day baking some “elder power” muffins for our lunches this week.

I stored the elderflower heads in the box in the basement (cool spot). The flowers got more aromatic and became easier to remove from the stems (and started turning brown) with time. It takes a significant amount of flowers to gently flavour any kind of baking. Important to note is that only the flowers and berries can be eaten, and then they should be cooked, because they contain an alkaloid that is mildly poisonous.

Recipe: Elderflower Fritters

Elderflower fritters

This fritters were less crispy than I expected, but delicious nonetheless and something a little bit different.

12 – 16 elderflower “heads”
250 mL beer
250 g flour
25 g sugar
pinch salt
4 eggs, separated
zest of 1 lemon
oil for frying
icing sugar

Select fresh elderflower heads with open flowers (no brown ones). Shake them lightly to remove any unwanted bits/critters. Do not remove them from the stems.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest, beer and egg yolks to make a smooth batter. Beat egg whites and fold gently into the batter. Add some (sparkling) water if it seems too thick.

Frying elderflower fritters

Dip the battered elderflower head "head down" into the oil and press down gently to make the individual branches spread.

Heat oil (160-180°C). I used a cast iron frying pan. Fry one elderflower head at a time. Holding the stem, dip the elderflower head into the batter. Spin lightly in the bowl to remove excess batter. Fry until golden. Using tongs flip to fry the other side. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate.

Dust with icing sugar to serve.

kim

Recipe: Elder Power Muffins

Elder power muffins

The flowers add a aromatic floral note and the berries lend a little crunch and colour.

Wet:
1 egg
¾ cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup apple, coarsely grated (1 medium apple)
¾ cup elderberries, fresh or frozen

Dry:
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 cup elderflowers, removed from the stems

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line/grease 10-12 muffin cups.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and elderflowers. Combine all wet ingredients, adding elderberries last (they will very quickly colour the other liquid ingredients). Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend gently until flour mixture is just moistened.

Fill muffin cups. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

Epilogue

It’s July 12. The elderflower fizz went flat. Will try again next year.

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Strawberry and rhubarb are a classic combination—sweet and tart come together for a mouthful of deliciousness—yet it’s not often that they are both really in season at the same time. Granted, you can still get rhubarb for quite a while after it is first available, but for me it’s more associated with spring. Strawberries belong to summer.

This year the strawberries are early and the rhubarb still plentiful, so I’m compelled to combine the two. Here are two recipes: one savoury, one sweet.

Recipe: Rhubarb-Goat Cheese and Strawberry Bruschetta

Rhubarb-goat cheese strawberry bruschetta

These bruschetta have bright, fresh and balanced flavours with a combination of textures. Have plates and napkins on hand. Eating them can get a bit messy—there’s the risk of strawberry pieces falling off and the balsamic vinegar dripping!

Makes  10-12 pieces

1 baguette
2 cups rhubarb, chopped
1 ½ tbsp sugar
1-2 tbsp water
125 g fresh goat cheese
1 tsp peppercorns, freshly cracked
2 cups strawberries (small/medium strawberries are preferable)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
8 basil leaves, coarsely chopped (I have several varieties in my garden and used osmin purple and spicy globe. Both have an aromatic fruity flavour.)

Measure goat cheese, crumble it into a bowl and let it come to room temperature; this step will make it easier to mix in the rhubarb at a later step.

Cut 12 1 cm-thick slices of baguette. Place them on a baking tray and toast at 350°F until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool.

Combine chopped rhubarb, sugar and water in a saucepan. Simmer 5-10 minutes until rhubarb breaks down. I wanted a relatively dry compote, so I started with 1 tbsp water (rhubarb will release water as it cooks), and added more when I noticed there was a risk of sticking/burning. Remove from heat and spread on a plate to speed up the cooling down process. The compote can be made in advance.

Stir the goat cheese until smooth. Once the rhubarb compote is cool, mix ½ cup into the goat cheese (you may have some compote left over) and season with the cracked peppercorns. The goat cheese mixture can be prepared in advance.

Shortly before serving, halve strawberries lengthwise, then slice. In a bowl, combine strawberries with balsamic vinegar and basil.

Just before serving, make the bruschetta by spreading some of the goat cheese mixture on the slices of toasted baguette. Top with the strawberry mixture. Serve immediately.

Recipe: Strawberry-Rhubarb Muffins

Strawberry-rhubarb muffins

YUM! Looking forward to lunches with strawberry-rhubarb muffins this week!

I made yummy rhubarb syrup yesterday, so I’m using the leftover rhubarb “mash” in these muffins. This mash is already sweetened, so I’m only adding ¼ cup sugar; adjust sugar according to your taste. To make rhubarb compote without making the syrup, place 2 cups chopped rhubarb, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp water in a saucepan and simmer until rhubarb breaks down. If making muffins with the compote, increase sugar in recipe to ½ cup.

Wet:
1 egg
½ cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup rhubarb mash/compote
1 ½ cups quartered strawberries (preferably small ones, so the chunks don’t get too big and make the muffins soggy)

Dry:
1 ½ cups flour (I use spelt flour)
½ cup rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp cardamom
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line/grease 10-12 muffin cups.

Combine all wet ingredients, adding strawberries last. Combine flour, rolled oats, baking powder and salt. Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend gently until flour mixture is just moistened.

Fill muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

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Even after making 16 jars of jam with the strawberries we picked this morning, we still have lots left. This week’s muffins have a tender lemony crumb and are studded with strawberries.

They’re named after what David exclaimed when he saw them cooling in the kitchen.

Recipe: Strawberry Explosion Muffins

Lemon Strawberry Muffins

Looking forward to having these "Strawberry Explosion Muffins" in my lunch this week!

Wet:
1 egg
¾ cup milk
¼ cup lemon juice
Rind of 1 lemon, finely grated
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups quartered strawberries (preferably small ones, so the chunks don’t get too big and make the muffins soggy)

Dry:
2 cups flour (I use a combination of 1 cup spelt and 1 cup kamut flour)
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line/grease 10-12 muffin cups.

Combine all wet ingredients, adding strawberries last. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend gently until flour mixture is just moistened.

Fill muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

Recipe Variation: Lemon-Blueberry Muffins

Replace the strawberries with the same amount of blueberries.

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Every Sunday, I make muffins in preparation for a week of office lunches. The muffin is our “sweet treat.” I figure it’s better to have a tasty, healthy, homemade muffin than to buy an overly sweet and really-not-so-good cookie or muffin at an anonymous café.

I’ve been playing around with muffin recipes, trying to see by how much I can reduce the fat and sugar while still producing a good muffin. I think I finally got the right formula!

This recipe uses the standard technique of mixing wet ingredients into the dry, and results in a relatively light, moist muffin that freezes well. It can be adapted with any variety of flavours. Grated apples provide moisture and are easily combined with other fruit or berries, but can be replaced with grated carrots, zucchini … I haven’t tried banana with this recipe, but I imagine it would work too (maybe in a different proportion). As with anything in the kitchen, the possibilities are endless!

Rhubarb’s in season, so this week’s muffin brings together tart rhubarb and sweet apple in fresh harmony.

Recipe: Apple-Rhubarb Muffins

Apple-rhubarb muffins

I tried a cream cheese-type filling for this batch, but wasn't satisfied – needs some tweaking before sharing. The rhubarb chunks in these muffins are a bit too big too. Tasty muffins nonetheless!

Wet:
1 egg
½ cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups apples, coarsely grated (2-3 apples)

Dry:
2 cups flour (I use a combination of 1 ½ cups spelt and ½ cup unbleached white.)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
1 ½ cups rhubarb, diced (I recommend a fine dice, approx. 1 cm. Rhubarb has a lot of water, so large pieces can create “soggy” pockets in the muffins.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line/grease 10-12 muffin cups.

Combine all wet ingredients. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in rhubarb. Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend until flour mixture is just moistened.

Fill muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

Recipe Variation: Carrot-Pineapple Muffins

Carrot-pineapple muffins

Sweet combination, but not overly sweet muffins! These could be enhanced by adding chopped walnuts or raisins.

Replace grated apple with 1 cup grated carrot and ½ cup chopped pineapple (crushed works too, but chopped pineapple gives visible chunks and more texture). Leave out the rhubarb.

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