Blueberry and Coconut Muffins

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I came up with this muffin recipe when I was raiding my pantry and couldn’t find enough plain flour and then minutes later,  found I’d run out of butter as well.  Meanwhile, I had just been to the supermarket!  This is a continual issue for me, I really need to write proper shopping lists, although that isn’t foolproof either.  I often leave them on the kitchen bench, I digress!  Anyway, all was not lost as these muffins are what eventuated and they are super delicious and  quick.  The addition of the coconut oil makes them especially morish.  Great things can happen when your pantry is empty and you have the memory of a sieve!

Ingredients: Makes 12 

170 g plain flour

30 g unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

80 g sugar

80 g extra virgin coconut oil

100 ml plain unsweetened yoghurt

100ml lite milk

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

200g blueberries ( I used frozen)

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 200 C and line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases.

Grab two medium mixing bowls.  Sift your plain flour, bicarb soda and baking powder into one of the bowls.  Add in the shredded coconut and stir through.

In your second bowl, add the sugar, egg, vanilla, softened coconut oil, yoghurt, milk and whisk with a fork until combined.  You might have to mash up the coconut oil a little to combine it thoroughly.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine. Try not to over stir as it can make the muffins more rubbery.  If it is a little dry you can add a few more drops of milk.  Fold in the blueberries and then spoon your mixture into the muffin cases.  Pop into your preheated oven and bake for 20min.

Enjoy still warm from the oven with a hot cup of tea or coffee x

 

 

 

 

 

Bramboračka with a twist

IMG_8504This comforting bowl of goodness is a remake of one of my favourite Czech soup recipes, Bramboračka or Potato Soup.  If you ever go to Prague you’ll see it on most pub menus, alongside roast pork knuckle and goulash.

The traditional recipe is not pureed  (you guessed it, that’s the twist!) ) but certain fussy eaters in our pod won’t eat mushrooms so I puree it and it gets eaten like magic.

There are lots of versions, some with celery and parsnip and others use dry mushrooms, you could even try it with porcini if you felt like something really spesh.  I keep the mushroom to a minimum as I want it to be a sleuth ingredient (for the fussies) but if I was making it just for myself, I’d put a lot more in, I’d probably crank up the garlic too.

On the topic of garlic, Czech’s often like to eat this with topinky, which is fried rye bread rubbed with a raw garlic clove.  Perhaps not so great for a date night but very delicious!

 

Ingredients:   serves four

1 tablespoon olive oil and a small knob of butter

1 small onion diced

2 cloves of garlic chopped

2 carrots

5 medium mushrooms peeled

4 medium potatoes

3 cups chicken stock/bone broth or vegetable stock

1 tablespoon thick cream

2 sprigs parsley

salt and pepper

Tweeks: you could add a stalk of celery and parsnip.  Traditionally this soup is seasoned with marjoram which adds a lovely depth of flavour.

Method: 

Put a medium sized saucepan on medium heat and fry the onion and garlic in the oil and butter.  Roughly chop all the vegetables.  When the onion is translucent, add the garlic and all the vegetables.  Turn the heat down to low, put the lid on your pot and allow the vegetables to sweat for about 10 minutes, this helps develop the flavour and gives you a rich tasting soup.  If you don’t have time, you can skip this part and go straight in with the stock.

After you have let your veggies sweat it out,  add your stock and parsley sprigs.  Bring it up to the boil and then turn it down to a low simmer.  Let it simmer for about 40 mins, or until the carrots are really soft.   Take your pot off the heat, fish out the parsley and discard.   Take out half a cup of the liquid and keep aside.  Add the cream and then blitz with a hand blender.  Taste and check the seasoning, add some of the liquid you’ve taken out if you want to thin out the consistency a little.  Serve with bread or topinky, Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Carrot, Pineapple and Sultana Muffins (dairy free)

IMG_4586A few years ago we had a pod with a number of food allergies and intolerances.  We had members with FPIES and Anaphylaxis and a few other pesky intolerances as well.  As anyone who has dealt with allergies would know, finding alternate foods can be difficult and sometimes stressful.  Whipping up things yourself means you can be certain that nothing on the black list has been thrown in.   When searching for baked goods that were egg or dairy free ( the same goes for gluten free) the texture of them would often be quite tough, slightly reminiscent of cardboard, with a hint of foam cup.  I set about searching for tasty recipes and stumbled upon an old muffin cookbook my mum had copied from a neighbour in the 80’s.  This recipe was in it and after some adapting to suit the allergies we were dealing with, it became an absolute winner.  The greatest thing about the recipe is that it can be tweaked a number of different ways, to suit your particular allergy or tastes and will still remain moist and delicious, due to the addition of the carrot and the pineapple.  No styrofoam mouth feel here.  They are super easy to prepare, just some quick mixing and folding and have been a hit with our little and big people for years

Head to the list of tweaks at the end, to adapt the recipe to your own needs.  Sultanas are not everyone’s bag but were added as our little people are obsessed with them.  

Ingredients: 

1/2 cup white sugar

2/3 cup light olive oil

2 large eggs

1 and 1/2 cup plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla ( I use the vanilla bean paste but you could easily use vanilla extract)

1 tablespoon plain coconut yoghurt 

1 cup finely crated carrot

1 cup crushed unsweetened pineapple well drained

1/2 cup sultanas

Method:

1.  Preheat your oven to 190 Celsius or 375 Fahrenheit

2.  Line a 12 hole muffin tray with muffin cases

3. In a mixing bowl combine sugar, yoghurt, oil, vanilla and eggs.  Beat this together lightly with a fork.

4. Grab another mixing bowl and a medium size sieve.  Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into the mixing bowl.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl with the sugar and oil mixture.  Stir a few times to moisten, then fold in the grated carrot, drained pineapple and sultanas.

6. Mix until just combined.  Don’t go overboard with the old mixing here or you’ll end up with muffins that taste like hockey pucks. 

7. Spoon the mixture into your 12 muffin cases.  This mixture rises quite a bit so it’s safest not to fill your cases right to the top.

8. Pop your muffin tray into your preheated oven for 20 mins. 

9. Once done leave the muffins to cool for about 15 min, this makes uncasing them easier. 

Tweaks: 

  • You can omit the sultanas and add 1/2 cup of chopped dry roasted, unsalted almonds or unsalted macadamia nuts instead.  Unsweetened coconut flakes are also a delicious substitute but you might like to omit the cinnamon if you go this route.
  • This recipe works well as an egg free muffin, simply substitute the eggs for egg replacer
  • If you are fine with dairy you can use full fat plain yoghurt

 

Family cooks we salute you!

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In a world where the celebrity chef reigns supreme there is one cook who needs a bit of love, a warm hug and a lie down.  The family cook, the most unglamorous chef, rarely in the spot light despite beating the odds and dishing up family meals three hundred and sixty five days a year. 

My mum was the family cook when we were small and my dad took on the mantle in our teenage years.  He was home by 5.30pm every night and headed straight to the kitchen to prepare our family meal. I now sympathise with his withered look as he presented the wholesome meal to the table and saw our collective eyes fall as we weren’t quite feeling his vegetable curry.  As we pushed the food around our plate for the next twenty minutes, it often became evident that some of us, may have bought a large kebab meal on the way home from school, and were no longer hungry.

I am now the family cook in our household, ain’t karma grand? I actually love cooking, I find it relaxing and would even call it a hobby.  HOWEVER, cooking dinner for the family, everyday, is none of these! It is in a category all on it’s own. Most nights it feels akin to being a soldier trying to get through enemy lines. 

Some meals are gobbled with gusto and there are resounding cheers for more, however, if I dare go off-piste and introduce something new, I fear the neighbours may call the authorities.  Forget thinking about the ratio of protein to carbohydrate or wether or not the meal promotes good gut flora or has the appropriate amount of plant protein or utilises locally grown, sustainable produce.  Some nights the mere lunge to the pantry door can often feel impossibly hard.

So, I’ve tried to prep more.  The idea being, when hangry o’clock begins, I only have a couple of small jobs left to do; boil the pasta, and cook the corn.  How hard could boiling pasta be? Cue middle child, ‘Mum, Muuuum can you help me stick up my gazelle?” Me: “Honey, I need to get the pasta on, I’ll do it after dinner” middle child: “I need the gazelle on the wall NOW, I need it above the ant eater on my mural, NOOOW” Me: “Please be patient, I will help you when I’m finished”.  Eldest child “Which do you think is better….a threadfin snapper, a bat that uses echo location to try and catch a moth or a blue marlin slashing a fish in half?” Me: “What?! Honey, is this homework?! I can’t now, I need to boil the pasta” eldest child:  “Mural mum, it’s for the mural”.  A crash is audible below, the baby has gotten through my make-shift barrier of cushions and has rolled into the kitchen (I cannot install a safety gate because the layout of the kitchen doesn’t allow it, because, well, because of course it doesn’t!). Baby is now kicking the dishwasher and he’s dismantled the lower section so the pump is visible.  Another bang, this one comes from the living room. “What’s that?!” I yell, not wanting to leave the boiling pasta and the baby who is now under the open pantry door. Middle child: “I fell off the chair trying to hang my gazelle up mum”.  I quickly check with eldest child that middle child is ok and push on with straining the pasta, baby is now wrapped around my legs.  Have not got to the corn yet, decide to scrap it.  The bolognese has enough veggies in it, surely?!  As I crane my head into the living room to call them to dinner I spy reams of sticky tape on the ground.   On further inspection, the walls are covered with the kids pictures of animals that have been stuck on with said tape. Rather than admiring their ‘mural’, my mind suddenly wonders if all the wall paint will be removed by the tape.  Baby is screaming, he has become stuck between pantry door and wall.  As middle child and eldest child tuck into their bolognese they ask, where is the corn? And can they have a drink? And where are the drinks? And do I know what is for dessert? I can hardly speak as I’m prostrate on the floor, picking up nearly all the pasta I dished up for the baby.  I thought those suction cup plates were supposed to stay suctioned to the table?!   

Jools Oliver, wife of celebrity chef Jamie,  isn’t immune to this kind of palaver either.   In an interview with Zoe Hardman and Georgia Dayton she comments on the challenges of feeding her brood and the way her heart sinks when her youngest River, drops his jam toast face down on the floor.   “How disrespectful” she says to herself, completely in jest of course, however, it taps into that relentlessness and exhaustion you can feel when you are preparing never-ending meals that can regularly end up straight on the floor. 

Jessica Rowe’s instagram, The Crap Housewife, generously serves up her nightly dinner offerings, which by the way are really not that crap, my kids would be cheering for schnitty that regularly!  Scrolling through her feed you’ll see many of her go-to dinner staples and in turn you can feel a little better if you find those Pinterest worthy meals completely unattainable.  As any worn out family cook knows, it’s often the very simplest of meals that the family end up liking best.  It is a cruel truth that the ones you’ve slaved over, like the special kale and fetta baby fritters, are most likely the ones to end up being frizbeed across the room.

To all the everyday family cooks out there, we salute you.  In case nobody has told you lately, you are doing a FANTASTIC job.  You are on the front line, growing the humans of tomorrow and are infinitely more important than you will ever get credit for.