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Blackberry and Apple Muffins

These little bakes are super delicious, Moist and tender and full of flavour. I do recommend making them as they are super easy and the mixture can be stored ahead and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.

You can vary the fillings and flavours very easily as I regularly do, to create a new bake. The only ingredient you need to include is a grated apple or pear as this gives the muffins their moist texture.

I like a teaspoon of ground ginger in these muffins but you could substitute cinnamon or another spice according to taste.

This recipe gives enough mixture to make 6 medium to large muffins. Double it for 12.

I made these muffins in a quirky Silverwood muffin tin, available pretty easily in the UK, but if you’re in Australia like me, you will need to go to Blackwood Lane in Melbourne to buy them. An ordinary muffin tin works just as well.

Ingredients

2 free-range eggs

140g raw sugar

100g apples, unpeeled and grated

75ml vegetable oil

150g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ tsp salt

A handful of blackberries for the mixture plus extra for decoration

Glaze

2 or 3 puréed blackberries with a squeeze of lime or lemon and enough icing sugar to make a glaze.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees fan-forced 180 degrees non fan-forced.

Using an electric mixer and the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs until they are foamy. Then slowly pour in the sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size.

Still using the whisk, mix in the grated apple and oil. With a metal spoon or spatula, gently fold in the flour, baking powder, ginger and salt.

The mixture can be baked straight away, but leaving it in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight gives the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture.

When ready to bake, grease your muffin tin. If you want to use a fancy tin, my advice is to butter and flour very carefully to avoid the muffins sticking. I actually butter the molds, stick in the fridge for 10 minutes, then butter again, and finally flour.

If using a traditional muffin tin, after greasing you can line the holes with large squares of baking paper to encase the muffins.

Spoon in the muffin mixture to fill the cavities 3/4 full.

At this point pop several blackberries into each muffin, mixing in carefully. The blackberries are put in last to stop them breaking up too much.

Place the muffins in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, inserting a skewer into the muffins to check if they are cooked.

Remove the muffins from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. Carefully remove from the tin, leaving the baking paper case on, if using, and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the blackberry glaze, purée the blackberries and put through a sieve to remove the seeds. Mix with the lime or lemon juice and enough icing sugar to achieve the desired consistency.

Spoon the blackberry glaze over the muffins, allowing a little to drop down the sides.

Optional: a blackberry placed on top of each muffin for decoration.

Cherry Tomato Quiche

 



Quiche is a classic dish, great for lunch, or a picnic or as the basis for a simple supper. Quiche Lorraine is always nice, but it’s good to make some variations on the traditional version.

It seems that cherry tomatoes are always in season in Sydney and more and more varieties come onto the market. I love the punnets of variegated tomatoes with their yellow, green and red hues.

So cherry tomatoes are the basis of this quiche, as well as a handful of sun dried tomatoes. To make the whole thing fresh and light, I used spring onions, rather than onions, utilizing the green tops as well as the white onion bottoms.

The base is shortcrust pastry, for this particular recipe I use Maggie Beer’s Sour Cream Pastry. The savoury custard is the traditional filling for a quiche.

Ingredients

Shortcrust Pastry
200g chilled unsalted butter
250g plain flour
135g sour cream

Filling
2 spring onions, finely chopped
250g cherry tomatoes (a punnet)
A handful of sun dried tomatoes
4 free range eggs
1/2 cup cream
3/4 cup milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, 170 degrees C fan forced.
To make the sour cream pastry, pulse butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Using your hands, shape pastry into a ball.

Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
 Grease a medium sized fluted quiche tin with a removable bottom. Roll the pastry out to 3mm thick and place in the tin.

Rest for 15 minutes in refrigerator. This helps reduce shrinkage when cooking. Remove from the fridge, place some pie weights on baking paper inside the tart, and bake blind in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and baking paper.

Decrease oven temperature to 170 degrees C, 160 degrees C fan forced.

Scatter the finely chopped spring onions over the base of the blind-baked pastry case. Chop the cherry tomatoes in quarters, leaving some of the smaller ones in halves. Scatter the quarters over the pastry base. Roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes, and scatter these between the cherry tomatoes.

In a bowl or large jug (the latter is very useful as you can pour the custard into the quiche tin easily), beat the eggs, cream and milk together until thoroughly combined. Add salt, pepper and grated Parmesan.

Carefully pour the custard mixture into the quiche tin. (I find it easiest to place the tin in the oven first before pouring). Place the remaining cherry tomato halves carefully in the custard. Hopefully they will sit artfully displayed in the cooked quiche, but don’t worry if they sink!

Bake until the custard is just set but still wobbly – about 30-40 minutes depending on your oven.
Carefully remove and leave to cool slightly before serving.

The quiche is fine as is, or you can serve with a few basil leaves, and/or some cherry tomatoes on the vine, which you slow roast for a couple of  hours until wilted.

Very fresh, very light, very delicious!

 

Beef, Tomato and Pedro Ximinez Pasties + Sundried Tomato and Persian Feta Pasties

IMG_2611These winter warmers are great as portable fare and can be made as bite sized treats or more substantial picnic food.

I used store bought puff pastry sheets as I was a little short on time to make my own rough puff.

Beef, Tomato and Pedro Ximinez Pasties

The filling was some slow cooked beef cheeks, cooked in Pedro Ximinez sherry. I added in a chopped fresh tomato and and handful of chopped sundried tomatoes. I reduced the tomatoes with the cooked beef until the mixture was thick enough to be used a pastie filling.

Recipe for the beef cheeks follows.

For a dozen pasties, you would need about 1/3 of the recipe quantity. The rest is great served with mashed potato or pasta, root vegetables or green salad.

Ingredients

1.5 kg  beef cheeks
125 ml  olive oil
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 garlicky bulb, halved
1 brown onion, sliced
500 ml  Pedro Ximenez sherry
500 ml  red wine
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C or even lower if your oven is hot (like mine).

Trim the beef cheeks to neaten them up and remove any sinew and silver skin. Season well.

Heat half the olive oil in a large heavy-based baking dish over high heat. Brown the beef cheeks for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden, then remove from the pan.

Add the remaining olive oil, then add the carrot, garlic and onion and sauté over high heat for 12-15 minutes, or until well browned. Stir in the sherry, wine, bay leaves, thyme, sea salt and 500 ml water.

Reduce the heat and add the beef cheeks.  Cover and place in the oven to cook for 3-4 hours, or until the cheeks are beginning to fall apart.

The sauce from the beef cheeks should by now be reduced and glaze-like. If it needs further reducing, remove the cheeks from the baking dish, cover with foil to keep them warm and simmer the sauce over high heat on the stove top until nicely reduced.

Increase the oven to 190 degrees C. Take 3 puff pastry sheets, and using a plate as a template, cut out 12  20cm circles; you may have to gather up the trimmings and re-roll them to get all your circles. Don’t worry if you don’t get 12; just get as many as you can from the pastry sheets.

Spoon the stew on to one half of each circle. Brush the pastry edges with water, fold the other half of the pastry over the filling to form a half-moon shape and crimp well to seal.

Place the pasties on a lightly oiled baking sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Eat pasties warm or cold.IMG_2584

Sundried Tomato and Persian Feta Pasties

Simply chopped sundried tomatoes and crumble some Persian soft feta. Add a sprinkling of fresh herbs like coriander or thyme to taste.

The quantities are up to you – I used 6 sundried tomatoes and 3 small pieces of feta to make 2 large pasties from 1 pastry sheet.

Spoon the filling on to one half of each circle. Brush the pastry edges with water, fold the other half of the pastry over the filling to form a half-moon shape and crimp to seal. These pasties may open during cooking, but as the filling isn’t liquid, they stay intact.

Place the pasties on a lightly oiled baking sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. These ones are best eaten cold. IMG_2571

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