Monday 15 February 2010

Bran muffins with sunflower seeds and honey

Healthy, hearty, happy muffins

I got a set of American cup measures for Christmas and have been looking for an opportunity to use them without using a recipe choc full of butter or refined sugar. These bran muffins are very quick and easy to throw together, and are great as a snack or as part of a good breakfast.

Ingredients: (makes 12)
- 1 cup bran
- 1 cup brown flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup milled seeds (I used a mix of linseed and pumpkin seeds)
- 3/4 cup low-fat milk
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 egg

- Heat the oven to 160 degrees if using a fan oven; 180 if not.
- Stir together the bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sunflower seeds and milled seeds
- In a bowl, mix together the egg, milk, honey and olive oil.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
- Spoon into bun cases in a muffin tray and bake for 15 minutes, when a skewer should come out clean and the muffins have risen.
- For a sweeter muffin, add a mashed banana or a cup of dried fruit.

Sunday 14 February 2010

Valentine's Day brunch

Hot guinness pancakes with mature cheddar and crispy smoked bacon

Martin has been telling me about his famous guinness pancakes for a long time now, so we decided to try them for a decadent Valentine's treat. They turned out incredibly light and fluffy, and the guinness lent them a wonderful tang. Paired with the smoked bacon and salty cheddar, it was an amazing combination and cured our hangovers almost immediately. Thumbs up!

- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 3/4 can guinness
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper
- A few slices of smoked bacon
- Some mature cheddar

- Sieve the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre.
- In a mug, mix together the egg and some guinness and gradually add this to the flour, whisking all the time. Keep adding liquid until the guinness can is 3/4 empty. You should have a lovely smooth batter that looks like molten milk chocolate.
- Leave the batter to rest for a few minutes while you slice some cheese and put the bacon under a hot grill.
- Put a frying pan on a high heat with a glug of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add a ladleful of batter; we made quite small pancakes but make them as big as you like.
- It's time to turn them over when the tops of the pancakes become full of tiny air bubbles, a bit like this:

- Cook for another couple of minutes on the other side until lightly browned.
- Make a small stack of a couple of pancakes, top with the cheddar and pop under the grill until the cheese has melted. Add the cooked, crispy bacon and serve with a big mug of hot hot tea.

Saturday 13 February 2010

Cheesey basil hotpockets

Hot melty cheesey treats.

I had some filo pastry leftover from yesterday's chicken pie (recipe to follow) and didn't want it to go to waste. There was some feta lurking about in the fridge that wasn't going to last much longer, so I combined the two with a few other bits and pieces and came up with these goodies. Eat hot from the oven.

Ingredients (makes 8):

- 2 sheets filo pastry (you can buy this frozen in the supermarket quite cheaply)
- 1/2 block feta
- 1 packet mozzerella, cut into small pieces
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 a courgette, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- Handful fresh basil


- In a frying pan, sweat together the onion, courgette and garlic in some olive oil until all soft (about 10 mins). Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- In a bowl, mash the feta and mix in the mozzerella. Chop the basil finely and mix it in.
- Add the contents of the frying pan and mix all ingredients together well.
- Cut each sheet of filo pastry into 4 pieces; first slice lengthwise along the sheet, then cut widthwise.
- Take one piece of the filo and place a spoonful of the cheese mixture on the left-hand side, leaving about 1/2 inch border. Brush the filo with a little olive oil and fold the pastry over the cheese, sealing the edges well. Fold the filo over twice more, sealing with olive oil, until you have a fully sealed triangle. See this brilliant recipe for better instructions with pictures.
- Repeat with the rest of the filo and cheese and bake them in the oven at 180 degrees for 10 minutes, until golden brown and making your kitchen smell like heaven.
- Eat hot!