Ham and Cheese Savoury Muffins

These are really simple savoury muffins, which make for a great and different lunchtime snack.  They go well with a light salad, but are just as fantastic on their own as a snack.

These didn’t bake without mishap for me however… Just as I was finishing putting the muffin batter into the cases, BAM. My oven broke. It didn’t go up in a puff of smoke or anything (now that perhaps would’ve been a better story…), it simply made a small clicking sound, and then powered down, light, heat and all.  So I had to quickly run down to the flat below mine, and beg the owner to use his oven (luckily we get on well, so he agreed, on condition he have one muffin – I gave him two!)

They turned out really well, and had a fantastic flavour to them, so I’ll definitely be cooking them regularly, and encourage everyone to give them a go!*

* They work just as well as Cheese and Onion savoury muffins, simply omit the ham…

Ham and Cheese Savoury Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 280g self raising flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (yes, you read right!)
  • 1 tsp mustard (this brings out the cheese flavour, so don’t leave this out, even if you’re not keen on mustard, you can’t taste it at all by the end!)
  • seasoning (I used 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper)
  • 7 fl oz. milk
  • 3 fl. oz. vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 50g cheddar cheese
  • 50g soft goats cheese / brie
  • 50g ham
  • 1 onion

  1. Preheat the oven to 200’C.
  2. Dice the onion finely.
  3. Cube the goats cheese (or brie), and finely grate the cheddar.
  4. Measure flour, seasoning and baking powder into a bowl and mix.
  5. Measure milk, oil and mustard into a jug, and add the egg, then beat the mixture.
  6. Add the liquid to the flour mix, and stir a couple of times.  Add the diced onion, goats cheese / brie, and all but 1 tbsp of the grated cheddar (leave this little bit for sprinkling on the top!).  Add the chopped ham.
  7. Mix together carefully, making sure not to over-mix.  It’s easy to do this with muffins, but they only need a couple of stirs (even though they look all floury and messy).
  8. Divide up into muffin cases, sprinkle the leftover cheese on top, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. When taking out of the oven, leave to rest for 5 minutes in the muffin tin before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool.

These were really yummy hot as well – I had a couple for tea with a small rice salad and a large helping of lettuce and tomatoes!

These will keep for 2 – 3 days out of the fridge, but make sure you keep them in a cool place.

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Christmas Part 9: Non-Alcoholic Mulled Wine

This actually ties into the Cheap and Cheerful category as well as Christmas,but I’m including it on my Christmas countdown!

This is another easy recipe to make (which is great for Christmas, as everything is always so busy, it’s often hard to get time to yourself to do all the necessary things like making the Christmas cake, mince pies, mulled wine, etc etc…

It’s also another family favourite that gets pulled out of the recipe folder every Christmas.  Part of the putting-up-christmas-decorations ritual with my Mum and brother (Dad was always at work) was to stick on a Christmas CD, and I would go make this mulled wine whilst my brother sorted out the boxes and put together the christmas tree.  The spices are really warming and will make your whole house smell christmassy, and can be drunk any time of the day due to not actually being alcoholic (do you really need any more reasons to make it?).

Ingredients:

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cloves

3 dstsp castor sugar

2 litres grape juice (though apple also works)

1/3 litre orange juice

1/3 litre water

1 orange, peeled and chopped, flesh only.

1 small apple, peeled and sliced thinly

Recipe:

1)  Put all ingredients (except the fresh fruit) into a aucepan and heat gently.  Do not allow to boil.

2)  Taste, and add more juices / sugar / spices to taste.

3)  Add the fruit and allow to warm in the mixture for about 5 minutes (so that they absorb some of the liquid).

4)  Serve in mugs, and garnish with a cinnamon stick if desired.

–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

I hope all of you are nearly finished with preparations for Christmas!… I still haven’t finished my packing of presents due to a craaaazy busy week (isn’t it always during the run up to Christmas?!)… But I’m looking forward to going to my parents’ housr tomorrow and celebrating Christmas with the family!

Apple and Cinnamon Toasties

Now that Winter is a-coming, ushered in rather grandly by Autumn’s recent fierce rain and blustery winds (which is all well and good when you’re sitting at home cozied up with a mug of tea, but not so lovely when you’re fighting said torrential rain and gales to get to work at 8am in the morning)… Anyway, having the hint of coldness on the air makes me revert to making comfort food and using spices when cooking.  I’ve recently been very busy so have been eating my main meal in the office, which means I only have to make a small snack for tea when I get in at 6pm each day.  I’m not a massive fan of having sandwiches for tea, and – as my parents brought my trusty, slightly battered from student-days toastie-maker down a couple of weeks ago when they visited – I’ve been using this to concoct a yummy warning snack for myself in the evenings.  My all time favourite definitely has to be an apple and cinnamon toastie.  Super easy to make, healthy, warming and altogether a comforting tea.

Ingredients

2 slices of bread, very thinly buttered on one side

1 bruised / battered / seen-better-days apple (I have plenty of these as I always carry an apple around in my bag in case I get peckish, but often they get replaced, as they get battered quite quickly!)

½ tsp cinnamon

… And, if you need a little sweetness, a teeny tiny dusting of sugar

Recipe

  1. Switch on toastie maker.
  2. Whilst the toastie maker is heating up, peel and core the apple, then slice thinly.  Place the bread butter-side down, layer the slices of apple on top of the bread (they will all fit… they will!), sprinkle the cinnamon – and sugar if required – over the apples, and place the second slice of bread on top, butter side-up.
  3. Put in toastie-maker for 5 mins (or until the bread is nice and golden and crispy).  Remove it carefully, and then let it sit for 3 minutes before eating (I’ve learned the hard way, as I’m often impatient.  A burnt mouth does not a good snack make).
  4. Enjoy!

Spinach and Goat Cheese Filo Parcels with Spiced Tomato Relish

I recently decided to make a more fancy meal than I normally do.  I tend to cook most of my meals from scratch to avoid accidentally eating dairy, but I quite often get into a routine of making the same old stuff over and over again.

So, to shake things up a bit, I decided to make a starter, rather than just make my usual easy salad as a side.  I made the relish the day before, and then stored it in a sealed pot in the fridge, and then made the filo parcels on the day.

Spinach and Goats Cheese Filo Parcels & Spiced Tomato Relish

Spinach and Goat’s Cheese Filo Parcels

10 sheets of ready-made filo pastry

oil / melted butter

250g fresh spinach

soft goats cheese

These parcels were incredibly easy and quick to make.  Separating the individual sheets of filo pastry and brushing them with the melted butter takes the longest preparation time, but even this only takes a few minutes (I decided to use vegetable oil as a more healthy substitute, which spread far easier and meant I used a lot less).

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180’C.

2. Take the top sheet of filo pastry and brush with oil / butter.  Then take this top layer and place it at the bottom of the pile of pastry.   Take the next sheet of pastry and repeat, then take the top two sheets of pastry and place at the bottom of the pile.  Repeat until all layers have been covered with oil / butter.  (I wasn’t particularly tidy with brushing on the oil, but it doesn’t matter).

3.  Steam the spinach in a pan with a little hot water for 2 – 3 minutes until dark green and tender.

4. Cut the pastry into squares measuring about 15cm x 15cm.  Then place a spoonful of spinach in the middle of each square.  Top with a small amount of goats cheese, and then pinch the corners together over the spinach and cheese to create a parcel shape.

5. Place in oven and cook at 180’C for  15 – 20 mins (until the pastry has turned golden brown and crispy).

These parcels are definitely more tasty when eaten hot, as the cheese melts over the spinach nicely, but they could be eaten cold too.

Spiced Tomato Relish

500g fresh tomatoes (I got a cheap pack at the local supermarket for 80p)

2 cloves of garlic

2 (white) onions

2 tbsp tomato puree

1 1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp mixed spice

75g brown sugar

Ingredients for the Spiced Tomato Relish

1.  Roughly dice the onion, and crush the garlic.  Add to a frying pan with a little oil to soften and brown slightly.

2.  Chop up the tomatoes into small chunks, and add to the pan, along with the 2 tablespoons of tomato puree.

3.  Add the spices, stir, and simmer until mixture has reduced slightly, and becomes less liquidy.

Cooking the spiced tomato relish

4.  Add sugar, bring to boil whilst stirring, and simmer for 5 mins, then pour into a container and let cool.

For the presentation of the starter, I placed two of the spinach and goats cheese parcels on a plate, and placed a tablespoonful of the spiced tomato relish beside them.  The relish really helps bring out the flavour of the filo parcels, and makes for a yummy – and super easy – starter!