These probably aren’t going to be the prettiest muffins you will see in the run up to Christmas. If you want pretty – and I’m sure extremely tasty – festive baking, have a look at the world of wonder and fantasy that is Pinterest. I’m crushing on this page in particular. I practically weep at the skill and creativity contained within those rolling pixels of perfection. Maybe I have even wailed and gnashed my teeth over your dainty treats. To restore sanity and a sense of perspective I have recently adopted a habit of going over to Damn You Autocorrect. I find it is just the thing to cheer myself up after going on my increasingly regular Pinterest benders. True. Continue reading
Confession time: I’m not a big fan of pumpkin pie. There. I said it. However, I’m not proud of this declaration. For an American it is rather like saying you hate baseball, or Disney World. Might as well burn your passport and be done with it.
I have to admit I haven’t tried very hard with the whole pumpkin pie liking thing. I’ve attempted a few slices in my day but they were always too bland, too soft, or too aggressively spiced: Goldilocks and the three pumpkin pies… Continue reading
Hello, hello! Just back from seeing my lovely Dad and sister in Florida. It was a super visit, with too much food, lots of sun (and sunscreen) and loads of cheering for my star-pitcher nephew. Going to Tripp’s baseball games are always a highlight, even if any mosquito in a 20 mile radius always finds us…
It is funny to think that this young man, with a 90 mile an hour pitch (he is only just 14), used to throw so wildly that even the spectators ducked – from behind a 25-foot mesh fence. Perhaps I exaggerate. A tad. Continue reading
Polenta cakes are stupidly easy to make. I don’t mean this as an insult to polenta cakes, you, or anyone else for that matter. But, really. Dumping everything in a stand mixer and pressing ‘on’ is pretty easy. And sometimes – even although you may be the best baker in your family, in your workplace, in the world – stupidly-easy is what you need. If and when that situation arises, polenta cake is there for you.
Some of you reading this may be packing too, Perhaps you are jetting off to some island to laze around and sip rum punch, or maybe you and your family will be threading your way through the queues in some exciting theme park. I however am packing to go to London. Not to shop (although I will definitely squeeze a bit of that in) or go to the theatre. No, I am down to attend my second Food Blogger Connect, and I am SO excited. Last year I was scared-excited. This year I am just excited-excited. Which is the same thing, but with less nervous sweating. Not a good mental image in a food blog, but I like to tell the truth.
Any of you who were kindly reading me last October may recall a rather long post reviewing my weekend at FBC. It was beyond my rather pedestrian imagination. And this year promises to be even better. To wit, we are getting to press the flesh with Mr American in Paris himself, the wonderful David Lebovitz. There is the chance of winning a 15 minute one-to-one chat with David about how to improve one’s blog. Which sounds terrifying but probably a game-changer for the lucky winner.
Another highlight will be seeing fellow FBC alumni Ren Behan and Karen Burns-Booth on the podium sharing a panel discussion with Sarah Cook of BBC Good Food magazine on how to get published in magazines (I will be taking furious notes: Why didn’t I do shorthand!). I adore these bloggers as people and as wonderfully good examples of how to run a compelling, must-read blog. And of course, there will be -ahem – serious and academically-rigourous attention paid to the art of eating. I have lost count of the number of folks and companies lined up to help us expand our waistlines. But I am especially looking forward to sampling from Ren’s pop-up Polish Kitchen. Her website is already making me want to book a second holiday to Krakow.
So, the muffins. Which I will sneak into my miniscule Easyjet handluggage, along with a little tub of my butternut squash and almond dip and some homemade pitta chips. Anything to avoid getting hungry enough to buy one of the airline’s extortionate ‘snack packs’ (full of cr*p and more cr*p). I just hope my little healthy snack pack doesn’t get confiscated!
By the time you read this I will have said goodbye to friends old and new and be on my way to meet Mr A for his birthday lunch. Another London food adventure awaits! Back up the stairs to add another pair of stretchy trousers to the bag…
Carrot and Coconut Muffins
This is a riff on an old recipe of mine, Carrot and Marmalade Cake.
This is an easy and delicious way of making a sweet treat healthy. Perfect for trips, picnics, brownbags and handbags. I make this recipe as muffins mostly, but it happens to make a fine ‘plain’ cake too. The decoration is all on the inside…
NB. Trade the coconut for plump raisins or, what the heck, put them both in.
50g desiccated coconut, plus extra for sprinkling on top
*If you don’t have self-raising flour, just add an extra one and one-quarter teaspoon of baking powder (total) to the flour mixture.
Oil a 12-hole muffin tin (I tend to make them smaller and use an extra 6). You could also line the holes with squares of baking paper (so they look like the muffins you get in coffee shops) or regular muffin tin liners. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.
Sift together the flours with the baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Stir in any bran that remains in the sieve from the wholemeal flour.
In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs with electric beaters or stand mixer until light and fluffy, then whisk in the oil and sugar until thickened and leaves a trail when the beater is lifted. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Fold the wet mixture into the flour until the flour just disappears, and no more. Mixing any more may give you a tough muffin. Which sounds like an insult, or perhaps a strange compliment: “She’s one tough muffin!”
Fill each muffin hole evenly and bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until well-risen and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If you want to add coconut to the top, do this about halfway through the baking so as not to burn the delicate coconut, but just give it a lovely toasty tinge of gold. Let the muffins cool in the tin on a wire rack and eat immediately. Or store for a few days in an airtight container. You could always go a bit fancy and extra-sweet by spreading over your favourite cream cheese frosting, or one such as this vegan one from food.com; or a classic cream cheese one from cook.uk. I like to keep them ‘plain’ for my nutrition classes and serve with fresh fruit.
Makes 12-18 muffins or two small cakes (I don’t think this would be as good if made as a big fat cake).
*Living in Scotland, a place known for its love – nay, worship – of homey baked goods, fresh fruit scones are not common. Actually, in all the twenty-something years that I have lived here, I have yet to encounter one. I’m assuming someone here makes them, maybe sells them. But I don’t get out much. Maybe in Glasgow you can hardly get down the pavement without tripping over fresh fruit scones. Continue reading
We aren’t really biscuit eaters here at food to glow. Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t averse to them. A Hobnob biscuit and a cup of tea is a simple pleasure that I wouldn’t say no to, if offered (hint, hint). Let’s just say we don’t have a biscuit barrel full of the things. Or indeed usually any packets of them lurking in cupboards. Mainly this is because none of us has a big sweet-tooth but also because most bought biscuits are full of things we could all do well with avoiding – trans-fats, bleached flours, multiple incarnations of sugar (including the recently-notorious-but-now-just-another-sugar high fructose corn syrup), too much salt. And then there are the so-called ‘flavourings.’ We are not saints – I would happily arm wrestle you for a bag of salt and pepper Popchips – but biscuits just aren’t our thing. Usually. Continue reading
As an ex-pat American living in Scotland, peanut butter and jelly is something I occasionally have a hankering for. It must be in my DNA. I can’t say I give into that craving very often, but when I do I have to say that it is not on nice seeded whole meal bread, or using posh jam. If for whatever reason I need to buy white bread – for Christmas stuffing, or bread and butter pudding – I always nick a piece. I then proceed to smear it with a good quarter inch of peanut butter, top with a crimson dod of Lidl morello cherry jam, and fold in half. Then I proceed to shove it in my gob with two hands, like a ravenous toddler. Again, a childhood/DNA thing. With today’s recipe I think I may have grown up. A bit. Continue reading
For not being overly crazy about chocolate I seem to have my fair share of chocolate based recipes here on food to glow. But I must say that this is my favourite. I think what I like – other than the knockout taste – is that it is a recipe that has basically haunted me until I made it. Continue reading
Here in the UK we are coming up for the effigy-burning, firework-displaying extravaganza that is Guy Fawkes Night. Also known as Bonfire Night, November 5 commemorates the evening in 1605 that 13 young men had planned to use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Houses of Parliament.
Poor old Guy Fawkes should have stayed in the ye olde tavern because not only was he caught, tortured and executed, we now have a rather gruesome tradition of making effigies of him to burn. Or rather they do in England. Up in Scotland it’s just fireworks and hard cider (any excuse really).