Sunday, March 25, 2012

MAGIC ZUCCHINI AND CHEESE MUFFINS

Billie Bites sponsors Word Travels Rocks Pop Up launch

These muffins are 'magic' because they don't require any fat. No oil or butter. Just plenty of cheese. I didn't quite believe it until I made them today. I slightly adapted the recipe from Danielle, a parent at Billie's childcare.

Now why did I make three batches? Today was the Word Travels Rocks Pop Up Launch headlined by acclaimed US spoken word poets Sarah Kay (of TED fame) and Phil Kaye (no relation and not a couple). But they are partners in crime at Project Voice, which uses spoken word to work with young people in the US.

So Billie Bites thought all this a worthy event to sponsor, and last night the cook-off began.

It was afternoon tea. Sunday at 2pm - what a civilised time for a gig. There was no oven available in the space so all the finger food had to be cold.

Last night was chocolate slice night - I made one batch of chocolate coconut and a double batch of chocolate walnut. See recipe here (just swap coconut for walnuts, but personally I prefer the nut version).



This morning was muffin time, and three batches of these delicious and healthy savory muffins flew out of my kitchen. A double batch of cannellini bean dip (extra garlic to keep those colds away) and a cheese platter made up a pretty laden table at the launch.

Hmmm, how did those corn chips get at the front. Better angle next time.




RECIPE: MAGIC ZUCCHINI AND CHEESE MUFFINS

2 cups wholemeal self raising flour
1 cup grated strong cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper
250 g grated zucchini/courgette
1 cup milk
3 eggs

Preheat oven to moderate hot - 180c or 350 f. Grease 12 muffin trays ( I use silicon ones).

Sieve flour into large bowl and add grated cheese. Combine eggs and milk and pepper in small bowl. Grate zucchini and put to one side.

When ready to bake, use a large fork to quickly and gently combine the zucchini with the dry ingredients, and then the milk and eggs. Once mixed through (don't over-mix) quickly place large spoons of mixture into each muffin tin.

Place in oven on reasonably high shelf and bake for about 30 minutes (40 minutes if you use silicon muffin trays like I do, as takes longer for muffin bottoms to crisp).

Remove from trays and cool on wire rack. Eat as soon as possible. However, a bonus of this recipe is they are still fabulous many hours later. Especially spread with a little butter.


Congratulations to Word Travels on the launch of their new space in Sydney's Rocks, and thanks to all the fabulous spoken word performers for warming up the space. It was Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye's first visit to Australia.

Miles Merrill encourages the packed room to slip out and grab some more Billie Bites


US spoken word poets Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye launch Word Travels' Rocks Pop Up space


Saturday, March 24, 2012

FOOD BLOG: MUESLI BARS

Little Patience: Watching the muesli bars cool down for eating

Our household practically keeps the manufacturer of a certain muesli bar, and muesli, in business.

And when we get caught out and about sans snacks (which happens far too often) muesli cookies are often the only 'healthy' option on offer. (Next up we'll have the recipe for the muesli cookies I just removed from the oven.)

So with muesli bars undoubtedly sitting at the top of Billie's favourite food list, I've been cooking them up in my head for some time now.

Finally last weekend Billie made it happen. 'Mum, can we make muesli bars?' 'How about we make something else - muffins, scones?' 'No. I wanna make muesli bars'. Okay, it's decided then.

I'm extremely happy with this recipe, made up on the go. I cooked them a little hot and fast the first time round - see blackened raisins above - but the taste was still superb.

If you have peanut allergies in the house then swap for another nut butter. If you're in a total nut-free zone then try a little more tahini and a little more honey. But really the peanut butter isn't that essential. (It just tastes great.)

Don't try and distribute and eat straight from the oven. Very crumbly. Wait an hour or so and they will set nicely. We rushed the hot muesli bars off to a gardening bee at our local Waverley Park Communal Gardens. The gardeners still enjoyed them though.


RECIPE: MUESLI BARS

100g coconut oil (or use 3/4 cup of another suitable oil such as rice bran, sunflower)
5 Tablespoons honey
1/2 cup shredded coconut or desiccated coconut  
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins/sultanas (use big juicy ones if you can) - optional
2 cups oats
4 Tablespoons peanut butter
1 Tablespoon tahini (If you can't get it just add 1 extra peanut butter)

 Preheat oven to 180 c or 350 F. Grease a large rectangle oven dish, or two square/round ones.

Melt oil and honey in small pot on low heat until just bubbling. Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Remove oil and honey from heat and stir peanut butter and then tahini through until smooth. Immediately mix it through dry ingredients until well combined.
Spread out flat in oven dish and bake on middle shelf until just browned on top and cooked through - approximately 20-30 minutes.  If it is browning on top and not cooking through then cover with foil for a bit.

Leave muesli bars to cool before removing, and then slice into bars.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Vegetarian Food Blog: Billie's Wholemeal Cheddar Scones



When Billie's not invited into the kitchen to cook, she's busy cooking up a storm for her teddy bears using imaginative equipment and ingredients. Her dolls eat sock and peg soup with a side of duplo and dried beans.

This week I decided to open the floodgates. Billie baked. I let go of the perfect cake and scones and allowed her free rein with the sieve. Well, almost. I was a bit more precious with the chocolate cake (recipe coming up soon).


I let her really go for it with these delicious wholemeal and cheddar scones. She buttered the tray. Sieved the flour. Rubbed the butter into the flour. Whisked the egg and milk together. And rolled the dough out before cutting it into pieces and using a slice to manoeuvre the scones onto the baking tray. Toddler Master Chef here we come.




I discovered if I don't breathe down her neck and take over as soon as some flour strays out of the bowl, she gets bored of the task at hand and asks me to finish.

Billie can be credited with helping create this recipe. I had no plans to add black pepper but the grinder was on the table. I turned to find Billie busy grinding a reasonable serve of pepper into the dry ingredients. She did the same thing with some fritters the other day - except she asked before she ground.


These savory scones are best eaten straight out of the oven with a generous spread of butter. However, they were pretty popular later at the playground. 

*NOTE ABOUT WHOLEMEAL FLOUR: If you can, buy stoneground wholemeal flour. It's processed in a traditional way by stone-milling the whole wheat grain and the result is a superior product. You get the goodness and texture of wholemeal without the density. I still often get the cheap and easy regular wholemeal from the supermarket. But lately I've been baking with stoneground wholemeal, and it's noticeable how much lighter the scones are.

RECIPE: BILLIE'S WHOLEMEAL CHEDDAR SCONES

75 g wholemeal flour 
75g self-raising plain flour (white)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
25g butter, at room temperature
100g grated cheddar
1 egg
4-5 tablespoons milk
1/2 tsp mustard (optional)

Grease a flat oven tray with butter or oil. Preheat over to about 210-220.

Sieve flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add freshly ground black pepper and grated cheese, saving a couple of tablespoons to sprinkle on top. In a separate small bowl, lightly whisk the egg, milk and mustard.

Rub butter into flour until crumbly, then add wet ingredients and combine. If mixture is too dry, add a few more drops of milk. It should be moist but still dry enough to lift out of the bowl and mold into a ball with your hands (but your hands should get covered in mixture - if not it's too dry). 

Place on a floured bench and roll out just a little. Don't roll it too thin, just about the size of a side plate. Cut into nine scones, place well-spaced on tray and bake in hot oven for 10-15 minutes or until just browning.



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