In general, Joel seems to be loving food, there’s not much he hasn’t eaten when we’ve given it to him. I’m sure he’ll get fussier as he gets older, but hopefully he’ll be similar to Andrew and like most things despite the odd fuss here and there. One thing in particular that both boys like is extra mature cheddar cheese – Joel would eat loads of this if I let him (I’m watching the salt), and Andrew would polish off the rest! And a couple of things that Andrew is less good at (unless they are cooked in something) and I hadn’t tried Joel with are spinach and tomatoes.
So I decided to make some savoury mini muffins packed with cheese, spinach and tomatoes. Having been searching for a while for a cheap silicone mini muffin mould, I eventually found one last week at a homeware store that opened a while ago near our local supermarket but I’d never heard of the brand and assumed it was an expensive one (we live in Cambridge, this is the norm). But as I walked past it the other day, I took a closer look and realised it was in fact a Wilkinsons-style shop – ever since we moved here 7 years ago I’ve missed having a Wilkos to get bits and bobs from.
This recipe would also work in a fairy cake tin (mine have seen better days, hence my search for a new silicone mould) or a normal-sized muffin tin. I just like the mini-ness of them for little fingers to grasp. And these muffins were very much devoured by the little mouths on the receiving end of the little fingers’ grip.
This recipe made 24 mini muffins, some of which we ate fresh and some of which we froze for later to keep them fresh.
- 250g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 100g extra mature cheddar cheese (or you could use any strength you like)
- 100g fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
- about a dozen cherry tomatoes, chopped into quarters
- 180ml milk
- 2 eggs
- 50ml olive oil
- black pepper
- Put the flour, baking powder, cheese, spinach and tomatoes in a bowl and mix until roughly distributed.
- Mix the milk, eggs and oil in a bowl until the egg is broken up – don’t over beat, you don’t want to end up with mayonnaise!
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones along with a good grind of black pepper and stir until well combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the mini muffin mould so each hole is full.
- Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes at 180ºC (fan).
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool only as much as you need to in order to eat them!
- Freeze any that are not eaten within a day or so to keep them fresh.
For Christmas, Tom bought me a weekly fruit and veg box, which was a fantastic present. I’d been saying for a while that I wanted to buy fruit and veg that’s grown as locally as possible, but I find I don’t have the time to get to a green grocers as well as the supermarket for our other groceries, and when I’m in the supermarket I don’t seem to have the patience to look at all the labelling and spot which fruit and veg are grown in the UK or, better still, in East Anglia. And I’m not an expert on what’s in season when. So Tom acted on my whinges and chose a local company – Cambridge Organic Food Company – to deliver to us. If you live in the area I’d highly recommend them. We get the smallest mixed box and it’s easily enough veg for us for a week, and we eat a lot of it, though I buy one more item of fruit such as a bunch of grapes, a bunch of bananas or a melon. This works out quite a bit cheaper than national companies like Abel & Cole and Riverford. Overall I reckon that we spend no more on this than we would if I got good quality organic stuff from a supermarket, and it tastes so good. Plus we know that each item comes from as local a source as possible, and it’s less for me to carry back in the buggy from the shop – often fruit and veg can mean almost a whole supermarket trip in themselves. We get to tailor our box to our needs and tastes, such as by stating what we would rather not have, which brings me onto…… lemon drizzle cake (finally).
Last week we got a lemon in the box for the first time. As we rarely use lemons, I subsequently added it to our “no thank you” list (which so far only consists of lemons!), but as we had this one, I thought about what I could make – this is another good thing about getting a box, as it’s a surprise each week, which makes you try items and recipes that you wouldn’t necessarily think of otherwise. I immediately thought sweet rather than savoury, so lemon drizzle cake sprang to mind. This isn’t a cake I’d normally go for myself, but I know Tom loves it, so I did it more for him. Of course I tried it too 😉
The recipe I came up with after doing a bit of googling is inspired by a few different recipes, and is simple to make. The ground almonds make it really moist, and the lemon flavour is intense as it comes from three sources: zest in the sponge, juice in the syrup poured over the cake when warm to soak in, and juice in the crunchy icing drizzled over the top. Note that not all the juice came fresh from the one lemon – I used some Jif too! Tom loves lemon cake, but he likes it best when it actually tastes of lemon rather than the lemon-ish ones that you can buy in the shops. He says he often wishes they were made with twice as much lemon, just like his Nan used to make. So that was my aim, and after tasting it, he gave me the thumbs up for lemon-ness – hooray!
Are you feeling like a lemon today?! Why not have a go too……
- 180g margarine
- 180g sugar
- 3 eggs
- 120g self-raising flour
- 60g ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- zest of 1 lemon
- 60g icing sugar
- 60ml lemon juice
- 60g granulated sugar
- 30g icing sugar
- juice of half a lemon – about 20ml
- Grease a 1lb loaf tin (I used a silicone tin so no greasing needed) and pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (fan).
- Cream the margarine and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg until smooth.
- Add the lemon zest and stir in.
- Add the flour, baking powder and ground almonds and mix until just combined – don’t over mix.
- Pour into the tin and bake for around 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, to make the syrup, heat the icing sugar and lemon juice in a pan until it comes to the boil and allow to simmer until the sugar is fully dissolved and it starts to go darker in colour.
- Remove the cake from the oven, and while still warm, make several holes across the top using a skewer. Pour the syrup over the top while it’s still in the tin.
- Allow to cool before removing from the tin and transferring to a plate.
- Mix the icing ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Pour this over the centre of the top of the cake and allow it to drizzle down the sides.
- Eat as fresh as possible – Tom tasted it after about 10 minutes of it being complete!