Tag Archives: Savoury Snacks

Getting into the festive spirit with pear, date, walnut & Stilton muffins

It’s December now, which means one thing…  Well, two things.  Firstly, uhm, how is it already the last month of 2011?!  Seriously, when did that happen?  Let’s ignore it and move on swiftly (and with style) to the next thing: December means getting all festive!!  Now, leading up to December, I am a complete and utter scrooge and I detest everything to do with Christmas.  In any month other than December, I could probably give Scrooge a run for his money.  Possibly even Scrooge and the Grinch combined.  Then, as soon as it’s December, you could flick a switch and suddenly I get all enthusiastic about it.  Well, about the festive spirit.  Not the overly-commercialised you-must-buy-as-many-hideous-and-useless-presents-as-possible aspect to it (which is a rant for another day.  I’m sure you’re looking forward to it already…).  But let’s all give a huzzah for the festive spirit!  And for mulled wine!  (Although that’s acceptable from Bonfire Night.  Or as soon as it starts getting cold really.)  And mince pies – I love mince pies!

You know what else makes me think of Christmas?  Dates.  Of the edible variety (as opposed to the going-for-dinner variety).  Every year my mum makes dates stuffed with home-made marzipan, and I could easily hoover up enough of them to feed a small army in approximately ten seconds.  I have a recipe for pear, date, walnut and Stilton muffins which to me just sounds like such a Christmassy combination, and that I’ve been meaning to try out for over a year, but I completely forgot about it at Christmastime last year.  When I eventually remembered about it in April it was neither Christmas nor pear season.  So I bookmarked the recipe with a giant hot pink post-it note so that when Christmas rolled around again, I would be more likely to remember.  And guess what?  I did!  (Which is an achievement in itself.)

I should probably add the caveat that if you really detest blue cheese, these probably aren’t the muffins for you, but if you’re a bit on the fence about blue cheese, maybe give them a try – the Stilton really doesn’t come through as much as you might expect so it really doesn’t over-power the muffin, and the sweetness of the dates combined with the subtle pear flavour counter-balance it really well.  Even though they’ve got both sweet and savoury elements, I’ve categorised these muffins as savoury because they work really well as a light lunch or snack.  They could possibly even work as an informal alternative to a cheese board.  However you decide to eat them, they’re definitely deliciously seasonal!  Here’s to getting into the festive spirit!

Pear, date, walnut & Stilton muffins

Makes 13 muffins
Adapted from Mad About Muffins

The pear is quite a subtle flavour, so I made sure not to mash it up completely so that there were still a few chunks to give little explosions of flavour.  I used Stilton, but I’m sure that most blue cheeses would work.  The Stilton doesn’t come through as much as you might expect it to, so don’t worry if you’re not too keen on blue cheese.  As with most muffins, these won’t keep all that long, but they will store well in an air-tight container for a couple of days.  These are delicious both warm out of the oven or fully cooled.

Ingredients

355g all-pupose flour
160g caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
250g pears (just use the weight as a rough guideline)
100g organic rapeseed oil
2 eggs
60g pitted ready-to-eat dates
100g Stilton
100g walnut halves

Directions

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C.  Butter or line 13 muffins pan sections or set out 13 silicon muffin moulds on a baking sheet.

2.  Roughly chop the walnut halves.  Chop the dates and crumble the Stilton (don’t crumble it too finely – little chunks are good).  Set aside.

3.  Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and mix together.

4.  Peel and core the pear and add to a clean bowl.  Mash roughly with a potato masher (make sure there are still some little rough chunks left).  Add the oil and eggs and gently beat together with a fork.

5.  Fold the pear mixture into the dry ingredients with a large metal spoon, until just combined (it’s fine if there’s still a little bit of flour visible).  Carefully fold the dates, Stilton and half of the walnuts into the mixture before spooning into the prepared muffin pans or moulds.  Sprinkle the remaining walnuts evenly over the tops of the muffins.

6.  Bake for 22-25 mins, until the muffins are golden and well risen.  The tops should spring back when lightly prodded.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little before eating.

Enjoy!

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Spinach & goat’s cheese muffins

Savoury muffins are so much fun and so versatile!  They’re perfect as party food, as nibbles for a chilled film night or if you just feel like having something for lunch that’s a little different but still fairly healthy.  I have a lot of love for muffins (sweet or savoury) so I always get enthusiastic about baking them, and these are no exception!  I also kind of love that they are green – I’m obviously easily amused…

Kat and I made these for a birthday nibbles-and-drinks that we threw for a friend the other evening.  They were snaffled up in no time – so I think it’s safe to conclude that everybody loved them!

Spinach & goat’s cheese muffins

Makes about 15 muffins
Recipe from Channel 4 Food

These are great both in the summer or the winter, and can be served warm or cold – perfect for picnics and packed lunches!  This is a fairly straightforward recipe, but my one main note is to remember to add the egg (no kidding, I know – but the first time we made these, we somehow forgot.  Ya, oops!)

Ingredients

25g butter
200ml milk
100g fresh spinach
250g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Several pinches cayenne pepper
Several pinches freshly ground black pepper
50g parmesan, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
200g rindless goat’s cheese, chopped (if it has a rind, it tends to melt a bit funny)

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/gas mark 5.  Line 15 muffin holes with paper liners, or set out silicone muffin moulds.

2.  Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl, and add the cayenne pepper and black pepper.  Stir in the grated parmesan, and set aside.

3.  Heat the milk and butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat.  Once the butter has melted, stir in the spinach and bring it just to the boil (the spinach takes up a lot of room, but quickly wilts).  Remove from the heat and pour into a liquidiser or food processor (I only have a mini blender, and it works perfectly fine for this, you just have to do it in several stages – takes a little longer, but not really much of an issue.  Make sure you don’t fill the blender up with the liquid though – it will go everywhere).  Whizz until the spinach is finely chopped, and allow to cool for about 5 mins.

4.  Add the spinach mixture and the lightly beaten egg to the dry ingredients, and mix with a big metal spoon until just combined.  Fill each of the muffin holes about half full with batter, and add some of the goat’s cheese.  Cover with the remaining batter, and top this off with any leftover goat’s cheese, pushing it down into the batter.

5.  Bake for 20-25 mins until risen and firm to the touch.  Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool a little.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Recipes, Savoury Foods