Tag Archives: Ginger

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Jacques Rhubarb Muffins

We’ve just had a couple of days of bank jolidays here in France and it rained. It’s pretty much expected and part of the course of bank holidays in the UK, with the amazing exception of this last weekend obviously, but not so normal here!. So rain meant a spot of indoor baking with the littlies which we haven’t managed for quite a while now with all the flitting around I’ve been doing lately. And with a couple of prosperous rhubarb plants in the garden and the Swallow Recipes for Life challenge to mind we made some tasty and fairly wholesome Rhubarb Crumble Muffins together.

Francesca & Jacques Rhubarb Muffins

Tucking into their muffins, in a short break from the bank holiday rain!

I’m actually staying at my friend Debbie’s house this week with the littlies, on the premise of doggie and horsey sitting. To be honest it’s been a welcome wee joliday for us all, wonderful to spend some quality and relaxed time with the kids after my recent three trips to the UK without them. And they’ve been the most chilled I’ve known them in recent times. Not that anyone would exactly call either of my kids ‘chilled’, but they have indeed been a good deal calmer than normal!. And for me, I’ve enjoyed getting my blogging and cooking mojo back, hence a spree of planned blogs I have for you in store.

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The Lovely Dexter

These surprisingly healthy muffins are very low in sugar (and dark soft brown sugar at that) and fat (sunflower oil, apart from a little butter in the crumble topping). To increase the health stakes you could always omit the crumble topping and switch the plain flour for wholemeal (which I was intending to do but had run out!). Or you could un-health and sweeten with a little additional sugar if you wish!.

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

swallow-recipes-for-lifeJust incase you missed my earlier posts the Somerset based charity SWALLOW, through the lovely Vanesther of Bangers and Mash Chat, are running a six month Recipes for Life challenge.  Each month three ingredients are picked and bloggers are challenged to come up with easy, tasty and wholesome dishes using them. And for May the ingredients happen to be Rhubarb, Lemon and Spice. How lovely!

Simple and in SeasonSeeing as Rhubarb’s well and truly in season I’m entering my blog to this month’s Simple and in Season, hosted by Ren Behan herself. Just in case you hadn’t seen, this month there’s a chance of winning the gorgeous and new Yeo Valley Great British Farmhouse Cookbook! So go enter….

breakfast-club-logoAnd finally as they happen to make a pretty tasty, and healthy, breakfast munch (we’ve eaten them for breakie a couple of times now!) to Fuss Free Flavour’s Breakfast Club event. Hosted this month by Katie of Feeding Boys and a Firefighter  and the theme so happening to be Bakes.

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Great for Baking with Kids, Rhubarb Lovers and/or Growers, Toddlers, Kids, Growns Ups, Picnics, Breakfasts, Elevensies, Packed Lunches, Afternoon Tea, After-school Munchies

Makes 12

For the Crumble Topping:

60g of Plain Flour

60g of Butter

50g of Dark Soft Brown Sugar

40g of Oats

a heaped teaspoon of Cinnamon

For the Muffin Mix:

250g of Plain Flour

a heaped teaspoon of Baking Powder

a heaped teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda

½ a teaspoon of Cinnamon

½ a teaspoon of Ground Ginger

a large free range Egg

150ml of natural Yogurt

3 tablespoons of Sunflower Oil

zest of a Lemon

250g of Rhubarb, washed

175g of Dark Soft Brown Sugar

Special Equipment: A 12 hole muffin tin, muffin cases

Pre-heat your oven to 200°C. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin cases.

Start with making the crumble topping. Place all the crumble ingredients together and rub the butter into the flour, cinnamon, oats and sugar. Set aside.

Sift all the dry muffin ingredients together into a large bowl, namely the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside. In another bowl, lightly whisk the egg then stir in the yogurt, oil and lemon zest.

Slice each strip of rhubarb lengthways into 2 or 3 strips depending on width. Then dice across. Place the diced rhubarb in a bowl with the sugar and stir. Set aside.

Combine the egg and yogurt mix with the sugared rhubarb and pour into the flour mix and combine well.

Spoon about a tablespoon of the muffin mix into each muffin case. Then spoon a layer of the crumble mix on the top and lightly press down.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until well risen, golden and a cake skewer comes out clean.

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

You might also like:

Super-Fruity Banana Mini-Muffins

Super-Fruity Banana Mini-Muffins

Leftover Cheese & Onion Bread

Leftover Cheese & Onion Bread

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Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb Tart

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything in the sweet or pud line, but then it’s pretty rare I make anything outside of a good old crumble, bread and butter pudding or a cake. But today, armed with some handsome pickings of homegrown Rhubarb, I tasked myself with being a little more inventive and put together this cheeky wee tart. A simple (bought!) puff pastry base, smeared with a fine layer of gingered & slightly sweetened creme fraiche and topped with roasted rhubarb it really is simplicity in itself. And was pretty heavenly served with a generous dollop of the flavoured creme fraiche. It’s quite a ‘tart’ tart but then that’s how I personally like my fruit. Feel free to be more generous with the sugar than myself.

Rhubarb

On a sweeter note, it was my wee fella’s Big Third Birthday last week. The requested blinged-up (he LOVES his silver balls!) Choccie Cake was successfully made and (messily) consumed.

Happy Big Third Birthday to Baba Jacques!

Happy Big Third Birthday to Baba Jacques!

Jacques

Since rhubarb is very much in season I shall of course be entering my tart to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event.

Simple and in Season

Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb Tart:

Serves 6:

6 – 8 Rhubarb Stalks

2 dessertspoons of Dark Soft Brown Sugar

3 heaped tablespoons of Creme Fraiche (half or full fat)

½ teaspoon of Ground Ginger

250g of ready made Puff Pastry

a little Plain Flour for rolling

a medium Free Range Egg, lightly beaten

a teaspoon of Icing Sugar, plus a little more for serving if you wish

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.

Start with roasting off the rhubarb. Wash and cut the stems into roughly even lengths – anywhere between 5 and 10 cm. Place on a baking tray and scatter over a dessertspoon of the dark soft brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of water. Place in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Leave the oven on for the tart.

Meanwhile mix the creme fraiche with the remaining dessertspoon of soft brown sugar, the ginger and any juices from the rhubarb tray.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a rectangular shape. Roll it out a little larger than you intend the tart to be, so you can cut off some side strips. It should be big enough to house your rhubarb fairly closely. Cut 0.5 to 1 cm off each side and glue on to the sides with a brushing of beaten egg. The total size of my tart was about 15 by 30 cm which is probably what you’re aiming at. Brush the side strips with the egg.

Spread a fine layer of the creme fraiche mixture over the base of the tart. There should be plenty left to serve with the cooked tart. Lay the rhubarb strips. Sprinkle (through a sieve) over a teaspoon of the icing sugar. Place in the still hot oven for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is browned, cooked and risen.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with a generous dollop of the flavoured creme fraiche. Dust with a little extra icing sugar if you wish.

A slice of Rhubarb Tart

You might also like:

Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd

Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd

Clementine & Almond Cake

Clementine & Almond Cake


Hedgerow Chutney

As followers on Twitter and FB probably well know I’ve been up to more than a spot of preserving of late. It’s my latest addiction, as if I need any more of those. My Dad’s the King of Jams, Chutneys and Pickles and I have a feeling he’s passed his enthusiastic genes for it on to me!. Which is great, but time consuming. Many an evening has been spent peeling, dicing, de-stoning, chopping, stirring, testing, sterilising and jarring. And then obviously the tasting. And all the crackers, bread and cheese to go with it!. I rarely get to bed much before midnight on my chutneying nights. And to be honest my cupboards are now fit to bursting with so many goodies, but at least I have christmas presents totally nailed this year.

My Dad’s been making Hedgerow Chutney for years, and it happens to be everyone’s favourite of all his chutney recipes (and he makes quite a number!). Each autumn he takes a long walk around the field at the back of his house in Herefordshire picking all the freebie hedgerow goodies he can find and transforms them into this marvellously fruitful chutney. There’s always plenty of damsons, bullaces, sloes, blackberries and a few elderberries. Plus pears or apples for smoothing and bulking out. We don’t have quite the same fruit in our hedgerows in France but I thought I’d make my own French version picking the fruit from our garden and nearby tracks and lanes, managing to find plenty of figs, greengages, plums, pears, blackberries and sloes just before the season finished a couple of weeks ago. We’ve elderberries here too but they were way past their best by the time I got into full chutney mode.

The lovely sloes

My little sloe picker!

There’s no escaping how time consuming and labourious chutney making can be, especially when using so much fruit that needs hefty preparatory work. I realise now why it’s a hobby generally taken up by retired folk. But the results are so worth it, if you can spare it set aside a whole evening in the kitchen and wile away the hours getting lost in music or the radio or even catching up on a few programmes on You Tube.

Every year my Dad’s Hedgerow Chutney is slightly different depending on which fruits have been particularly fruitful that year so feel free to use in whatever quantities you happen to find, but go easy on too many woody elderberries (which are particularly fiddly anyway).

Particularly fabulous with goats cheese, but to be honest it’s pretty good with any cheese or cold cut really. Bread or crackers, or to liven up a sandwich. Or just as a spread on it’s own.

Hedgerow Chutney

Makes 8 to 12 jars (depending obviously on the size of your jars!)

3 kilos of prepared hedgerow fruit, washed and de-stoned

a kilo of apples or pears, peeled, cored and finely chopped

a kilo of onions, finely diced

150g of fresh ginger, grated

1300g of demerera sugar

800ml of malt or cider vinegar (I use cider as I can’t source malt vinegar in France)

a teaspoon of salt

Special Equipment: A very large pan, 8 to 12 sterilised jars and lids

Start with prepping all your fruit. If using elderberries and/or sloes boil them in a pan with a little water for 10 minutes to soften a little before passing through a sieve to remove the skin and pips. Remove the stones from all other stoned fruit (bullaces, damsons,  plums or greengages) and cut to an equal size. Smaller fruit can be just chopped in two, but larger plums should be diced some more.

Peel the apples and pears, core and finely dice. Dice any other fruit you’re using. Blackberries may be left whole. Finally dice the onions (I actually cheated with the onions and briefly pulsed them in my food processor to save on a little time).

Place all the fruit and onion in a large pan, preferably a jam pan or maslin. I actually use a very large stock pot for all my jams and chutneys. Pour in the vinegar and sugar together with the grated ginger and salt.

Place on the hob on a high heat and bring everything to a simmer. Cook fairly furiously for at least an hour, stirring very regularly so nothing catches on the bottom. The chutney should be considerably thickened and the surplus liquid evaporated. You should be able to cross a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan and see the bottom.

Ladle into sterilised jars and screw the lids on immediately. Leave to mature for at least 2 months (if you can resist!).

You might also like:

Cinnamon & Greengage or Plum Jam

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

One of our old pear trees


Thai Green Curry Paste & Curries

Older kids, Big People

I adore the fragrancy of Thai food and really miss the Thai restaurants and take aways that are so plentiful in the UK. You can actually buy the odd jarred paste here but on the whole they’re pretty awful. And making my own paste is generally a rare and special treat in rural, and distinctly un-multicultural France. Getting hold of lemon grass and lime leaves is nigh on impossible (well unless I want to make a five hour round trip, or so I’m told), even getting the chillies, limes and fresh ginger can be a tricky affair. As for the coriander you’ve really got to grow your own and if truth be known I struggle with it, over the last year I’ve probably set it off to grow ten times and only harvested a couple of curries worth. But suddenly for no apparent reason I’ve a bumper crop and have been busy using it in all manner of fragrant dishes I don’t normally get a chance to make the last couple of weeks. Joy. Coriander coupled with a very exciting delivery of goodies from the UK, brought over by my brother in law, has meant a fabulously fragrant batch of Thai Green Curry Paste. Though I’m saddened to say after three large curries in the last week it’s now all gone, but I’ve still just enough ingredients to make another. Boy it’s good.

Making a paste is surprisingly quick and easy, simply a matter of throwing all the ingredients in a blender or processor and blitzing. My recipe below makes enough for ten people, and it can be stored in a jar in the fridge for up to three weeks, as if you could possibly refrain from using it that long (I managed five days). From then on the curry’s a fast food cinch too as pretty much all the flavouring’s done for you, 25 minutes tops.

The Paste

The last week we’ve had a gorgeous King Prawn, Courgette & Spinach Curry as well as a Chicken, Chard & Courgette one. Both totally divine. I tend to veg up my dinners (though you’ve probably worked that one by now!) but feel free to omit or vary the veggies or the meat.

This is really a dinner for grown ups or big kids that can take a little heat. It can be adapted for littlies by only adding the merest touch of paste and upping the ratio of coconut milk or making a milder paste altogether. Both work for my kids (they’re big Green Curry fans now), and I’m planning on blogging a specificly child friendly version shortly.

The Paste

enough for 10 big people

4 medium green chillies, roughly chopped

2 shallots, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic

2 thumb sized pieces of ginger, skin removed, grated

a large handful of coriander including the stalks (and the roots as well if you grow your own), washed and roughly chopped

2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped

the juice of a lime

the zest of 2 limes (if you’re lucky enough to have kaffir lime leaves then substitute one of the zested limes for 8 leaves)

a tablespoon of coriander seeds, crushed in a pestel and mortar

a teaspoon of black peppercorns, crushed in a pestel and mortar

a teaspoon of ground cumin

2 teaspoons of Thai fish sauce

3 tablespoons of sunflower or vegetable oil

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processer and blitz into a paste. The aroma is simply breathtaking!.

Store in a jar in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Chicken, Courgette & Chard Thai Green Curry

The 3 Cs, Chicken, Courgette & Chard

enough for 4 big people (with big appetites!)

2 tablespoons of sunflower or groundnut oil

a large onion, diced

2 heaped tablespoons of Thai Green Curry Paste (either the above homemade paste or shop bought)

3 or 4 free range chicken breasts, cut into large chunks (about 5 or 6 per breast)

400ml of coconut milk

Thai fish sauce

a pinch of sugar

2 courgettes, quartered lengthways then sliced

a couple of handfuls of swiss chard, the stems separated from the leaves and both shredded separately

juice of a lime

a large bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped (including the stalks)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, deep sided frying pan or wok (preferably something you have a lid to) on a medium heat. Throw in the onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the curry paste and cook for a minute or so more stirring constantly. Add the chicken pieces and briefly coat in the paste before pouring in the coconut milk, a generous shake of Thai fish sauce and a pinch of sugar. Give everything a good stir and cover for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes throw in the the sliced courgettes and shredded chard stems. Stir and cover and cook again for about 8 minutes. Now add the shredded chard leaves, stir and cover again. Leave to wilt down for a couple of minutes. Once all the veggies and chicken are cooked and tender, take off the heat and stir in the lime juice and coriander. Have a taste check and season with more fish sauce to suit.

Serve immediately with steamed Thai Jasmine Rice.

King Prawn, Courgette & Spinach Thai Green Curry

King Prawn, Courgette & Spinach Thai Green Curry

Enough for 4 big people:

2 tablespoons of sunflower or groundnut oil

a large onion, diced

2 heaped tablespoons of Thai Green Curry Paste (either the above homemade paste or shop bought)

300g of fresh or frozen uncooked king prawns (defrosted if frozen)

2 courgettes, quartered lengthways then sliced fairly thinly

400ml of coconut milk

Thai fish sauce

a pinch of sugar

4 very large handfuls of spinach, washed and shredded

juice of a lime

a large bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped (including the stalks)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, deep sided frying pan or wok (preferably something you have a lid to) on a medium heat. Throw in the onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the curry paste and cook for a minute or so more stirring constantly. Add the prawns and courgettes and coat everything briefly in the paste before pouring in the coconut milk and a generous shake of the Thai fish sauce. Give everything a good stir and cover for 8 minutes.

Now stir in the spinach and cover again. Leave to wilt down for a couple of minutes. Once all the veggies and prawns are cooked and tender, take off the heat and stir in the lime juice and coriander. Have a taste check and season with more fish sauce to suit.

Serve immediately with steamed Thai Jasmine Rice.

How about trying some of my other curry recipes? Chochori, Swiss Chard & Potato, Beetroot, Spinach & Chickpea, Aloo Gobi Kaddu


Sweet Potato Daal for Babies & Toddlers!

6-8 months +, older babies, toddlers & young children

In launching my series of baby and toddler food blogs in conjunction with Oogaa feeding products, I thought it only right to kick off with my own two little monster’s favourite baby purée, a simple gently spiced and fragrant sweet potato and lentil daal. As wee babies they both adored their lentils and just couldn’t get enough of them, though admittedly the nappies were sometimes a little on the interesting side! I’m a firm believer in introducing flavour and spice into a babies diet from a very young age to prepare them for the big world out there, though obviously going extremely easy on any chilli with the very little littlies.

Once you’ve got your baby onto eating simple pureed fruits and veggies this is a very good second stage purée introducing them to the world of proteins. The sweet potato gives your wee one a bombardment of vitamins and fibre and lentils are a great source of protein and more fibre.
For the very little ones serve just on it’s own, but be careful not to give too much at first as lentils could cause wind to little tums unused to legumes. Serve with rice to older babies and toddlers.

I tend to make all baby foods in fairly large batches so that any leftovers can be frozen in individual portions for later use.

To make a large batch (around 10 to 12 servings):

a tablespoon of olive oil

a small onion, finely diced

a clove of garlic, finely chopped

½ a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated

a carrot, finely diced

a sweet potato (about 250g), finely diced

a teaspoon of ground cumin

a teaspoon of ground coriander

a pinch of finely ground black pepper

400ml of water

65g of red split lentils

Heat the oil in a saucepan on a low heat, add the onion, garlic and ginger. Saute for 5 minutes until very soft, stirring regularly so nothing catches.

Add the carrots and sweet potato to the pan and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Now stir in the cumin, coriander and pepper and allow to cook for a minute before pouring in the water and lentils.

Bring to a simmer, and cook on a gentle heat for about 20 minutes until the lentils are mushy and vegetables very soft.

Purée with a Baby Bullet, stick blender or processor and serve.

Here’s Jacques chowing down on his rice and daal, he still loves his lentils now!


Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice

My version of Chicken Fried Rice contains eggs and lots of veggies and is a very firm favourite in our house, especially with the wee ones. It’s definitely Jacques’ absolute toptastic favourite dinner, he rarely misses out on a third helping! In fact the first time I made it for him when he was just under a year old I wasn’t sure he was ever going to stop eating. Feel free to omit the chicken and turn this into a tasty veggie dinner, just up the eggs and veggies.

The classic recipe for CFR only includes rice, chicken, egg, onions and peas, but like most things I substantially veg mine up adding pretty much anything that I happen to have in. Today I used half a red pepper, a carrot, a handful of green beans from the freezer and a quarter of a head of broccoli. Peas, courgette, leek, squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, sweetcorn, beansproats, mushrooms, spinach, chard and cabbage all work really well too. Cut your veggies to a size appropriate to the smallest eater. I tend to dice mine fairly small as my children are still pretty little, and a small dice also has the added benefit of a perfect disguise for fussy eaters (as my daughter most definitely can be at times!). If you’re cooking for adults or older children cut everything to a much larger grown up size and cook for a few minutes longer.

Classic recipes also only include the flavour addition of soy sauce, but I like to add a little less soy and a large piece of grated ginger and a teaspoon of Chinese five spice (one of my favourite flavours ever). It’s always good to get your kids used to eating different flavours from a young age, I’m sure it helps to make them less fussy later on.

January 2013: This post is part of the #FaveFamilyRecipes Competition with BritMums and Tilda Rice. Every pack sold will provide a meal to an expectant mum in need in support of the World Food Programme’s Mothers Helping Mothers initiative in Bangladesh. Please check out all the other wonderful entries on the BritMums blog. Although I wrote this post over ten months ago it’s still my two little monsters’ absolute  favourite dinner guaranteed to be gobbled up!

Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice

Enough for a hungry family of 4:


220g white rice, preferably jasmine
2 tablespoons of groundnut or sunflower oil
a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
a small onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
a carrot, diced
1/4 broccoli, cut into small florets (and any larger stem sections diced)
a handful of green beans, sliced
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
a little water
2 free range chicken breasts, cut to a small dice
a teaspoon of Chinese five spice
a teaspoon of sunflower oil
2 eggs
salt & pepper

Start with cooking your rice, cook to packet instructions. Once cooked drain and set aside.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a wok or a large deep sided frying pan. Add the onion, garlic and carrot (and any other root or slow to cook veggies that you may be using). Cook for 5 minutes on a very high heat, stirring and turning continuously.

Now add the broccoli, beans, pepper and other veggies that you’ve chosen to use. Also stir in the soy sauce and a couple of tablespoons of water. Continue to cook on a high heat for a further five minutes. Keep adding a splash of water when the the liquid evaporates.

Finally add the diced chicken and a teaspoon of Chinese five spice. Stir and cook for a final 5 minutes.

While the chicken’s cooking make your omelette. Heat a teaspoon of sunflower oil in another frying pan. Whisk up the eggs and season with a little salt and pepper. When the pan is hot pour in the eggs, stir a little then leave to firm up on a medium heat. Once the egg is fully cooked through remove the omelette from the pan and cut into small bite sized strips.

Thoroughly mix the chicken and veggies, rice and eggy strips together and serve immediately. Grown up folk might like to add a little extra soy sauce. I’ve served mine today in my gorgeous Oogaa bowls. Oogaa design and sell fabulous and safe feeding products for babies and young children in fun designs and colours. For more information check out the Oogaa website, www.oogaa.com.

How about trying some of my other child friendly recipes? Kid’s Bolognese, Sausage & Courgette Pasta Carbonara, Salmon Fishcakes, Potato, Cauliflower & Pumpkin Curry or Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese?


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