Thursday, February 01, 2007

Food, Glorious Food...

A catchup on our meals this week. Yesterday we had scrambled eggs on home-made granary bread toast for lunch, and Gill had asked for sausage and mash for supper, with onion gravy and(an additional later request) mushy peas. Luckily I had a pack of quick-cook dried peas in my cupboard. Made up the whole pack, we ate half and the surplus was frozen. Believe it or not I had never made onion gravy before. Looked up the recipe in my main cook books and found Gary Rhodes was the only one who had bothered to include it. Shock, horror - it seemed I needed to simmer the onions for at least two hours - bit late Gary, supper was in half an hour. He did give a faster version (and for this I gave thanks), which was what I thought might work anyway. Finely slice the onions, fry in a little butter until turning gold. Add a tsp. of demerara sugar and stir until just caramalised, then add beef 'jus'. Me, being just a housewife, added a little water and a sprinkle of beef gravy granules. Gave it a good stir. It was WONDERFUL. I could have just eaten a plate of onion gravy on its own.
Gill had TOP to follow - (cut a chunk off the frozen block - reheated in the microwave 2 mins) served with double cream. She thought the whole meal was great. She asked me how much the TOP cost to make, very roughly I totted up the recipe - the main cake was cheap enough, the fudge sauce cream/sugar/butter knocked it up a bit more than I would have liked, I even rounded the cost up to allow for a double helping of sauce, but as the recipe made AT LEAST 12 portions, it came to around 20p a serving. So well worth it.
Tonight will be a pasta dish. Maybe with tuna. I prefer spag. bol. One or the other.

With Gill staying here, I am neglecting household duties although managed a batch of lemon and lime marmalade ysterday. Gill takes some back with her. Today I plan to make some pots of lemon curd and a couple of tubs of ice-cream (whites for the ice-cream, yolks for the curd). Between chores and a watching TV soaps and cookery progs. we play Rummicubs or Cribbage. As if you are interested. Back to the more important things:

Muffins are an easy cake/bun to make as the dry ingredients can be put on one bowl, and all the 'wet' ingredients put into a jug, all that needs to be done is very quickly (and not that thoroughly) mix them together. I often assemble the dry and the wet the night before and leave until the next day before mixing and baking.
Best eaten freshly cooked, although allow to cool as this makes it easier to peel off the paper cases. Any not eaten on the day of baking should be frozen. Freeze when cold in airtight bags. Leave to thaw naturally. A frozen muffin taken with a packed lunch will have thawed out by mid-mornig.
For instant thawing microwave for 20 - 40 seconds.

The Basic Muffin recipe: makes 10 - 12 (F)
9 oz plain flour*
3 level tsp. baking powder
1/2 level tsp. salt
3 oz (85g) granulated sugar
1 egg
8 fl.0z (240ml) milk
3 fl.os (90ml) corn oil** OR melted butter/marg
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and put into a large bowl with the sugar.
In a measuring jug pour in the milk followed by the oil. Lastly add the beaten egg. Stir well.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined. Do not overmix. it should be lumpy. Just make sure there is no dry flour visible.
Fill muffin cases 3/4 full and bake for 20 - 25 mins at 200C, 375F, Gas 6, or slightly lower if a fan oven. (I tend to do mine at 180C). Muffins are cooked when the tops are golden and spring back when lightly pressed.
*If using self-raising flour, use only 1 tsp. baking powder.
** Any vegetable oil can be used (I use sunflower), but NOT olive oil. If using melted butter or marg. don't leave to stand the makings overnight, use immediately.
Coffee Walnut: Instead of 8 fl.oz milk, used 6 fl.oz of cooled strong coffee plus 2 oz milk.
To d;ry ingredients add 2 oz (50g) chopped walnuts. Sprinkle tops with a little demerara sugar before baking.
Wholemeal: use a combination of half and half wholemeal and white flour. This can be used for any muffin recipes.
Chocolate Chip: Add 3 oz (85g) chopped chocolate to the dry mix.

Cheese Muffins: As the basic recupe but use 4 level tblsp (60 ml) of gran. sugar, and add 3 0z (85g) grated cheddar cheese to the dry ingredients.
Cheese and Bacon: to the cheese mix add about 4 tblsp cooked and finly chopped bacon.
Cheese and Onion: to the cheese mix add about 2 tblsp. finely chopped and lightly fried
onion. Add a pinch of dried herb if you wish.