Savoury muffins for brunch are a wonderful thing. They taste good and you can pack in whatever vegetables you happen to have to hand. They make an interesting and easy packed lunch too and they’re ideal for picnics. These beetroot, walnut, wild garlic and goat’s cheese brunch muffins are particularly particularly fine ones.
Although I can often be seen running down the road with a piece of toast in my hand first thing in the morning, I have had a bit of a love affair with breakfast smoothies recently. Packed full of healthy and delicious ingredients, they can be a great way to start the day. If I’m at home on my own, I sometimes have one as an easy lunch option. Normally I use milk, but when given the opportunity to try some unsweetened Almond Breeze recently, I thought I’d take the chance to reacquaint myself with almond milk.
Made from Californian almonds, Almond Breeze is dairy free and soya free. It is very low in calories with only 14 per 100 ml, making it ideal for those on the 5:2 fasting diet. 100 ml also provides 15% of the recommended daily allowance for Calcium.
Foodies 100 set a challenge to come up with an “easy to make but incredibly scrumptious breakfast smoothie”. Well, I had this one sorted without even having to think about it. I’ve honed my matcha smoothie to the point of perfection and for optimum nutrition, it was just a matter of swapping the dairy milk for Almond Breeze.
This is how I made:
Matcha and Banana Superfood Breakfast Smoothie
- Soaked 2 tbsp of porridge oats and 2 tsp of chia seeds in a litre of unsweetened almond milk (Almond Breeze) for 15 minutes so that the oats and chia would swell and thicken the smoothie.
- Added two chopped fairtrade bananas, 1 tsp matcha powder and 2 tsp honey (I usually use Cornish honey, but I had been sent some Beech Forest Honeydew from the New Zealand Honey Co, so thought I’d use that to give an extra boost with its 10+ pre-biotic factor).
- Whizzed this in a liquidiser for a couple of minutes until smooth and frothy.
- Poured into 2 large glasses and topped with shavings from a bar of 100% chocolate.
Pure breakfast bliss and so simple. It was thick and frothy, just as I’d expected. The matcha green tea gave a pleasant green colour and infused the smoothie with its distinctive taste and high density of antioxidants. The chia seeds gave a lovely speckled look and added additional powerful nutrients. The chocolate on the top gave a real burst of intense cocoa with every sip and without the addition of sugar is super healthy too. For a vegan alternative, the honey could easily be replaced by date syrup or agave nectar or left out all together.
Disclaimer – I was sent two litres of almond milk to try. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.
This recipe from Green Seasons by Rachel Demuth has been bookmarked for a very long time. Using mangoes, limes, chillies, cinnamon and of course chocolate, it combines some of my favourite ingredients. I was given this cookbook by some dear friends at least three years ago and they hinted broadly that this was a recipe I ought to make. It took a basket of beautiful green limes, sent for review and Chris to choose Mexico for his monthly Bloggers Around the World event for me to finally take the plunge
Green Seasons is the third vegetarian cookbook written by Rachel Demuth, a leading vegetarian chef who runs the acclaimed vegetarian restaurant Demuths and the highly successful Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath. I’ve made quite a few of the recipes in the book, which include vegan and gluten free ones too; they have all been successful and delicious. You can find out more by reading my review of Green Seasons. The book has recently been made available for iPad so if on-line cookery books are more your thing, you may want to take a look. As well as the book, I can highly recommend the courses at the cookery school, at least the one I attended on Middle Eastern mezze anyway.
The pudding may be Mexican by name, but possibly not by nature. I’m not sure where the cinnamon or the chillies came from, but I don’t think there was a single ingredient of Mexican provenance. However, Latin American it certainly was: the 100% chocolate bought on a recent trip to the Eden Project was Colombian, the rum was Cuban and the limes hailed from Brazil. The chocolate, very handily, came in two 125g blocks, which made it a breeze for me to halve the recipe – after all, there was only CT and I to indulge in them and even for us, a pudding to serve eight seemed a little excessive. Sadly, the limes arrived with very little information, but they did appear to be waxed, so I made sure I scrubbed them well with warm water and washing up liquid before using.
This is how I made:
Mexican Chocolate Pudding with Chilli and Lime Mango Slices
- Melted 125g of Colombian 100% chocolate in a small saucepan over gently heat with 150 ml of milk. Stirred until almost smooth.
- Took of the heat and added 1 tbsp of white Cuban rum.
- Creamed 25g unsalted butter with 75g vanilla (caster) sugar.
- Beat in a yolk from a duck egg and put the white in a clean bowl.
- Beat in the chocolate mixture.
- Sifted in 20g wholemeal spelt, 10g cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/8 tsp baking powder. Stirred gently until just combined.
- Whisked the egg white until stiff and folded into the chocolate mix. Spooned into four buttered ramekins.
- Placed the ramekins in a tin and filled to about 1 cm with water.
- Baked at 180C for about 17 minutes.
- Peeled and sliced a ripe mango (rather messily)
- Dissolved 2 tbsp cardamom (caster) sugar in a large pan with 1 tbsp water over a low heat.
- Turned up the heat and added 1/2 tsp chilli flakes followed by the mango slices.
- Allowed to bubble away for a few minutes until the liquid had turned syrupy.
- Removed from the heat and added the grated zest and juice of one well scrubbed Brazilian lime.
- Ran a knife around the edge of the puddings to loosen them, then turned out onto plates. Dusted with cocoa and added some reserved lime zest to the top.
- Served with some the mango slices.
This may look like burnt pie and chips, but what it lacked in appearance, it more than made up for in sensuousness. It was very rich, very dark, not too sweet and it reached into places other puddings rarely do. The cinnamon supported, as well as ameliorated the strong and robust nature of the chocolate. We ate them warm whilst the centre was still gooey. The sweet, sour and fiery mango slices were delicious in their own right but also acted as a great foil to the chocolate. CT had only one thing to say about this: “sex on a plate”. In fact he was probably right, these would be perfect for Valentine’s Day.
Thank you to Chris of Cooking Around the World for choosing Mexico for this month’s Blogging Around the World – he finally got me to make this rather wonderful dessert.
Kate of What Kate Baked has chosen Perfect Puddings for this month’s Tea Time Treats. Hmmm, perfect looking my puddings aren’t but I think they might hit the perfect button for taste, smell and touch. This monthly challenge is co-hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.
Bookmarked for more than three years, this has to be a contender for Jac’s Bookmarked Recipes over at Tinned Tomatoes.
Those two romantics Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cakes have a valentine’s theme for this month’s Calendar Cakes with My Achy Cakey Heart. Well as already described, this may not look that pretty but it’s very likely to win over your Valentine.
Finally, I think, I am submitting these to Simple and in Season as limes are in full season now. Started by Ren of Fabulicious Foods, this month’s host is C of the fabulicious Cake, Crumbs and Cooking.
After writing my post on duck eggs nearly two years ago and seeing the picture of a goose egg there, I’ve been yearning to get my hands on one ever since. Goose eggs are meant to be even better than duck eggs for baking. Well, I couldn’t quite believe it when I went to get my duck eggs from our local weekly produce market the other week. Right next to the duck eggs was a basket of three goose eggs. I bought one immediately. I’d only been gone about a minute when I turned around and raced back again to buy the other two. Who knew how long it might be before I’d be able to get my hands on another one? I’d been told goose eggs make particularly good fried eggs and scrambled eggs. Well it seemed a shame to scramble my first ever eggs, so we had one each, fried for breakfast that Saturday. They were enormous (see above comparison with duck egg) and virtually covered the whole plate. They also kept us going down at the plot for a good many hours.
So what was I going to use my remaining egg for? I’d been wanting to make Willie’s famous cloud forest chocolate cake ever since I first saw it, but was waiting for the right occasion. Well really, what could be more special than baking with a goose egg? Willie’s Chocolate Factory Cookbook was thus unearthed and I proceeded to melt his Venezuelan Black 100% cocoa. As the egg, although large wasn’t quite worth 6 chicken eggs and as I only had 160g of the cocoa, I made a smaller cake than the stated one and had to estimate the quantities. This is what I did:
- Grated 10g off the block of 100% cocoa.
- Melted the remaining 150g over a pan of hot water with 210g unsalted butter and left to cool a little.
- Whisked 1 goose egg (about 4 duck eggs or 5 hens eggs) with 40g light muscovado and 120g vanilla sugar (granulated) until thick and doubled in volume.
- Poured the chocolate down the side of the bowl so as not to knock the air out of the egg mixture then proceeded to fold in as gently as I could.
- Folded in 80g ground almonds.
- Poured into a 22cm cake mould and baked at 170C for 30 mins.
- Left to cool, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool further.
- Placed onto a cake stand and scattered over the grated cocoa (which then proceeded to melt as I hadn’t left the cake quite long enough to cool).
This had such a powerful chocolate smell whilst cooking, it made my stomach rumble even though I’d only just had lunch. Although the cake was meant to be iced, I thought it would be quite rich enough as it was – and it was! It was rich, dense, truffley and gorgeous. CT reckoned it was an adult only experience. The taste and aroma of chocolate was very strong. The texture was mousse like and more like a brownie than a cake. It wasn’t in the least bit sweet and had a robust underlying bitterness that was a bit like beer.