Savoury Cheddar Muffins

savoury cheddar muffins - trustinkim.com

A new favourite! These savoury muffins were super delicious fresh out of the oven, served with a nice bowl of soup. They have cheddar, spinach and spring onions in them, and they are nice and light. They also work well as a breakfast or snack muffin.

Of course they were best eaten fresh out of the oven, but I heated one up the next day and that one was really good too! I’ve got a few in the freezer for when I need a last minute addition to a meal. 

I found the recipe on myfussyeater.com, and only changed a few things: I omitted the red peppers, and I added a bit of salt to the tops of the muffins. As well, I never buy self-raising flour, so in my version printed below I have included ingredients to substitute for self-raising flour. The recipe called for medium eggs, and I only had large so I used those – seemed a fine substitution to me. Also, I didn’t have quite enough butter so I topped it up with olive oil. I used more spring onions than the recipe indicated.

What you need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (150mL milk)
  • 1/2 cup (150mL) butter, melted
  • 2 cups grated aged cheddar
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 vegetable stock cube, crumbled
  • freshly ground pepper
  • salt for the top of the muffins

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Line muffin tins with 12 liners, spraying them if they are not parchment.
  3. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, then stir in the milk and the melted butter (let it cool before adding it or it will solidify when you add it). Mix in the grated cheese, spring onion, and spinach.
  4. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then add the salt and pepper and the crumbled stock cube.
  5. Hand mix until just combined; I added a little bit more milk because mine seemed way too dry.
  6. Scoop the batter into the muffin tins and crack a little bit of salt on top of each.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. If you insert a toothpick or skewer into the middle of a muffin it should come out dry.
  8. Cool completely before freezing, but enjoy them while they are warm!

Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Enchiladas

roasted tomatillo chicken enchiladas - trustinkim.com

The roasted tomatillo salsa on these enchiladas is really what makes it a special dish; you get that slightly smoky taste, and there are those authentic bits of char you can see in there. You can use whichever fillings you like, or you can follow the suggestions in my recipe.

There are three main steps to this recipe: roast the vegetables for the salsa and cook them, assemble the tortillas and pour the salsa over top. Then bake for just a few minutes. The best part of course is devouring them, nicely garnished with cilantro and maybe some Cotijo cheese.

This recipe comes from Rick Bayless’s website. After visiting one of his restaurants in Chicago a few years back I started searching through his recipes and trying some out. This one was a big hit when I made it recently. (Once again, the eating experience outshines the photo.)

Some changes were made to the chicken filling. The recipe called for just shredded cheese, but I squeezed some lime juice over the chicken, then I added some cilantro, avocado, Cotijo cheese and a bit of Ancho chili powder and salt. I also meant to add some pinto beans but forgot about them, so they were served on the side. I love a nice crumbly, salty Cotijo cheese sprinkled on top of these; I buy a locally made one at Whole Foods in Vancouver.

I also made one change to the tomatillo salsa – I chopped up some of the cilantro stems and tossed them into the salsa as it was cooking.

If you have some bottled tomatillo salsa on hand it can be helpful in case you don’t have quite enough to cover the enchiladas, or if you really don’t have time to make the salsa you can substitute with bottled green salsa.

I served this with a jicama/cucumber/mango/orange salad, and some pickled red onion to put on the enchilada.

Warning: serving this meal may cause arguments over who gets the leftovers.

What you need:

  • 1/2 kg tomatillos
  • 4 garlic cloves with peels on
  • 2 fresh Serrano chiles
  • 1 small onion, sliced about 1cm thick
  • 1 & 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I used a bouillon cube)
  • olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch chopped cilantro
  • cooked, shredded chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken, mainly the breasts with a bit of other meat)
  • juice of one lime plus more for serving
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • pinto beans (optional)
  • Ancho chili powder
  • Cotija cheese
  • salt
  • 8 corn tortillas

What you do:

  1. Preheat the broiler in the oven and move the rack to the highest position.
  2. To prepare the roasted tomatillo salsa, remove the husks from the tomatillos and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the garlic, onion and Serrano peppers on the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven for about 4 minutes. The vegetables should begin blackening. Flip them over and let the other side blacken for a few minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool somewhat.
  3. Turn the oven heat to 400F (200C).
  4. Remove the skins from the roasted garlic and take the stems off of the peppers.
  5. Using a blender or immersion blender, purée the vegetables and any of their juices, along with half a teaspoon or so of salt, leaving some chunks of tomatillo.
  6. Sprinkle some salt and Ancho chili powder over the shredded chicken, then pour the juice of a lime over it. Add the chopped cilantro and toss the chicken to evenly coat it. Prepare the sliced avocado and crumble some of the Cotijo cheese. Set the chicken ingredients aside while you finish preparing the salsa.
  7. Add a drizzle of oil to a pot and bring it to medium-high heat. Add the salsa ingredients to the pot and let it cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, and allowing it to thicken. Add the broth and about 1/4 cup of cilantro and continue to cook for about 5 minutes more until thickened a bit. Season with salt, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer while you assemble the enchiladas.
  8. Wrap the tortillas in a cloth and microwave for a minute.
  9. Stir a little bit of the salsa into the chicken mixture, then add a little bit of the salsa to the bottom of a baking dish.
  10. Lay out one tortilla at a time, adding some chicken, avocado, and Cotija cheese (reserving some to garnish). Roll the enchilada, the place each of them in the baking dish. Spoon the salsa over the top of the enchiladas, making sure to spread it all the way to the edges.
  11. Bake the enchiladas for about 4 minutes, then garnish with cilantro and Cotija cheese before serving.

Sour Cherry Almond Muffins

sour cherry almond muffins - trustinkim.com

Why have I never made an almond and cherry baked good before? My apartment smelled so wonderful after baking these; the almond smell is dreamy! These muffins are a bit more on the mini-cake side, meaning I don’t think they’re the healthiest muffins I’ve ever made. That’s not to say I didn’t have one for breakfast a few times   . . . and they’re really good with tea!

We ate one of these while they were warm, which is when they are at their best, but they were also great the next day. I froze the rest as soon as they were cool, and they were still really good when thawed.

I found the recipe on this site: Pretty Simple Sweet. The original recipe uses sweet cherries, but I used sour cherries, and I think they pair really well with the almond flavour. I tend to like to balance sweetness with tartness.

The recipe calls for baking the muffins for a few minutes at a higher temperature, then lowering the temperature for the rest of the baking. My oven is really finicky; I have to set it for higher than the required temperature, but then I have to lower it once it is at the right temperature or it will get too hot. So for me this was quite challenging. The good news is, by checking for a light brownness, and then using a toothpick to check if they had baked through, they baked successfully. Yay!

What you need:

  • 1 & 3/4 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  •  2 teaspoons baking powder
  •  1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  •  1 large egg, slightly beaten
  •  1 cup yogurt (I use 3.5% fat, my homemade recipe)
  •  1/3 cup (80 mL) canola oil
  •  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  1 teaspoon pure almond extract 
  •  1 & 1/2 cups (300 grams) cherries, halved and pitted 
  •  1/2 cup sliced almonds, plus extra to sprinkle on top

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F/220C. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners; I also sprayed them with baking spray.
  2. Toast the 1/2 cup of almonds in a frying pan or in the oven.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
  4. Mix the egg with the yogurt, oil, and vanilla and almond extracts in a medium bowl.
  5. Pit and cut the cherries in half. If they are really juicy or if you’re using frozen berries, you can toss them in just a bit of flour to prevent bleeding. Prepare the cherries right before you are going to add them to the batter so that your finished product will look pretty.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold the batter with a rubber spatula just until combined. Be careful to not over-mix, which would toughen the final product. We want nice light muffins. You can expect the batter to be thick and lumpy.
  7. Fold in the toasted almonds and cherries.
  8. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with a few un-toasted almonds.
  9. Bake for three minutes, then reduce the temperature of the oven to 375F/190C and bake for 12-17 minutes more. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick; the muffin should be tender but not wet.
  10. Cool the muffins still in the tins for about 10 minutes, then place the muffins on a wire rack to cool.
  11. Allow the muffins to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. They can be stored on the counter for a day or two, or frozen for a few months.
  12. Enjoy!

Magret de Canard (Duck breast)=YUM!

magret de canard - trustinkim

The first time I tasted magret de canard was at Chez Janou in Paris. We had been invited to someone’s apartment one evening, and I thought we were there for dinner. Turns out it was just for drinks. By about ten pm it became clear that there would be no food served, so we headed over to Chez Janou where I ordered the magret de canard for the first time. It was served medium-rare with roasted potatoes, and a red wine pan sauce.

When I made it this time (I’ve made it several times before, but always forgot to take photos) I served it on greens, but what you don’t see in the photo is the  potatoes roasted in duck fat, nor the pan juice I poured over the duck after I took the photo. I also served it with a baguette, which was perfect for mopping up extra juices.

In my opinion the duck breast in the photo is cooked to perfection. You might be thinking to yourself – isn’t that a little too red for poultry? Duck is a red meat, and the breast must not be cooked to well done or it will be dry. I was served a well-done duck breast on a subsequent visit to Chez Janou (they must have thought North Americans liked it this way) and it tasted like liver (ick). Some sources say that rare duck meat is unsafe, but most say it’s fine, and restaurants typically serve it even rarer than the one I have show here.

Here is a quick guide to testing for doneness so you don’t have to poke into the meat with a thermometer, using the feel of the meat compared to the feel of different parts of your face as a guide. When you prod the top of the breast with your finger, you are checking for the following:

  • feels like when you prod your cheek = rare
  • feels like when you prod your chin=medium rare
  • feels like when you prod your forehead=well done

To make the pan sauce you will use the bits of meat that are stuck to the pan acter cooking the breast, along with some wine and a bit of butter. The stuff left in the bottom of the pan is called “fond,” (silent ‘d’) from the French word for bottom. It is concentrated flavour that you don’t want to waste, and makes a really easy and tasty sauce.

You don’t have to eat the skin (but it is crispy and delicious), but you need to cook the breast with the skin on or it will be very dry. And that would be such a shame.

What you need:

  • duck breast
  • salt
  • red or white wine for the pan sauce
  • butter

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Remove the duck breast from the fridge at least half an hour before you plan to cook it. Score the fat using a very sharp knife, making sure you don’t cut all the way down to the meat. Salt the fat side quite a bit, then salt the other side a bit.
  3. Heat an ovenproof pan (I used cast iron) to high, then lower the heat to medium high. Add the duck breast skin side down and cook for 5 minutes – it should sizzle quite a bit. Flip the duck breast.
  4. Put the breast, still in the pan, in the oven for 4-8 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the size of the breast and how well you like it done. When cooked to the desired doneness remove the breast from the oven and place it on a plate or cutting board to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  5. While the breast is resting, put the pan on the stove again and add a little wine to loosen up the fond. Let the wine cook down a little, then add a pat of butter to make a glossy sauce.
  6. I like to slice the breast before serving, and for a small meal the one breast can be shared between two people. After slicing pour some of the pan juice over the top.
  7. Enjoy!

Bruschetta

bruschetta - trustinkim.comTomatoes, freshly picked from the vine – is there a better taste of summer? Bruschetta is a tasty way to serve up some of these treasures from the garden, or the garden of a friend, or a Farmer’s market. Best made only with fresh summer tomatoes, but in a pinch, cherry tomatoes are often a best bet in winter.

I haven’t given amounts for this recipe because it’s easy to make, and you can alter amounts according to your taste and how much you want to make. Each tomato tastes a bit different, so the seasonings will depend on how much flavour is in our tomatoes.

What you need:

  • baguette
  • 1 clove garlic
  • the freshest tomatoes you can get
  • fresh basil
  • sweet onion
  • balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt

What you do:

  1. Slice and lightly toast the bread. You can toast it in the oven, toaster, or on the BBQ. The BBQ is a good option if it’s really hot and you don’t want to turn on your oven.
  2. Slice the garlic in half and rub it on the toasted bread. Set the bread aside.
  3. Mince a little bit of the onion, then chop the tomatoes and toss them into a bowl. Tear up or chop the basil and add it to the tomatoes.
  4. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the tomatoes, along with a pinch of salt – give it a toss. Taste and add more of each of these ingredients as you see fit.
  5. Just before serving, top each slice of bread with tomatoes. Alternatively, you can leave the tomatoes in a bowl and people can top their own.

Mini Frittata

mini frittata - trustinkim.com

These mini frittata, baked in muffin tins, make the perfect quick breakfast. They can be made ahead and then heated up as needed. If you’ve got any picky eaters in your household they can add whatever they like to theirs, or keep it really plain.

I’ve made frittata before, like this yummy potato one. For this version I altered the cooking method and time, and changed the filling to bacon, roasted red pepper and Parmesan. As I mentioned, feel free to use any fillers you like, just making sure they are not too watery. Tomatoes should be deseeded and drained if you are using them.

For this batch I made a half dozen frittata because I was still experimenting. You can double the amount so you have lots in the freezer – basically one egg per muffin section. Just wait for them to cool completely before putting them in the freezer. I wrapped them in a bit of parchment paper before putting them into a zip-lock bag. If you’ve got a lot of people to feed you probably won’t need to freeze anything, just keep the leftovers in the fridge for up to a few days.

To reheat, just pop one in the microwave until it is heated through – all microwaves work differently, so I can’t specify a time. I like to use the defrost setting. Alternately, you could take it out of the freezer the night before you want to eat it and let it come to room temperature, then pop it into a frying pan for a few minutes. The texture of the reheated frittata is a little bit different than when it made fresh, but still really good. I think these also taste really good at room temperature.

What you need:

  • 6 eggs, preferably free-range
  • 2 tablespoons diced onion
  • 2-3 slices bacon, cooked
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper
  • 2-4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • chopped herbs of your choice – I used basil and oregano
  • salt and pepper

What you do:

  1. Grease the muffin tins well.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C
  3. Fry the onion in a bit of olive oil or bacon fat until it is soft and just beginning to brown. Remove the onions from the heat.
  4. Pat the red pepper dry on a piece of paper towel, then chop it up.
  5. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat them with a fork.
  6. Add the onion, bacon, pepper, cheese, herbs, and some salt and pepper. Mix these ingredients in with the fork.
  7. Pour the egg mixture into the prepared muffin tins – I used a ladle for this.
  8. To be safe I put a baking tray underneath the muffin tin in case it spilled over; it did not. Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. The eggs should not be runny on the top, so cook them for a few minutes longer if they are not done
  9. Cool for a few minutes before tipping them out of the muffin tin. They are delicious to eat right away!

Hummus Sandwich

hummus sandwich - trustinkim.com

I don’t often make meals that are as easy as this one, and when I do I usually don’t think of it as a recipe worth sharing. But this one is! It’s tasty, nutritious, and easy to make. Feel free to alter the ingredients as you see fit.

I don’t recommend this one as a make and take, since it would probably get soggy. But then, I’m a bit of a sandwich snob and I never like sandwiches that have been made ahead of time. 

What you need:

What you do:

  1. The first step is optional, but I think it makes the sandwich extra tasty: slice the ciabatta in half, then heat a frying pan. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan, then place the bread cut-side down to grill it a little. Less than a minute is probably good.
  2. Add hummus to the bottom slice of the bun, and add whatever else you are putting on it (you know how to make a sandwich.) Salt and pepper the tomatoes a little.
  3. Put the top on and eat right away!