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!

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!

Italian Potato Frittata

Italian potato frittata - trustinkim.com

This frittata makes a nice breakfast, lunch or dinner with a salad, and it is also extremely delicious served cold the next day.  I’ve made frittata in the past, but I’m finally happy with how this one turned out – practice makes perfect! It’s quite simple to make, and you can cook it in a frying pan on the stove-top, or you can finish it in the oven.

I used a cast-iron frying pan, but you can use whatever kind of frying pan you have. If you’re going to put it in the oven, make sure it doesn’t have a plastic handle. I have read that you can cover a plastic handle with aluminum foil to protect it, but I haven’t tried it myself.

You can put whatever kind of herbs you like in your frittata; I used fresh parsley, tarragon and oregano.

What you need:

  • 500 grams potatoes, sliced or cubed (slice smaller potatoes, cube larger ones)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6-8 eggs
  • fresh herbs of your choice, finely chopped
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper

What you do:

  1. Boil a pot of salted water for the potatoes.
  2. To prepare the potatoes: If you are using smaller potatoes, slice them about 1 cm thick. For larger potatoes, peel and cube them, about 2cm cubes. Boil the potatoes for about 5 minutes, until they are tender.
  3. In the frying pan heat half of the olive oil on medium heat, then fry the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent.
  4. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork or a whisk. Add the herbs, some grated Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste, then beat them in. 
  5. You may want to add a bit more olive oil to the frying pan, especially up the sides, so the frittata won’t stick.
  6. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and add them to the frying pan along with the onions and garlic. Pour the eggs over top, then distribute the potatoes evenly throughout the pan. With the heat on medium-low, place a lid on the frying pan and let the frittata cook for 6-8 minutes.
  7. At this point, if the frittata is not too liquidy, you can flip it. To do this, loosen the edges with a knife, then place a plate on top of the pan and flip the frittata onto plate. Slip the frittata back into the frying pan and cook without a lid for about 5 minutes. Now… if you don’t want to do this flipping thing, you can simply put it under the broiler for a few minutes – Watch It Carefully! You don’t want it to burn, you just want to firm up the egg until it has just set. No browning necessary; we want the egg to remain tender.
  8. Enjoy it while it’s hot, or allow the frittata to cool, then refrigerate and eat it within a few days.

Apple Carrot Bran Muffin

carrot apple bran muffin -trustinkim

Healthy, delicious and moist is the way I’ll describe these. An excellent item to have in the freezer for snacks or quick breakfasts. A great source of fibre, not too much fat or sugar, and I added nuts to up the protein. Did I mention really really yummy? I’ve already made them a half dozen times and given many away.
I found the recipe on the All-Bran website; I bought a box of Bran Buds and realized I was never going to eat it (ew!), so I searched for recipes to use it up. Now I’m purposely going out and buying it so that I can make these muffins. I could probably just make bran muffins, but I’m so addicted to these that I don’t want to risk a change.
I only made a few changes in this recipe; I added nuts, and I soak the raisins in milk. I find the raisins burn too easily on the top of the muffin if they aren’t soaked first.
What you need:
  • 1 & 1/2 cups All-bran Buds cereal
  • 1 & 1/4 cups buttermilk (or add a tablespoon of vinegar to regular milk to make your own)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup carrot, grated
  • 1 cup apple, unpeeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 & 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

What you do:

  1. Soak the Bran Buds and raisins in milk for 5 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a dozen muffin tins with paper liners.
  3. Add the egg, oil and vanilla to the Bran Buds and stir it in. Add the grated carrots and apples and stir them in too. At the last minute stir in the nuts.
  4. Using a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir the cereal mixture into the dry ingredients only until it is combined.
  5. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins; it makes quite large muffins.
  6. Bake immediately for 20-25 minutes. At 20 minutes insert a toothpick into the muffin; if it comes out clean, the muffin is done. If not bake for a few more minutes and test again.
  7. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then allow to cool on a rack. You can eat them before they are cooled, but allow them to cool completely before freezing.

How to Hard-Cook an Egg

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I know it seems too simple to bother writing about, but I really do believe there is a “right” way to hard-cook an egg. Most mornings I start my day with a hard-cooked egg since it’s a good source of protein, and when cooked this way . . .  the Right Way . . . it is tender and delicious.

I used to call these hard-boiled eggs, but I stopped using the word ‘boiled’ when I found the Right Way stopped boiling them. You see, eggs don’t like to be cooked at high temperatures; they turn tough when you boil them. This method is really easy, and the results are much better.

I have also been using free-range organic eggs for a while, and I believe the flavour is much better. The eggs in the photo are from London Heritage Farm in Steveston, BC. It’s a great place to cycle to for tea and a scone in the their tea house, and a walk through the garden.

What you need:

  • one large free-range organic egg
  • salt and freshly ground pepper – optional

What you do:

  1. Place the egg in a small pot and add enough water to cover the egg. Place the pot, with the lid on, on high heat and bring to a simmer – just before it begins to boil, turn the heat off.
  2. Keep the pot on the burner that has been turned off, with the lid on. Set a timer for 11 minutes. (Give it a few extra minutes at high altitudes)
  3. Pour the hot water out of the pot, then cover the egg with cold water for a moment.
  4. Crack and peel the egg, salting and peppering if desired. Eat it while it’s hot!

You can use the same method to make devilled eggs, egg salad sandwich, or any other recipe that calls for hard-boiled eggs.

 

Savoury Italian Cake

savoury italian cake - trust in kim
photo by sarah scott

This salty and cheesy savoury cake is something I baked to serve along with a friend’s chili at a Superbowl party. It is quite easy to make, and really tasty, flavoured with bacon, cheddar and parmesan cheeses, and arugula. So good.

I found the recipe in Ilona Chovancova’s cookbook Cakes and Loaves: 110 Recipes you can Make at Home. The main things I changed from the original recipe were some parts of the method of preparation. The author didn’t specify to cook the bacon, so I fried it to get a lot of the fat out of it, but didn’t make it crispy. The other part that confused me was the addition of baking powder: the author says to fold it in at the end, after everything else has been mixed. But this worried me – how would it be possible to mix it in completely without over-mixing? So I solved that problem by adding the flour in two portions, one at the end with the baking powder in it, and that way the baking powder would be distributed better. That would also avoid adding the baking powder with the rest of the flour, which could cause over mixing, resulting in a tough cake. Problem solved.

The only ingredient change I made was to use olive oil instead of vegetable oil.

What you need:

  • a generous handful of arugula
  • 150 grams bacon (or pancetta)
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 & 1/4 cups white aged cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup aged Parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

What you do:

  1. Chop the bacon and fry it until most of the fat is removed, but don’t let it get crispy. Place the fried bacon on paper towels to absorb the fat. Let it cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a loaf pan.
  3. Chop the arugula coarsely.
  4. Combine the eggs, milk and oil in a large bowl and beat with a fork. Add 1 cup of the flour along with the cheeses, arugula, bacon, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  5. Mix the baking powder into the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Fold the flour and baking powder into the batter.
  6. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for about 50 minutes. The top of the loaf should become browned, and a toothpick inserted into the cake should come out clean.
  7. Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool.

This was delicious served cold, but if you can time it right, it would probably be awesome to eat it while it’s still a little warm.

 

Egg & Avocado Open-Faced Sandwich

egg and avocado open-faced sandwich - trust in kim

This might look a little odd – like green eggs without the ham – but it’s pretty darn good. And a healthier alternative to using mayonnaise in a sandwich.

I developed this simple recipe out of necessity – I had a half an avocado that needed to be used up, and I was hungry and didn’t have much food in the house. So instead of the usual egg salad sandwich I made and enjoyed this:

What you need for one sandwich:

  • one large free-range egg
  • 1/4 to 1/2 a ripe avocado
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 slices bread of your choice

What you do:

  1. Place the egg in a small pot filled with water and put a lid on the pot. The water needs to cover the egg. Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat off as soon as it begins to boil, and set a timer for 11 minutes, keeping the lid on the pot. This method of making a “boiled” egg without actually boiling it ensures that your egg will be tender – boiling can cause the egg to become rubbery.
  2. Drain the hot water off the egg and immerse it in cold water. I like to crack the egg while it is in the water because this helps to get the peel off easily.
  3. Mash the avocado in a bowl and add some salt and pepper. When the egg has cooled somewhat, cut it up and add it to the avocado. Mix the egg and avocado together.
  4. Toast your bread.
  5. Pile the egg mixture on top of the bread and eat it right away.

Enjoy!