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Recipe: Lemon Curd and Apple and Blueberry Crumble Muffins

Oh, muffins. Where do I start?

You give us so many tantalising flavours

You can be savoury or sweet

You’re pretty much just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast

Before we get confused, this isn’t an ode to muffins. I just felt it was necessary to confess my love for thee… I mean them.

As much as I love eating them, I also love baking them. If you feel like something lemony - make a muffin, if you fancy something with blueberries - make a muffin, if you have a craving for bacon - make a muffin. If you want something with lemon, blueberries and bacon, it’d probably taste alright… in a muffin.

Guessed the theme yet?

Yes, muffins are just so versatile. Oh, and I love them.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve made a batch of both lemon curd muffins and apple and blueberry crumble muffins.

All you need is a good base recipe. Now, the perfect muffin recipe is something that I shall seek forever, but this one is pretty good for now. It’s a combination of a few I’ve tried in the past, and what I like most about this recipe is the use of buttermilk - it’s an acidic ingredient like yogurt or sour cream (just think how nice a lemon and sour cream cake is) and it works by reacting with baking soda to create tiny little bubbles to give baked goods a soft, moist texture. For those of you who don’t know, buttermilk is what gives the very popular Red Velvet Cake its trademark “velvety” texture. And FYI, buttermilk, despite its name, pretty much contains zero fat (bonus!). Using buttermilk also results in nice crusty tops, as you can see in the photos of my lemon curd muffins, making it perfect to use in baking scones, and other breads.

So here’s the recipe for both Lemon Curd and Apple and Blueberry Muffins, and for any other flavours that you care to create.

If I improve on the recipe in my quest for muffin perfection, I promise, you’ll be the first to know.

Base recipe

(Makes about 8 muffins. Double the mixture if you’d like a larger batch)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup buttermilk


Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line muffin cups with paper cases.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder.

Add egg, buttermilk and oil to the dry mixture. Mix to combine.

Add your desired flavourings (ie. blueberry and apple).

Fill muffin cups right to the top of the cases.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until done.


For the Lemon Curd variation:

Extra ingredients:

1 lemon

Good quality lemon curd


Add the juice of 1 lemon to the muffin mixture when combining the dry and wet ingredients.

Fill muffin cups halfway and then dollop 1 teaspoon of good quality lemon curb in the middle of the uncooked mixture. Top with more uncooked muffin mixture until the cups are full.


For the Apple and Blueberry Crumble variation:

Extra ingredients:

1 cup of fresh blueberries

1 apple (I used a Gala apple), peeled and diced

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

1/4 cup butter

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon


Add the blueberries and apple to the muffin base mixture.

Make the crumble topping by mixing together the brown sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon.

Sprinkle this on top of the muffins before baking.

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Recipe: Devonshire Scones

I’ve been living in the UK for a over a year now and figured I no longer deserve the food blogger title if I can’t make a good Devonshire scone.

I whipped this batch up the day before my New Zealand parents were due to visit. It was my Mum’s first trip to the UK, which means she’d never tasted clotted cream (someone in NZ needs to start making this stuff… hmmm, possible career path perhaps?). It was an absolute must, and what better way is there to try clotted cream than with Devonshire scones?

So here’s the recipe for some perfectly good, perfectly English, Devonshire scones.

Ingredients:

450g (1lb) self-raising flour 
2 rounded tsp baking powder 
75g (3oz) butter 
50g (2oz) caster sugar 
2 large eggs 
about 225ml (8fl oz) buttermilk

raspberry jam 
clotted cream or double cream, whipped


Method:

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Lightly grease two baking-sheets.

Put the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the butter and rub it in until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Beat the eggs together and make up to 300ml (10fl oz) with the buttermilk, then put about 2 tbsp aside in a cup for later. Gradually add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring it in until you have a soft dough. It is far better that the scone mixture is on the wet side, sticking to your fingers, as the scones will rise better.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and flatten it to a thickness of 1-2cm (½-1in). Use a 5cm (2in) fluted cutter to stamp out the scones by pushing it straight down into the dough (as opposed to twisting it), then lifting it straight out. This ensures that they rise evenly. Gently push the remaining dough together, knead lightly, reroll and cut out more.

Arrange on the prepared baking-sheets and brush the tops with the reserved beaten egg mixture to glaze. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until well risen and golden, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool, covered with a clean tea towel to keep them moist.

Serve as fresh as possible, cut in half and spread generously with strawberry jam. Top with a good spoonful of thick cream as well, if you like.

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Restaurant Review: Mythopolis (restaurant rantview?)

Many of you food blog readers (I’m one myself) must often wonder why there are so many positive reviews of “great” and “fantastic”, even “the best ever” restaurants out there.

Surely not all restaurants are all of the above?

In truth, they’re not. But, I love food and I generally don’t part with my money in exchange for terrible food. I do my research first, I read other blogs and I look up restaurant ratings before I bother to invest time, effort and money into a night that revolves around eating their food.

Through both careful planning, and sometimes luck, I’ve managed to choose wisely so far and have never had to post a negative restaurant experience on here before.

Don’t get me wrong… I do eat at chains like Pizza Express and ASK Italian (don’t shoot, I surrender!) when in a large group/on a budget/in an area that I’m unfamiliar with, I just don’t bother reviewing them. We all know what they’re like - it’s like Starbucks; you search for them in a time of need, when you’re looking for consistency and familiarity and trying your very hardest to avoid salmonella.

I should get to the point of this blog post already, and the point is that I ate at a really, really terrible restaurant recently.

It’s called Mythopolis and it’s on 227 City Road in Islington. I really wish I’d taken photos of the food, to really drum the message home, but I hadn’t taken my camera with me (because I hadn’t planned to review it).

Si and I had both planned to be out and about in London this week at expos and work meetings and what not and decided we’d skip the hassle of dinner making for one of the nights. We’d found a Groupon deal (strike one) for a meze of Greek dishes plus a glass of wine each for £12 and figured we’d just do it, without bothering to do our research (strike two) or even look up their menu (strike three - okay so maybe we SORT OF deserved it).

The presentation of the food was poor, the service was poor and the quality of the food was even worse. 

We were not asked once throughout the meal how it was, or if we would like anything else. I’d been waiting for their (their being our multiple waitresses throughout the night) attention so I could ask for some water (no, they never offered us any throughout the entire meal) and so I could order another glass of wine (lost profit for them).

I couldn’t figure out who worked there and who was a customer, as they were all dressed in slippers and hoodies, were changing their clothes behind the back counter, were sitting at the tables eating food and rolling cigarettes, and disappearing outside the front of restaurant to smoke and talk.

The meat was extremely dry - I took two bites of a pork shish kebab and didn’t bother eating the rest. Other dishes were not quite right and had very strange flavours - especially the mushrooms which were drenched in a cold, unthickened “cream sauce”.

But, worst of all was the long, curly, black hair in my Greek salad - which already looked vile enough as everything was swimming in a pool of grated feta juices and olive oil.

After we finished eating (actually, it was more like looking at the plates on our table, bravely tasting a few of them, and deciding they were best made for the bin) I had to ask them to take our plates away - after a long period of us sitting there with dirty plates covering our table.

It was interesting to read online that someone else with a Groupon voucher received dessert, because we did not get any. It was also interesting that the “12 meze” count included the three dips that came with the pita breads. That can really only be classified as one dish, and definitely not four.

We couldn’t have got out of there quicker and I will definitely never go back. If you’re considering going there, please reconsider. It was a miserable 2 hours of my time that I will never get back.

Okay rant over, phew! :)

Much love xx

Filed under allthingskai all things kai food blog restaurant reviews london restaurants worst restaurants london greek food mythopolis 227 city road islington recipes groupon deal

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Cafe Review: The Garlic Farm, Isle of Wight

I’ve been meaning to blog about this place for a while now but other things got in the way. (They always do that, don’t they?)

The basics: The clue is in the title - it’s a relevantly named Garlic Farm situated on the Isle of Wight. But, it’s also a cafe and a shop where you can purchase more than twenty of their original homemade Mayos, Mustards, Relishes, Vampire Pickles, Butters and Pestos. Also available for purchase are their own Garlic Farm cookbooks, handy garlic accessories and other adorable knick-knacks (like squirrel feeders). You can do tours of the farm on their “tractor trailor” and you can try before you buy in their “taste experience” room.

I was in the Isle of Wight with a group of friends for May Bank weekend, for what was supposed to be a summery three days (yeah I know, what were we thinking?!). Instead, we were stuck in a campervan in single-digit temperatures and rain. We had to make an impromptu dash down to the shops to pick up some thermals because our caravan felt more like the inside of Scott’s Base than an island in the Northern Hemisphere in the middle of May. It didn’t leave us with many options, so the weekend turned into an all you can eat style affair with the seven of us crawling the island’s restaurants and pubs.

The Garlic Farm was, hands down, the best experience of the weekend. We rocked up without reservation at around 1pm on Saturday afternoon and we were more than happy to fill the hour-long wait for a table (I suggest you book in advance) with a visit to the taste experience, a quick survey of the farm and a browse of the garlic shop.

I reigned myself in and purchased just “garlic butter with oak smoked tomatoes and tarragon”, “toasted garlic mayonnaise”, some of their fresh garlic bulbs and the “apricot, garlic and ginger chutney”. But, between the seven of us we bought nearly everything in the shop (yes, even a squirrel feeder!).

If wandering through the shop wasn’t enough to get my tastebuds tingling then the menu definitely did the job. It’s wholesome, hearty food that makes you feel like you’re at a friend’s house for a lazy Sunday lunch (in this case, a friend who happens to be an incredibly good cook). And the beautiful macro carpa pine interior and log fire adds to that cosy cottage feel.

It’s no surprise that garlic features heavily on the the menu, but it also has a strong focus on other locally-sourced ingredients. I had the simple but satisfying Hummus Pita Sandwich but I have to say I was most impressed by a friend’s Gammon Ploughman.

And back to the squirrels again - they actually have one of the feeders set up outside so diners can do a spot of nature watching while they enjoy their meal. How cool is that?!

Like I mentioned, I’ve been meaning to blog about this place for a while now, and two months on from the experience I’m just as enthusiastic about the place as I was on the day of the visit. Isle of Wight is well worth a trip, if only to eat at this place, but if you can’t make it all the way over there then you can find some of their products at Harrods (yes, that’s how good they are!). Or you can order direct from their website - I could hardly contain my excitement when I discovered they ship nationwide and have just ordered some more garlic butter and toasted garlic mayo… I think they’ve found a new regular in me xx

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Recipe: Lemon Coconut Slice

I’ve made this slice a few times now - the first was for a weekend away with friends in the Isle of Wight where it was demolished in record time, and most recently as a afternoon treat for my New Zealand family.

After all, they had flown 11,000 miles across the world to visit me in the Motherland and they needed all the help they could get to fight the jet lag (clearly some home baking would be the best cure).

I think I’ve told you this before, but I’ll mention it again - I absolutely love citrusy desserts. Anything with passionfruit, lemon, lime or orange is right up my alley. Citrus fruits balance out the sweetness in cheesecakes and slices and with two cans of condensed milk in this recipe the tartness of the lemon and passionfruit is necessary. And yes, I did just say TWO cans of condensed milk (this is one serious slice). Add to that a coconut macaroon topping and you’ve got my perfect dessert.

It’s one of those “just leave your fork in the fridge” types - because I can’t walk through the kitchen without sneaking another bite.

The recipe is from the wonderful Little and Friday cookbook.

Also, just a note - if you don’t like passionfruit, or passionfruit isn’t in season, just skip it out entirely and make it a lemon slice. It’s just as good, trust me!

Recipe:

Base

175g unsalted butter

1 1/2c icing sugar

1/2tsp vanilla essence

1 egg

2c desiccated coconut

1 1/2c flour

 

Filling

2 x 395g tins sweetened condensed milk

250ml lemon juice

200ml passion fruit pulp

8 egg yolks

 

Meringue

8 egg whites

1/2c caster sugar

2c coconut thread

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Method:

Preheat oven to 150ºC and line a 25cm scare tin with baking paper. Cream butter, icing sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat until well combined. Fold through coconut and flour. Press mixture firmly into prepared tin. Bake for 10 minutes.

While base is cooking prepare filling. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Pour over cooked base and return to oven for a further 15 minutes until set.

Prepare meringue by whisking egg white with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Whisk in sugar, coconut, salt and vanilla. Spread meringue evenly over cooked filling. Bake for 10 minutes or until meringue is light brown. Place in refrigerator to set. 

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Hotcakes

Si isn’t much of a sweet tooth so it’s rare that I get my own way and we get hotcakes for breakfast, but I think it’s a great day when we do!

I prefer hotcakes to pancakes, but I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, so I want to make sure it’s clear that this is a recipe for hotcakes. These ones are light and fluffy and very cake-like and remind me a little of McDonald’s hotcakes.

We have them with fresh fruit - banana, strawberries, blueberries etc, but they also taste great with bacon and grilled banana. And of course, Maple Syrup!

This recipe makes quite a few but they freeze well once cooked and then you just nuke em from frozen next time you feel like hotcakes for breakfast.

Perfect for summer!x

Ingredients:

- 3 eggs

- 1 3/4 cups of full milk

- 2 cups of self-raising flour

- 2 tsp sugar

- 50g melted butter

Method:

Beat eggs and milk together in a large bowl. Add the sugar and sift in the flour. Mix well. Add melted butter. Mix well. Melt a small knob of butter in a skillet/pan and cook 1/2 cup of mixture for each pancake over a medium heat.

Filed under Hotcakes recipe pancakes recipe hotcake allthingskai All Things Kai Breakfast brunch recipe