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When we were growing up, our mother owned a cafe. We all worked in the cafe at one time or another and I’m sure this is where I cemented my love of food. The cafe was famous in the neighbourhood for its muffins. The first job of every day – which started at 5am! – was to bake the muffins. Three batches every day. Two sweet and one savoury. All using this same base recipe.
I now use this recipe when I’m baking with my children because its quick enough to maintain the attention of small kids, and they love to take charge of the mixing.
Read through to the end of the recipe for my suggestions on flavour combinations.
Serves: 12 muffins
- 2 cups of plain flour
- 2 very heaped tsp baking powder
- 1 cup of sugar (reduce to ¼ cup if making savoury muffins)
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- ¾ cup oil
- ¾ cup milk
- Flavouring as suggested below
- Preheat your oven to 180C. Line a muffin tin with paper cases, or grease the tin well.
- Sift the flour and baking powder together, add the sugar and salt. Stir through your chosen flavouring. In a separate bowl lightly beat the egg and add the oil and milk. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix only enough to bring the two together, there is no need to overmix. Spoon the mix into the prepared tin, filling almost to the top of the muffin case.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden and the muffins spring back when you touch them.
- Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
1 cup of blueberries (frozen work well). For Apple and Blueberry also add 1 apple, peeled and finely chopped.
Raspberry and white chocolate
1 cup of raspberries (again, frozen are great) and ½ cup white chocolate pieces
Banana chocolate chip
Add ½ cup milk chocolate chips to the dry ingredients and 2 ripe bananas mashed into the wet ingredients
Apricot cream cheese
Drain a 330g can of apricot halves, reserving the juice. Dice the fruit and stir through the dry ingredients. Replace the milk in the wet ingredients with the juice of the apricots, made up to the required ¾ cup with milk if necessary. When filling the muffin cases, only half fill them then add a tablespoon of cream cheese to each one. Fill to the top of the muffin case with the remaining muffin mix.
2 apples, peeled and finely diced, ½ tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, ¼ tsp ground cloves
Pear and walnut
2 pears, peeled and finely diced, ½ cup chopped walnuts, ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
For savoury muffins
Simply reduce the sugar quantity as stated and add 1 cup grated cheese to the dry ingredients. Then the possibilities are endless for the combinations of other savoury ingredients to add - red onion, bacon, chives, chilli, rosemary, paprika, chorizo, capsicum, grated zucchini, tomato - fresh or sun-dried, ham, cubes of camembert or blue cheese all work very well.
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Potato gratin is one of those dishes I always thought was just a little too fiddly for me to bother with too often. It always took forever to get through slicing all the potatoes and I could never quite cut them thinly enough… That was until I discovered the joys of our mandolin. We have a large industrial sized mandolin, but a kitchen slicer works just as well. This super handy piece of kitchen equipment means preparing a scrumptious gratin with all those lovely creamy layers of finely sliced potato takes mere minutes so this dish has now cemented its place on our mid-week menu.
Traditionally a gratin uses a lot of cream, so to make us feel a little less guilty about eating it so often, I use half cream and half chicken stock. This has the added benefit of making the dish not quite so heavy, meaning it goes just as well with a summer steak as it does as part of a hearty winter meal.
I like to use the red skinned potatoes because the skin is nice and thin so I don’t need to peel them first. Any potato will do really, though I tend to steer clear of the more floury varieties like Agria because they can make the end result a bit stodgy.
- 1kg potatoes
- 1 cup cream
- 1 cup liquid chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- ½ cup grated cheese (optional)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 190C (160C fan bake). Grease a 20cm x 20cm baking dish. I find this is just the right size for this quantity of potato and the result is a nice high gratin with lots of layers. If your dish is too big you won't achieve enough layers and the liquid will evaporate before your potatoes are cooked through.
- Slice the potatoes as thinly as possible - the thinner the better. Start to build your gratin by spreading a layer of potato in to the dish. Sprinkle with a little garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper. I'm not sure if this makes any difference but I also like to spoon a tablespoon of the cream over each layer. Continue building up your gratin in layers until you have used all the potato.
- Combine the remaining cream with the chicken stock and gently pour over the potatoes. The liquid should come about ⅔ of the way up the sides of your dish. Sprinkle over the grated cheese if using and cover with foil.
- Bake for 60 minutes and then remove the foil and continue to bake until the potatoes are cooked through, about another 20 minutes. You can check if its cooked by inserting a sharp knife or skewer into the centre of the potato - it should feel soft.