Test Kitchen Week

Welsh Rarebit Muffins

A new season is starting and I’ve spent the week playing with recipes and testing new stuff. Most worked, but one really didn’t and even Nick refused to eat it (Shadow liked it!). Also, my daughter and her hungry boyfriend arrive soon and as food is love I intend showering her with all the things I haven’t been able to feed her with for the last year.

Each season we like to be able to offer people something a little more than ordinary and so I trawl recipes and adapt and invent to make the most of the ingredients we have here. My husband was a massive advocate of “value added”, whereby you go the extra mile to give people things that they didn’t expect, and I bought into the whole ethos of that which is why there is fresh fruit in the studio when guests arrive and we have cakes and home made bread to offer them and we provide picnic lunches and beach towels and there is a book full of advice and hints and tips on the area in the studio.

Not that it’s a trial to make interesting food, I love doing it, and after a quiet winter spent wrapped up in Raymond Blanc and learning the finer points of parfaits and terrines it is nice to be back making simple fast food that is full of flavour and colour and doesn’t take three days to make.

These are the concoctions we’ve been testing this week.

Lemon Marmalade – winner – a tangy thin shred lemon marmalade made from our village lemons. Darker than normal lemon marmalade I can’t stop eating this spread on thick slices of warm toast. I had no idea marmalade was so easy to make!

Welsh Rarebit Muffins – winner – fluffy cheese and mustard muffins which combine grated strong cheese and cheese chunks for oozy pockets of melted flavour. The greek yoghurt adds a sour note and these are best served warm and fresh, not that they get the chance to cool, Nick ate six, in about a minute. The recipe is below.

Chips and curry sauce wraps – total disaster – everyone has their off days, and this was mine. For some bizarre reason (maybe sunspots) I was trying for a British chip shop experience by combining chips and a fruity curry sauce in a wrap. I have no idea why I was trying this, it’s all a soggy blur now because it failed totally. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Spiced carrot cake with cream cheese frosting – winner – no pics because it got wolfed – an incredibly moist but light carrot cake with nutmeg, cinnamon and dried fruit, this is going to be as popular as my Italian Grape Cake and the cream cheese frosting studded with walnuts makes it nicely indulgent.

Strawberry Crumble with walnut crunch – total winner, oh yum! – new season strawberries quartered and rolled in ground almond and vanilla essence and topped with a thick layer of crunchy crumble of toasted buscuit, crushed almonds and walnuts. Serve with cream.

Baked eggs with tomato – nice! And colourful – vine tomatoes tossed in David’s olive oil and garlic and baked to intensify the flavour. Bake these for forty minutes then break eggs into wells in the tomato mixture and bake a bit longer. Very yummy for a Sunday brunch with cheese bread.

Here is the recipe for Welsh Rarebit Muffins

8oz of plan flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
½ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon mustard powder (if you haven’t got the powder then 2 teaspoons of either English or Dijon mustard will work)
4oz of strong cheese (Izmir tulum or cheddar) – grate half and cut the other half into small chunks
6 tablespoons of olive oil
6oz of Greek yoghurt
5 fluid oz milk
1 egg
Salt and pepper

This is so simple because muffins rely on an uneven mixing for their consistency. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl – flour, mustard powder, bicarb and baking powder and stir to combine. In a jug mix all the wet ingredients – milk, yoghurt, oil and beaten egg. Stir the grated and chunked cheese into the wet ingredients and then using a wooden spoon combine the wet and dry ingredients into a thick gloopy batter, it doesn’t matter if it is a lumpy and you don’t need to over beat it.

I don’t have muffin cases here so I baked these in well greased six cup Yorkshire pudding/muffin tray, putting two tablespoons of mixture in each. They puffed up well and took about twenty minutes in a medium oven.

Today I’m trying out potato recipes including an Indian spiced potato pie which will be great for picnics, Patatas Bravas which is a Spanish tapas dish of crispy roasted potatoes with a rich tomato, paprika and chilli sauce and then I want to try a warm salad of sucuk and chickpeas which looks very summery and is sweet with roasted peppers and zingy with lemon.