Thursday, 19 June 2014

Jumbo Pizza Muffins

Posted by Kim Fong On 4:52 pm

Walking past cafes with lovely jumbo muffins, it takes me back to winter in high school. I used to love getting a jumbo choc chip muffin that's been over heated in the microwave with choc chips melting between your scorching fingers as you juggle muffin between your hands and mouth. 

This week I dropped into a kitchen outlet store and picked up my first jumbo muffin tin. Being super excited, I couldn't wait to use it. I had a bunch of leftover pizza ingredients in the fridge so I decided to make these jumbo pizza muffins. The recipe was inspired by Leonie's instagram post and based on Donna Hay's recipe with some ingredient changes - (seriously guys - pineapple belongs in a pina colada! Yes! I'm one of those people). 

The other dilemma I encountered was how do I line these muffin hole! Online - everyone seems to just use baking paper cut into squares and folded. Here is a good video on how to do it yourself. I literally cut a big square and shoved the paper into the hole and used a little ramekin to hold it down as I didn't have a tumbler that fit as per the video.

Of course, you can make this recipe vegetarian by omitting the meat. You can make this carnivorous by adding more meat (bacon, chicken, mince beef...). It's really how you like your pizza, but the basis is pretty simple - mix dry ingredients together, mix wet ingredients together then combine, fill muffin cases and bake.

A couple of learnings. 1) best put the mushrooms on top of the muffin before baking as they get soggy (unless you like it like that). 2) Cut up most of the ingredients small but not too small.

Makes approximately a dozen jumbo muffins or more smaller ones.

3 cups self-raising flour
1 tspn baking powder
2/3 cup oil (I just used olive oil and a little less)
2 eggs
2 Tblspn tomato paste (or pizza sauce)
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups grated cheese (I used a pizza mix, however, Cheddar and mozzarella are best)
1 tblspn dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced

Filling (use what ever you like from this list - this is just what I used)
chopped pepperoni
fresh basil, chopped
mushroom, diced
sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
80g chopped spinach (I defrosted some frozen ones)
red onion, diced

Other filling suggestions
Capsicum, diced
olives, sliced
ham or bacon, diced
anchovies (you crazy kid)
artichoke hearts
prosciutto, small pieces
bocconcini, small pieces

1. Preheat oven to 180C (moderate). Line muffin tin with cases or baking paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, oregano, 1 cup of cheese, garlic and your filling (perhaps leave out the mushrooms if you intend to have it). Mix to combine. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, add eggs, tomato paste, oil and milk. Whisk to combine. 

4. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture. Stir to combine. Fill prepared muffin tin. Add mushrooms on top and distribute remain grated cheese on top of each unbaked muffin.

5. Place muffins in preheated oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes (less if using smaller muffin tins) or until cooked and golden brown. When pricked with a toothpick or skewer it should come out clean.

6. Remove from oven. Allow to stand for 5 to 10 minutes and remove from tin onto a wire rack to cool further. Serve warm - perhaps top with some aioli or pesto for that little bit extra. 


Saturday, 14 June 2014

Turkish Inspired Red Lentil Soup - Mercimek Çorbasi

Posted by Kim Fong On 5:44 pm

After wondering the streets of Istanbul, we discovered a local restaurant near our hotel, in the old town of Sultanahmet. I don't even remember the name of the place. Upon discovery, we frequented the restaurant daily and even multiple times a day. It was a little family run place with brick design linoleum lining their walls and a simple menu. This cheap and cheerful place was always busy! 

So what's was the big deal? Their red lentil soup - AKA Mercimek Çorbasi. Oh my! So damn tasty! We tried a couple of other places' Mercimek Çorbasi, but it just didn't compare.

This is THE SOUP!
After return from our big trip, I was determined to replicate this soup. I didn't want to wait for another trip to Istanbul to get this soup. So I scoured the web and various family members' recipe books. I had a relatively long shortlist of recipes and I studied each one carefully. Their methods, their ingredients, their quantities. I then started experimenting. I've been through about 7 pots of soup now... and I think this is as close I can get it... so hence I've titled this "Turkish Inspired" as I don't think it's 100%, but hey, it's pretty close and it is definitely damn tasty. So to settle my cravings, and enjoy a warm hearty soup for the winter - here is my version of Mercimek Çorbasi. This should serve about 6 entree size bowls, 4 main size dishes or 2 super hungry hippos!

***Please note these herbs and spices amounts are approximate. I'll leave it to your best judgement to figure out the right ratios.

1 cup red split lentils, well washed (soaked for a few hours or overnight)
1/4 to 1/3 cup of Bulgur (either fine or coarse)
1 big knob of butter (this makes it, so don't skimp or use margarine), if butter isn't your thing, just leave it out.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large carrot, finely diced or grated
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Approximately 4 to 6 cups of stock (vegetable or chicken)
hot water to top up
salt/pepper to taste
Marash pepper to serve (optional)
Lemon to serve (optional)

The list of herbs and spices***
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon sumak
2 teaspoons dried parsley
3 to 4 medium size bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1. Wash the lentil and bulgur well  in a medium pot. Cover with about an inch of water and over medium heat bring to a boil and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, it should look pale and mushy.

2. To a large pot over medium heat, melt butter and add oil. When butter has melted, add onions. Saute until translucent.

3. Add garlic and the herbs and spices list above. Stir to mix.  Add carrot. Stir to mix. Allow carrots to cook slightly - about 1 to 2 minutes. Add lentil and Bulgur mixture. Stir to mix. Add stock. Stir to mix. Add tomato paste. Stir to mix. Turn heat up to bring to a boil and then turn it down to low to simmer.

4. Stir every 10 minutes. Simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes. The longer the better. Top up with water if it's starting to get a bit dry and thick. Taste to season. If you're in a rush, the carrots should be soft, take out the bay leaves and using a stick blender, blend until smooth (optional).

5. Serve with some fresh bread, lemon and some Marash pepper^. 

^What is Marash Pepper: This is a red pepper/capsicum that is grown in Turkey with a complex flavour and moderate heat. It comes as flakes and maybe difficult to find. You can substitute with Aleppo Pepper which is similar or any moderate heat pepper flakes.

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