Tag Archives: zucchini

Courgette Muffins with Chocolate Fudge Icing

BONFIRE NIGHT!

Well these muffins were meant to be a delicious snack to munch on when the fireworks were high in the sky and the air was full of the smell of smoke and fire… except I forgot to take them to the park so they became birthday muffins instead!

I like using vegetables in cake, they lend a moist texture and slightly savoury edge. Carrot cake is obviously a favourite and I have been given a gorgeous recipe for beetroot cake that I am waiting for an occasion to make, but courgettes were what I had in the fridge and a lone bramley apple in the fruit bowl so these muffins were the best option. The chocolate fudge icing is an old favourite from my childhood birthday cakes and it goes well with the courgette flavour and adds a little bit of luxury to a cake that has hardly any fat content…

I piped my icing as I had just read this blog post on perfect piping. Don’t let the nice picture above fool you, they did not all look that pretty. Also I would recommend doubling the icing recipe below as to get pretty piped tops takes a lot more icing than I expected. You don’t have to pipe this icing though, it is perfect just poured over while the muffins are still in their cases as this will hold it in place (if you do this keep the quantities as they are)

Courgette Muffins with Chocolate Fudge Icing

Muffins

150g plain flour

125g dark brown sugar

2tsb baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

50g pumpkin seeds

1 courgette grated (80z)

1 small bramley apple grated (2oz)

2 eggs

60ml oil

Icing (remember to double if you’re piping)

3oz icing sugar

1oz cocoa powder

1 1/2 oz butter

2tbs water

2oz castor sugar

Makes 12 muffins

First line your muffin tins and pre-heat the oven to gas 4, 180 degrees.  I just use greaseproof paper to line the tins, cut into rough squares and pushed down into the holes. Check out my amazing new muffin tins I got for my birthday…


Put your pumpkin seeds onto a small ovenproof dish and toast them in the pre-heating oven for around 10 minutes (you want them to puff up a bit and get crunchy)

Now put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir to combine

Whisk up eggs and oil together in a seperate bowl.

Grate your courgette and apple finely and weigh again to make sure you have the right quanitity. If you have too much save the leftovers and make courgette fritters!

Now in a clean tea-towel, place your grated courgette and apple and pat off the excess moisture (otherwise your muffins risk not being totally cooked in the middle and not rising properly)

Now add the courgettes and apple into the dry ingredients and stir to coat and make an even mix. Now add the eggs and oil and stir until just combined.
Divide the mixture into the prepared tins and bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes.

When the muffins are ready, leave them to cool in the tins for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Icing

Melt butter, water and castor sugar in a pan over a low heat until the sugar is totally dissolved.

When you are ready to ice your muffins sift icing sugar and cocoa into a large bowl and then slowly add the melted butter mixture whisking all the time with a balloon whisk until you have a thick fudgy icing. This icing stiffens quite quickly so you need to use it right away. If it is a hot day it might be too runny so put it in the fridge for 5 minutes to get it to a good consistency. If it is a cold day (like it was on Saturday) you have to work quickly.

If you are piping your icing put all the icing directly into your piping bag and go wild! If not, simply spoon the icing onto the tops of the cakes and let them set.

These muffins don’t keep very well because of the moisture in the courgettes (1 day max) but you shouldn’t have to worry about that, they’ll get polished off pretty quickly.

Devour either at a bonfire, or a birthday party.

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Filed under Baking, Pudding, Recipes, vegetables

Minestrone

Another cold day, another soup.

My minestrone is a bit time consuming, because of the amount of ingredients and prep but wonderfully relaxing to cook. Because minestrone is not a smooth soup you have to take the time to make sure the texture just right. I like a minestrone to have all its ingredients chopped very tiny so that you get a lovely nubby mouthful every time but you don’t have to, you can have them cut larger, just adjust the cooking time. You can also make this soup with or without the pancetta but the addition of pork intensifies the flavour, and adds a little luxury. Traditionally minestrone is from the ‘cucina povera’ style of Italian cooking (literally ‘poor cooking’) as it is very cheap and very adaptable. In fact, you can (and should) try to use almost any vegetable, cabbage and turnip are common additions and beans and pasta are the Italian staple ingredients but you can experiment with whatever vegetables are in season and add beans, pancetta and stock to your taste or availability. If you’re really pushing it, just use water instead of stock, it’s not as flavoursome, but still very good.

I always cook my pasta separately if I’m planning on keeping any leftovers otherwise the pasta continues to increase in size while it absorbs all the soup liquid, but if you’re serving it all up, cook the pasta in the soup, it will absorb not only liquid but all the gorgeous flavours. If you can’t find little pasta use spaghetti and break it into smaller pieces before cooking. I’ve included some tips below on speeding up the chopping process but I recommend you take your time, put the radio on (or Desperate Housewives, my current weakness) and slowly prepare until everything is ready in neat little piles ready to cook!

Minestrone

2 oz butter

1 large white onion

(optional) 100g pancetta, cubed

4 carrots

3 sticks of celery

1 leek

1 courgette

4 cloves of garlic

a handful of grated Parmesan and a Parmesan rind (if you have one)

12 small plum tomatoes, quartered

1 1/4 pints stock (chicken or vegetable)

1 tin tomatoes

1 tin cannellini beans

2 tsb olive oil

100g fresh spinach, shredded

200g tiny pasta

salt and pepper

Parmesan to serve

Serves 6

Cut the carrots, celery and courgette into very small dice but keep them in separate piles because you add them at different times

I do my ‘tiny dicing’ by slicing the carrots and courgettes lengthways into about 5mm slices, then turning and doing the same lengthways slices to make strips. Then chop into little square dice:

Chop your onion finely and the leek into thin rounds.

Melt the butter in a large enough pan to hold all the ingredients and sweat the onions celery and carrots (and pancetta if your using it) on a very low heat for 10 minutes with the lid on.

After 5 minutes add the courgettes, garlic, leek and courgettes and continue with the lid on for another 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are only just cooked.

Now add the fresh tomatoes, Parmesan, Parmesan rind and stock. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring the whole lot up to simmering point. I like to chop the tomatoes into smaller pieces while they are still in the tin using scissors

Add the pasta to the soup or boil a separate pan of salted water and cook the pasta until al dente

Season your soup to taste

In the final moments before serving add the spinach, and cooked beans and serve with freshly grated Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil (don’t forget to remove the Parmesan rind!)

If you have cooked the pasta separately stir some olive oil through it and serve the soup with a few spoonfuls on top.

Absolutely delicous. I must say, it’s one of my favourite things to eat on a cold day. Warming and hearty, yet not heavy.



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Filed under Lunch, Pasta, Pulses, Recipes, Soup, Supper, vegetables, Vegetarian