Gorgeous Tiny Cheese Muffins

Tiny Cheese Muffins

Tiny Cheese Muffins

During my early school years, my father would collect me at lunch time, to go home to eat a delicious meal around the dining table, all of us together, before he dropped me back and carried on his way to work. This was in the days before Nairobi became so congested with traffic and people so as to make it impossible to go anywhere quickly. When I started secondary school, for reasons that are not clear to me now, I was signed up for school lunches.  After a week of leathery grey slices of meat in thick brown gluey gravy, grey mushy vegetables and claggy puddings with skins on them, I told my mother that I thought pork was being served and that of course I wasn’t touching it so I wasn’t eating a thing and therefore starving in the afternoons. The double whammy of forbidden meat and a hungry tummy had exactly the effect I had hoped for. No more inedible food in the smelly dark dining hall but glorious packed lunches eaten under the trees in front of the school tennis courts with my friends. Our cook, Migaleh, had come to work for us via some ambassador’s house and would cook the most scrumptious “european” food – roasts, chops, steaks, chips, sausages, mashed potatoes, omelettes – for me and my brother at tea time. Now he was making me a thermos of hot chunky chicken soup or thick roast beef or chicken salad sandwiches to take to school…oh how I pitied those boarders trapped in the dining hall with the nuns as we sat in the sunshine shaded by the Jacaranda trees!

I was reminded of this today as I shopped for after school snacks. School has begun; the children are off the streets and out of the shops and can now be seen looking tired and despondent in their school uniforms on their way home for tea. It is difficult to get back into a routine in those first couple of weeks but all too soon the summer holidays will be but a distant memory as the unrelenting schedule of early mornings, lunch boxes, sports practices, clubs and societies, music practice, homework and a regular bedtime establishes itself. Until half term that is.

IMG_4019My friend C alerted me to this recipe for cheese muffins from a wonderful New Zealand book of traditional home baking compiled from old community cookbooks by Alexa Johnston, called  Ladies, A Plate. I found great pleasure in reading the stories that hark back to “a gentler time” which are attached to many of the receipts. C sometimes makes these for her packed lunches and once I had a taste, I was smitten! I make these quite often as they come together very quickly and it’s just so handy to have a few stashed in the freezer.

Dry ingredients

Dry ingredients

They are incredibly quick to make. Measure out the dry ingredients into one bowl and use a whisk to aerate and mix at the same time. I’ve substituted bouillon powder for the salt for a more savoury flavour.

Mix in the parsley and the cheese

Mix in the parsley and the cheese

Then, add the parsley and about 2/3rd of the grated cheddar cheese and mix again to coat the cheese.

Whisk the dry ingredients in the measuring jug

Whisk the dry ingredients in the measuring jug

Pour the wet ingredients into a measuring jug and whisk.

Lightly mix the batter

Lightly mix the batter

Gently add to the dry ingredients and mix very lightly until it has just about incorporated – don’t overwork the batter otherwise the muffins will be tough. It’s perfectly alright if there are some tiny pockets of flour visible.

Coarse grated parmesan

Coarse grated parmesan

Grate some parmesan  using the coarse side of a box grater to get lovely long pieces of cheese rather than the finer more powdery output that is usual.

Filled muffin cups topped with cheeses

Filled muffin cups topped with cheeses

Divide as equally as possible among the cups of a 24 mini muffin pan (which have been very well  greased, hopefully with a saved butter wrapper). Use a dessert spoon and a rubber spatula to fill the cups and then top with the two cheeses.

Lovely and golden!

Lovely and golden!

IMG_40Tiny cheese muffins18

Cooling on a rack

I am submitting this recipe for September’s Cheese, Please! Recipe challenge as hosted by the informative and delicious blog Fromage Homage. Do go over and take a look at what she’s been up to – cooking with cheese, tasting it and travelling for it and making her own cheese. And she’s a mother – I am in awe!

Fromage Homage

Gorgeous Tiny Cheese Muffins

  • Servings: makes 24 mini muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Barely adapted from Alexa Johnston, Ladies a Plate

INGREDIENTS

  • 180G flour
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Marigold bouillon powder or Knorr Aromat  powder or salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder (chilli powder)
  • 80g strong cheddar cheese coarsely grated
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • 190ml milk
  • 2 or 3 Tbsp coarse grated parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 190C/375F and thoroughly grease a 24 cup mini muffin tin.
  2. Measure out the flour into a medium size mixing bowl; whisk in the baking power, bouillon powder or salt and the cayenne. The salt either in the bouillon or itself is important as it activates the baking powder when the wet ingredients are added.
  3. Stir in the chopped parsley and 2/3rds of the cheddar cheese with a table knife, coating all the cheese and parsley with the flour mixture.
  4. Pour the milk into a measuring jug, crack the egg into it and whisk together.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry and mix gently with the table knife until it is just combined. Don’t overwork the batter.
  6. Spoon into 24 mini muffin cups as evenly as possible. Top with the reserved cheddar and then with the parmesan.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
  8. Remove to a wire rack to cool. They should pop out really easily.
  9. These are best, greedily devoured, warm of course but are delicious cold. They freeze well and are ideal to pop into a lunchbox where they will have thawed out by the time you are ready to eat. Lovely with soup or as a rustic nibble with drinks!

SUBSTITUTIONS

-Replace the parsley with finely chopped spring onions (scallions)

-Replace parsley with a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped sundried tomatoes and/or olives and one tsp of very finely chopped rosemary or dried oregano. Replace the cheddar with crumbled feta or goat’s cheese.

-Use smoked paprika instead of the cayenne

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13 thoughts on “Gorgeous Tiny Cheese Muffins

  1. Wow, these look lovely, so cheesy! I bet my little ones would gobble them up. I have an obsession with smoked paprika at the moment so agree that that would be a great addition, especially against a really kick-ass mature Cheddar. Love the childhood memories too – I’ve been to Nairobi several times and always loved the Jacaranda trees, a burst of colour against some of the less pretty areas. Thanks for sharing this with the Cheese, Please! Challenge :)

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  2. Pingback: September’s Cheese, Please! Challenge – Cheddar | Fromage Homage

    • Thank you so much for looking and taking the time to drop me a line – I really appreciate it. I enjoyed your post on care packages – they do take a lot of thought and careful planning! Thanks for the like as well! Selma

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  3. Selma, these look great, will definitely be making them for the boys- any more yummy but quick recipes children might like? C x

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    • Hi Caroline! Do let me know how you get on with them – they come together so quickly and don’t take long in the oven either! I’m working on a “page” of super quick recipes but I’ve always found that having left over roast so useful – J used to devour beef pesto pasta which is ready in the time it takes the pasta to cook. Put kettle onto boil. Slice onion and start frying. Chop some green beans. Put pasta and beans – in the same pan – on for 8 mins. Halve some cherry tomatoes and toss in with the onions. Chop up some roast beef or chicken. A couple of mins before pasta is ready stir in a dollop of creme fraiche and pesto into the onion/tomato mix and turn heat down to medium. Stir in the roast. Drain pasta/beans reserving a bit of the pasta water and stir into sauce loosening with pasta water if too thick. Let it burble for a minute or so and serve!! Sx

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  4. Selma you will be pleased to know on today’s rainy afternoon,I made these from your website with the kids and, YUMMY!!!! :) so easy & quick and I had all the ingredients already here..(I am always looking at recipes online and so many of them have too many ingredients that you would have to make a special trip to the shops for). Really great recipe! But I’m such an amateur wannabe foodie I used a normal muffin tray as didnt have a mini muffin one!!!! (shock horror!) So it made 9 and they were huge & looked like big cakes obviously (!) but tasted great…off to buy a mini muffin tray…..keep them coming!

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    • Marie!! How lovely to think of of you and your beautiful children making these. Thank you so much for trying them out – they are so easy to put together and so tasty. In fact the original recipe said to use “tasty” cheese! The only reason I have, ahem, two mini muffin pans is because I used them a lot in my cocktail party catering days – perfect size for mini everything. Take a look in TK Maxx – the larger ones have a great selection of baking/kitchen stuff.

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  5. Pingback: September’s Cheese, Please! Recipe Round Up – Cheddar | Fromage Homage

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