Ricotta and Chive Cakes

Ricotta and Chive Cakes | Selma's TableI have a friend who I think of as the Imelda Marcos of lunch boxes. She has the most incredible selection – ones for breakfast, ones with separate compartments for salads and dressing, ones that can go in the microwave, spill proof soup mugs, ones that have their own placemat, ones that have their own cutlery – you name it – she’s most probably got it! She takes the most delicious things to work and obviously saves a fortune in the process.

Ricotta and Chive Cakes | Selma's TableHave you ever totted up what you spend on food during the working week? I’m not talking about going out for restaurant  lunches but the stuff you get from the thousands of takeaway sandwich bars and cafe’s that line our streets. Starting with your morning latte and yoghurt pot/muffin/croissant to a mid morning snack, lunch of sandwiches/salads/noodles/sushi, coffee or tea, juice etc…it really adds up. At let’s say £5 – £10 a day, that’s £25 – £50 a week which works out to £1,250 – £2,500 a year! With a little fore thought and organisation, you could so easily be taking in your own food which will be delicious, not full of salt, sugar, preservatives and additives and saving you a fortune at the same time. Those Manolos might be yours sooner than you think…

Ricotta and Chive Cakes | Selma's TableAnyway, I popped round her house recently and she gave me a ricotta cake to try – she had mentioned them a few times in the past and said how wonderful they were and how perfect in one of her “salady” lunch boxes and I could immediately see why. It was so savoury; light but filling and extremely low carb, so, no mid afternoon carb coma. She did tell me what was in them, but all I could remember was the ricotta and parmesan. Possibly basil.

The other day, I bought some ricotta to make ravioli and had some left over so thought I would give the cakes a go. I did a little googling to get the proportions right and came up with these…They are so easy. Just whisk up a couple of eggs with salt and pepper, snip in the chives and stir in the cheeses. Spoon into very well greased tins, top with a little more parmesan and bake. So, so delicious!

These are really quite small – you would probably want 2 or 3 – maybe more, per serving, depending on your appetite. I also think that these would be lovely with a little grated lemon zest in them and maybe a sliver of sundried tomato on top. Thyme or oregano would work well here too. So many possibilities…

P.S. if you click on the link to the Manolo Blahnik website, there is THE most fabulous short film about how, as a child growing up in the Canary Islands, Manolo Blahnik made shoes from sweetie wrappers for lizards. I used to make Christmas decorations out of sweetie wrappers – think I may have missed my calling…

Ricotta and Chive Cakes

  • Servings: makes about 22 small cakes
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large eggs, free range or organic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch of chives about 25g
  • 500g ricotta cheese
  • 60g finely grated parmesan cheese, halved

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F. Thoroughly grease and flour a couple of 12 hole patty tins (the shallow kind used for mince pies or Yorkshire puds).
  2. Lightly whisk the eggs in a medium sized bowl. Whisk in the salt and pepper and snip in the chives – scissors are much better than a knife for chives.
  3. Add the ricotta and half the parmesan and whisk until all the ingredients are well mixed together.
  4. Pop a tablespoon of the mixture into each hole and lightly smooth over the tops.
  5. Evenly sprinkle over the remaining parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool for 5 minutes then remove from pans to either finish cooling on a wire rack or eat warm with a salad.
  7. Store in a lidded container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Basic Buttermilk Muffins with Variations

basic-buttermilk-muffins-with-additionsI am always surprised at how many people buy those cakey muffins at coffee shops to take back to their desks, either in the morning or at break times. Or the people who buy them in packs from the supermarkets – you know the ones full of preservatives and correspondingly long sell by dates. Muffins are so easy to make with the added bonus of being fresh and with ingredients that you are able to control and can pronounce the names of. In less than 45 minutes you can be sitting down to a warm freshly baked muffin and a cuppa, smug in the knowledge that you have 11 more to pack into lunch boxes or dish up as an after school snack with a glass of milk for the kids. They can be as healthy or as sinful as you like. It’s entirely up to you and what you have in your larder/pantry. I haven’t tried to freeze them, mainly because they don’t last that long – I used to always pack extra for Jake to share with his lunchtime gang. If you try freezing them, let me know in the comments and I will edit this post to include your thoughts, with a credit to you of course!

basic-buttermilk-muffins-with-additionsI haven’t made muffins recently but I had three very ripe bananas that needed using up and found myself pulling out the muffin pan…these ones are banana, cinnamon and chocolate chip.

This recipe is one that I have been using for many years – I have tweaked it and tweaked it over time to suit all the ingredient changes that I have made. Adding buttermilk or the more easily available yoghurt keeps the crumb really moist.

All you need by way of kitchen equipment is;

  • a regular 12 hole muffin tray and cupcake liners
  • two mixing bowls plus a smaller heatproof one to melt the butter in
  • electronic scales – if you don’t have one, please, please add it to your wish list as it is the most accurate way to measure out ingredients, especially for baking. If you set your mixing bowl on the scales and set it to zero then you can just keep adding your dry ingredients to it (re-setting to zero each time) which keeps the washing up to a minimum too.
  • a small hand whisk
  • a measuring teaspoon
  • a rubber spatula
  • a large spoon to scoop out the dry ingredients with and then to fill the muffin cups with.

The basic premise is to put all the dry ingredients into the larger mixing bowl and whisk well to aerate and combine. I add any dried fruit or chocolate chips at this stage too as the flour coating helps them not to sink to the bottom. Use a smaller mixing bowl for the wet ingredients. I mash my very ripe bananas straight into this bowl after whisking the egg. The buttermilk comes in a 300ml carton, and if you decide to use a yoghurt pot then just use that to fill the milk up in it – no need for a measuring jug! Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients. Stir lightly – streaks (but not large pockets) of flour are desirable. Scoop into muffin cups. Top with seeds or nuts if using. Bake. Cool and enjoy!

basic-buttermilk-muffins-with-additions

I am taking these over to the friendliest party around – Angie’s Fiesta Friday #26. Today we have two talented co-hosts who are not only fabulous and creative cooks but who can also spin a yarn or two. Prudy @ Butter Basil and Breadcrumbs and Jess @ Cooking Is My Sport.  Let’s party!!

Basic Buttermilk Muffins with Variations

  • Servings: 12 Muffins
  • Time: 35 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 250 g plain/AP flour
  • 150 g golden caster/superfine sugar – you can just use the normal white version too
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 300 ml buttermilk (or 125 ml yoghurt/creme fraiche/ sour cream plus 125ml milk)
  • 80 g melted unsalted butter

Delicious variations- not ALL at the same time!!

General additions and subs:

  • sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans- as a topping
  • 125 g blueberries/raisins/ chopped dried apricots/chopped dates etc
  • 25 g coconut flakes – reduce flour by 25 g
  • 100 g spelt or buckwheat flour – reduce flour by 100 g
  • 50 g jumbo oats – reduce flour by 50 g

Banana and Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 80 g chocolate chips

Blueberry, Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins (Lovely with a little lemon and icing sugar glaze)

  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 125 g blueberries

Carrot Cake Muffins (Delicious with a little honeyed cream cheese topping)

  • 125 g grated carrot
  • 80 g soaked and drained sultanas or raisins
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • Replace butter with 80 ml of oil

Coconut, Raspberry and White Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 125 g raspberries
  • 25 g coconut flakes – reduce flour by 25 g
  • 80 g white chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F/. Prepare a 12 hole muffin tin with liners or grease them well
  2. Pop the butter in a heat proof bowl and place in the oven for 5 minutes (set the timer!!) while it is heating up.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, hand whisk the egg. If you are going to add bananas, add them now and mash with a fork – I like to leave them a little chunky . Add the buttermilk or yoghurt/creme fraiche/sour cream and milk mixture and whisk to combine everything.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, measure out the flour, the oats and or coconut if using, the sugar, the baking powder , the  salt and chocolate chips or raisins or cinnamon or lemon zest and poppy seeds if using. Whisk well to aerate and to combine all the ingredients. Make a well in it and set aside.
  5. Slowly pour in the melted butter onto the egg/buttermilk mixture, whisking all the while to mix in the butter evenly which will begin to solidify as it hits the cold liquid.
  6. Pour in the wet ingredients onto the dry and stir to mix. Do not over mix – leave some streaks of flour but not huge pockets of it!
  7. Stir in any delicate berries at this point.
  8. Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cups and top with the seeds or nuts if using.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Test with a wooden skewer (or a piece of uncooked spaghetti!) – if there is any batter clinging to it, pop the tray back in for a 2 or 3 minutes.
  10. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool off completely.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Kale and Chickpea Soup with Lemon

kale-and-chickpea-soup-with-lemonAfter all the feasting and merriment comes the overwhelming urge to eat lightly and healthfully. I picked up a bag of kale and thought to make some sort of virtuous salad from it. But outside, it’s blowing a gale and a salad just doesn’t cut it – I wanted something warm and filling. Just not rich. A quick inspection of my cupboards revealed a tin of chickpeas and a soup was born. Warm, filling, with a slight bite and a sharp edge.  I don’t like using too many ingredients in a pureed vegetable soup as it sort of muddies the flavour. I suppose you could swirl in a spoonful of creme fraiche or a little double cream but I don’t think it needs it. The blitzed chickpeas makes it quite creamy in any case. This Kale and Chickpea Soup with Lemon is perfect to take to work in a flask or spill proof container to heat up in the microwave for lunch. Delicious, virtuous and thrifty!

Thrilled to stay that his recipe is a Community Pick over on Food52!     http://food52.com/recipes/25867-kale-and-chickpea-soup-with-lemon

 

kale-and-chickpea-soup-with-lemonYou could substitute other beans like butter beans or cannellini beans too. You could also use thyme leaves instead of the rosemary and omit the chilli flakes and use freshly ground pepper instead. This is one of those recipes that you can use as a base – use half the stock to make it more of a thick puree than a soup and serve with a nice thick slice of oven roasted (responsibly sourced) cod or halibut atop for instance…

Kale and Chickpea Soup with Lemon

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Prep time 15 minutes. Cook time 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 banana shallots (or one onion)
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 2 stalks of rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp of chilli flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 410g tin of chickpeas drained and throughly rinsed
  • 200g bag of chopped kale
  • 800ml hot stock (a cube or powder is fine – I used a combination of Marigold powder and vegetable stock)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt to taste

To Serve:

  • Paper thin lemon slices
  • Grated parmesan cheese (omit if vegan)
  • Toasted crusty bread (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Set a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat, pour in the olive oil.
  2. Finely dice the shallots and add to the pan, stirring to coat with the oil.
  3. Make 4 or 5 long horizontal slices in the celery stalk and dice. Add this to the pan and stir.
  4. Finely chop the rosemary leaves and stir into the pan together with the bay leaf and the chilli flakes.
  5. Peel the garlic clove and using the flat of your knife and the heel of your hand, crush so that it is still whole and add to pan.
  6. Add the chickpeas and the kale and stir. Pour in the hot stock, let it come to a boil and turn down the heat.
  7. Let it simmer for 20 minutes until the kale is tender. Squeeze in  the juice of half a lemon. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste. You might want more lemon or salt – it all depends on what you have used for the stock.
  8. Working in batches or in the pan itself if you have a stick blender, blitz until you have the texture you like. I like mine to still have a few chickpeas and pieces of kale through it so I set aside a couple of ladlefuls and used a stick blender to blitz the rest.
  9. Serve hot, floating a couple of slices of lemon on top of each serving and pass round the parmesan cheese for everyone to help themselves. Lovely with toasted crusty bread.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

kale-and-chickpea-soup-with-lemon

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
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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