So today morning, while helping my beautiful Mummy with some errands, something happened. I kept running into friends and neighbours telling me how much they enjoy reading my blog and about the recipes they like. Neighbourhoods change, but visiting my parents feels like going back home. People there are mainly very friendly and many of them know me from when I was a child. I love feedback, and before you roll your eyes at me (I can see you) I appreciate all kinds. Done properly. You know what I mean. I love writing on here. I don’t get too personal, mostly because I don’t want to make my friends and family uncomfortable or make them feel uneasy in any way. I want people to talk to me at the end of the day!
I’m sure that summer’s officially here, one, because it’s almost unbearably hot, and two, because I buy chicken by the bucket, or whatever expression you might choose to put instead. There are tonnes of reasons for which this happens. The first one that comes to mind is that it makes a perfect meal for when I have people over for supper. So I keep various chicken pieces in the freezer at once. This past week I went to the butcher twice; they were on my list for both trips, simply because I had guests last Saturday and I ran out of chicken breasts. As I must have mentioned somewhere before on C&T
but I must do so again I would rather have the dark meat bits. The meat next to the bones is generally more tender and juicy. However lately, since the turn in the weather, I much prefer grilling or pan-frying a marinated chicken breast. The marinade bit is most important. It’s amazing what some extra virgin olive oil together with freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper does to a piece of meat, and to vegetables! Place the meat in a dish, marinate, cover with cling film in the fridge for a couple of hours. Grill, serve with a simple salad and voila, you have a meal. Right there.
This recipe is a little different, in that you don’t even need a grill pan and there’s no marinade prep but it’s easy. I like it because it resembles a curry without the extra spice. It comes in handy when you know you will feed a group of people who undoubtedly have various likes and dislikes, or even allergies and/or intolerances. As months go by I am often finding myself in this predicament, which can be a headache on one hand, but a positive thing for me, meaning I’m reconnecting with people. It’s been almost a year now since I moved back from Surrey. Unbelievable.
Non-lovers of dried fruit look away now. Before pointing a finger at you, please let me tell you that I have the other four pointing at me. Yes. Me. I remember hating any form of dried fruit even as a child. And sultanas and raisins were a fiend. The real enemy though was and still is candied peel. I always say that if James Martin ever asks me (not that he ever will btw) what’s my food hell, that would be my answer. Absolutely revolting stuff.
This year, Christmas has completely drained me. My energy is almost all gone. So please forgive me for today’s easy recipe. I must admit that I only own one Christmas recipe book, and frankly I don’t aim to buy any more. (Again, Christmas books I mean…just in case you’re wondering…) You really don’t need to, especially if you’re all for the traditional lunch. Christmas food tends to be repetitive and for lack of a better word, somewhat boring. At least to me it is. I’m not a big fan of turkey, even though that’s what we ate this time round. Brussels sprouts, well, are what they are, chestnuts or no chestnuts. For me, the highlight of the meal are the roast potatoes, made the American way seasoned with salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic, no faffing about with the fluffing in a colander and the roasting in goose fat. The simpler the prep the better.
While I don’t enjoy the savoury stuff, I do look forward to the sweet treats, and I get to indulge a little bit, as we all do. Nigella’s Christmas Morning Muffins recipe from Nigella Christmas has been a lifesaver during these hectic times. I made 2 batches, many of which I gave out to friends, and they have been a hit. The cinnamon covered dried cranberries I bought have added some extra flavour, but they can also be made with raisins or sultanas (or indeed a mixture of both). Though methinks they taste best with the dried cranberries. There’s no butter in this recipe. The oil and milk make them nice and moist. Any milk will do. Here’s the recipe.
- 250g plain flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 clementines, zested and juiced
- around 125ml semi-skimmed milk
- 75ml vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 175g cinnamon dusted dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas mark 6, and line a muffin tin with paper muffin cases.
In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and the clementine zests. Lightly mix.
In a measuring jug, just to make things easier for you, squeeze the juice from the clementines and pour in the milk until you reach the 200ml mark. Pour in the oil and beat lightly.
Pour the contents of the jug onto the dry ingredients and stir until you have a few lumps in the mixture. Remember, when making muffins, a lumpy mixture is what you want. Fold in the dried cranberries.
Pour the liquid into the muffin cases, and bake for around 20 minutes. Leave them to cool and cover them with some icing.
Enjoy and a Happy New Year to all!
(Recipe adapted from Nigella Christmas, Chatto & Windus, 2008.)