First up thanks to those Italian Foodies for allowing me to ply their customers with sugar! I just love that all this blogging has resulted in something so tangible. I've been on a high all day, floating merrily around with a slight feeling of disbelief. I was hoping when I got started that I would at least be able to ramble on about whatever I chose without boring everyone to death, to actually get to know other foodies is a huge bonus. So before I break into my Oscar speech and the tears start flowing I'll get on with some baking to bring me back down to earth.
This is a Limerick/Mexico inspired batch of muffins. Unlikely meeting of cultures it's true but it works nonetheless. The Mexican part is a spicy, salsa flavoured cheddar, the Limerick part is that this cheese seems to have become an integral part of any trip to the Milk Market on a Saturday morning. Available from Marie's cheese shop it has a slightly smoky, peppery flavour, with a good kick of chili that has earned it many fans including Maz at Style Treaty. It was Maz's singing of it's praises that gave me the idea for these muffins. I first thought of just using the Welsh Rarebit Muffin recipe but I've been trying to reduce a three foot high stack of foodie magazines to a three inch pile of torn out pages so when I came across a recipe in the very first issue of Delicious Magazine using polenta as well as flour I felt that it would suit better. Though polenta is an Italian staple I hoped tenuous links to the maize used in Mexican cooking would be enough keep my theme going.
With a slab of spicy cheddar in hand, and some sun-dried tomatoes that were in front of me while I was queuing, I did a quick run to the health food shop (Eats of Eden in this case) where I found the polenta lurking on a shelf masquerading as "coarse maizemeal". Everything else was a store cupboard or fridge basic so I tucked my purchases away until today when I had a chance to see if this was going to work.
Jug of wet ingredients into bowl of dry ingredients, plop resulting batter into muffin tins, and into the oven. A short time later with only minor burns on my fingers I'm happy with my edible guinea-pig. The result is dense, craggy and the spicy cheese has been mellowed in the oven to a warmth that takes a few seconds to hit. The sun-dried tomatoes found their way in there but tinned sweetcorn would also work. If you need more heat try adding some chili and a dash of tabasco. If you'll excuse me now I need to, um, give myself a second opinion on my experiment.
MAZ MUFFINS/MEXICAN SPICED CHEDDAR AND POLENTA MUFFINS WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES
- 250g plain flour
- 125g polenta (coarse maizemeal)
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 100g sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (you could also use 100g tinned sweetcorn, drained)
- 150g Mexican spiced cheddar, grated
- 2 medium free range eggs
- 200ml milk
- 65ml sunflower/vegetable oil
- pinch of dried chili flakes/a little chopped fresh chili (optional)
- dash of Tabasco sauce (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200 C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases or squares of greaseproof paper. In a mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients well. Make a well in the centre.
- Mix together the chopped sun-dried tomatoes grated cheese and all the wet ingredients in a large jug (chili and Tabasco too if using,) don't overbeat just incorporate them. Pour the wet ingredients into the well, mixing quickly but lightly to make a lumpy batter. If the mixture doesn't drop easily off the spoon add a little more milk. Do not over-mix! Divide the batter between the paper cases and bake in the middle shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes until well risen and golden. Serve warm.
Makes 12 muffins.