Monday, 23 August 2010
One of things I miss most about Australia are the apple muffins from Muffin Break. I used to pick one up for breakfast on my way to work each morning and wash it down with a fresh apple juice. When Sadie and I were home in May, we indulged a couple of times at Muffin Break but I didn't feel so guilty as I would share one with Sadie so I was only eating half the calories!!
Last year whilst living in Abu Dhabi I tried an apple & cinnamon muffin recipe and they turned out to be a disaster! Very bitter in taste and too heavy on the cinnamon.
Whilst browsing the shelves at my local supermarket yesterday I came across tinned apples. I thought to myself that maybe....just maybe the sweetness of tinned apples would take away that bitter taste that fresh apples can give you sometimes, especially when we are not spoilt for choice with fresh fruits in this part of the world!
Tinned apples are my savior! It was definitely what was needed in this recipe to lift them to pure sweetness!
Now be warned, when making this recipe the batter is very very thick, much more like a dough than a traditional batter, but don't be put off, a bit of elbow work in the stirring department and all your ingredients will come together to create a very moist sweet sensation of apples and cinnamon.
The recipe makes approximately 24 regular sized muffins however I made 12 and with the remainder of the batter made small loaves which I have since sliced and frozen so they can go in Sadie's lunch box when she starts back at Nursery School next week.
2 cups caster sugar
1 cup of vegetable oil (I also think you could substitute the oil for apple sauce if you'd like, however I haven't tried this)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tin of apples
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius (350 fahrenheit). In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla.
In another large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the whisked mixture. Remember the batter will be very thick. Stir until everything is combined and then stir through the tin of apples.
Butter and flour your muffin tins or use paper liners. Fill muffin tins to the top and bake for 20 - 25 minutes.
Serve warm from the oven is best however, these are suitable for freezing. Great for school lunches!
Sunday, 15 August 2010
I know, I know...it's been a month since my last blog! My heart hasn't been in the kitchen over the last few weeks. You see, my Husband was retrenched 4 weeks ago. The last thing on my mind has been cooking and blogging but now things are looking up. Matt has scored himself a new job (well he's still negotiating his contract but we're staying optimistic!) We just aren't ready to leave the Middle East and we will be so thrilled if we get to stay!
It's also Ramadan at the moment and the Middle East comes to a stand still during the day, while Muslims fast and then at sundown it's a whole different story! The city comes to life and it's quite thrilling be a part of it. However, I must say that it's quite boring being at home all day every day but it got me back into the spirit of blogging so I'm back!
I wasn't in the mood to scour through my cook books, nor was I in the mood to try something new or difficult. I just wanted to get in the kitchen and throw a few things together! My Mum makes the BEST chicken schnitzel so that's where I started but I wanted to add an extra layer of flavour and that led me to creamy mushroom sauce.
I'm not a huge fan of mushrooms but for some reason when they're sauted with some shallots, garlic, stock and cream they taste a hell of a lot better! I became ADDICTED to mushroom sauce ten years ago when I was backpacking through Europe. I spent a month in France and I think I had chicken with mushroom sauce almost every night for dinner! I've never made it myself but I figured I would just give it a go, no recipe in sight and you know what....it was delicious!!! I'm sure there are a number of different versions of this sauce but I've kept it very light and simple and not too heavy on the cream.
I also had a new guinea pig to test out the recipe. Our friend John is a bachelor at the moment while his lovely wife Catherine (and my very good friend) is back in the UK with their boys visiting friends and family. I promised Catherine that I would take care of John while she was away as I think she believes John will be on a diet of Pizza Hut and McDonalds for the next month! John was very impressed with the sauce however he did let slip that he makes his own version of creamy mushroom sauce and I think there might be a sauce off in the not so distant future!
This dinner is really easy to make as long as you have all your ingredients chopped and ready to go and you time everything to perfection! I served the chicken with peas and roast potatoes (pure comfort food was needed) but I think it would also be lovely with a fresh salad or french style with garlic green beans and boiled potatoes.
Oh and a quick side note. You can easily serve the chicken as is without the sauce and it's still delicious! Or alternatively the sauce would be great over steak!
I hope you enjoy!
4 x chicken breasts (I used 2 per person as the chickens here are tiny!)
2 x cups of all purpose flour
4 x eggs beaten
2 x cups of bread crumbs
1 x tablespoon of dried parsley
Salt & pepper for seasoning
Olive oil for shallow frying
Creamy Mushroom Sauce
1 small shallot finely diced
1 clove of garlic minced
1 tablespoon of butter
250g mushrooms (I prefer button but whatever tickles your fancy)
250ml of chicken stock
2 generous tablespoons of thick cream
Place your chicken breasts on a plastic cutting board, cover with cling film and then beat them with a rolling pin or mallet until they are nice and thin. This is great therapy if you're in a bad mood!
Using 3 shallow bowls place the flour in bowl 1, eggs in bowl 2 and combine the bread crumbs and parsley in bowl 3. I also season my flour with a little salt and pepper. Start by dredging the chicken breast in flour, then moving onto an egg bath follwed by a further dredging in the bread crumb mixture. I suggest crumbing your chicken and then chilling in the fridge a few hours before cooking. This will help the bread crumbs adhere to the chicken.
To make the mushroom sauce, start by melting butter in a saute pan over medium to high heat. Once the butter is melted add the garlic and shallots and fry until the shallots are tender and transparent in colour. Now add the mushrooms and cook until tender. Once the mushrooms are tender turn the heat down a little and add the chicken stock and cook until the stock has reduced by half.
While the mushrooms are cooking you can start pan frying your chicken breasts. Heat up enough olive oil in a fry pan to coat the bottom of the pan so that the chicken does not stick. Once the pan is nice and hot add the chicken breasts but do not over crowd the pan. You will need to cook in batches. The chicken should take about 4 minutes per side if they are nice and thin. You will know when the chicken is cooked through when pierced with a knife the juices run clear.
Once your chicken is cooked, add the thick cream to your mushroom sauce and stir until heated through. Serve immediately and enjoy!