Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Brunch - Pumpkin & Feta Muffins

Morning everyone. I've been out in the garden bright and early this gorgeous Sunday morning tending to my tomato plants - which in time I hope are going to deliver crops of delicious, home grown tomatoes. I didn't have a lot of luck with them last year - they were sad and scraggy looking, and I lost some to a leaf spot thing that attacks the plants and makes the fruit drop. However this year I decided I would read up about tomato growing in my area, to educate myself on what will make happy plants and lots of fruit. I also decided on four very different varieties (two of them heirloom) as a bit of an experiment to see which ones like my backyard. So far they are all going beautifully, looking strong and healthy and already sporting plenty of flowers that will turn into fruit. This morning they got a good watering and a dose of potash, which they seem to love. Fingers crossed I will have some great tomatoes to show you and to eat very soon. The bees are also loving the new flowers, and anything that brings them into the garden is a good thing.

So, as I was out pottering in the garden, I was thinking about what to make for Sunday breakfast/brunch. I noticed that my herbs were looking particularly lush, so I decided whatever it was, it had to include a handful of fresh herbs. I always like to use what I have on hand, so I checked out the fridge to see what might give me some ideas for this morning's breakfast. Today's inspiration was - pumpkin, feta cheese and natural yoghurt. I decided to bake a batch of savoury muffins, full of the sweetness of pumpkin, the tang of the yoghurt and cheese and the freshness of herbs just picked from the garden.

As well as a great breakfast idea, these would also be ideal picnic food, or as an accompaniment for a bowl of soup or a salad anytime. These also freeze well, so it would be worth making a couple of batches and keeping some for whenever you fancy something savoury and delicious. As with most of my recipes, you can tailor make these muffins to include whatever flavours you like, or what you have on hand - olives, spring onion, corn kernels, extra cooked vegetables or whatever herbs you have in the garden - the basic recipe will work regardless. These muffins are lovely and moist, as well as being packed with flavour. You can eat them warm or cold, with or without a little butter. Personally, I think they are delicious warm, without anything at all!

Pumpkin and Feta Muffins

You will need: 3 cups raw pumpkin cut into small cubes, 1 diced Spanish onion, Splash of olive oil, 2 cups self raising flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1/2 cup unsweetened natural yoghurt, 1/2 cup milk, 2 free range eggs, Pinch of cayenne pepper, 1/2 cup grated tasty cheese, 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs (I used a combination of thyme, parsley and chives), 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, salt and pepper.

Method: Preheat the oven to 200C.

Combine the pumpkin, onion, a splash of olive oil and a very generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Mix together until well coated. Bake on a tray (I line mine with baking paper for easy clean up) for about 25-30 minutes until the pumpkin is soft. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, yoghurt, cayenne and oil. Whisk together thoroughly.

In another large bowl, put the flour, both the cheeses, herbs and pumpkin/onion mixture. Season well with salt and pepper. Using your hands, very gently combine these ingredients - you don't want to smash up the soft components too much, but you want to ensure that they are evenly combined.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture until just combined. Remember the golden rule with muffins - don't over mix. The mixture should just barely hold together.

Spoon into a greased or oiled muffin pan and sprinkle with the poppy seeds.

Bake for 15-18 minutes. Allow to sit in the pan for a few minutes, before removing them and placing them on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or cold.

Makes 12 regular sized muffins.


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