Nutty Chocolate Rye Muffins

I haven’t posted in about a week as I was on holiday in Iceland. So much good food, especially their rye breads. And what a better way to beat the post vacation blues than with some Nutty Chocolate Rye Muffins. Here is what you’ll need: 1 cup rye flour

  • 1 cup plain white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup golden syrup
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks or chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts

 Combine both flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa in a large bowl.

 In a smaller bowl, beat all three eggs until nice and smooth.

Add the milk and oil, whisking the entire time.

Add the wet mixture to the dry bowl, mixing well. Next add the golden syrup. I originally added the syrup to the wet mixture, and it sunk to the bottom. So, you’re better off adding it after you’ve put the liquid mixture into the dry.

I still had lots of Christmas chocolate left, so making these muffins was a great way to utilize my rye flour and leftover sweets.

After you’ve mixed the batter, add the chocolate and chopped nuts.

Preheat your oven to 200 C / F. Grease or line a muffin tin and add an even amount of batter to each space. These will rise nicely, so don’t fill up the entire way. Also, to achieve muffins that are uniform in size, use a large spoon or scoop so that you get the same amount of batter for each.

Bake for 15-18 minutes depending on how your oven heats. I took mine out at about 17.

And there you have it! A batch of Nutty Chocolate Rye muffins to brighten up this gloomy weekend. These are perfect to enjoy for breakfast or as a filling snack. The muffins came out very moist and rich without being overly sweet. If you do require more sweetness, you can add more syrup or chocolate, or even try adding in a bit of sugar. Either way, these will not last very long in your kitchen. Enjoy what’s left of the weekend and if you have the time, try baking yourself something sweet to start off the week!

Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Regular Rye Bread

So, I received 3 cookbooks for Christmas and I can’t wait to slowly attempt the plethora of recipes that await. However, I really want to polish up my bread baking skills first before I try anything too advanced. Bread is just one of those things that isn’t really complicated ingredients wise, but the process can be a bit tricky. My aim is to try a basic recipe, then build upon it. As I bought a small bag of rye flour recently, I thought I would try a basic rye bread recipe. Here is what you’ll need:

1 tablespoon active dried yeast

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1  3/4 cup strong white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

First, combine the warm water and sugar in a bowl, mixing until dissolved. Then add the yeast and let it sit for about 10 minutes until it begins to bubble and foam up. You will then add the olive oil.

Measure out your flour and add the salt to it.

Add the flour mixture to liquid bit by bit until combined. It will seem sticky at first.

Go ahead and begin to knead it. As you handle the dough, the water will absorb. You want the texture to be smooth, which can take up to 10 minutes. It may not take as long if you use a mixer.

Cover the dough and let rise for about 20 minutes.

I then punched down the dough and put it in a bread tin to achieve a second rise.

Cut a few slits on top, then pop into a heated oven at 350 F / 180 C for 25 minutes.

 And there you go, a simple, regular loaf of rye bread. It came out soft with a lovely flavor. It can be enjoyed on its own, or with a hot bowl of chicken stew that has been in the slow cooker all day.

However,  as delicious as the bread was, it didn’t achieve much of a rise after I put it in the oven. It rose well initially, but it may have needed more water. Or maybe it didn’t need a second rise. Hmm, I don’t know, but I plan on trying again. Anytime you use a whole grain flour, the gluten structure may be affected (so I’ve heard), so sometimes more water may need to be added. Or less oil; I read that too. Well, back to the drawing board. Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Leftover “Sweet Bread” Pudding

We’re well into January, and I’m still finishing off all of the Christmas treats. However, if you still have any kind of sweet breads (fruit loaves, panettone, pandoro, etc) you’ll probably find that they are a bit dry by now. So, as I firmly believe in “waste not, want not”, dry sweet bread calls for bread pudding! Yay! Here is what you’ll need:

4-5 cups of cubed sweet bread

  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

First, cut up all of your dried out bread into cubes. Toss in the raisins, making sure they are well distributed. Pack the bread and raisins into a greased baking dish.

In a medium sauce pan, heat the milk and butter on low. Do not boil! Just warm enough to melt the butter. Add the sugar and mix well, taking the pan off the heat.

In a separate small bowl, beat the eggs and add the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Pour the egg mixture into the milk, butter, and sugar mixture. Make sure to whisk very well to avoid a scrambled egg consistency when baked.

Pour the liquid mixture slowly over the bread, trying to distribute it as evenly as you can.

You really want to make sure all the bread  is moist. It sometimes helps to press the bread down so it absorbs as much of the liquid as possible.

Bake at 180 C / 350 F for 40-50 minutes. When it comes out of the oven, it will look as if it has risen. As it cools, it will lower.

And there you have it, Sweet Bread Pudding! It’s warm, delicious, and easily made with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. For mine, I used the rest of a Dutch gingerbread loaf and part of a fruit loaf I got at Sainsburys. The combination of breads made for a nice winter treat, perfect for a dreary, Sunday evening. As you can tell, dieting isn’t really a New Year resolution for me! If anything, I’ll be a wee bit warmer this winter. Anyway, stay dry out there Bristol and try baking a bread pudding to warm up your winter day. Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!

Slow Cooker Cider Pork

Happy New Year one and all! I am really excited to bring today’s recipe to you as it highlights two special things I picked up at the Bath Christmas markets last month. First, I want to talk about this awesome cider I picked up from the Honey’s Midford Cider stall. I happened to be there on the last day, and these jugs were only £5, so I thought I could definitely do that! Turns out, this cider is PERFECT for braising or slow cooking pork. This was very smooth, and in my opinion, only a hint of dryness and not too sweet. It was also still, which made it a perfect accompaniment for anything savory. With that in mind, I thought some slow cooked pork would be a great recipe to bring in the new year. Here is what you’ll need:

1kg pork joint

  • 20 oz (~1 standard bottle) cider
  • 1 onion
  • Olive or vegetable oil
  • Thyme, salt, & pepper

First, roughly chop the onion. For this recipe, I like to use big chunks.

Next, light sauté the onions in a table spoon of olive oil. Place on the bottom of your slow cooker and set to medium.

 Next, massage the joint with olive oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. In the same pan you used for the onions, sear the meat on all sides. Place in the slow cooker on top of the onions.

You will then pour the cider into the searing pan to deglaze anything that stuck to the bottom. This ensures you get every bit of flavoring into the roast.

Pour the cider from the pan into the slow cooker. I threw in some potatoes as well, then sprinkled some thyme over the lot. Let it cook for about 6 hours. You may need a longer cooking time for a larger piece of meat.

Now for the fun part. Yes, you can serve it up as is, but I like gravy and a bit of cracklin’. If this sounds like you too, put the roast in a dish and put under the broiler to get that top skin nice and crispy. You can add a bit more salt to the top which will help it crackle by drawing the moisture out from the fat.

You’ll see it start to bubble and pop and when you’re satisfied with the crispness, take it out.

After I took mine out, I thought I want it really crispy, like a chicharon. So I took off the rest of the skin and cooked it some more. I simply put it on a roasting tray, crispy side down with just a sprinkle more of salt on the softer side, broiling it for another 15 minutes.

Then I was like, you know what? I want gravy to go with my pork, pig skin, and potatoes. Simply take out the potatoes from the slow cooker, then pour the remaining liquid into a sauce pan. Reduce the liquid to about half of what you had. Add some flour, whisking until smooth and thick, sprinkling more flour until you reach the desired consistency.

And there you have it! Slow cooked cider pork with a bit of cracklin’ and cider gravy. The meat was super tender and the gravy really pulled it together. It was tangy and smooth, just like the notes in the cider that was used to make it. This meal definitely was a great way to start the new year!

We also had some chutney to accompany the dish made by The Victorian Kitchen. I picked up a jar of The Cardinal’s Christmas Chutney as I finally found a chutney I like. I can say, it’s not something I’m usually a fan of. However I like this one as it was more savory than sweet, thus pairing perfectly with any roasted meat served up over the holidays. I picked this up at the Bath Christmas Market. They have a website, so check them out if you don’t happen to live in the southwest but still want to taste what they have on offer. I also got some cranberry sauce with port and tried the passion fruit curd which was devine!

One last thing to add, if like me, you love taking leftovers to have at work. Because this meat was so tender, it made perfect pulled pork sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch. Simply shred it with a fork. I then added the rest of the gravy, and smothered it with some Stubb’s BBQ sauce. It was just too easy! That should keep us all satisfied for a day or two, eh? Thanks for reading and Happy Eating!