Friday, 21 July 2017

Lemon or limoncello (poppy seed) drizzle muffins


Ian said he had some limoncello going spare at home and, as a recent convert to baking, he was looking for a recipe to use it up.

I have tried a lemon and poppy seed muffin recipe in the past but it wasn't the greatest, so I experimented.

I think this recipe should do the trick.  And if you don't have limoncello, then just use lemon juice from a bottle to make up the difference.

You will need a 12 hole muffin tin and 12 muffin cases.

Ingredients
  • 230g plain flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 4 tbsp poppy seed (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 250g yoghurt or buttermilk (if you have neither of these, make buttermilk by adding a tsp of lemon juice to milk)
  • 85ml corn oil
  • Zest of one lemon

For the drizzle, which is a crunchy drizzle:
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 40ml limoncello (or lemon juice from a bottle)
  • 175g ish granulated sugar

Method
  • Put muffin cases in the muffin tin
  • Turn oven on to 160 degrees C fan oven
  • Zest the lemon and set to one side
  • Stir flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb together with poppy seed if using
  • In a separate bowl mix (barely more than a stir) the egg, yoghurt or buttermilk, corn oil and lemon zest
  • Combine the dry and wet ingredients by stirring - not mixing, not beating, not whisking, but stirring.  Stir until no dry flour visible (scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spoon)
  • Pop into muffin cases and pop into the oven for 20-24 mins until they are nicely browned on top. 
  • Feel free to use the skewer test to see if they are done (inserted skewer should emerge mixture free)
  • Whilst muffins are in the oven, juice the lemon, add the limoncello or lemon juice and granulated sugar and stir
  • Do the washing up and have a cup of tea, or slug from the limoncello bottle
  • When the muffins come out of the oven, give them a few minutes before skewering the tops about six times per muffin
  • Then you need to spoon on the drizzle mixture.  This is best done with a teaspoon and you need to mix as you spoon the drizzle mixture so that you have a decent amount of sugar mixed in.  The drizzle shouldn't be too runny so you may need to adjust the sugar content until it's appropriately spoonable for you
  • You could dust with poppy seeds but they'll just go everywhere
  • Leave to cool
  • Eat, with tea, coffee or bubbly
  • These are freezable.  When defrosting give them an hour or so, or a quick 30 second blast in the microwave.  I prefer defrosting these naturally as I like these muffins cool rather than oven warm


Friday, 16 June 2017

Optimism

I am, at heart, an optimist.

But there are times when having a positive outlook, and maintaining it, is a challenge.

With Brexit, Trump's appointment, the recent election, terror attacks and now the terrible fire in the Grenfell tower block, I'm struggling.

The fire has just made me so sad.  I keep saying I can't imagine what the victims, their families, the firefighters went through, and it's true, I can't.  But it hasn't stopped me trying, and that's what's making me sad.

I look at the responses of some of our politicians and it's all so cold.  I wonder if they are so far removed that they can't even try to imagine what it must have been like, or whether there's an emotional barrier they're maintaining to prevent the thoughts from entering their consciousness.

The raw anger and hurt makes complete sense and the contrasting, composed demeanour feels alien.

This should hurt and it should make us sit up and listen.  Sometimes, being sad is an appropriate response.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Fried head

So, today was the day I went for my very first MRI scan.

I wasn't worried.  I'd watched enough medical dramas to know that I'd be OK providing  didn't have metal embedded in my brain or eye.

It always seems like such a peaceful experience in TV shows like House; all is peace and quiet until the patient is discovered to have ingested metal and then all hell breaks loose.

I took the completely unnecessary precaution of removing my necklace and wedding ring; they were imaging my head so anything below the chin was irrelevant as far as the magnets were concerned.

I was told the machine would be noisy which didn't make sense because it's always silent on the telly.  They provided me with headphones to protect my ears (the reason for the scan) and asked me if there was a radio station I'd like to listen to.  It was just after Archers time in the afternoon so I asked for Radio 4.  I thought I might concentrate a bit more and keep still if I listened to the spoken word rather than music.

Well the machine was flipping loud but I managed to catch most of the Radio 4 Drama.  I should have chosen a music station because I found myself listening to a drama called "What will survive?" described thus:

"Kate and Ash are grieving the loss of their mothers. Ash lost his mum six months ago and is struggling to come to terms with her death. When Kate's mum Ruth is rushed to hospital and abruptly snatched away from them the family are thrown into the turmoil of grief all over again..."

The show included a scene in which Ruth is in the Intensive Care Unit attached to some life support machine that beeped a lot. Ruth dies when the beeping flatlines.

I listened to this, in a hospital whilst lying inside a noisy machine.  I survived.

They didn't tell me whether they found anything so I have the joy of going back to the crazy torture ENT guy in about 10 days.

The point of all of this is to recommend that for an MRI scan I recommend listening to joyful, happy music, not the death throws of an elderly lady in a radio drama.