So, before you think this blog is all about me swanning around Italy eating in nice restaurants (and I won’t deny, I’m selfishly hoping that a fair amount of it will be…) I thought I’d actually do some cooking.
Having desperately begged for (much to the disapproval of my more feminist friends) a blender for my birthday I was keen to fire the thing up and just ‘blend stuff’. I’d also received a copy of the delightfully tempting Hummingbird Bakery cookbook for my birthday and began to thumb through the pages for inspiration. Happening upon their recipe for Spinach and Cheese muffins I saw an opportunity to create something a bit different. I swapped out a few of the key ingredients for my own choice and, inspired by my Italian trips, created Fennel & Pecorino muffins.
Take a look below for the recipe.
You will need:
1 small red onion, finely chopped
360g plain flour
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup (or to taste) pecorino shavings
220ml whole milk
2 medium sized fennel bulbs
Salt & Pepper
1. Trim the stalks off the fennel then slice the bulb lengthways into slices about 2mm thick. Drizzle with the olive oil, salt and pepper and put under a medium/hot grill (turning once) until soft and browned. Once grilled remove and place on a plate and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Once cooled, chop into smallish pieces.
2. Melt the butter in a pan. When the butter’s hot, add the red onion and fry until soft and slightly browned. Set aside to cool.
3. Pour the plain flour, baking powder, nutmeg and pecorino together into a bowl. In a separate large mixing bowl, mix the egg and the milk together by whisking gently with a fork.
4. Slowly add the flour mix into the milk & egg mix, blending with a hand-blender or a wooden spoon as you pour and continue blending until the dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed in.
5. Add the onion and the fennel into the mix and continue to blend until the they are both spread fairly evenly throughout.
6. Spoon the mix into muffin cases (placed ideally in a muffin tray) until the cases are roughly two thirds full.
7. Place the muffin tray into a preheated oven (170ºC, Gas Mark 3) and cook for approximately 30mins. The tops of the muffins should be springy to the touch when done. You can also test the centre by poking in a metal skewer, if the skewer comes out clean then they’re done. If it’s coated in wet mix then pop them back into the oven for a bit longer.
(Now, at this stage I would warn you against getting involved with a conversation with your neighbour which results in you forgetting the time and leaving the muffins in for a total of about 40mins as they do then come out quite like rock cakes. Grrrrr.)
8. Remove the muffins from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Then consume….in vast quantities.
This recipe makes approximately 12 muffins.