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Something a bit different on Clever Muffin today, a drink! It’s Friday, it’s sunny, there’s things to celebrate and this just wanted to get made.

I originally came home with a bottle of champagne to toast my boyfriend’s new job. But Friday had other ideas. I think it went a little something like this:

Friday: hey, champagne, nice one.

Aimee: Yea, super fun!

Friday: But you got the cheap stuff.

Aimee: Well, no, it’s just middle of the range…we’ve just moved countries you know and budgeting…

Friday: Put the duty free gin in it. Then it’s fancy. Google ‘champagne’ and ‘gin cocktail’, doooo it.

Aimee: I hardly see how that’s fancy. I don’t even have cocktail glasses. They, er, broke in the move.

Friday: Liar.

Aimee: OK, I’ve never owned cocktail glasses. But I have a lot of jars, and that’d be kinda rustic chic right?

Friday: Oh, totally! Make me one too!

Aimee: OK!

One for me, one for the boy, one for Friday.

This punch is not for the faint hearted, it’s a bit cosmopolitan, a bit champagne cocktail, a bit gin and tonic, a whole lot of awesome.

Ingredients
2 parts gin
2 parts sparkling white wine/champagne
2 parts pom juice
1 ½  parts freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ part Cointreau
1 part sugar syrup (made by dissolving sugar in water at a ratio of 1 part sugar, 1 part water, then cooled)
¼ part all spice liquor (optional)

Method

  1. Mix together.
  2. Pour into jar.
  3. Choose a swizzle stick of your choice (pencils and chop sticks are all fair game).
  4. Forget your worries.

I can say these are perfect pizza muffins. I’ve earned the right. They took me three goes to perfect the recipe to just the right amount of pizza flavour.

Sweet muffins are more my ‘thing’ than savoury. But the folks out there love a savoury muffin so I try and put a few up. The spinach and feta ones on here are awesome, and quite fool proof. A muffin with three different kinds of cheese tends to be.

But the olive and chilli ones are quite hard, and best served warm. I like them like that, they’re interesting, but I got a few comments back saying they were too hard. And I listen to comments. Really I do. Except if you’re the people that write in and say ‘this was great, I ended up buying the product after I read this’. Because you’re a stupid spammer head and I know it.

Back to the point, I was determined to make these pizza muffins moist enough that they would be a good take-to-work snack. The original recipe only used water to bind, so after three goes I’m pretty happy with the consistency. Hope you like them too…

Some things you will need:

Make them pretty by topping them with a quarter of a cherry tomato. If that’s your kind of thing.

And then eat them!

Ingredients
4 rashes of shortcut rindless bacon, fat trimmed (or the equivalent of ham)
½ – 1 onion, (purely depending how much you like onion flavour, I use ½)
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 cup lite grated cheese
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 cherry tomatoes, to top, optional
1 teaspoon of Italian herbs

Add in some fresh parsley if you have some, but it’s purely for the touch of green, the dried herbs will give it the taste.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with patty cases and spray with cooking oil.
  2. Slice up bacon into small pieces, if you are using onion, then chop finely.
  3. Fry bacon and onion until bacon is crispy.
  4. Mix together everything else, except egg and cherry tomatoes.
  5. Make egg up to 1 cup with water then mix with dry ingredients until just combined.
  6. Spoon into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and muffins are golden. Makes 12.

Healthy? 157 calories a muffin, and they’re very filling. Not bad at all.

Gluten free? No, and they’re already quite crumbly so you may want to add more binding agent if converting.

Storage: They freeze well, otherwise best eaten within a couple of days.

Homemade bread rolls, crunchy and steaming, full of flavoursome olives and parmesan – need I say more?

The same hot baker who taught me to make scones taught me to make bread. His attitude was great: bread is not tricky, and this whole thing of knead your dough for 15 minutes, stir it clockwise four times then blow on it until it rises is just not needed. Pffft.

Here’s how to make bread. Simple and good. I’m going to do a few bread posts soon, including sour dough. The first four steps for bread making are labelled below as most recipes use the same methodology, and future-Aimee will be referring back to this post.

Step one: Combine the flour, yeast, salt, parmesan, olives, garlic and optional sage/basil in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre and add the water.

Step two: Use a wooden spoon to combine ingredients and then your hands to bring the mixture together to a soft dough. Give it a good pounding until well combined.

It helps to think of something that makes you angry, like my new neighbour the DJ who won’t turn his music down no matter how nice I ask. *thump* *thump* *thump*

Step three: Make the dough into a ball and leave it in the bowl, spray with olive oil, or drizzle it with olive oil to ensure it doesn’t dry out and stick to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and stand in a warm, draught-free place for 45-50 minutes, or until the dough has risen and doubled in size. Watch the magic begin…

You can see the dough below is about double the one I’m pounding above.

Step four:  Lightly grease a baking tray with spray olive oil and sprinkle with flour. Turn dough out onto your lightly floured bench and use your fist to punch the dough down again.

If you were making a loaf you’d stop at this point and make it into a round loaf, oval loaf or put into a lightly floured and greased bread tin. But for the rest of us, let’s get ready to roll (as in bread roll, do you get it? ah, forget it, my talents are wasted).

Use your fingers to make it into a rectangle about 1.5cm thick. Fold into a roll, making sure the seam is at the bottom, and cut into eight portions, or just roughly make eight portions from your original rectangle.

Place onto the greased tray.

Brush each portion lightly with water, press optional sunflower seeds on top and leave in a warm, draught- free place for 45 minutes, or until the dough portions double in size.

preheat oven to 220°C.

See how they grow? The ones below are still not cooked, this is just them doubling.


Bake the rolls in preheated oven for 18 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through, and the base sounds hollow when tapped.

Get it while it’s hot!

Lovely with pumpkin soup. Nom Nom.

Thanks to my lovely friend Pam for her help with this. We drank champagne while I baked, she snapped and we chatted. It was lovely.

Also, while I have your attention, two important things:

Firstly, a big thank you to Just a Smidgen for passing on the Versatile Blogger award on to me. Made my day!

Secondly, Erin from the Spiffy Cookie is having a blogger bake sale at the moment to raise money for her friend Dave. Funds will help buy him a prosthetic leg after a recent motorcycle accident. You can bid on items, then they are mailed to you. It’s for American readers only though, as international shipping of baked goods was a bit of an unknown factor. Please go across and have a look.

Ingredients (makes eight bread rolls)
450 grams (3 cups) plain flour, sifted
1 x 7 gram sachet dried yeast (or 2 ¼ teaspoons)
1 teaspoon Salt
20 grams (1/4 cup) finely shredded Parmesan
40 grams (about eight) black olives, pitted, chopped (feel free to add more if you’re an olive fan)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
300mls lukewarm water
2 teaspoon of olive oil or spray oil
Water, for brushing

Optional:
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or basil
Pumpkin seeds, to top

Method

  1. Combine the flour, yeast, salt, parmesan, olives, garlic and optional sage/basil in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre and add the water.
  2. Use a wooden spoon to combine ingredients and then your hands to bring the mixture together to a soft dough. Give it a good pounding until well combined.
  3. Make the dough into a ball and leave it in the bowl and spray with olive oil, or drizzle it with olive oil to ensure it doesn’t dry out and stick to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and stand in a warm, draught-free place for 45-50 minutes, or until the dough has risen and doubled in size.
  4. Lightly grease a baking tray with spray olive oil and sprinkle with flour. Turn dough out onto your lightly floured bench and use your fist to punch the dough down.
  5. If you were making a loaf you’d stop at this point and make it into a round loaf, oval loaf or put into a lightly floured and greased bread tin.
  6. Use your fingers to make it into a rectangle about 1.5cm thick. Fold into a role, making sure the seam is at the bottom, and cut into eight portions, or just roughly make eight portions from your original rectangle.
  7. Place onto the greased tray.
  8. Brush each portion lightly with water, press optional sunflower seeds on top and leave in a warm, draught- free place for 45 minutes, or until the dough portions double in size.
  9. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 220°C.
  10. Bake the rolls in preheated oven for 18 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through, and the base sounds hollow when tapped.

Healthy? Depends if you’re one of those no-carby people. Whom I do not understand. These are 200 calories a roll.

Storage: They freeze well, otherwise best eaten within a couple of days. Store in airtight container.

Source: Modified from taste.com.


This week I think I’ve been channelling one of my favourite food bloggers, Frugal Feeding (worth checking out for good dinner inspiration), and finding alternatives to excessive spending.

I’m blaming the currency transition from pounds to Australia dollars, which I’ve recently done moving back to Australia, but dang food seems expensive at the moment. And $5 for a pack of five muesli bars, which I could see were mainly just oats and glucose syrup, is not cool. Continue Reading »

According to a poll taken by me of all residents in my household, 50% prefer jam to marmalade.

The other 50%, and incidentally the smarter 50%, (non-biased poll ranked on who has a blog and who hasn’t) think marmalade is an amazing blend of flavours.

However, all residents like marmalade cookies with fresh orange icing.

Conclusion: If we found the inner cookie in our politicians they’d be more liked.


While reading Rufus’ Food and Spirit Guide I found these awesome looking orange marmalade cookies. I followed the link to the recipe on Sweet Peas blog, and realised it was a reblog from White on Rice Couple’s blog.

And now here! No point reinventing the wheel on something tried and tested. And, may I add, their absolutely delicious.

Except I did reinvent the method. The original method wants you to ‘set your mix master to two’, then refrigerate the batter to harden it, and all that jazz.

Instead I just mixed the batter using a bowl and spoon (totally old school here at Clever muffin). Then used the trusty two-spoon method, taught to me by my mum, to get the sticky cookie batter into balls and on to the tray. In brief – using two spoons, take a spoonful of dough, transfer from one spoon to the other to make a rough ball, then scrape on to tray.

Two spoon trick - not very tricky

It worked just fine. They are a little more rustic looking as I couldn’t roll them in to perfect little ball, but rustic is in. Word. You can always follow the original method by clicking the links above to the other lovely blogs.

You may also notice I made my cookies very big. That’s not trick photography, that’s me wanting really big cookies.

They are more a cake-type-cookie then a crumbly cookie. The term rock cake could describe them aptly.  And moorish. That’s another good word to describe them too.

Ingredients

For the cookie dough:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup orange marmalade
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the orange icing:
Finely grated zest from 1 orange
Finely grated zest from 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)

Method

For the cookie dough:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Line baking trays with grease proof paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugar – either use beaters or work out your biceps (it’s done when it’s a light yellow, smooth texture).
  3. Add eggs, mix well.
  4. Add marmalade, mix well.
  5. Add flour, baking soda and salt, mix well.
  6. Using two spoons, take a spoonful of dough, transfer from one spoon to the other to make a rough ball, then scrape on to tray.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cookies are light brown.
  8. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Once completely cool, ice the using a butter knife (no need to be picky, coz we’re doing rustic, yea? Yea).

For the icing:

  1. In a medium bowl combine citrus zests, juices, melted butter and sea salt.
  2. Whisk in icing sugar until well combined and smooth.

Quantity: Makes 24 large or 36 normal size cookies.

Healthy? 155 for a normal size cookies, or 235 for a larger one.

Storage: Store in airtight container.