30 October 2013

Pumpkin Cheese and Chive Muffins - The Halloween Trilogy

For part 1 of the Halloween Trilogy - Pumpkin Whoopie Pies - see yesterday's post.

Last time I made savoury muffins (Pea, Ham and Feta Muffins) from a Hummingbird recipe, things went very wrong. The recipe was fine, but I was so excited about my impending trip to see a friend at Uni I forgot to take them with me. I froze the Pea Ham and Feta Muffins, but quite honestly, I just don't think they were quite the same again.

This time I was also a little apprensive, more due to the inclusion of pumpkin, but the aromas of the sizzling onions, herbs and fresh chives soon had me round. It must be said that, although baking is my true passion, the smells when you cook are normally stronger. Think onions, bacon, turmeric mmmmmmm...

The recipe calls for 'mixed dried herbs' and I've always wondered what herbs are a good idea. To play it safe I use the three I have been taught to use in a Spaghetti Bolognese - basil, oregano and thyme.

The only time where I ever have a savoury muffin is... well actually never. I just don't think to eat cake for breakfast, which surprises me as much as it surprises you and I don't often stop for afternoon tea. Of course I dabble in pastries for breakfast when I'm on the continent, but not muffins. The only other time when a savoury muffin really surfaces to see the light is at buffet tables at weddings, funerals and christenings. I normally avoid them in these situations, as often they have a lot of dairy and so I must be weary. For this reason I'm thankful that Hummingbird have chucked in a few savoury muffins, as it gives me the chance to try something new.

I almost thought that my plans of making these muffins would be scuppered as I forgot to pick up chives. I would like to say this is the first time I forgot to check I had the ingredients before walking out the house, but sadly this is not the case. Normally I just improvise or if all else fails I whizz down to Tesco Extra, which thankfully is open 24hrs. BUT it turns out this was not at all necessary as I have a pot of chives in my garden, as you do. It must have been a comical sight for any nosey neighbours as I heave in a tub from the garden at 9.15pm. Especially given only minutes earlier I walked in the house in running gear a tiara and glitter (it was the Halloween Hash at my running club - dress up, run, then pub). Chive issues avoided.

I definitely didn't read the part of the recipe where it directed you to use 5g of butter to soften the onion, then melt the rest and add it later on in the recipe. I just bunged ALL the butter in the pan with the onions and herbs. And you know what? The muffins turned out just fine. Just goes to show that not all baking is as hard as the books want to make out. CHEESEcake is a different matter...

One of the main selling points of pumpkin is the beautiful colour it adds to any dish. It really lifts it to a golden tone and it makes all the difference. 

A handful of chopped chives is the only measurement your really need. Who has time to chop the chives then measure only a tablespoons worth?

Anything with grated cheese could almost certainly become a hangover cure.

As you can see from the picture below, the texture is very different to that of a normal cake. The sponge has much bigger air bubbles, the muffin is drier, but the flavours are all there. I almost expected the muffins to have the same strength of the flavours as a quiche, but they were a lot milder. I could imagine these tasting nice with a bit of melted butter or cream cheese if you like that sort of thing.

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