Friday, 22 January 2010

Sometimes things don't go to plan

After the success of cooking with my girls last week I was keen to give it another go this week. As an added bonus I thought we could try a raspberry muffin recipe to use up some of the raspberries still frozen in my freezer. My new year's resolution is to empty the freezer in time for the fresh harvests in June. I think 6 months is probably what I shall need to use up all the stuff in there - not to mention the fruit still remaining in Sue's freezer! And with recipes that only require 140g of raspberries it will certainly take some time.

The first hurdle for this recipe was tracking down a lemon yoghurt. Considering that the yoghurt aisle in Tesco has nothing but yoghurts down both sides of it you would think that they would have an abundance of lemon yoghurts to choose from. It took me a good five minutes to run up and down both sides before I finally found the only lemon yoghurt they had on sale and that was in a multi pack of Weight Watchers citrus yoghurts.

So, armed with my yoghurt, I retrieved 140g of raspberries from the freezer to thaw and waited for the end of the school day for my girls to return home. On getting back they decided that in fact they would like to play outside for a while. I was hardly going to say no to this as fresh air and exercise are so important so I agreed that they could scoot around the residential car park for a while whilst I tidied the kitchen up a bit. I was just wondering when they might come in when they suddenly burst in, telling me that my youngest had stepped in a pile of poo. Oh joy! On with the rubber gloves to sponge down the scooters, shoes and their hands.

Eventually I was ready to get started but by now my youngest had settled herself down to drawing a picture and she wasn't happy when I told her it was now time to bake. She came to the kitchen anyway but crying and complaining. My eldest was less than sympathetic and decided to wind her up a bit for her own amusement. This was not what I had imagined when I had thought about the afternoon's cooking experience.

We paused for a drink and a few stiff words then washed hands and got our aprons on. Things went a little smoother from this point although the girls were a little less patient than usual. I think we were all a bit tired to be honest. Then we tipped in the thawed raspberries and stirred them into the muffin mixture. For one exciting minute we had a lovely pink batter but then some unexpected chemical reaction occurred, probably between the raspberries and the lemons and the muffin mix turned an unappetizing shade of chewing gum grey. My youngest found this quite upsetting and was on the verge of bursting into tears when I pointed out that the muffin mixture was now elephant grey. She brightened immediately as elephants are her favourite animal!

So we persevered and got them into the oven where another chemical reaction occurred and the muffins turned blue! Well, some of it was blue and some a bit green and some bits bright red. Clearly I had chosen completely the wrong time to make these muffins as they would have made perfect Halloween ghoulish muffins. But despite it all I retained my sense of humour and we had a good old chuckle about it. In fact, the girls were keen to take a muffin each to school in their lunch boxes so they could show off their weird greeny blue cakes to their friends.

We were still left with the remaining yoghurts in the multi pack so I decided to see what exciting dish I could whip up with the orange flavoured one. My eldest was still keen (my youngest had gone back to her drawing by this point) so together we juiced 3 large oranges and the half a lemon left over from the muffin recipe. To the juice we added the yoghurt and whisked it together. Finally, I melted a sachet of gelatine and added this to the mixture, poured it into 5 moulds and put it into the fridge to set. Later that night I tried one of these orange yoghurt jellies and was pleased with the lovely fruity favour. It was certainly a healthy dessert with no added sugar and only 1g of fat in the yoghurt.

Orange Yoghurt Jelly
3 large oranges
1/2 lemon
120g orange flavoured yoghurt
1 sachet gelatine

Put the sachet of gelatine in a small pan and splash on about 3 tablespoons of water and set aside. Juice the oranges and lemon then add the yoghurt to this juice. Taste this mixture and add sugar if you wish. Gently heat the gelatine until it has melted then pour this mixture into the juice mixture. Stir then pour into moulds and refrigerate until set.

It was just as I was washing up our baking equipment that Steve came home. He balked at the muffins and asked me what had happened. He didn't fancy a blue muffin for his afters so I offered to quickly cook him a batch of flapjacks. Fortunately, the fish pie and potato wedges were in the oven by this point so dinner was happily cooking itself whilst I made the flapjacks.

Potato Wedges

Olive oil
Salt, pepper
(optional other flavours: dried thyme, crushed garlic, chilli powder etc.)

Preheat oven to 200°C, gas 6. Scrub but don't peel the potatoes. Cut each potato into 6 to 8 large wedges. Rinse the potatoes then pat dry on kitchen paper. Put the wedges in a bowl and add the other ingredients. Stir until evenly coated then tip onto a large baking try. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes until golden.

Vanilla Flapjacks

4 oz (110g) butter
4 oz (110g) soft light brown sugar
1 dessert spoon of honey
A few drops of vanilla extract
6 oz (170g) oats

Preheat oven to 150°C (gas 3). In a large saucepan, gently melt the butter with the sugar, honey and vanilla. Add the oats and stir thoroughly until evenly coated. Grease a small baking tray and spoon the mixture onto it. Spread out and press down with wetted fingers. Bake for 25 minutes until gold. Cut into flapjacks whilst still hot then allow it to cool in the tin.

The muffins turned out to be quite tasty in the end, although I think next time I'd use plain yoghurt and a whole lemon instead. I think fresh raspberries would probably lead to a better end colour so maybe you should keep an eye out for a raspberry muffin recipe in July. Hopefully, next time everything will go a little more to plan.

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