burnt toast

Tag: pesto

Crunch

roasted pumpkin and pesto muffin

I used to work at this cute little take-away deli/café, which was renowned for its coffee, and especially for its savoury muffins. They were the embodiment of what the god of muffins would be like. They were divine. Later, the café changed hands and our lovely cook left, leaving a big hole in our customer’s stomachs and hearts. But not all was lost. Before I left to go on adventures of my own, I acquired the recipe from the grey ring-bound book in which the previous cooks had found enlightenment. And I too, found it. This is it. The Holy Grail. The muffin of muffins. Crunchy and crumbly on the outside, soft and delicately fluffy on the inside. The master recipe is endlessly adaptable of course, so over the course of time I will bring you my favourites. I shall start with my personal favourite, the roasted pumpkin and pesto muffin. You’re very welcome.

crumbled pesto muffin

Roasted Pumpkin and Pesto Muffins

You will have to prepare the roast pumpkin an hour or so in advance, just for time management and stuff. And yes, there is a lot of oil. But that’s just how it is honey. Go with it.

Makes 12 standard muffins, or if you have a giant muffin pan, 6. Adjust cooking times accordingly.

¼ large jap pumpkin, cut into 2cm dice

12 garlic cloves, peeled

salt, pepper and olive oil

2 cups/300g plain flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

220ml canola oil

250ml milk

1 egg

6 Tbsp basil pesto, plus 2 Tbsp extra, for decorating

For the pumpkin, you can preheat the oven to 200°C while you chop it up. Place the pumpkin on a baking tray with the garlic cloves, and drizzle with some olive oil and grind over some salt and pepper. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until soft. Cool. You will only need half of this, about 2 cups or two handful’s worth. From that, put aside 12 pieces of pumpkin and the garlic cloves. These you’ll need to decorate the top with. The leftover pumpkin, well I’ll leave that up to your imagination what you’ll do with that. I’ve got all confidence in you.

Get a muffin tin and line each hole with a square of baking paper.

Now turn the oven down to 190°C. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a jug, whisk together the oil, milk, egg and pesto. Pour into the flour mix and give it a few stirs. Add the pumpkin and incorporate with as few stirs as possible – you must not over mix the batter, or else they won’t come out beautifully fluffy and gorgeous like I told you. And we really want fluffy. Scoop the mixture into the prepared muffin tin and divide evenly amongst the holes. Top each muffin with a piece of pumpkin and a clove of garlic, and dollop a tiny bit of pesto on top. Place the tray into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, and the top is nicely golden brown.

Delicious, right?

If you’re going to have them the next day, reheat them in the oven at the same heat for a few minutes for the best results. Microwaves are completely unwelcome, unless you’re looking for a de-crunchified, slightly soggy experience.

Coriander

I have an affinity to add coriander to pretty much everything I cook. I can’t help it, coriander haters, it is just so that I can have more and you have to sit there sulking. Get over your hate for that green leafiness and direct it at something that needs your hate more, like sweet mayonnaise (seriously, who came up with the genius idea to put sugar in it? Did some housewife one day go: Man I really want dessert but all I have is mayonnaise…or maybe it was her husband who thought she was making custard and after having a taste, threw in a kilo of caster sugar…we can only speculate. And hate.). I promise you’ll love it one day.

I love it in Thai- and Indian curries, atop cheesy nachos, especially in salsas, in zingy guacamole and in good old pumpkin soup. And in this pesto. Inspired by the Woolworths dip section, minus the preservatives, citric acid, food acid, lactic acid and any other sort of acid they can get a hold of. Dangerous stuff I’m telling you.

Make this if you’re over pesto, if you want to jazz up your evening apéro selection of chips and dip, or if you just really want to give coriander another chance.

Thai Style Pesto

2 bunches of coriander, roots, stems, leaves, roughly chopped

4cm knob ginger, grated

2 garlic cloves

1 stick lemongrass, finely sliced

2 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced

½ chilli, finely sliced

1 lime, grated rind and juice

80g roasted cashews, plus an additional handful of chopped cashews, to stir in at the end for texture

4+ Tbsp olive oil

salt

Blend the lot with a handheld blender in a measuring cup or jug until smooth, adding more oil as needed.

Use immediately or transfer to a jar and cover with olive oil. This will keep for about 1 week in the fridge.

I love this as a dip, with crisp pita wedges, with fried eggs on toast,or with rice noodles, some freshly chopped mint and a sprinkling of crispy-fried shallots.

Yeah. That stuff. Pesto.

One of the simplest dinners ever would be pesto pasta. Tasty and filling. Or at least I hope it’s like that for you. Quite possibly, you’ve got your own very special reipe which was handed down to you by your Italian great grandmother. I’m sure you’re recipe’s great, I really am. But this here is how  I do it.

Thinking back, as a young ‘un, I always felt there was never enough pesto on the actual pasta. Those store bought jars were always just too damn small. And if I put too much parmesan on it I’d almost choke on the dryness it imparted on this otherwise beautiful little dish. That is why these days people, I make my own pesto. My father’s girlfriend looks after these amazing basil bushes at the back of our house, so whenever the urge comes upon us, we make pesto. I like my pesto cheesy, and nutty. And salty, with a bit of tang. I like to mix it with cream cheese and a little sour cream for a yummy dip, or mix it into a salad dressing…or slathered over pizza. Whatever you’re up to with this, make sure you make twice the amount, if you can. Because it’ll vanish far quicker than you’d think.

Pesto

¾ cup firmly packed fresh basil

35g grated parmesan cheese

40g roasted cashews

2 large garlic cloves, halved

1 Tbsp lemon juice

4+ Tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Add all the ingredients to a measuring jug or some sort of vessel with high sides and puree until smooth and creamy. You may have to add some more olive oil to get the right consistency, which isn’t too thick, but also not too runny. Transfer to a jar and cover with more olive oil. It’ll keep for about a week in your fridge. Enjoy pumpkin.

%d bloggers like this: