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Pear and Nutmeg Crumble Muffins

November 22, 2010

Quickies Noodle Challenge Update : I am pleased to announce that we've now received  6  very interesting entries! Thank you very much and remember this is open to everyone, worldwide, so keep them coming! As this may be the last Quickies Challenge for a while,  we really hope there will be a fantastic turnout. Of course, if you really want more challenges, let us know and we'll do our best to oblige! Send in as many entries as you like, just remember to get them in by midnight of  December 14 2010 (EST)  - we're looking forward to shouting out the winner and showcasing a fantastic line up of entries on December 15 2010 (EST)  !! What's your motivation? A gorgeous autographed cookbook! (take a detailed peek here) And now on to the day's post....

There's another pear I'd like you to meet. The delectable Rocha from Portugal. Isn't she a beauty? That soft, lustrous, buttery hued skin, the adorable russeting around the stem (industry insiders call it the "peduncle") and such a glorious, rich and sweet perfume she exudes! Put her in a pair of Blahniks and she would work them ;)  But she's no skin deep only beauty. One bite and you will be completely seduced by her luscious, tender and juicy flesh. Oh my.....

I think I have a crumble fetish ..... or would that be a pear fetish?? I may still be reeling from unfulfilled pear cheesecake lust. Each time I stumble on a load of pears, they don't seem to be ripe enough and I haven't the patience to wait for them, so into something else they go.  And crumble! Oh!! Buttery, spicy, rich, sticky crumble!! Could any jury find it in their collective heart, to convict me? But, it does look as if I have found my perfect cheesecake pear. Except, SOMEONE, and I'm not naming names, ate the last two last night, when I wasn't looking.

These muffins are easy enough for novice bakers and even children to do. I hate creaming butter by hand, and I don't like washing up standmixer bowls and attachments much more, so I decided on the easy going rub-in method. I know of no child who would not relish getting little fingers into a bowl of flour and butter and squishing the life out of both. A very brief whisk with buttermilk follows, and before you know it, these are in the oven, with the promise of a delectable brunch or afternoon treat fragrant with nutmeg, succulent with pears and crunchy on top with buttery crumbs.

Maybe it is the crumble, after all?

Prep 15 mins     Cook 20 mins     Makes 12 muffins

300 g (3 cups) plain or all purpose flour
120 g (1 cup) soft brown sugar
1 level tsp baking soda
2 level tsp ground nutmeg (reserve 1/2 tsp for topping)
1/2 level tsp fine salt
100 g (2/3 cup) semi firm butter
300 ml (1 1/2 cups) buttermilk or regular milk plus 2 Tbsp cider vinegar to make up 300 ml sour milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 small to medium, soft but not too ripe pears, peel, core and cut each into 8 segments


Preheat oven at 200 C (400 F) and line a 12 hole muffin tray with 10 paper liners.

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly.  Add butter and coat with the flour. Cut or squeeze the butter into smaller pieces and rub in, until you have a bowlful of very coarse crumbs. Set aside 3 tablespoons of this mixture for topping.

Pour the buttermilk or sour milk and vanilla into the flour mixture and whisk gently and quickly. Stop as soon as mixture is incorporated. Do not overmix. Put 1 slightly heaped tablespoon of batter into each liner. Top with a pear segment. Add another slightly heaped tablespoon of batter and top with a final pear segment. 

Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg to the reserved crumble topping and mix well. Sprinkle some crumble over each muffin and bake for 10 minutes. Turn temperature down to 175 C (340 F) and bake another 10 - 15 minutes or until well risen, golden and slightly springy.

Remove from oven and serve with coffee or tea, for breakfast, morning coffee or afternoon tea.



Quickies Noodle Challenge

November 15, 2010

I'm thrilled to announce another joint Quickies : Morning, Noon and Night Cooking Challenge with Lazaro Cooks! Our first two challenges were so well received, we had repeated requests for another Quickie challenge. We aim to please, so here we are again!

The prize will be a copy of my cookbook Quickies : Morning, Noon and Night. This is my first cookbook and I've written it with the aim of providing inspiration to anyone who's ever felt too tired or too uninspired to cook, or who has the pi...

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Green Tea Chicken Noodle Soup

November 10, 2010

It's been deliciously cool and crisp for almost two weeks now. I couldn't be happier and relish the opportunity to not just eat but cook lots of soup - something that at other times of the year, would heat up the kitchen to sauna levels! Nothing beats a bowl of steaming hot, home-made chicken noodle soup when it's nippy outside. I get bored easily though, and wondered how the taste of jasmine green tea which I can't get enough of, would work in a chicken soup.

The broth is not green as you...

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Pear and Prune Strudel with Salted Butter Glaze

November 8, 2010

Prunes really get a bum rap.  Who doesn't associate them with dentition-challenged grandmas and grandpas who can't chew much except pudding and.... stewed prunes? They're also unfortunately stuck with the unglamarous but very true reputation of being an ace laxative. Sorry, needed saying. Last week, out of the blue, I was hit by an inexplicable craving for this dark, sticky, chewy treat. Yes, I said treat.

Forget everything you thought you knew about them and start thinking of them as dri...

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Autumn Seduction

November 4, 2010

Today, I'm going to show you my extensive pumpkin-themed collection, starting with this pumpkin and squash salt and pepper shaker set.....

KIDDING!!!! I get it - enough already with the pumpkin and the kitchen paraphernalia !! We're doing mushrooms today. My apologies for the pumpkin scare up there, but it feels good to have your blood actually reach your extemities, doesn't it? ;)

When it comes to things I really love eating,  like mushrooms, my patience goes out the window, along ...

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Dark Chocolate and Pumpkin Pancakes....and, Uh, They're Vegan

November 1, 2010

Hubby's incessant calls from work, yes, on a Sunday, took all the pleasure out of a late lie-in, so I decided to get started on breakfast at eight-thirty; sacrilege on a weekend *grrr*  Out came the pumpkin I'd bought about two weeks ago, and had left by its lonesome under the ironing board. Oh, the joys of cramped apartment life; my tiny, three bedroomed kingdom for a proper pantry. The microplane grater fell off its hook and onto the pumpkin, as my baby walked in, all tousled hair and sleep...

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Apple, Bacon and Onion Galette

October 27, 2010

Last night, it rained. Really rained. I was lying in bed, hoping to fall asleep, suffering my nightly ritual of tossing and turning when I heard a distant rumble. It filled me with hope. I'd had about all I could take of hot, sticky weather and being at the tail end of October, a rumble in the distance could only mean one thing. Within minutes of the outpouring, there was a perceptible nip in the air and I found myself reaching for the hardly used and up till now, mostly decorative blanket, f...

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Iced Ginger and Lavender Cookies

October 24, 2010

When you hear "lavender", I'll bet the first thing that comes to mind is soap, air freshener or floral water. Quite fitting since the word comes from the Latin lavare which means "to wash". For centuries lavender has been associated with cleansing and purifying as it's believed to be anti bacterial, anti viral and anti microbial. Not the first thing you would associate with things you want to put in your mouth ;)

If you think about it in the remotest culinary sense, it may be herbes de Pro...

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Going Greek....Sorta

October 20, 2010

I was at the dentist's office last week and stumbled on an article in a food and travel magazine about Greece and Greek food. It was so evocative and the featured dishes, so tempting, I actually contemplated tearing out the pages for, uh, future reference *blush* My 12 year old's appalled expression when he saw me fingering the inner spine of the magazine jolted me back to my senses and thanks to him, I left the office empty handed, with my head held high.

One of those dishes, Oktapodi Kra...

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Indecision and Serendipitous Pear-ings

October 17, 2010

I was intent on getting some tender, sweet and dense Bosc pears for a dessert that had been running round and round inside my head and wouldn't leave me alone; a pear and candied ginger cheesecake. The family had been complaining about the dearth of desserts lately. Mutiny was in the air and I honestly had run out of ideas for tarting up vanilla ice cream.

After trawling three markets and two supermarkets and coming up empty, temptation presented itself in the form of canned pears. Ordinaril...

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