Friday, 24 May 2013

Mullet Muffins: Party on the Top, Business on the Bottom

A few weeks ago we went to visit my in-laws.  Whenever we go to visit I like to bring some sort of homemade baked good with us.  We have some during the visit and then it's a nice way to thank them for having us by leaving the leftovers behind.

This past visit I was posed with a tricky situation as we also have a munchy little toddler on our hands, who is so keyed into food that any sweet treat has to be eaten whilst crouched in a darkened closet at midnight to avoid her doe eyes and smacking lips.  Not that she leads a 100% sugar-free existence... but we are trying to lead by example.

That being said, one can only eat so many wheat germ, whole grain, dried fruit so-called-pastries before wanting to dive head first into a giant bowl of brown sugar and butter.  And it's also not much of a parting gift to leave behind muffins that can only be described as "good for you" or "healthy" (rather than any sort of comment on what they might actually taste like, or any joy that might be derived from tastebuds rather than colons).  The trick was to marry the two, creating what I have decided to name  "mullet muffins"- with a party on the top and business on the bottom.

The Top:

I used Joy the Baker's Coffee Cake Muffin recipe (one of my favourite blogs) for the topping- making a delicious cinnamony struesel that completely distracts from the wholegrain goodness of the bottom.  I think the main reason for my obsession with coffee cake is the struesel on top.  "Struesel" by the way is a fancy (German) word for cinnamony, sugary butter.  Sounds more refined to add struesel to a muffin than the backbone ingredients of Cinnabon 

The Bottom:

I used the old Divertimenti Cafe's muffin recipe, using light wholewheat flour instead of white, lots of greek yoghurt for protein and adding in several heaping handfuls of raspberries.

The result was something I was happy to share with Nell and the in-laws without feeling guilty about either.

Makes 12 muffins

300g/ 21/2 cups wholewheat flour
1 tbs baking Powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
100g caster sugar
250ml natural greek yoghurt
25g melted butter & a little for lining your muffin tin
½tsp kitchen salt
1tsp vanilla paste
2 big handfuls frozen raspberries

For Struesel Topping
3 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
64g/ 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


To prepare the tins brush them with melted butter and line with flour- or use paper muffin cases.

Melt 125g butter and set aside.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl break the eggs and whisk with a fork.  Add the melted butter and yoghurt and stir thoroughly. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and fold together until thoroughly incorporated.

Add the raspberries and stir through.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin, dividing it equally.  Combine all ingredients for struesel topping together and mix with your fingers until crumbly.  Sprinkle over each batter-filled tin.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 175C for approximately 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the muffin comes out clean and tops are golden brown. Remove and leave to cool down in the tin for approximately ten minutes before turning out.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Honey-Roasted Lamb

Not two weeks ago I was preparing to share my take on a traditional Sunday roast with my parents, who had flown over from the US for a visit.  After living abroad for nearly seven years now I continue to marvel there are still new and interesting pieces of the culture to experience and share.  This particular spring lamb roast seemed to cover several of those categories and was really a treat to share with my family.

Firstly the lamb.  Lamb is so commonplace in the UK that I had forgotten it's nearly 'exotic meat' status in the US.  Growing up in the Midwest of the US whenever my friends and I would take a road trip we loved to keep ourselves entertained by playing our favourite (made up) car game "Cows on Your Side, Cows on My Side".  No seriously.  There was a point system and everything.  Cows are like pigeons in corn country- they are EVERYWHERE!  Nowadays on road trips outside of London this game has had to change it's face slightly to "Sheeps on Your Side, Sheeps on My Side" in order to ever have a shot at winning a point (two if you shout 'hey sheep' and it looks at you).   These little clouds of wool are more commonplace than cows here, so much so that no one bats an eye when they end up on the dinner table.  

The second reason for my efforts was to acknowledge the mainstay of the Sunday Roast in the UK.  Originating possibly from long Sunday mornings spent in church families would put their joint of meat or bird in the oven before they went off to Sunday services, and find it cooked and ready to be eaten upon their return.  This idea has since evolved over time.  Sunday roasts now represent a nod to British tradition, time devoted to family and friends, letting go of work and relaxing.  Leftovers from this hearty meal often make their appearance in various other forms during the busy work week as an economic and easy way to make the indulgent lunch affordable.

Lastly this meal served as a wonderful multicultural/anthropological tie in to parts of varied backgrounds which make up my family.  Lamb is a traditional Easter and springtime dish.  This week we've indulged in both chocolate bunnies and matzoh ball soup as we attempt to show our daughter all the wonderful traditions she's a part of.  Yes, we are cherry picking the best of our backgrounds.  Frankly who in our unique position wouldn't?  And if you notice in the photo the lamb was enjoyed with a side dish of noodle kugel.   That's right, cherry picking.

Roast Lamb Shoulder with Herbs and Honey
Adapted slightly from Valentine Warner
Serves 4-6

1.5kg/3lb shoulder of lamb, fat trimmed (slightly less is required if joint is boneless)
Contents of 4 bags of camomile tea
1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves only
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only
12 sage leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 lemon
1-2 tbsp runny honey
125ml/4fl oz water to start
olive oil
sea salt
fresh pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
With the tip of a sharp knife, make shallow scores through the outer layer of skin and fat of the lamb shoulder, but not into the meat, cross-hatching the entire surface.
Mix the dried camomile, the thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano together in a bowl. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Press a handful of the herb mixture into the skin of the lamb, massaging it in well all over the flesh of the lamb.
Sprinkle some of the herb mixture across the bottom of a casserole with a lid. Place the lamb into the casserole, then squeeze the lemon juice over the top, before sprinkling with any remaining herb mix.
Drizzle the honey over the top of the lamb and pour over a little olive oil.
Pour the water into the casserole, then put the lid on. Transfer to the oven and cook for 3 hours. Check the dish after one hour - the lamb should be taking on a little colour. If the water has evaporated, add a little more to maintain the dish's moisture.
After the 3 hours cooking the lamb meat should pull away easily from the bone.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 4-5 minutes.
To serve, using a knife and fork, pull large pieces of meat away from the bone and arrange on a large serving plate. I served mine with honey-glazed roasted carrots and beets, mustard and mint sauce on the side.  Drizzle the meat with any pan juices and allow guests to help themselves.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Revisitng Childhood- Cheddar Cheese Crackers

 I've always leaned towards savoury over sweet when it's come to snacking.  Judging by her love of pasta, cheese and anything topped with plain yoghurt I'm guessing my little apple Nell has not fallen too far from my snacking tree.  As we get closer and closer to March and the major 1 year milestone of her birth, I'm starting to plan.  What will we eat on her birthday?  What will we eat for our Grandparent's birthday celebration just a few days later?  And what could I make Nell that is both baby friendly, as well as good big people food as well?

Whether they're called Cheez-its or Baked Cheddars (depending on what country you're in) the idea of a cheesy, crunchy snack seems to tick all the boxes. 

What I never realised until a few years ago (gasp!) is that many of my favourite cheeses are named after the places they were developed in.  Cheddar, Stilton, Wensleydale- all actual places in England!  This is something probably painstakingly obvious to most native Brits.  As an American living in Britain on the brink of pledging my loyalty to the Queen and becoming a full fledged citizen,  I think it should have been on my 'Life in the UK' culture test.  Cheese is as much a part of British culture as tea and apologies.  Thank you dear citizens for not throwing me out of your country due to my cheese ignorance.  Please keep in mind I hail from the land of 'American cheese'- which came in single square servings wrapped in plastic.  What did I honestly know about cheese?

So, in keeping with my anthropologic ideals of this blog while attempting to create an appealing toddler/baby friendly snack with a nod to my childhood I set off to make my own Cheddar Cracker.  Poor Nell never even saw a crumb from the first round.  They were just too tasty not to keep sampling for quality control. 

These are definitely going on the birthday menu!  Hopefully she'll actually get some next time...

Sharp Cheddar Cheese Crackers
Adapted from Joy the Baker

makes about 70 crackers
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
8oz/225g mature cheddar cheese, finely grated
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup/135g all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cold water
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 tsp dried thyme

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together butter, cheese and pepper until it comes together in a soft ball.  If you're making these for adults you could throw in a pinch or two of salt as well.  With mixer on low-speed, slowly add flour.  Mixture will become dry and crumbly.  Add two tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time.  Beat until mixture just comes together into a ball. The dough should be moist but not wet, so don't add more than another tbsp of water or so if necessary.  Add garlic powder and thyme and knead into the dough.  Wrap cracker dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.  The dough can also be frozen for future use.

While dough chills, place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 F/190C.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough very thin, about an eighth of an inch thick.  Dot center of cracker with a fork or the end of a paint brush.  Place crackers on prepared baking sheets.  The pieces can be close together as they won’t expand much when baking.  Bake for 13 to 15 minutes until fragrant, golden brown, and crisp.  Allow to cool before serving.

The crackers can be stored in an airtight container for two or three days, but I doubt they will last that long.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Sour Cream or Apple Sauce?

It's yet another round of firsts in the Katz Kennedy household.  This time it revolves around a baby-friendly Chanukah, which we celebrated the first night of this past Saturday night.  Like all other Jewish holidays Chanukah begins at sundown which at this time of year is also thankfully baby-friendly.  Sundown these days takes place around 4pm.  Seriously.  It makes even just attempting to stay up until 9pm a challenge, thus making me officially old (as if I hadn't confirmed this status already).

A few years ago I attempted to make my husband potato latkes for the first time.  Problem was, as I had never made them before I used a pre-packaged version that only required a bit of oil and an egg.  BIG mistake.  He thought they were just an oily mess, and really, well they were.

This year I wised up, emailed an old friend and got her mama's recipe.  Adapting it slightly to include sweet potato and grated onion (verses chopped) these latkes came out crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and absolutely delicious!  So much so that Nell's portion was only slightly smaller than mine, and I think we all could have carried on eating several more had we not already demolished the stack!

It was then time to ask Nell the age old question; sour cream or apple sauce?  We thought her response was quite clear.

As we carry on living out Nell's first year, and our first year of creating our family traditions I find myself overwhelmed with emotion and excitement like that I've never really experienced before.  Helping to create Nell's memories and childhood traditions has made each small little detail more significant and magical than I could have ever imagined.  I officially declare 'baby's first Chanukah' to be a hit, and I'm sure I will feel the urge to make these latkes several more times before the 8 days is up!

Here's my adaptation to what already was a delicious recipe by Mama Siegel.  Whether you're Jewish or not, if you like hash browns I'm pretty sure these crispy little guys are for you!

Potato Latkes

2 cups grated raw white potato
1 medium size sweet potato, grated
1 large white onion, grated
2 eggs
1/4 tsp baking powder
11/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp matzo meal


Grate your potatoes and onion and mix together.  Incorporate all other ingredients and mix once more.  Drain any excess liquid, place in an airtight container and refrigerate until you're ready to make and serve your potato latkes (as they will need to be served immediately after cooking).

Heat a heavy bottom frying pan with enough vegetable or sunflower oil to coat the bottom.  Oil should be 1cm deep so latkes will get a good fry.

When the oil is hot, scoop walnut-size spoonfulls of your batter, pressing out any excess liquid as you form into a patty and place into the pan to fry.  Flip when you've achieved a golden brown with crispy edges- this will take a bit longer for the first few but will then get quicker the more batches you do.  Drain off extra oil by placing latkes on paper towels and into a warm oven- this will help your latkes stay crispy and warm while waiting for the rest to cook.

Serve with sour cream and apple sauce and decide for yourself.

Thursday, 22 November 2012



Seems to me we are at that time of year where the word 'tradition' comes highly into use, whether that means making a certain recipe, visiting someone special, or even just having a few token symbols in your house.   This is a time of year where people perform an action because they did the same thing the year before, and the year before that.  Something becomes a tradition when not only is the action significant but the decision to repeat it year after year becomes more important than whether or not the actions produce the exact same results.  It's a garbled concept to explain, but here is my concrete example that goes with it.

This was my 6th Thanksgiving here in the UK, my 3rd in which my husband and I went up to my in-laws so I could make them dinner- a tradition we decided to keep even this year when we had to have it several weeks earlier than the real deal, and we had to travel with baby.  After a few years we seemed to have narrowed down the menu to the following items; Turkey (brined, jointed, seasoned and roasted),  Homemade Cranberry, Orange & Port Sauce, Sweet Potato & Herb Gratin, and a Brussel Sprout, Candied Pecan & Bacon Salad.  (Haven't quite nailed dessert yet...).  I had to be super organised this year trying to get it all prepped as our timings had to be very specific to line up with Nell's eating and sleeping.  The dishes themselves turned out the best of all the years I had made them, but sadly I did not get to experience them first hand.  Cue stomach flu.  Not the results I had anticipated.   But it was the act of repetition, the decision to make those dishes as they now signified Thanksgiving and not the results that has started to build the foundations around our family holiday traditions.

We'll be creating a lot of new family traditions in the coming years as we start to define ourselves as a family unit.  Having Nell at the dinner table to experience her first Thanksgiving meal was more important to me than anything else- so we ate at 5pm this year instead of the usual 7 or 8 when she would have already been in bed.  She had turkey and cranberry (minus the port) and some root vegetables and took great pleasure in being surrounded by us all and our giant plates of food.  Her pleasure far surpassed any disappointment that I had that I didn't have the appetite to eat our now traditional meal.  I had the pleasure of preparing it in anticipation of that moment of joy.  That moment, that dinner that I hoped would help her to start to understand what makes up our family, and how hard I was willing to work to lay each brick of our foundation.

We had a lot of leftovers.  It's also part of Thanksgiving tradition.  I decided to treat my husband and I to Individual Turkey Pot Pies - only here it's really just called Pie.  I have to say, it was pretty stinking good.  Here is my attempt to turn our American holiday into a version of a British classic.  Fusion food or not it helped to whittle away at the leftovers in the fridge and filled us up on a cold night

Individual Turkey (Pot) Pie
serves up to 4


2 cups or 2 good handfuls of de-boned and chopped turkey meat
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 tin of black beans, rinsed
1 package pre-rolled all butter puff pastry
1L chicken stock
extra water if necessary

1 knob melted butter  to finish


In a large, heavy bottomed pot, add just enough oil to cover the base.  Once the oil is hot add your onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft.  Add your garlic and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.

Next add in your turkey, making sure to give the mixture a good stir and start to coat the turkey with the onion and garlic mixture.  Add your stock, beans and honestly any seasoning you like (I went for a weird mix of oregano, parsley and a few shakes of paprika because, well who knows).

Then turn the fire down to a low simmer, cover and cook away, stirring occasionally.  You really want the liquid to reduce at a slow pace so you have a delicious broth and wonderfully stewy meat.  Mine took 2 hours or so. 

Turn your oven onto 180C/ 350F.  Depending on the number of people you're serving use the according number of oven safe ramekins or small bowls, dividing the lovely turkey stew between them.  Cut your puff pastry accordingly so each piece drapes over the entire top and covers the dish.

Brush the top of the puff with a bit of melted butter and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Add a green veggie to finish and voila!  Perhaps this will be added to the list of family Thanksgiving traditions as well...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Salty & Sweet Emotion

Today is a weird mix of a day.  I've come down from the sugar and babies-in-costume rush of Halloween (though still nibbling away at the candy stash I've put into our freezer), and have started gearing up for a very early Thanksgiving dinner we're having with the in-laws this weekend.  Never have my two favourite holidays of the year come so close together!  I'm sorry to say although happy to be able to celebrate it with family, I will miss the anticipation that I normally have leading up to Thanksgiving day.

Today November 6th marks two pretty significant events for me as well.  Firstly, my daughter is 8 months today.  For some reason, this seems pretty significant.  8 months feels 'old' as she gets closer and closer to the first year mark and further away from the day she was born.  How did we get so far so fast?  And more importantly, am I destined to be a nostalgic puddle of emotion like this for the rest of my life with her?  Likely.  I wasn't really that far off to begin with.

Today is also the Presidential Election date in the US.  I hate the time difference even more between the UK and the US on election day.  Today means there will be far too much nervous eating, turning the tv on and then having to mute it.  Attempting to stay up far past my bedtime in attempt to reassure myself it won't be another 2000 election situation.

So with all of this post-Halloween-sugar-low-my-baby-is-old-please-oh-please-not-Mitt-ness going on I thought caramel corn was the perfect sort of solution.  Salty and sweet, crunchy and altogether fabulous food to eat by the (multiple) handful.  This recipe belongs to a brilliant chef and blogger named David Lebovitz, who is also probably hating the time difference today between the US and Paris where he currently resides.  David is a genius when it comes to combining salty and sweet.  He's won me over several times now, with recipes like this caramel corn that I will undoubtedly make again around Christmas/Chanukah as it is the perfect edible gift! 

Carmel Corn
Ever so slightly adapted from David Lebovitz

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cut light corn syrup
1/2 tsp maldon sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1 cup salted nuts- I used peanuts
Heat oil along with stirred in popcorn kernels over a heavy and covered saucepan, shaking the pan frequently.  Once kernels start popping keep shaking until popping subsides for longer than 5 seconds.  You can always try to peak in, you don't want to waste your kernels but you don't want to burn your popcorn either!  Remove from heat and uncover.

Line bottom of a large shallow baking pan with foil and lightly oil foil, or use a non-stick baking sheet.

Melt butter in a 6-quart heavy pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add brown sugar and corn syrup, and salt and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring, then boil, without stirring for 8-10 minutes or  until syrup registers 300 degrees F on thermometer.  I don't have a candy thermometer so I used the time as a guide and my eye, making sure the caramel didn't get too dark.   Remove pot from heat.

Using a wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula, stir vanilla and baking soda into the syrup, then quickly stir in peanuts and popcorn to coat. Immediately spread mixture over baking pan as thinly and evenly as possible.  Let cool completely, then break into bits.  Attempt not to eat it all in one sitting.

This corn will probably last 2-3 days in little gift bags, or a few days longer in a sealed container.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Coming Home

After nearly a two year stretch of living life away from Coffee in a Teacup, following a recent trip back to my hometown of Cleveland Ohio I've decided it's about time to come back home to this space.  Home, in all senses of the word looks quite a bit different than it did back in 2010!   

Since my last post in October 2010 there have been countless meals made in the kitchen and enjoyed while sitting at the dining room table (or sometimes in our laps on the sofa- shhhh!).  I've made my own puff pastry to sit on top of a chicken pie- traversing the traditions of British cooking with the American Midwest's love of a good 'pot pie'  I've made my very first slow-cooked brisket honouring my Jewish herritage, which we then shredded and served with a vinegary slaw inside soft corn tortillas and a smoky bbq.  Sorry Grandma!  I've cooked Thanksgiving dinner twice for my in-laws, and defended it's so-called similarity to a traditional Christmas dinner (it's totally different I swear!).  

That being said, none of these meals above, nor any of the others made in the past two years can hold a candle to the best, most organically fused representation of multiple backgrounds and cultures that we have ever made.

Let me introduce you to my daughter Nell, the best recipe I have produced to date.

And so my world has gone from this:

To this:

She is my most honest critic.  Most of my adventures in the kitchen these days are not photogenic.  They consist of steamed, unseasoned vegetables, lumpy mash, or nearly over-ripened juicy fruit- so I will probably never post photographs of them here.  And yet when she grins, sings, or eagerly looks for the next mouthful of food I have never taken more pride in what comes out of the kitchen.

I will indeed return to my include original point of view- looking at food from an anthropological, cross-cultural and of course personal perspective that I created this blog to highlight.  But as home no longer looks the same as it used to, I think that this space needs a fresh coat of (non-toxic, wipeable) paint too.