Butternut Squash Muffins with a Frosty Top

butternut squash muffins

Do you like carrot cake? I do. If you like it as well, you will definitely love these butternut squash muffins. They are sweet, moist and a perfect treat on a snowy day. Yes, it’s snowing here. Our street was all white this morning. I hope that it will last and that the snow won’t turn into brown mud in the afternoon. Unfortunately snow is not always nice in the city.

I have taken two days off work, which puts me into a total Christmas mood. This afternoon I will defintely start baking Christmas cookies.

I love how our weekly vegetable delivery has turned all winterly: brussels sprouts, cabbage and SQUASH! I have turned into a total squash lover lately. My favourites include these muffins, squash soup with coconut milk and warm squash and kale salad with nuts. Things on my list: butternut burritos and butternut pasta.

Look at the beautiful colour of this butternut!

butternut squash halves

butternut squash crushed

I have rediscovered my cookbook “jamie at home” by Jamie Oliver. All the recipes are ordered by seasons. Great book with beautiful photography.

Recipe from the book “jamie at home” by Jamie Oliver

What you need for 12 muffins:

  • 400g butternut squash, skin on and finely chopped (blender)
  • 350g brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 300g wholemeal flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 handful of chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 175 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • For the frosting:

  • orange zest from one orange
  • lemon zest from one lemon
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 100g sour cream
  • 200g tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and vanilla extract scraped out
  • For decoration and final twist: sea salt, lavender flowers or rose petals

  • Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 180°C
  • Prepare a muffin tin with paper cups
  • In a large bowl, whisk together all the muffin ingredients
  • Fill the muffin cups with the mixture
  • Put in the oven for about 25 minutes
  • Allow the muffins to cool down
  • Meanwhile whisk together all the ingredients for the icing
  • You might need to adjust the amount of lemon juice/icing sugar for a perfect icing texture
  • Scoop the icing on the muffins
  • For a final twist, sprinkle some sea salt and flower petals on top
  • Polenta Cakes with a Winter Vegetable Topping

    polenta cakes with winter vegetables

    It was all rainy and grey this weekend and so I was longing for some good comfort food.

    Last night we had one of my sisters over for some moules frites. I discovered a new place to buy fresh fish not too far away from our neighbourhood. I really do love seafood and having a good place like that around is something very precious. Especially when they offer fish from sustainable sources.

    It was the first time I was having moules frites at home and I realized that it is not difficult to make at all. Some vegetables, parsley, a bit of fresh cream, white wine and some good quality mussles. Some white wine for the glass and then it’s time to eat with your hands.

    I haven’t been posting a lot recently as it is dark when I come home from work and also I have been travelling back and forth between the city I work during the week and the city I live during the weekends. I will be back full time at home in the new year. I have been travelling by train quite a lot recently and I actually really like it. I am writing this from the train.

    turnip

    So today I made some golden brown polenta cakes topped with some seasonal vegetables. I am totally fascinated by the grotesque shape of some root vegetables. Ugly but beautiful at the same time.

    Polenta is something I don’t frequently use in my kitchen, but it’s definitely something nice for the winter. Its creamy texture makes it a perfect comfort food for a warming winter dish. I used the polenta to make some sort of polenta patties with thyme. Polenta is also a good option for anybody on a gluten-free diet.

    polenta cakes with winter vegetables


    What you need for two people:

    For the polenta cakes:

  • 250 g polenta
  • 400 ml milk
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • For the topping:

  • 400g turnip and pumpkin, chopped into small cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 handful of pumpkin seeds
  • 1 handful of grated pecorino cheese
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

  • Steps:

  • In a pot, bring water and milk to a boil
  • Stir in the polenta, thyme, salt and pepper until the polenta thickens
  • Scoop it out like a dough on a baking tray about 2-3 cm thick and set aside
  • Stir-fry vegetables, garlic and pumpkin seeds in a pan until semi-soft
  • Add fresh parsley and the cheese, stir for one minute and then turn off the heat
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside
  • Take a cup, a glass or something else round to cut out round polenta patties
  • Fry the polenta cakes in olive oil on both sides until they are golden brown
  • Top the polenta cakes with the vegetables and serve hot
  • Apple and Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins

    apple and cinnamon breakfast muffins with oat

    Being away from home during the week these days, I love to celebrate shared meals on the weekends. Especially breakfasts. We get the day started on Saturdays and Sundays with a big breakfast with fresh juices or smoothies (I need a juicer! My electric blender is being pushed to its limits!). I also love to bake in the mornings. I am an early bird.

    This weekend I made apple and cinnamon breakfast muffins with rolled oats. Wholesome for breakfast with no sugar involved but the slight sweetness of the apples. I will take some to Hamburg for next week for a second breakfast on the go.

    rolled oats yoghurt for apple cinnamon breakfast muffins

    I used Elstar apples for the muffins as they are quite sweet. I love the variety of apples (colours!) you see at the markets at the moment. But to be honest, I often don’t know a lot about the types of apples available. I am just impressed.

    three apple and cinnamon breakfast muffins with oat

    What you need for 12 muffins:

  • 500ml plain full fat yoghurt
  • 350g rolled oats
  • 2 large shredded apples
  • 100g oat flour
  • 100ml honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 20g fresh yeast

  • Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 180°C
  • When you shred the apples, don’t use the “apple juice” for the muffins
  • Whisk together all ingredients except for the rolled oats in a large bowl
  • Fold in the rolled oats
  • Scoop out the mixture into prepared muffin tins
  • Decorate with apple slices (not too thin or they get burned)
  • Sweet Buns with a Sticky Sea-Buckthorn Sauce

    sweet buns with sea-buckthorn sauce

    We spent a couple of days at the sea to unwind and to get some fresh air. I love spending time at the sea at this time of the year: the summer crowd is gone and the wind is blowing while the sun is still strong. We spent a lot of time outdoors and enjoyed some good food and wine. I love these short getaways to recharge and clear my head for some culinary projects.

    I wanted to work with sea-buckthorn for quite some time now and the island is full of it right now. It is quite difficult to pick the little orange berries as the plants have sharp thorns.

    Sea-buckthorn is much valued for its nutritional profile (e.g. high Vitmain C content) and has a long history in Chinese and Tibetan medicines. It has also become a little health trend, being a frequent ingredient in juices and cosmetic products these days.

    sea-buckthorn bush

    sea-buckthorn

    I used sea-buckthorn berries for a sweet sunday treat: quick sweet buns with a fruity sauce. The recipe for the sweet buns is foolproof and quickly ready.

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    Zucchini Carbonara – Revising the much-loved Pasta Classic

    Zucchini Carbonara

    Evertime I have Spaghetti Carbonara I feel like I need to take a nap afterwards. Well a Carbonara Sauce is not one of the lightest pasta sauces – I know. I have found a recipe without the usual cream and speck for you: Zucchini Carbonara – fresh and super tasty.

    It was also my julienne peeler premiere as I recently bought one. I am usually not a big fan of having too many cooking utensils, but cutting veggies into fine stripes is so much fun and it also looks fancy. So I had to have one.

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    Avocado Tartare Sandwich

    Avocado Tartar Sandwich

    Most of the times when you want a snack on the go for lunch and you don’t want anything fast food, you probably end up having a sandwich. The choice is usually (well at least in Germany): sausage, ham, eggs, cheese or tuna. I always take the one with cheese.

    But I need variety, so I have started making my own sandwiches when I am on the road. And they are anything else but boring.

    Avocado Tartare

    I have made an avocado tartare. Avocado tartare sounds like an invented word but it also sounds kinda cool. It is like a little avocado salad that you can combine with different things. In this case bread – making a sandwich.

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    The Culinary Delights of Sardinia

    sardinia alghero la botthegina

    We spent two wonderful weeks on Sardinia, relaxing, reading, swimming and of course enjoying the culinary delights this Mediterranean beauty has to offer. We decided to concentrate on the Northern part of the island, discovering the provinces Olbia-Tempio, Sassari and Oristano.

    Did you know that most of Italy’s Pecorino cheese is coming from Sardinia? Pecorino is a hard cheese made from sheep milk. It comes in various styles depending on the degree of maturity. We also had pecorino fresco, which is a soft, creamy pecorino, tasting absolutely divine – especially in combination with the local honey.

    Of course we brought a big one home (picture below).

    sardinia pecorino

    The first week we stayed a couple of nights at a great “agriturismo” called Li Pireddi on the countryside in the Gallura region. I wanted to stay at a calm place to relax and to taste the authentic local cuisine. The property is owned by Gabriele and his family, who also grow their own wine. We were lucky to enjoy fabulous food each night accompanied by their wine. I really recommend this place.

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    Grilled Peach and Basil Salad

    grilled peach and basil salad close up

    Peaches are out there now and I am so loving the sweet taste these summer days. Peaches are definitely one of my favourite fruits and I cannot get enough when they are in season. I prefer peaches pure or in a fruit salad or dessert.

    Combining the sweetness of peaches with a savoury dish was something that reminded me of 70s cookbooks, when using fruits in a meat dish was considered to be “exotic”. We all know Toast Hawaii. But then I was taught better.

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    No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake

    Piece of Blueberry Cheesecake

    It seems I am getting high on cake these days. I want to share with you a simple and fresh summer cake. I have been working in the North of Germany in the past two weeks and I have seen people selling blueberries all over the place.

    It is blueberry season!

    Blueberries are true vitamin bombs and are rich in antioxidants. They always top the list of the most healthy fruits. I had blueberries with my granola in the mornings all this week and I still cannot get enough.

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