Is it too late to wish you a Happy New Year? I guess that as its the end of January it probably is. This month’s feasts haven’t been recorded either in words or pictures and I’m feeling a little guilty.
Writing doesn’t come easily to me, certainly not as easily as cooking does. And if I’m being honest, January hasn’t been the most inspiring month food wise. After the excesses of Christmas and New Year we’ve been keeping things simple: turkey and ham pies, home made pizzas, risottos, lasagnes, fricassees.
Not that all our food has been functional or without anecdote. I am no longer a Christmas virgin – Jonathan’s family (the north east branch) were treated to a two bird one pig roast as I boned and stuffed our turkey with a chicken (that had been boned and stuffed with a ham). A couple of days later the wider family gathered to celebrate a ruby wedding anniversary where we feasted on lasagne made to a traditional Bologna family recipe – unfortunately Alberto wouldn’t give up any of his secrets!
2012 began with plucking and gutting a brace of pheasants – I’m glad I wasn’t hungover after welcoming in the new year with plenty of champagne, dancing and roulette – 1920s style. The pheasants had only been hanging for a couple of weeks so they weren’t overly ripe, which did make it more pleasant. The most difficult part was pulling the feathers from the fatty hen without breaking her skin – let’s just say I’ll not be taking a job in a liposuction clinic. I stuffed a ricotta and herb mix under the skin and covered the breasts with bacon before roasting them. No teeth were broken on the shot!
And as if there hadn’t been enough poultry, I had planned to post a recipe for Crispy Peking Duck which we’ve been enjoying, but we haven’t managed to crisp the skin to our satisfaction. Soon, I promise!
One of our January weekends was spent in Northampton with my best friend N and her family. We exchanged Christmas gifts and I was delighted to receive The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days. What to bake first? How to choose?
Hooray for Dom over at Belleau Kitchen and this month’s Random Recipes, where he challenges his fellow food bloggers to choose a recipe at random from a new Christmas cookbook.
My random recipe was Strawberry Daiquiri Mini Cupcakes. Now I’m not a huge cupcake fan, all that frosting is too sweet and sickly for me, but these mini cupcakes sounded lovely. Strawberries aren’t a January fruit so I substituted pomegranate seeds – I love those little red jewels!
These mouthfuls of sweetness are a perfect antidote to January’s greyness. The sponge is light and the lime zest adds a touch of sharpness to the frosting. Mini cupcakes are definitely the way forward!
- 100ml white rum
- 170g caster sugar, divided
- 150g pomegranate seeds
- 40g unsalted butter, softened
- 120g plain flour
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 120ml whole milk
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- 80g unsalted butter, softened
- 250g icing sugar
- ½ tsp finely grated lime zest
- 4 tsp whole milk
- Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C and fill a mini muffin tin with mini muffin cases.
- Add the rum and 30g of the sugar to a small saucepan and bring to the boil, allowing it to reduce by about half, then set aside to cool slightly. Soak the pomegranate seeds in the sugar and rum reduction for 30-40 minutes.
- Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, slowly mix together the butter, flour, remaining sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix until the ingredients have come together and resemble fine breadcrumbs.
- Whisk the egg, milk and vanilla essence together. With the mixer still running on a low speed, gradually pour the liquid mixture into the flour and butter and mix thoroughly.
- Drain the pomegranate seeds from the rum reduction - don't throw away the liquid! (Set aside 4 teaspoons for the frosting). Put four or five seeds in each mini muffin case. Spoon the cake mixture on top - I found a scant half tablespoon was just about perfect.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cupcakes are a light golden colour and bounce back when lightly pressed. While they are still warm, spoon a tiny amount of the rum reduction over each cake then leave to cool (I used an oral syringe for neatness).
- Using the mixer on a low speed, beat together the butter, icing sugar and lime zest until combined, then mix together the milk and reserved 4 teaspoons of rum reduction, and pour into the butter and icing sugar mixture. When all the liquid has been incorporated, increase the speed to high and beat until soft and fluffy.
- Smooth the frosting onto the cupcakes and top with the remaining pomegranate seeds.