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Slow-roasted piri piri spiced tomatoes with spinach in savoury muffins

20 Jun

Slow-roasted piri piri spiced tomatoes with spinach in savoury muffins

I wonder if you share my terrible habit and guilty pleasure. It is so irresistibly wrong yet so right that I convince myself that it is worth it, between remorseful moments.

Slow-roasted piri piri spiced tomatoes with spinach in savoury muffins


My justification? Well it starts a little something like this. This is of course not an excuse. I’m busy, so busy that it is hard to think sometimes and thinking is important, isn’t it? I need a quick fix, especially when I am out and can’t stop, after all, what would happen if I totally ran out of steam? That would be dangerous, wouldn’t it? Sometimes I feel sore inside and I need a pick-me-up…I think about it a lot. In the bath, on the train and even in the park with squealing children around…well, with all that commotion, I deserve it don’t I.  And then at the end of the day, when I slump into my spot on the sofa, my body throbs with fatigue, I need it. I need a treat, I deserve one don’t I?  And it is summer! We are making memories at the zoo, picnics in the park, lounging in the garden with friends or by frolicking by the sea and what happens.

Yes, out comes the sugar and we don’t even notice it. I think it’s addictive and in this season of parties and picnics I find it harder to say no…well, everyone is doing it aren’t they?

I come from a family of diabetics and I really should know better. My body needed less sugar when I had my boy and it showed, very much. So I really should know better.

Slow-roasted piri piri spiced tomatoes with spinach in savoury muffins


And here is what I am taking to the next picnic in the sun that we are currently enjoying. Slow-roasted piri piri spiced tomatoes with spinach in savoury muffins. I adore slow roasted cherry tomatoes, the flavour is tongue tingling, sensationally rousing. I am hooked on that feeling of popping something into my mouth and having an intense flavour burst that revives me. Often I think of sugar for that instant hit, but it really doesn’t have to be that one. These tomatoes with their sweet zing and spicy kick really do hit the spot.

Now for the green stuff; mellow spinach adds texture to these muffins whilst the salad fennel adds peppery notes and there is a bit of cheese going in there too, it releases a really alluring aroma as the cheese bakes. ‘ahhh’ factor right here.


300g self-raising flour

2 eggs

2 tsp. piri piri spices


A couple of glugs of olive oil for roasting the tomatoes

2 handfuls of red Leicester cheese

A handful of pine nuts

200g spinach, finely chopped

300ml milk

90g melted butter

30g salad fennel

225g good quality cherry tomatoes


  1. You will need to pre-prepare the tomatoes. Do this by slicing them in half and placing them cut sized up on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and the piri piri spice mix. Roast them in the oven at 140degrees for about an hour. Allow them to cool.
  2. To make the muffins combine the flour, salt (I used about 1 tsp.) and the cheese, salad fennel and spinach and mix thoroughly before adding the tomatoes and mix again.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees and grease the muffin trays.
  4. In a measuring jug combine the milk, butter and eggs and whisk it all until it is smooth.
  5. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix it all to a batter.
  6. Evenly distribute the batter and then bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Slow-roasted piri piri spiced tomatoes with spinach in savoury muffins


I can’t stop …

20 Sep

I can’t stop eating; join me for a spongy and spicy lentil, rice and vegetable muffin

I get really, very hungry these days.  I am tempted to reel off a load of synonyms for ‘hungry’ in order of growing desperation but that would be so…urgh.

I need you to understand how insatiable my appetite has been.  I am still holding my beautiful little darling responsible for this.  Apparently feeding him usurps loads of calories and he gets the goodness first and I get what is left over.  SO, it is only fitting that I must keep eating.  Tough stuff eh?  I’m eating right now, as I type with fingers flecked with goat’s cheese. It’s a beetroot bake with a bit of carrot in it.

Anyway, I am forever snacking, as you can imagine.  I mean, before I had my sugar-lump my friends advised me to keeps snacks such a cereal bar with me during feeds.  The health visitors of course suggest fruits.  But, it’s not enough!! I am at it all the time. I leave a trail of evidence in the form of stains on my clothes (what the heck, they get baby puke and milk on them anyway), crumbs in crevices (its true) and not-so-subtle aroma’s.   I know it’s not very glamorous but I wouldn’t be me if my finger nails weren’t stained with some sort of spice.  It’s usually turmeric. I slap a bit of nail paint over it. Sometimes.

The other day I was at a baby class.  The other mummies are so well behaved and introduce themselves as ‘Bo’s mum etc. They tumble in, smiling broadly and carry with them branded nappy bags and prams, sing the rhymes with raised eyebrows, feed the babies in break and sway during the goodbye song.  Now, I do get into it, but I also pull out whiffy treats wrapped in sandwich bags from my nappy bag.  Before you start conjuring up images of baby poo…stop! There is no poo in that bag of mine.

So they kind of sneak peeks at me, feeding myself Handvo muffins (recipe below) during the break and playing with the baby, of course.   Look; healthy mum, healthy baby is what I say.

Life evolves and sometimes it is pretty sad letting-go, but I remind myself that there is a lot more to look forward to.  Until my baby was a still wearing ‘up to three months’ clothing I was satisfying the hunger pangs with nibbles of lemon drizzle cake or banana cake or something that the me and girls from the NCT group had half-hoovered up together during our weekly get-together’s.  We have all evolved and part of it has been letting go of the cake.

I am sharing a recipe with you for Spongy and Spicy; Lentil, Rice and Vegetable Muffins, or Handvo/Onwo muffins.  Traditionally these savoury, moist and fluffy mouthfuls are made in a rectangular cake shape and are full of tangy vegetables.  The spongy element comes from fermented rice and lentils, a bit like south Indian idli, or Guajarati dhokla. They provide an awesome, comforting and filling snack and some goodness too. The muffin shape and crunchy, sesame coated topping seems to encourage children to give them a go too…result!

Spongy and Spicy; Lentil, Rice and Vegetable Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins


1 cup long grain rice

¼ cup channa daal (Bengal gram)

¼ cup oily Toor Daal

¼ cup Urud Daal (split black gram)

4-5 green chillies, finely chopped

1 cup plain, natural yogurt

1 ½ tsp. minced ginger

1½ tsp. minced garlic

1 cup grated courgette

½ cup grated carrot

5 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 ½ tsp. Eno fruit salts or soda bicarbonate

The spices; 1 tsp. cumin seeds, a couple of pinches of asafoetida, 1 tsp. mustard seeds, 6-7 curry leaves, 1 tsp. ajwain, salt to taste, a pinch of asafoetida, sesame seeds for sprinkling on top of muffins, ½ tsp. chilli powder, ½ tsp. turmeric powder, salt to taste, 1 tsp. sugar

Cook’s note: you will find the lentils in all good Asian Supermarkets and they are often found in standard supermarkets. They are all split lentils for this dish.


  1. Soak all of the rice and lentils for 4-6 hours, preferably overnight
  2. Drain the water from the lentils and the rice and grind to a coarse paste-like consistency. You should still see small grains, but it should be a thick paste.
  3. Mix in the yogurt and vegetables together, before adding the ginger, sugar, salt, garlic, ajwain and two of the chillies.
  4. Heat two of the tablespoons of oil, add one pinch of asafoetida, mustard seeds, turmeric and allow the seeds to pop before adding the chilli powder. Pour this tempering into the batter and mix through.
  5. Leave the batter to soak for another 4-6 hours. When it’s ready, add 1 tbsp. of water to loosen it. When it’s ready, it will smell tangy and spicy in all the right ways.
  6. To make the second tempering, heat the remaining oil, asafoetida, cumin seeds, curry leaves and allow the seeds to crackle. Pour the batter equally into each of the muffin trays and coat with a little of the tempering and a generous sprinkle of sesame seeds
  7. Cover the muffin trays with tin foil and bake in the oven at 180degrees for approximately 40 minutes. You will find the browned muffins crispy all around the outside and spongy in the centre. I’d suggest you use a skewer to check on the insides.
  8. Devour.
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