Cooking for a crowd is something for which I have the very greatest affection; the menu planning, ingredient shopping, kitchen prep and especially, those last few moments before the meal begins and everyone is seated together at the table. I even love the clean up. Washing and putting away all the plates and flatware and large platters; I ones I only ever use when serving a crowd.
Unsurprisingly, the Wednesday before my recent Boston workshop which I hosted with guest teacher Betty Liu, in the midst of all the bustling and prepping, I felt that familiar infectious excited happiness I always feel before an event. I could feel it bubbling up as I was driving back to the farm, windows down and heady hay scented summer air rushing in and a load of beautiful Five Fork Farms blooms in tow. I began to feel intoxicated with happiness . In less than 24 hours, accompanied by two of the loveliest food bloggers I know, Betty & Valentina, I would be standing in my kitchen, cooking for a crowd. We were preparing a lunch which relied on fresh ingredients, prepared simply, and using as much gorgeous produce from my gardens at CottageFarm as possible. Our gardens at the farm have been producing at such a rapid rate it was wonderful to have an excuse to cook up a big meal to share! To showcase without overworking or overcomplicating things is always my desired method of preparation. I simply want the food to be at its best and freshest and for this to shine through. continue reading
The moon these past few nights has truly been something; bright gentle light which seems to ignite the air itself
I have repeatedly, happily, been stirred from sleep by its glow. I awake bathed in its peaceful still light as it pushes its way over the wall of the back garden and into the room.
It is truly something to awake to moonlight, none of the sleepiness of dawn, it feels filled with both strenght and fragility. I am conscious that these very magical few moments are a gift and a fleeting one at that. But oh the energy. When I awake, I feel as if I’m being propelled by Selene herself, having hitched a ride on the back of her chariot.
Magic seems possible in these few strange hours between sleep and waking.
Throwing on robe and slippers I make my way through the deep blue darkness to the kitchen. I do not stumble as I know my kitchen by the feel of things, each in their place. I go, moving through this in-between darkness, as if existing in two worlds ~
And so I start the day with making –
What I have been making also feels a bit of a departure; breakfast foods. Not something I am normally that interested in. Typically I have a bowl of yogurt with a few berries and maybe a sprinkle of some sort of muesli I’ve made up during the week.
Nothing fancy, nothing elaborate but filling and it feels like a good start to the day.
But this moon – its making everything feel different. Even the weather in London has been amazing; beautiful and reliable. As if the moon’s coming so near earth has brought a new rhythm and something has shifted. This change feels like it should be acknowledged, celebrated in some small way.
And for whatever reason, that small celebration has taken the form of muffins, for breakfast! what next..
Admittedly these muffins are also partially inspired by the fact that I somehow ended up with two huge bags of oat bran in my pantry. Not an ingredient I am in the regular habit of using either.
These muffins aren’t big extravagant things mind you. They are sweetened only with the fruit and nuts baked inside and are quite textural as they are made with oat bran only. You could use seeds or other nuts instead of the hazelnuts and pear, raisins or dates wouldn’t seem amiss in them either. But the point is that they feel nourishing and subtly luxuriant for a week day breakfast.
I have been enjoying them with big mugs of milky deeply steeped early grey tea (I know some of you likely just flinched when I said I put milk in my earl grey, not a regular habit but the flavor combination is really doing it for me at the moment) straight from the oven so they are still warm. The come together quickly and while they bake, I have been sitting and enjoying the moon as it arches across the sky before giving way some pretty incredible sunrises.
I’m enjoying this time to be a dreamer.
Apple Oat Bran Muffins
2.5 cups of oat bran
2 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1.5 tsp ground nutmeg
60g (4 Tbsp) butter
1tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cups chopped hazelnuts
3 smallish medium apples peeled and diced (should equal about 2 cups of 1/4′ pieces)
preheat oven to 200c/400f
mix together the oat bran, baking powder, spices and salt. Then work butter through with your fingertips until it is the consistency of course sand.
lightly beat the egg add to it the buttermilk and vanilla and combine.
lightly flour apple pieces so they distribute more evenly, only if desired.
quickly mix through the apples and nuts and immediately spoon the mixture into a generously greased and floured 12x muffin tin. Bake 25/30 minutes or until they are browned on top and bottom and a knife inserted comes out clean
let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack
*my oven is a very poor one and it takes about 35 minutes for them to cook through so you may need to adjust your cooking time for your oven.