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Thursday, May 14, 2015

To Be or Not To Be... a Muffin

Muffins – when they are baking a sweet, tantalising aroma floats through the air. Traditional muffins are found with carrot, blueberry, apple and often cinnamon. Today anything really goes; different kinds of chocolate, an assortment of wild berries and more. Though what happens when one takes the muffin tin and bakes something less traditional? Can the resulting delicacy be called a muffin? Earlier, I baked lasagna in muffin tins and the result was not only wonderfully tasty and delicious but it also looked darn beautiful.

This time out I went a little further with a breakfast muffin that also works as an appetizer for friends and family as they drop by. So with one hand on a muffin tin and the other on a potato, the two in my mind simply had to get to know each other.

Everybody loves potatoes, whether as fries, mash, poutine or hash browns. I took several potatoes and shredded them, I like them loose and wide, not grated, and as we know there are many versions of hash browns, from cubes through to the patties as served by a fast food restaurant. Next I added an onion, green onion, mushrooms and a red chili pepper, all sliced finely and sauteed together; adding towards the end finely chopped fresh basil and thyme. The rest of the recipe you can have a look at below, but one thing I'll mention is that the cheese is of your choice; I used a strong, old and fragrant cheddar, but you can use crumbled blue cheese or even feta. The result is the hash brown muffin.

Since the muffin tin was still in my hands I decided to try something else with it. Cinco de Mayo was around the corner and I wanted to do something different with the taco. At first I tried crushed tortilla chips as a base, similar to gram crackers and a cheese cake. Failure. Then, a soft taco shell. Failure. Then the light turned on: use either a wonton wrapper or egg roll, both after all can be deep fried and hold their consistency. I tried both but like the egg roll wrapper a little more as it was somewhat bigger, but as I say both work well.

Once again I flavoured the ground beef with onion and mushroom, this time adding some chopped tomato and a habanero pepper. How much heat you wish to add is of your choice, as with the cheese. Again, I leave that up to each individual cook as the masters of their own galley.

Have fun, these morsels look real fine on a plate and the muffin tin allows them to have a size that is enough as a single and not so gluttonous as a pair. Heck, in the end you made them, have as many as you want.

Hash Muffin

4-6 large potatoes, peeled and shredded
4 medium white mushrooms, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 red or green chili pepper, deveigned and finely chopped
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook shredded potatoes, season to taste and set aside, drained of all oil.
Cook mushroom and onion till onion turns translucent.
Add chili pepper, cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Add onion mixture to potatoes and add fresh basil. Mix well.
Add cheddar cheese and mix.
Add eggs and mix well to coat all ingredients.
Fill individual muffin tins and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until browned and golden.

The Taco Muffin

1 lb ground beef
6 medium white mushrooms, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch green onion, chopped
1 red chili pepper, finely chopped
1 pack Old El Paso taco seasoning mix
2/3 cup water
Wonton wrappers or egg roll wrappers
1 can refried beans
tortilla chips
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 jar salsa
chopped cilantro for topping
sour cream for dipping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook ground beef till all pink is gone, breaking up large chunks.
Drain of all oil and set aside.
Cook mushrooms, onions, green onion and chili pepper till onions are no longer translucent.
Add meat to mushroom mixture, add the pack of taco seasoning and water,
cook for 5 to 8 minutes to thicken.
Place one wanton or egg roll wrapper at the bottom of the muffin cup.
Add a layer of one crushed tortilla chip, then one tablespoon of salsa.
Add refried beans then meat mixture. Top with cheddar cheese.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.

Let cool and set for 3 to 4 minutes then serve with a topping of sour cream and fresh cilantro.

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