Almond Cherry Muffins

In the UK, the cherry season is renowned to be short, from June till August, so grab a pound or two when you can and make these indulgent, moist, yogurt muffins filled with sweet cherries and topped with slivers of almonds.

Last year when we took hold of our allotment, there was very little but mature- trees, vines and grass, lots of overgrown grass. Among the trees, there was a pitiful cherry tree, producing maggots riddled fruits. After a lot of TLC, this year we harvested 2 kilos. Not leaving anything thing to chance or the birds, the harvest was done in one single go.

Then came the nice conundrum, what do we do with so many cherries:
1: vodka
2: jam
3: compote
4: pick and eat from the fruit-bowl
Eventually a little pile was left. It's when I remembered a Lemon Yogurt Muffin recipe which I recreated when I reviewed Lighten Up By Jill Dupleix Almond. Wouldn't Cherry Muffins be a good idea, then? And so it was 6 large muffins, Breakfast sorted.
                                          Almond Cherry Muffins
  • 250 grams plain flour
  •  2 teaspoons baking powder
  •  150 grams granulated sugar
  •  A pinch of salt
  •  1 large egg , slightly beaten
  •  250gr of yogurt
  •  5 Tbs/80ml vegetable oil
  •  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  •  300 grams/11 ounces cherries pitted and halved
  • a couple of handful of toasted almond slivered plus extra non-toasted to sprinkle on top
  • Ingredients
  1. Preheat oven to 425F/220C. oil 6 muffin cups or line with liner papers.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl first, leave the almond and the cherries out for now
  3. Do the same with the yogurt, egg, oil, almond and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry one. The batter is ready and it is smooth, no lumps please, add the cherries and the non-toasted almond.
  4. Divide the mixture in the muffin cups, making sure that you fill them half way as thei are going to rise. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds
  5. Bake in preheated oven (220C for 4 minutes) then reduce to 190C for 12-17 minutes. As usual ready when the knife inserted come out clean.
  6. These muffins can be frozen for up to 2 months, so if you prefer smaller portions, this recipe will make 12 standard-size muffins.

Trebah Garden Cornwall - English Garden Chic -

The verdant beauty of Cornish gardens is famous the world over and far more accomplished writers than I have described it so much better than I'll ever do.... But I would like to give it a go. It would be nice to think that next time you spend some time in Cornwall you'll stop at Trebah Garden because this photo story has inspired you.

Founded in 1838 by Mr Fox, I am not making this up, Trebah contains many exotic specimens from around the globe. Trebah Garden has all the qualities of an English Garden.

Trebah is  Poetic,  as with every self-respecting English garden it has a lawn from which one can admire this sub-tropical paradise while having a picnic or a snooze...Well maybe not a snooze, or you would not be able to admire the garden's stunning coastal backdrop which is set within one of Cornwall's Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

Cornwall, Trebah, Gardens

It pretends to be messy, it's as if plants landed there, welly nelly all by themselves. Areas are mapped skillfully, so that one area leads to the other seamlessly.

Cornwall, Trebah, English Garden view

There is a profusion of plants, some are rather stunning such as the Gunnera Manicata, also known as Giant Rhubarb, fast-growing with prickly stems. The plants reach about 3 m tall and the leaves up to 2.5 m across.

Cornwall, Trebah, English Garden viewCornwall, Trebah, English Garden view

pastel colours are enhanced by vibrant greens

Cornwall, Trebah, English Garden view

What is an English garden without a bit of water? Trebah has much more than a pond, though it has that too, Trebah is by the sea...and has its very own beach. It's from here that 7,500 men from the 29th US Infantry Division embarked on the 1st June 1944.

Cornwall, Trebah beach, WWII embarkment, Gardens

There are paths throughout the garden, leading to little marvels such as the Bamboozle, a walk through the home of 39 varieties of Bamboos. One of which can grow up to 30cm in height a day, another is the Mallard pond, Mr Monet eat your heart out.

Cornwall, Trebah, English Garden view

There is an amphitheatre which can be admired from Healey's Hill (Hey, it wouldn't be Cornwall without a hill). In the 60s, Sir Donald Healey, the famous car designer, lived in Trebah. His workshop was on the beach, it's now the ice cream parlour.

Trebah Garden is a multiple awards garden which is off the A39 about 15 minutes drive from Falmouth. Opened all year round, entry cost £10 for adults, £4 for children.

Disclaimer: This post is part of a series which I am currently writing for various media to promote Cornish Summer Time, #CST. Words are my own.

How to Make Homemade Feta Cheese

Let's face it, there is Feta and there is Feta. The solid white blocks store-bought bears little resemblance with the soft, crumbly and tasty cheese, one gets in Greece or in specialist shops. 

Homemade Feta Cheese
With the lockdown one thing is certain, our days of enjoying foreign food in situs have been put on hold. So at Pebble Soup HQ, we have decided to 're-create'. A couple of weeks back, I was pairing Portuguese wine. This week, I expanded my cheese-making repertoire.
Santorini stock picture

What is Feta and How Should it Look Like?
Feta is a cheese matured in brine (that's the technical term for very salty water). It's made from a mixture of sheep and goat milk. Unless you are in a 'sheep region', ewe milk is near impossible to get. Therefore either go all goat-milk or half-half goat and unhomogenised cow's milk, the choice is yours. Ideally, you'll want to achieve that grainy appearance, you see in Greek salads or in pastries such as Spanakopita. 
Homemade Feta

Is Feta Easy to Make?
Not exactly, only because making feta at home takes a long time. On the other hand, you don't have to be present, all of the time, so the 'doing bit' is easy,  the process less so. of course, there are easier options to choose from, such as Ricotta or Labne, but in my opinion, if you nail Feta, you are ready to make any other cheeses (within reason).

Feta in olive oil

What will you need?
Large slotted spoon
Large deep pan with lid
Plastic boards
Glass bowl
Long sharp knife 

Only 5 Ingredients
1 litre of unhomogenised cow's milk
1 litre of goat's milk
1 tablespoon of plain full-fat bio live yoghurt
1/4 rennet tablet
1 sterile cheesecloth or muslin 
2 teaspoons of salt

But around 15 steps so please read through before starting
  1. Boil 50 ml of water and dissolve 1/4 rennet tablet. Make sure it is fully dissolved so it will involve a bit of stirring.
  2. Mix the yoghurt with 50ml of cow's milk, leave this to rest on the kitchen top.
  3. In the saucepan, combine both milk and bring the temperature to 32C on medium heat.
  4. When the temperature has reached 32C, cover with the lead and leave to rest for an hour.
  5. After an hour, if the temperature has dropped, gently bring it back to 32C, then stir the rennet solution in, very slowly. Use up and down motion rather than round and round. Do so for only a couple of second
  6. Put the lid on and leave it to rest for 12 hours.
  7. Hold the knife at an angle and cut cubes of about 1.5 cms. Leave the curds to rest for 14 minutes
  8. Now, you are going to collect the cubes in the muslin. First, line the colander with the muslin, if you wish to keep the whey (great fertiliser for veggies) set the colander on the top of a large bowl. Very gently pour the curds and the lot in the colander
  9. Gather up the corners of the muslin to create a bag and let the whey drain over a sink or over a bowl for 36 hours
  10. Halfway through flip the curds.
  11. That's it, you are almost done. Open the bag and gently cut the large curds. 
  12. Sprinkle the salt making sure that it is distributed through.
  13. Now create a square parcel, place it on the board, place the other board over and place a heavy object on the top (a saucepan filled with water will do)
  14. Let this press in a cool place for 12 hours, open the muslin and cut the cheese into squares.
  15. You can eat the feta now or store it in the fridge in an airtight container for a couple of days.
  16. If you still have some after that time you can store your feta cubes in a jar submerged with olive oil and herbs.



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