It's vacation time at the play group, which means the little boy, when not up to any nefarious activities, is hanging around the kitchen, making puppy eyes at me, saying "Mummy, I want something to eat", which is not entirely a bad thing. He likes to eat most (if not all) the stuff I make, showers me with compliments for my cooking skills and helps rearrange the drawer that holds all the ladles and spoons to a fine mess.
I try to keep homemade stuff like muffins, healthy banana-oatmeal based cookies, cheese squares, cubed watermelon and cucumber and some of his favourite things around for the mummy-i- am-hungry times. Before you jump to the conclusion that I only give homemade-healthy stuff to my son, let me confess that I also give him store bought treats like Nilgiri's tiny drop cookies, lemonade, chocolates and chikki. Everything in moderation.
So, dear reader, tell me what you are doing with your kids in the vacation. What treats? What games? What activities? It would be lovely to hear from you.
Coming to these savoury muffins, they are perfect little bites of wholesome goodness. Flaxseed meal, sun dried tomatoes, cheese and black olives make these utterly healthy and full of fibre and protein.
My son has been crazy over olives, ever since he started eating solid foods. I think, that's one of the genetic traits passed on from his dad, who can go through a bottle of olives in a couple of days. With an olive-loving family like this, I looked up a few savoury muffin recipes in the Muffin Bible with olives in them. Adapted a couple of recipes to come up with this healthier option.
If you follow Saffron Trail on Facebook, you might have seen my notes on making sun-dried cherry tomatoes to put the 40 C Bangalore summer to good use. 4 days and you have the most beautiful salty, tangy, sweet, crispy bits of tomatoes that have captured the sun and boosted their flavour ten-fold. I used a handful of these home dried tomatoes here.
Recipe for Savoury muffins with Sun dried tomatoes, cheese and olives
Time taken - under 20 minutes
Makes 12 small muffins or 9 medium sized muffins
1/2 cup all purpose flour (maida)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
150 grams of cheddar cheese or 3 Amul cheese cubes, grated
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3rd cup of sun dried tomatoes
10 black olives, chopped
10-12 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped (or any other fresh herbs like basil or thyme)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/4 cup hot water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salted butter + pinch of crushed dried basil
Preheat the oven at 200C [Start oven, take temp dial to 200 and time dial to 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, the oven is preheated. You will have to then set the timer as per the baking time, which is around 10 minutes here]
Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners or use individual silicone cupcake moulds, that will fit in a smaller oven.
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl with a fork.
In a measuring jug or another bowl, whisk the flaxseed meal with hot water and olive oil till frothy. Add enough water to this to make a total of one cup (which is why doing this is a measuring jug is easier).
Add this to the dry ingredients and stir gently with a fork to bring ingredients together. Too much beating or vigourous mixing will result in hard muffins.
[You can use egg instead of the above flaxseed-hot water. Beat 1 egg, add oil and add enough water at room temperature to make one cup and proceed with the recipe]
Using a spoon, evenly distribute batter between 9 or 12 muffins cups.
Bake for 10-12 minutes at 200C until a skewer comes out clean.
Melt the butter in a small microwave safe bowl for 20 seconds. Add the basil to it. Brush this on the muffin tops once they are out of the oven. Not only does this add a buttery flavour but also helps them keep moist. This is a neat trick to add that buttery taste without using any butter in the baking.
You could even bake these in a mini muffin tray to yield 20-24 bite sized muffins for a tea party.
Feel free to change the favours - use thick pizza sauce, more fresh herbs and mozzarella cheese to make Pizza flavoured muffins. Grated carrot, pepper and cheddar is a lovely combination as well. Meat eaters can add crisped bacon bits to the batter. The options are quite endless.
Not just for kids, these muffins that are ready in a jiffy are the perfect accompaniment to a soup for a light meal, even for adults. You could make them spicier with chopped pickled jalapeños, or chopped greeen chillies and ground black pepper. Make a couple of batches and freeze / refrigerate them for breakfast on the go, for a weekday
Ready ground flaxseed is available in most stores in Bangalore. I buy mine from Nilgiri's or Town Essentials - and refrigerate it as it can go rancid quickly.