Thursday 11 April 2013

Topsy Turvy Dinner: savoury chocolate muffins and cauliflower rice - and a cat fight

"Can we put sprinkles on them?" asked Sylvia.
"They are not that sort of muffin," I replied.

We had just finished making muffins.  Chocolate muffins.  Savoury chocolate muffins.  It was just that sort of dinner.  I served Sylvia some rice that was actually cauliflower.  It fooled my small girl.  Just so long as she could add soy sauce.  Not too much.  While we ate, the muffins cooked, smelling for all the world like a sweet chocolate dessert but filled with salt and cheese rather than sugar.
It was one of those lovely autumn days just before Easter.  The sun warmed the house in a pleasant way.  The back door was thrown open.  Sylvia played in the paddling pool outside.  I roasted vegetables for the cauliflower rice and found myself organised enough to bake the muffins I had admired on Choclette's blog.

I had all the ingredients.  Almost.  I found I didn't have yoghurt.  So I put a slurp of vinegar in some soy milk.  My goats cheese didn't seem as soft and creamy as Choclette's.  Hers sits in the muffins like cream cheese.  Mine sat atop each muffin like a jaunty cap.  If I had known I might have pushed them down into the batter or even crumbled the cheese over the top.

Sylvia was delighted to be able to help with the muffins.  Imagine how much fun she had stirring two mixtures at once (and my visions of the mixtures all over the floor)!  She really should have been eating her dinner.  However, we were both too excited about the muffins.  I am no stranger to chocolate in savoury recipes.  Yet this was a new idea and promised a totally different taste than I had ever had before.

The muffins confounded the senses.  The chocolate smell is one our noses are conditioned to believe is sweet.  Yet they tasted salty.  The texture was light like a cake.  But it was dinner.  Brown and yet colourful.  Sylvia seemed to like nibbling at the muffins but never finishing one.  I am not sure how much she liked them. 

E takes my unusual offerings in his stride.  At first he thought the goats cheese on top was white chocolate.  Then he surprised me with his notion that I had bought the muffins.  As though there are lots of places you can buy such flavoured muffins.  As though I don't bake most of the muffins we eat in our house. 

With our savoury muffins smelling all the world like dessert, it didn't seem at all odd that the rest of dinner looked like rice but was actually cauliflower.  I have cooked cauliflower rice years ago - with purple cauliflower, which I highly recommend if you get the chance - and tried it in 'raw' mock fried rice.  It is fun.  I was drawn in by Jacqueline's lovely photo on Tinned Tomatoes.

Sylvia loves rice so much that she agreed to try it, despite it including onions, so long as she could have soy sauce with it.  This affected the way I cooked it to be plainly flavoured so I could give her some before adding vegies.  There was no hiding what I was doing.  She watched me process the cauliflower into 'rice' in my blender.  So I was delighted that she gobbled it up.  I also really enjoyed it.  We also added some chopped tomatoes and cooked broccoli on the side.

Unfortunately there is a sad ending to that happy evening.  Our lovely pussy cat, Zinc, was attacked on the night we baked the muffins.  The change of season is hard on a white cat who must stay inside to avoid sunburn but must come in early as the nights draw in.  Zinc stayed outside a wee bit long on that balmy evening and was bitten by another cat.  It was terrible to have her bleeding and in pain.  We took her to the vet the next day for an antibiotic and she has recovered well.  All I had energy for that night was a simple pumpkin soup.  The leftover muffins went really well with it and made it into a decent meal.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Plum almond tart
Two years ago:  Strawberry muffins, new oven and an allergy
Three years ago: Apocalyptic Dreams, Hot Cross Buns and Banana Nute...
Four years ago: Pooh Bear Honey Slice
Five years ago: Pumpkin Apple and Sage Risotto

Savoury beetroot, carrot,  chocolate and goats cheese muffins
Adapted from Chocolate Log Blog
Makes 12

250g grated carrots and beetroot (combined weight)
100g each white flour, wholemeal flour, almond meal
2tbsp cocoa
dash of cayenne pepper
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
250ml soy milk including a capful of cider vinegar
100ml canola oil
100g goats cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 200 C and put paper cupcake liners into a 12 hole muffin tin.

Measure out milk with vinegar and set aside while you prepare the dry ingredients (I did this using a large jug).  Mix the carrots, beetroots, flours, cocoa, cayenne pepper, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Stir eggs, oil and two thirds of the goats cheese into the milk mixture.  Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently mix until combined.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin (I filled my cupcake papers to the brim).  Bake for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Cauliflower rice with vegies
Adapted from Tinned Tomatoes
serves 2-3

5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
3-4 medium beetroots, peeled and chopped
few glugs of olive oil, divided
generous pinch of lavender salt
leaves from 2-3 stalks of curly kale, thinly sliced
pinch of salt
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
1 small cauliflower, blitzed in food processor to resemble rice
400ml water
1 tsp stock powder
50g feta cheese, crumbled
small handful walnuts, roughly chopped

Toss carrots, beetroots, olive oil and salt in a large roasting tin and roast til soft (90 - 120 minutes for me, possibly less for more powerful ovens). Set aside.  Meanwhile toss kale in oil until coated on a heated frypan (medium heat).  Add a pinch of salt and cook for a few minutes.  Set aside.  Fry onion in oil in the same frypan for  about 5 to 10 minutes until cooked.  Add garlic and fry another minute.  Add cauliflower and stir a few minutes.  Add water and stock powder.  Gently simmer until cauliflower cooked and water absorbed (about 15 minutes minutes).  [At this point I set aside some for Sylvia].  Stir through roast vegetables, kale, feta and walnuts.

On the Stereo:
Big Jon Faine: spoof song by Dave O'Neill


  1. Cauliflower rice sounds so interesting, I'm yet to try it despite seeing so many interesting recipes for it. Love the photo of Sylvia stirring.

    Sorry to hear about Zinc! Cat fights can be very nasty. Lucky she didn't disappear after being injured, our cat did that years ago.

    1. Thanks Mel - Cauliflower rice is fun - not sure I always get it right but have had some more success recently that I will post soon.

      That sounds terrible that your cat disappeared - hope you found her and she got better - I was so relieved that zinc made it home because she had been bleeding but we heard the fight so it was close to home.

  2. I'm a big fan of jaunty hats! And cauli rice :) That recipe looks great!

    1. Thanks Veganopoulous - surely you can never have enough jaunty hats :-)

  3. I'm so glad Zinc is recovering well - we have had a few cats have those sorts of experiences and they're always traumatic, for us as much as them.

    I've been looking forward to seeing your savoury chocolate muffins and this recipe doesn't disappoint. I am going to have to try them, although I doubt that Mr B will be as accepting as E in taste testing the unusual combination. (Which is fine, all the more for me!) I did laugh at E asking if you'd bought them though; what a concept!

    1. Thanks Kari - this is the first time zinc has got wounded - though we hear fights occasionally - makes me worry she is getting old. I don't remember this sort of thing ever happening when we had cats when I was young but maybe I was just oblivious

      Glad to chocolate muffins don't disappoint. Hope you have fun trying them - some nutritional yeast flakes instead of the goats cheese could help give that savoury taste if you want to keep them vegan. And I will be sure to let you know if E sees these in any of the shops around here :-)

  4. They sound delicious and certinaly a fun twist on muffins and dinner! I've never had much luck with savoury muffins, all mine tend to come out a bit too bready and bland. This looks lovely though. Will have to try cocoa for added flavour. Have used it in a bean stew before with great success

    1. Thanks Katie - I quite like dense savoury muffins and was surprised these were so light - made them seem more like sweet muffins. Maybe having a little goats cheese rather than lots of grated cheddar helped make a difference to texture. I've become a fan of chocolate in savoury foods because it is about flavour and not just sugar.

  5. Hooray for kiddos eating cauliflower rice Johanna :-)

    1. Thanks Brydie - must make more cauliflower rice for sylvia - and if that is a way I can get her to eat onion that will be progress!

  6. Your poor cat - how horrid. Glad you liked the muffins. Thanks for making them and thanks for the mentions. The goat's cheese I was using was quite soft as I'd had it for a while. It starts off crumbly and then ends up like brie when left for a few weeks. Yours do look rather jaunty with the little white hats. Cauliflower rice sounds intriguing. I keep meaning to try out all these interesting ways of using cauliflower, but always end up making cauliflower cheese because I love it so much.

    1. Thanks Choclette - yes poor Zinckie. I don't use a lot of goats cheese but I bought a decent sized batch recently - must look out for it becoming more creamy - I have bought goats cheese in the past that is far creamier. I love cauliflower cheese but I think I am more likely to make the cauli rice because it seems like less fuss (am probably wrong about that but white sauce always seems a bit fussy for me)

  7. all looks delicious :o) very glad the sad end to your evening had a happy end in the telling on it. Hope Zinc is fully recovered again soon x

  8. A very enjoyable post! Except for the sad ending, of course. Sorry to hear about your cat :(

    I'm very intrigued by the sound of these muffins! Especially with the goats cheese looking like white chocolate. Definitely one to fool the senses. Sounds like fun!


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