I’m sure there’s been a mistake. On Saturday, I was at Mumi’s Beachclub, enjoying some late winter Turkish sunshine; today I appear to be looking out of the window at what could only be described as a Cornish rain scene.
In between times, we spent what seemed like most of Sunday night languishing in the departure lounge at Dalaman Airport when our plane to Gatwick developed a technical fault as we were about to take off, and we were forced to return to the terminal. I won’t go into details – let’s just say it wasn’t the best-organised delay I have experienced. On the plus side, Thomas Cook managed to drag some poor engineer out of his warm bed in the early hours of Monday morning and he made our plane work again. Even better, it magically stayed in the air for the four hours back to London. Phew. I did even more braking (with my imaginary brake pedal) than usual, especially during the turbulent bits. In fact, despite it having been designated a 5:2 day, I was forced to eat my James Martin treacle sponge pudding just in case it turned out to be my last, AND I had to have a bolstering glass of red wine.
Thankfully, after a much-too-brief sleep and a quick breakfast, our onward flight to Newquay the following day went without a hitch and we were back in time to tumble gratefully through the doors of the Norway Inn for dinner on Monday evening. Today’s weather can only be described as wet and miserable, so this afternoon involves a foray to the cinema in Truro to see Bohemian Rhapsody. I hope we don’t have to sing along with Freddie, as I seem to be harbouring a sore throat, which I have a nasty feeling may be the first sign of a full-on cold (*pauses to have another squirt of First Defence*).
Our lovely building team are back here fixing a few final bits and pieces, so the oven and coffee pot are working overtime. I used my last little bit of ground ginger to magic up a batch of Geoff-the-carpenter’s favourite ginger fairings this morning. If you are fond of ginger biscuits, do try them – they can be in the oven within 10 minutes of deciding to make them and they only take eight minutes to cook. Even better, only a few minutes to cool, so you can be scoffing them in not much more time than it takes to get the coffee on.
Anyway, back to the matter in hand. Before we left Turkey, I was having a tidy-up of the various bags of flour and other dried goods that lurk in the back of my fridge, where the moths who are intent on invading my cupboards cannot penetrate, when I came across the remains of a bag of cornmeal (the yellow, polenta-type stuff). Having just (so I thought) bought some blueberries in the market in Fethiye, I decided to see whether my usual muffin recipe could be adapted to make cornbread muffins. The answer is a resounding ‘yes’, though it took two goes to get it just right, as I now know that cornmeal is more absorbent that ordinary flour, so an extra egg and a little more liquid are required.
The first batch were a bit of a disaster if I’m honest – not only were they a bit dry, the blueberries turned out to be ‘Not Blueberries’. They were actually wild bilberries – the name is the same in Turkish and they look very similar. Unfortunately they taste really weird and they don’t soften or sweeten when they are cooked, unlike their blueberry cousins. But, in the interests of culinary science, I battled on and produced Batch No 2, which were declared by all to be a resounding success.
If you don’t have blueberries, you could substitute blackberries, raspberries, chopped apricots or any other fresh or frozen fruit that you fancy. Alternatively, a couple of handfuls of sultanas, raisins or other dried fruit would work well too. I added a teaspoon of cinnamon, but ginger would also be good, or you could leave out the spice and add some almond extract, or just leave the mixture plain.
Blueberry cornbread muffins
Makes 12 (or 11 if you overfill them like I did)
You will need a 12-hole muffin pan, lined with paper muffin cases
200g self-raising flour
100g yellow cornmeal or polenta
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon, mixed spice or ginger, or a splash of almond extract (all optional)
150g light brown sugar (I used Demerara, but any kind is fine – white would do at a push)
100ml plain yoghurt
125ml vegetable oil
A little extra brown sugar for sprinkling
Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.
Sieve the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and spice (if using) into a large mixing bowl, then stir in the brown sugar.
Pour the milk into a measuring jug and add the yoghurt and vegetable oil, then the eggs. Whisk until smooth. Add the almond extract, if using.
Pour the milk/egg mixture into the bowl with the flour and stir briefly until just combined.
Stir in the fruit and then spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin cups – a spring-action ice cream scoop makes this an easy job if you have one. Sprinkle the muffins generously with brown sugar.
Bake for around 25 minutes, checking after 20 and turning the tray around if the muffins are browning more on one side than the other. The muffins should be well risen, golden brown and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.