In My Mini Kitchen

No, the kitchen has not shrunk. Mini refers to a few new baking acquisitions: pans for mini muffins and mini madeleines. The mini loaf pans are still on the wish list, but might feature in my next IMK post. I’ve been having a lot of fun coming up with all sorts of miniature hors d’oeuvres and sweets. Why is it that mini food seems so retro? I’m thinking of those miniature spotted dick and tiny mini treacle tarts, not to mention the mini-gherkins – 70s party food staples – from the Bridget Jones films.

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First up were my (very) retro mini sweet corn and roasted red pepper quiches in toasted bread cups. I guess this is my nod to all those recipes that the blogging cookbook club, The Cookbook Guru is making from Margaret Fulton’s classic 1969 Australian cookbook. Although not a Fulton recipe, these mini quiches could have easily come from that era of cooking. The bread cups were made from store-bought sliced white bread. The bread needs to be fresh and able to be flattened with a rolling pin. Puts me in mind of bread pellets we used to make as children – the center of the soft bread scrunched up into tight little balls. Well, this is one of the few uses I have found for this rather pappy white bread (other than bread pellets, that is).

mini_quiche

And, mini bread fritters, based on Ottolenghi’s A’ja recipe in his book, Jerulsalem, made with the leftover bread pieces and crusts from shaping the bread cups. Not so retro, but more traditional and the size scaled down. First batch was a bit dense, perhaps in part because of the type of bread used. But the taste was good, especially when served with garlicy tahini sauce. Next time I may add shredded spinach or chard, or grated courgette and perhaps separate the eggs and whip the egg whites first before folding in. Might lighten the stodge of what is essentially spicy-herby fried bread.

mini_aja

The mini muffin tins came with a wooden tamping tool, perfect for shaping little cups into the tiny holes. This proved essential for those bread cups shown above as well as squares of layered phyllo to make mini phyllo baskets. They can be baked until golden and filled with a variety of cold fillings.

muffintin_tamping_tool

Or, the mini phyllo baskets can be part baked then filled with a mixture that requires further cooking, like these little open-shaped spanokopita – dill-spiked spinach pies/tarts.

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mini_spanokopita_2

A wee bit more fiddly was phyllo’s shredded relation – mini kataifi baskets. The shredded phyllo is mixed with cooled melted butter (or margarine) and tamped into shape. Baked until golden, they are perfect little cups for both sweet and savoury fillings. Or, like the phyllo baskets, they can be part baked to seal the pastry and then a filling added before finishing the baking process. The ones below are baked with a ricotta, courgette and leek filling.

mini_kataifi_cups_1
mini_kataifi_cups_2

Those shreds reminded me of a recipe I saw somewhere in one of my cookbooks for cooked vermecelli type noodles to form mini baskets, but I didn’t have the nerve to try. I had visions of the limp noodles flopping all over the place and defying being formed into neat cups. So, I switched gears to mini frico cups. Frico are Northern Italian cheese crisps – simply shredded and melted hard cheese (like Parmesan). The crisps, not long out of the oven, can be moulded into cup shapes while warm and pliable, although I think these could have used a little more time in the oven to get a bit more crisp and golden. Once cool and firm, they can be filled with non-liquid things like chopped olives, sautรฉed mushrooms, roasted red peppers, leftover (non-soupy) risotto….the list goes on.

mini_frico_cups

While casting my eye around the edible things in the garden, I wondered if lining the mini muffin holes with grapevine leaves would work to bake little frittatas or rissoto fritters. But…that experiment will need to wait until the vine matures and begins to produce more leaves. It seems the list of mini things you can make are as limited as your imagination.

young_grapeleaf

Last, but not least, using the mini muffin pans for what they were originally intended – mini banana muffins. That was just because I had rather mushy bananas kicking around. Great breakfast bites.

mini_banana_muffins_feature

Next came the madeleine saga – making both sweet and savoury mini madeleines from my new book by Barbara Feldman Morse, Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake and to Share. The book is excellent for flavour ideas, but the resulting madeleines were not quite perfect. First mistake was entirely my own fault. I made the classic error of overfilling the moulds for these savoury cheesy-herby mini madeleines. The really puffed up, making them more little muffins than true madeleines. Nor, for some reason, did the little shell-like ridges show on the finished product. The family agreed they looked more like cheesy-herby scarabs than shells. Very tasty cheesy-herby scarabs.

mini_cheese-herb_madeleines

The second type of savoury mini madeleine I attempted were incredibly delicious – a smoked salmon, chive and cream cheese concoction. However…they still were not perfect and a bit pale. Although, this time I think I got the amount of batter put into each mould right and you can just discern a few shallow ridges.

mini_salmon_madeleine

Switching to sweet madeleines, I tried a dense chocolate version dipped in white chocolate. The texture was more like brownies – so yum, but not really a true spongy madeleine. So, it was back to the drawing board for me with a bit more research on the making of the perfect madeleine.

mini_choc_madeleines

Nearly there, after more trial-and-error and a lot of research, with another cheesy-herby madeleine made with yoghurt instead of butter. Result: mini-shell-shaped popovers/Yorkshire puddings. Very, very tasty, but not really a madeleine sponge!

cheesy_madeleine_2

Another attempt was warranted and I have to finally admit to success. Stay tuned for the next post for madeleine perfection.

A monthly IMK (In My Kitchen) post. Check out the fabulous Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who lists all of us IMK bloggers, writing about what’s been happening in our kitchens each month. A chronological listing of my In My Kitchen blog posts can be found on a separate page, just click the link or look under the heading of Diaries in the Menu bar above.
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68 comments

  1. Debi, I love all the versions of pies/tarts you’ve made with your muffin tins, in particular your shredded Filo ones… they look very special and fancy. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thanks Leah. Those shredded ones were the devil to make. I think I need to find a way of binding them a bit more. Most recipes called for an equal weight of butter to the kataifi which I thought was excessive, so I reduced the amount. Perhaps they were right, but it still seems a lot. Might try a beaten egg white instead – what do you think?

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  2. Your family are so rude- scarabs indeed. I have to admit Debi, this post was quite amusing. All these mini things. Are you having a party?
    Those bread cases are rather retro and very Margaret Fultanesque. I agree- white packet bread ( we call it wettex here) has its uses and this is one of them. ( the other is egg sandwiches- I like crap bread for egg an may sandwiches).

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    • Cheeky is probably a better word for my guys. ๐Ÿ˜‰ They tend to tease me as I am the only female in the immediate family. I do wish sometimes that I had had a daughter…(wistful sigh). I like that word wettex! Those little scarabs were perfect with soup – as were all the other versions of cheesy madeleines!

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    • P.S. Every Friday is meze and pizza at our house for family and friends, so nibbles are always required. Also, it is end of University term and we tend to entertain Masters and PhD students to celebrate. Plus, plus, plus…am gathering and testing finger food recipes for next academic year when we will be entertaining on a larger scale and in on a regular basis.

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  3. Yep, Margaret Fulton would be proud of your mini sweet corn quiches!! A post I saw elsewhere had me thinking about savoury muffins/scones to serve with a big bowl of steaming soup, now you have me thinking about mini tarts. The beauty of madeleines with their ethereal buttery lightness. I think that would be tricky once you start adding variations to the classic recipe. Scarabs seems a bit harsh!

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    • You have to remember that scarabs to an archaeologist are fascinating artefacts, not those horrid bugs! I forgave them the comparison. You are absolutely spot on – savoury madeleines are quite different from their sweet counterparts. But, I am attempting to get the spongy texture right. Difficult with cheese which tends to make things denser. As with all recipes, it is a matter of balance. So…lots of trial and error!

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  4. Golly, what a marathon! Some of these look amazing, exactly the sort of nibble food I love. Interesting you got a tamper with the mini muffin tin, might have to cut the broom handle down. Stick some eyes and wings on the scarabs next time! That shredded phyllo is on the list, thanks!

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    • The tamper worked really well with the bread cups and the phyllo particularly. I expect a cut down broom handle would work well, too. The kataifi shreds were a bit fiddly, but I may have got the proportion of butter to shreds a bit wrong. Next time, I hope to find a way of binding them a bit more effectively.

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  5. I always end up having bought to many bananas at the store and have to throw them out ๐Ÿ™‚ These little banana muffins are the perfect idea!

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  6. I admire your commitment to baking the perfect madeleine and can’t wait to see the final recipe! The little kataifi bites look delicious – crispy kataifi is so wonderful. Last weekend I had scallops wrapped in crispy kataifi served with a silky cauliflower puree – divine!

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    • Ooh…veggie purรฉe wrapped in kataifi sounds like a perfect savoury bite! I enjoyed playing with the madeleine mixture. I stuck to a savoury version, so the end result is a little different from the sweet buttery ones that melt in your mouth. Will move on to the sweet ones next now that (I think) I have the technique down.

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  7. A delightful IMK post KW. I adore all of your mini treats and am thinking I need some more mini pans myself..oh yes I do….I have been eyeing off Madeleine tins as well and look forward to your experimentation. You will be the hostess with the mostest delicious mini horses doovers. ๐Ÿ˜

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    • Always so cheerful – you make my day! Go ahead and get a few mini pans. They’re fun! I also have a standard size madeleine pan I hope to christen soon. The products are delicious, so experimenting is hardly a hardship…just the calories.

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  8. Oh my, you have got the patience of a saint!!! I love the little shredded pastry bites, and the spanakopita filling. I’d love to make little bites like these but they’d be wasted on my two, one mouthful and they’d be gone, with no appreciation of the work involved!!!

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  9. Iโ€™ve looked at the recipe for the Aโ€™ja but had never given it a go. Your clever use of the scraps has inspired me! I love madeleines and would be quite happy to take the seconds.

    Always interesting to see whatโ€™s going on. Xxx

    ps: bread pellets! Takes me back : )

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    • I expect those little A’ja bites would be better if I had used my sourdough bread. It has a bit more “body” than the soft, sliced, store-bought bread. However, am now convinced the procedure will be a perfect vehicle for veggie fritters. Go ahead and experiment!

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  10. Love your min kitchen post and all your baked goodies look so delicious. I have the wooden tamping tool and it’s handy to have. Thank you for the peek inside your kitchen ๐Ÿ™‚

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  11. Debi, your “mini” IMK post is BIG on flavor and ideas! I’m imagining the scents wafting through your kitchen and home… mmmmm. I don’t use my mini muffin tin often enough, and have always wanted to try making madeleines. (Either size — have to get a pan first.) Thanks for your inspiration(s)!

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    • I had an old mini muffin pan – a cheap one that wasn’t non-stick. Tried to make mini fritattas, but discovered just how adhesive cooked egg really is! Total disaster and the pan would not clean – even after repeated soakings. The moral of this story is, get a good, non-stick, heavy mini muffin pan and you will find that you use it much more. I’ve also discovered that young children love mini muffins and mini cupcakes. They also like mini madeleines ( and the standard size ones, too!).

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  12. Reblogged this on The Cookbook Guru and commented:
    Debi has shared with us her Margaret Fulton inspired mini quiches…very much in the spirit of the era that Fulton published her book. Make sure you check out the other equally inspired mini creations as part of this post too.

    Happy Reading,

    Leah

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    • Despite the fact that they began life as soft white bread, bread pellets are surprisingly good! Yes, the thought also took me back (too many) years. I really had fun making these mini treats and will probably be putting these into practise with entertaining. if it didn’t require too much energy to open a catering business, I might have considered it! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  13. My theory is that mini foods are retro because they are fiddly and not everyone has the time these days. Then again, us retired types are pleased to experiment. Knowing what to do with those mini baking dishes in our kitchen that we bought on impulse is an absolute bonus. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • I think the draw of mini food is the fact you can graze, sampling many things without feeling like a glutton. Well, it’s a theory. It was fun trying all sorts of things and now I know which ones work better than others – phyllo baskets are top of the list to make again.

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    • It is amazing that when you put a month’s worth of baking altogether it does seem excessive, but at the time it didn’t appear that way. I had lots of fun in the kitchen and can now appreciate those mini baking trays!

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  14. What a fun way to experiment with new recipes! It reminds me of something that a writing workshop teacher once told us: If you’re tired of what you’re writing, change the size of the paper and see what happens. Look forward to seeing what you try next!

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    • I must try that tip about the size of paper when writer’s block next hits! Although, come to think of it, in the past, I often changed writing implements when this happened, so possibly the same thing. Hard to do now when you write on electronic devices. Am still having great fun with these mini things in the kitchen, but with the weather finally hotting up, I may switch to my ice cream machine for more experimentation.

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  15. What an absolutely delightful post as I love mini of everything!
    I especially enjoyed the vermicelli made tarts! This will be on my list to do soon too!
    Thanks also for this month’s kitchen view!

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  16. Debi, how absolutely adorable! I love your mini concoctions this month, and you persevering through. If it was me, I don’t think I would have had the patience!!
    I wouldn’t say they are retro… more like mouthfuls of portion control!! Cheers and have a lovely month, Kirsty xx

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    • I do like that – mini portion control. Though, they can still be retro! The phyllo baskets were the best and least fiddly, though I was frustrated enough to find a good way of making savoury madeleines that had me making them over and over again. Finally think I nailed it. Family and Friends ate the test subjects with no complaint!

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  17. Debi, an entire post of tiny treasures! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so impressed the mini muffin tin came with a tamping tool, and I love the little bread cups – I thought at first you’d made them heartshaped! They’re straight out of a 70s dinner party! ๐Ÿ™‚ Can I just say though – I SO admire your patience, filling those tiny holes always drives me mental! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Tiny treasures…such a good way of phrasing it. Yes, that tamping too came in handy. As far as filling those little holes, it wasn’t too onerous, or not as difficult as tempering chocolate. Now, that requires patience!

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  18. love your baking trays, I definitely need to get some more here, although they are much more expensive than they were in Australia. Haven’t seen phyllo pastry in Germany, I used to love making baklava! Happy IMK ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Try looking in a Turkish market for phyllo. They usually sell different grades of phyllo for making both savoury and sweet things. I would be astonished that you couldn’t locate a Turkish market in Germany. Good luck! It is a fiddly sort of pastry to work with, but once you master it, it is very versatile.

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