Feijoa Muffins

As per my Feijoa and Apple Crumble post last week, we’re now well into Feijoa season, so I couldn’t resist making more of these delicious muffins. They are fantastically easy to make. Everything into one bowl, a quick mix and then spooned into the muffin paper cups.

Feijoa Muffins

Muffins can either be iced, or decorated with a sprinkling of icing sugar, or just left as is. I liked looking at them like this so you can see the tiny black seeds. The flavour is unique, but these are very more-ish and a super idea for kid’s lunch boxes as they can be baked fresh and added or frozen individually and will be defrosted and fresh by lunch time.

If you have a food processor, you might want to blitz the chopped feijoa to make a puree which gives the muffin a smoother texture. Or if not, chop the fruit up finely and enjoy biting into fruity bits throughout the muffin. Either way, they’re delicious and will be gone in no time at all. This is a pretty standard muffin recipe and the fruit can be substituted with other seasonal fruit. I found it on http://www.foodlovers.co.nz.

2 cups flour
½ teaspoon mixed spice
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup caster sugar
1 egg
100g butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 cup mashed feijoas (or finely chopped or processed to a puree)

  1. Preheat the oven to 200° C. Sift the flour, mixed spice, baking powder and sugar into a bowl.
  2. Lightly whisk egg and combine with butter and milk.
  3. Pour liquid and feijoa pulp into dry ingredients and mix very gently, just to combine.
  4. Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins or paper cups and bake for 10-15 minutes until muffins spring back when gently pressed.





Feijoa and Apple Crumble

Autumn, or Fall as this beautiful season is also known, is a time of change. The vibrant colours, creatures and sounds of Summer evolve into a more serene, although still beautiful surrounding, with leaves changing from the many versions of green through the yellows, reds and browns. The sun’s light changes and our body clocks are rewired. Traditionally this is the time of preparing all the food we would have harvested during the Summer and preserving it for winter.

Feijoa and Apple Crumble

Watching the “change-of-season” in South Africa is very different to New Zealand, however similar people may think the two countries might be. Africa’s change, as with many things there, is more violent. More swift. It isn’t as noticeable as here in New Zealand. One moment you’re enjoying the gorgeous heat and thunderstorms of the Highveld Summer and next thing you know, the temperature plummets at night to around zero degrees. The grass turns a yellowy-brown in the sudden absence of rain and the frost leaves a glistening white crunchy layer on the ground each morning. The air is smoke-filled and grey from the occasionally burning, dry grass and it is astoundingly beautiful. Obviously areas around the coast experience their seasonal change differently, but a Highveld season change is striking.

New Zealand is more laid-back. More graceful in it’s evolving beauty. I marvel each year how I get to enjoy watching the seasons change. New Zealand never loses it’s many shades of green, but the trees changing their leaves somehow seems more stately. It seems to last longer. The fruit trees especially share their splendour and with our recent Indian Summer and warmer than average Autumn temperatures, our plum tree is confused. Having lost it’s leaves and getting ready for the colder, wetter winter months, it has once again started putting out new leaves and tiny white blossoms. I won’t complain, I’ll enjoy it as long as Mother Nature allows me to.

My neighbour has a few Feijoa trees in her yard. Very popular in New Zealand, this little green fruit is something I’d never seen nor heard of prior to moving here. I have to admit it isn’t one of my favourites and after 11 years here I still haven’t learned to enjoy the fruit on it’s own. I find it a slightly medicinal flavour with a strong smell which puts me off somewhat. But having been given two enormous bags of the fruit I set about baking and experimenting to see how I could make good use of this gift of Nature. People pay for bags of it in-store if they aren’t lucky enough to get their hands onto it freely and you know me, any time I get to experiment in my kitchen is time well spent.

Feijoas, also known as Pineapple Guava or Guavasteen in other parts of the world, is native to the highlands of Southern Brazil, Eastern Paraguay, Uruguay, Northern Argentina and Colombia. So it’s not hard to understand how it came to be on the shores of New Zealand, possibly being brought across by sailors, birds or simply by the currents flowing between South America and New Zealand. We are neighbours after all, however distant. The fruit grows on an evergreen, perennial shrub or small tree. The fruit has a somewhat gritty texture which some might find off-putting, but it adds a little something different to any baking. You can also see the seeds in the baking, looking back at you like tiny poppy seeds. Their fruiting season is normally from around March to June, so a wonderful addition to the Autumn menu.

I googled a few ideas and settled upon a recipe I found at foodinaminute.co.nz, but as is always the case with me, I didn’t follow it 100% So forgive me my minor changes please.

Crumble ingredients:
75 g butter, diced
½ cup flour
¼ cup coconut
¼ cup rolled oats
¼ cup soft brown sugar

Fruit base ingredients:
12 ripe feijoas, peeled and sliced (adjust this quantity depending on the size of the fruit)
2 apples, peeled and sliced (or quartered for something a little different)
¼ cup soft brown sugar (the original recipe calls for Maple syrup, but I didn’t have any and the idea of Golden Syrup or Honey didn’t appeal. If using the Maple syrup, use a ½ cup instead)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Prepare the crumble first by placing all ingredients into a food processor and blend or pulse until combined.
  3. Peel and slice the fruit. Place it into a baking dish and either pour over the Maple syrup or sprinkle over the sugar. Mix to combine.
  4. Top with the crumble mixture, spreading it out as evenly as possible to form a coating.
  5. Bake for 35- 40 minutes until the fruit is cooked and the crumble is crisp and golden.
  6. Serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, or in my husband’s case, a good helping of custard.

The crumble mixture can be doubled and half can be frozen for use another day.


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Chocolate Beetroot Cake for Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day on Sunday, I wanted to share something that is easy to make, yet close to every Mother’s heart – getting veggies into our kids. And with this cake, they’ll be gobbling them up. How many kids like beetroot anyway? Mine does, but if they don’t, don’t even tell them it’s in it. Or, if you’re simply looking for an easy tea cake to make to share with the special women in your life this Sunday, this might just be it.

Chocolate Beetroot CakeCombining beetroot with chocolate was not my idea. I came across this recipe a while ago in a Recipes + magazine and tore it out, adding it to my stash. It sounds daft, but it is absolutely divine! And the fudge icing is melt-in-your-mouth delicious! The other week I was having one of my chocolate moments, when I neeeeded chocolate. And this has sufficient to satisfy even the most chocoholic among us. The beetroot flavour is very mild and to anyone who doesn’t know it’s in the cake, I’m absolutely certain they wouldn’t suddenly say: You tricked me! There is beetroot in here! I’ll be enjoying a slice or two of this cake for my Mother’s Day morning tea this Sunday.

As we get closer and closer to Mother’s Day, I’ve been taking special note of all the mothers in my life lately. Meaning mothers of boys on my son’s soccer team; mothers of children at school; mom’s on the PTA; my friends who are moms…and all I can say is that I am so very, very proud to be called a Mom and be in the same group as you.

On Monday afternoon two of the soccer moms could drop their boys off for practice, but as they have other children who were unwell, they couldn’t stay to take the boys home again. Another mom stepped in and a lift club was formed. Today at golf I was chatting with a mom and a friend of hers walked past. They waved and yelled greetings, swapping: How are you? Fine thanks! But then they both laughed and looked at each other and I noticed they looked a bit tired. The one smiled and walked away while the other and I kept on chatting. She explained, “I know just how she feels, rushing around taking kids from one activity to the next or juggling to get siblings to various commitments – tired!” We laughed some more. Isn’t it great? This calling of Motherhood is a blessing to be appreciated and revered. A good friend’s “baby boy” started school the other day and she’s had to endure the emotion of closing one chapter of daycare and opening the next chapter of boyhood. The first day he ran off with his friend without a good-bye glance, but the second and third have been hard, with him having to be pried off her. She was eventually in tears. I remember that happening to me at daycare with my little man, but if you have to work, you have to work. I barely made it out of the building before the flood of tears burst through.

I respect women who decide that Motherhood isn’t for them by choosing to not have children. I would rather people use their right to chose (and I’m not talking about abortion here) rather than have children they aren’t sure they want. It is a lifetime commitment. The highs are the highest while the lows can be extreme. We eat, sleep, breathe and feel our kids very existence from the second we wake in the morning to the final moments before we drift off into a well-deserved sleep at day’s end. We comfort concerns, wipe away tears, listen to stories, do homework, bake, cook, wash, clean, do wardrobe clear outs, the list is endless. If we are lucky, we get to watch our children grow into responsible, well-balanced, contributors to society.

So today I dedicate this chocolate cake and my love and support to all the wonderful Mothers out there who do what they do each and every day, willingly, albeit it a little more tired on some days than on others. Let’s stick together and support each other. After all, we’re the only people who truly understand what it’s like to be a Mom.

500g raw beetroot, trimmed*
150 g butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 3/4  cups self-raising flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
100 g dark eating chocolate, finely chopped
Fudge Icing (below)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C or 160° fan-forced. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20 cm (base measurement) square cake pan with baking paper, extending the paper up over the rim. (A brownie pan works well).
  2. Place the unpeeled beetroot in a pot of boiling water (boil the kettle, no need to wait for cold water to come to a boil on the stove-top – takes ages!) and cook for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle. Peel and then chop before processing finely in a food processor.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until they are light in colour and very creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined.
  4. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and add the milk, stir (don’t beat) until combined.
  5. Stir in the beetroot and chocolate until well mixed and spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Level the surface.
  6. Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Stand the cake in the pan for 0 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Fudge Icing:
3 cups icing sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
100 g butter, chopped
80 g dark eating chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup milk

  1. Place the butter, chocolate and milk into a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth.
  2. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into the the chocolate mixture and whisk/stir until combined and smooth. We don’t want lumps.
  3. Chill for 15 – 20 minutes or until the icing is thick and spreadable, then coat the top (and sides if you wish) of the cake generously.

* I don’t advise using tinned beetroot, but you can if that’s all you can get your hands on. Check it isn’t the spiced/flavoured kind and drain all liquid – a 450g tin should be fine.