The kids are coming on leaps and bounds on the cooking front. I’m not sure whether it’s the cool mountain air (that certainly does it for me) or the lack of X-Box and Wii, but for the past month in Kullu Valley they’ve been knocking up everything from Spagetti Carbonara to Shahi Paneer and a whole range of salads, including ‘Carottes a la Georgia’ which our daughter has modestly named after herself.
Our youngest, Fergus, is starting to look like a mini Jamie Oliver – yesterday he wrote out a full breakfast menu, including four types of egg and six varieties of pancake and took everyone’s orders. By the time he’d catered to Caveman Dad and teenage brother and sister he was darting about like a short-order chef rustling up milkshakes, egg and bacon, crepes and beans on toast to a surprised and delighted family
The other day he provided a flash of inspiration in the daily race to use up the orchard fruit before it turns to slime and in the process made me realise I may soon have some stiff competition in the kitchen. I had decided on muffins with the nectar-sweet if a little unpresentable peaches. Making muffins is one of my favourite things – ideal for a quick ‘Smug Mummy’ fix – a doddle to make but with clear hints at Domestic Goddess tendencies.
As I took them out of the oven, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself – the heady vanilla overtones, the pieces of fresh peach poking through the perfectly browned crumb – kitchen glory was mine for the taking. Fergus had other ideas – he took one bite and declared they were a bit lacking. The upstart! Apparently they needed an icing, if you please, preferably a lemon one. As it turned out, he was right and in the process transformed a perfectly respectable but undeniably average smug-Mummy muffin into a sensational summer of 2009 highlight.
Fergus’s Kullu Valley Summer of 2009 Peach, Lemon and Vanilla Muffins
250g plain flour (maida)
3 tsp baking powder
One half tsp salt
100g caster sugar
250 ml milk
75 ml sunflower oil or melted butter
3 or 4 peaches, peeled, stoned and chopped, about 175g
100g icing sugar
Juice of half a big lemon or 2/3 small Indian ones
Preheat oven to 190ºC and line a muffin tray with large muffin papers cases.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and stir in the sugar. In another bowl beat together the egg, milk and oil/butter and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir gently until flour is no longer visible. Gently mix in the peach pieces. Never beat muffin mixture too hard – for the lightest muffins, the mixture should look positively lumpy – a bit like out of control cellulite -when it goes into the oven. Spoon the mixture into muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes.
To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add just enough lemon juice and drizzle over the still-warm muffins.