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Quinoa Muffins with Fig Jam

July 15, 2010
by

Quinoa:

My family and I have just recently been exposed to the wondrous world of quinoa, a tasty little seed (not a grain) that is super healthy and packed with protein.  It tastes and feels almost just like couscous, but a bit nuttier and larger and it’s just as easy to cook.  Plus, after it’s cooked a little sprout comes out of each seed like a tadpole tail (sorry , maybe not the best analogy).  But anyway, since I first made one quinoa salad that was much enjoyed by all, our house somehow suddenly became filled with the stuff.  I really just opened the pantry one day and there were large containers of quinoa everywhere.  All rather weird, but a good reason to find ways to use it nonetheless.  So upon searching for various recipes, I came across a way to use it in baking: quinoa muffins.  The reviews for the original recipe did mention how it was rather bland, so I altered things to amp up the flavor like toasting the quinoa first and adding some lovely spices, extracts, and the orange zest.  You don’t have to use soymilk though, I just had some that was nearing its due date and needed to get rid of it.  But the final muffins are really dense and moist and the quinoa makes the whole muffin have these funny little bumps all over.  They are really great for breakfast too because they keep you full for so long.

Figs:

I just had my first fig (a dried fig) the other day when I picked up a pack at the Common Market and they are gooood with all those little crackly seeds and sticky goop inside.  However, I’ve only just had them because it wasn’t until recently that I really was a fan of dried fruit.  Now I love it all but it took some acclimating to.  As a child there was not a single thing you could do to get me to eat a raisin or a prune, or a lot of other foods for that matter including (gasp!) sweet potatoes.  But I guess lots of kids are like that.  Nothing but white bread, ketchup, American cheese, and sugar can appease them.  And I see this case of the unsophisticated child palate at my work all the time where part of my job is dishing up pies for people.  It mostly occurs with our most deceiving of pies: the French apple.  It’s basically an apple pie but it’s stuffed with raisins on the inside and, after baked, drizzled with icing.  But all the children see is the icing.  More than once have I witnessed a child coming into the shop with their parents and stop the second they see the French apple in the display case.  Their eyes light up and devilishly, they look toward mom while simultaneously turning their lower lip into a pleading pout.  Always following is a, “pleeeease can we have the icing pie.”  And then there’s me, the heartbreaking bearer of bad news because with that one word “raisin”, BAM, they are so over that pie.  But they’ll come to respect the beauty of dried fruit one day, and all other culinary delights, including this delicious fig jam I made to go atop my muffins.  It’s lovely, sweet, and smooth, and absolutely a cinch to make, and looks beautiful inside a pretty little jam jar.

Quinoa Muffins

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ cup chopped, toasted walnuts
¾ cup milk or soy milk
1 Tbs. agave syrup (if you don’t have this ingredient, use an extra ¼ cup of brown sugar)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. coconut extract (optional)
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
zest of 1 orange

Preheat the of to 350 degrees and prepare a 12-cup muffin tin with either paper liners or coat it lightly with oil and a dusting of flour.  Rinse the quinoa in a sieve under running water and place it in a small skillet.  Toast the quinoa over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until it’s popping and fragrant.  Transfer the quinoa to a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered for 12 minutes until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender and fluffy.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and walnuts until everything is incorporated and there are no lumps of brown sugar.  Add two cups of the cooked quinoa to the flour mixture(the extra quinoa is great sprinkled on top of salads!) and mix together until all the little balls of quinoa are coated with flour.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, agave syrup, egg, extracts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange zest.  Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir everything up until combined.  Divide the batter amongst the muffin tins.  Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool muffins for 5 minutes before removing from the pan and letting them cool completely on a wire rack.

These muffins freeze very nicely; just wrap them up well in plastic wrap.  Let them defrost overnight in the refrigerator before eating them for breakfast.  They can be reheated in a 350 degree oven until warmed through or, if you are short on time, they are easily reheated in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Fig Jam

5 ounces of dried black mission figs, with stems removed and cut into quarters
1 ½ Tbs. sugar
¾ cup water
juice from half a lemon

In a saucepan, combine the figs with the water and sugar.  Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Add the mixture to a food processor, along with the lemon juice.  Pulse until smooth, adding additional water if needed.  Transfer to an air-tight jar and keep refrigerated.  It will keep for about a month, but it’s so good it really won’t last that long.

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