During a very short era that we shall call the Great Pickling, Mr D bought a large number of mason jars in anticipation of pickling everything that he could lay his hands on after watching one too many episodes of Doomsday Preppers. He had already experienced the flush of success with his highly acclaimed tomato chutney made with home-grown tomatoes, and decided his next project was to pickle a bushel of my dad’s blow-your-socks-off hot jalapenos. To give you an indication of how hot they were, being in the same room as those jalapenos and breathing the same air as them burned my lungs.
I watched those things get sliced up and the seeds inside were black, misshapen and menacing, like something the devil would keep in his spice rack to sprinkle on food for his dinner guests. Even though I absolutely love spicy food, I don’t know about you but I don’t really enjoy the sensation of spontaneous combustion.
So for a while it looked as though those jars of jalapenos would become like those decorative jars of pasta or chillies in oil that people who never cook keep on display in their kitchen to make it look as though they use their kitchen like normal people. Then I came across this recipe for cheese muffins which sounded like they could be amazing – mostly because of the sheer amount of cheese in them, and then I added even more – but also kind of boring, so I decided to mix in a few chopped up jalapenos for kicks. Yes, this is how I get my kicks, shut up. And corn, because I really love corn. And spring onions, because it made sense and I happened to have some. So after all the extra things I threw into the bowl, they kind of unintentionally turned out vaguely Mexican. My maths is pretty crap so don’t take this estimation as exact, but I think these are like, 80% cheese. Not much makes me happier than seeing all that yellow in the bowl.
These are best eaten warm, filling your mouth and soul with spicy morishness, sweet corn kernels and an occasional bitey spring onion for contrast. If only you could smell these right now – I beg you Apple guys, please work on the technology to make this happen. But maybe just firstly focus on making the battery last longer than a few hours so I can make at least three phone calls and check Facebook before needing to recharge again goddammit, I throw enough money at you people, is this too much to ask? Moving on. Throw in some bacon if you have the inclination because it would make them extra perfect for breakfast. It could be a little wrong to suggest slathering some butter on these babies but seriously did you not see how much cheese went in already? You know that a pat of butter would be amazing. You’ve come so far, don’t turn back now.
These aren’t really muffins, because muffins are just oversized naked cupcakes. And these aren’t very cake-like at all. They’re closer to a savoury scone, with the texture of a twice-baked souffle loaded with chunky bits. I really can’t make a final naming decision on this right now, I’m like parents of newborn babies who wait for days and weeks before giving their child a name because they’re waiting to see if it looks more like a Hunter or a Harper. I should also warn you that the distribution of jalapeno is a bit random, giving one cheesy baby the pleasant warmth of a summer evening and the next the burning nuclear heat of a thousand suns, but life is all about taking chances, is it not?
CHEDDAR CHEESE, JALAPENO & CORN THINGS
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
1¼ cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
350g grated cheddar cheese (I like vintage cheddar)
2 cooked cobs of cooked corn kernels
3 sliced spring onions, whites and pale green parts
3 tablespoons diced pickled jalapeno ( heat will vary depending on how hot your jalapenos are)
Cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 190C.
Butter a 12 cup muffin tin. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, egg, and melted butter.
Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir to incorporate. Before the mixture is entirely mixed, add the grated cheese, corn kernels, spring onions and diced jalapeno. Season with black cracked pepper. Stir to incorporate making sure that the mixture is evenly mixed.
Divide batter between prepared muffin tins. Bake muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Muffins are best served warm.