A Muffin Kind of Morning

3 Apr

I don’t make muffins a lot. Actually, I don’t even eat muffins a lot. I have nothing against muffins, they just don’t fit in my lifestyle. During the week I go to my old standby of shredded wheat n’ bran and string cheese for breakfast (trust me it’s good) and on weekends when I thankfully don’t have to wake up at 6 am, I take advantage, sleep in and tend to go for a lunchier type of brunch or skip breakfast altogether. However, muffins do hold a special place in my heart. Before my body betrayed me and decided I must have at least 8, preferably 9 or 10 hours (if I can swing it on a weekend) of sleep per night, I used to wake up early and make muffins with my dad. While my mother and brother slept, we whipped up delicious breakfast treats to enjoy before we were subjected to some manner of educational trip.  He’s still an early bird and still makes muffins, biscuits or popovers on weekend mornings and after visiting my parents in January, I decided I should do some breakfast baking. California’s March weather obliged, with sheets of rain and chilly misery–the perfect muffin making weather. So a couple of weeks ago, while my husband was at the gym, I decided to whip up some muffins. I remembered seeing a recipe for savory ricotta muffins in my Mollie Katzen breakfast book, Sunlight Cafe, and was very excited about my burst of early (well early-ish) morning domesticity. Until I read the recipe. And realized, not only did I not have enough ricotta, but I didn’t have dill, chives, buttermilk or baking soda. But it was raining and I was determined: determined to make these muffins and determined not to leave the house on an ingredient run. So I improvised a bit. I’m not quite sure what the muffins should taste like exactly, but I came close enough that I think they would be in the ballpark of what I produced. To serve, Mollie suggested cream cheese, tomato, cucumber and maybe some smoked salmon. We had some smoked salmon spread from the amazing Pasta Shop in Oakland and I served the muffins with that, alongside a salad with lettuce, endive, walnuts and a lemon vinaigrette.

My Savory Not So Dilly and Somewhat Full of Ricotta Muffins

Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (Mollie used white but says in her book that wheat pastry flour is an acceptable substitute, except for yeasted breads)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder (I Googled my lack of baking soda predicament and learned I could add more baking powder instead)

4-5 tablespoons sugar

About 5 tablespoons mixed herbs, chives and/or green onions (I did a mix of rosemary and finely sliced green onions; Mollie suggested dill and chives)

1/2 cup ricotta

1/2 cup fresh goat cheese (This was my substitute for the missing ricotta)

1 cup milk mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice (my solution to the missing buttermilk)

2 large eggs

4 tablespoons melted butter

1) Preheat your oven to 350 and lightly spray 8 standard muffin cups with nonstick spray (if you like smaller muffins, do 10 cups)

2) Combine your dry ingredients and herbs in a medium bowl

3) Put the cheese in a second medium bowl and beat in your soured milk (or buttermilk). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with a medium sized whisk after each addition

4) Pour the cheese mixture, along with the melted butter, into the dry ingredients. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, stir from the bottom of the bowl until all dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix; some lumps are ok.

5) Fill your muffin cups, going all the way to the top for big muffins and 4/5 of the way there for smaller muffins.

6) Bake in the middle of your oven for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the muffins on a rack to cool and wait at least 30 minutes before serving.

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