Saturday, October 15, 2011
Olive and Tomato Muffins
I have baked savory muffins using corn kernels and green chiles and zucchini. But the other evening it occurred to me that adding the basic ingredients of a bruschetta topping might make a delicious lunch or brunch muffin. A muffin to complement cream soup and salad. A muffin one might see on the menu of a tearoom here in Tennessee-
I have said before that for me there is only one basic muffin recipe, and that is Irma Rombauer's in her Joy Of Cooking. I find it simple. I find it foolproof. And as long as one resists stuffing too much into the batter, it will make a dozen small , but excellent muffins.
Here are Rombauer's basics;
1 3/4 cups sifted all- purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp double-acting baking powder
2 eggs- beaten apart from the dry ingredients
2-4 tablespoons melted butter- added to the eggs
3/4 cup milk, added to the eggs and butter
1 medium tomato, vine scar sliced off. Unpeeled as well.
A dozen pitted olives- I used 6 kalamatas and 6 pimento stuffed Manzanillas. I used them because they were what I had left over in the refrigerator.
One teaspoon Herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning. I used Z'atar, a Middle Eastern seasoning of thyme and sumac. Use it if you can find it and if you dare.
Mix the sifted flour and dry ingredients. Then add the egg batter and mix. Then puree the tomato and the olives in a food processor. Add the puree to the batter.
Take out two 6 cup muffin tins and coat them with cooking spray. Spoon in the muffin batter, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake 20-30 minutes.
Serve hot or reheated with a dab of butter.
And imagine that you are out on a road trip down the Natchez Trace Parkway to stay at a bed and breakfast in Natchez , Mississippi. You want breakfast, but the Saturday crowds at the Loveless Motel and Restaurant in Nashville at the Trace's northern terminus are too much , no matter how you long for their peach preserves- So you decide to wait. Down the Trace you go, stopping at the overview of the Tennessee Valley Divide and the Duck River to look out over farmland unending, serene in the early October mist. And at the next exit- mythical of course- You find Miss Ellie's Tearoom at the Muscadine Inn. There is still room for you and for the four cardiologists in spandex bicycling the Trace, and for the Hell's Harley Club from Evansville, and a bevy of little blue haired towns women , and the Mormon couple who arrived in their Escalade with five handsome and suitably silent children.
And here come the muffins and the bacon and the grits flavored with maple syrup.
Yes, Maple Syrup. For there is no Miss Ellie, or if there is- she is a couple who fled east from Santa Barbara to re-invent their life. And what better place to do that then along the Trace-