“Do you know the muffin man, the muffin man, the muffin man …” starts the old nursery rhyme about a famous muffin baker in London. We do not know who he was and when he really lived, since the rhyme was first recorded in 1820 and muffins had been known long before that. Today they are a favorite breakfast food or snack and we usually think of them as a sweet treat. In Maine blueberry muffins are de rigeur, but other sweet flavors including chocolate chips abound.
Muffins are really miniature quick breads and as such can be used for a variety of purposes. Their compact size, easy to hold in a hand, adapts them to being served with soups and salads to round of a simple meal. This is particularly convenient as we look forward to warmer weather. With this in mind, I have assembled several savory muffin recipes, all relatively easy and quick to prepare. Also, savory muffins require little or no sugar if you wish to reduce or eliminate sugar consumption. Each of these recipes will make 12 medium muffins.
In a large bowl sift together: 2 cups flour, 1/4 cup corn meal, 1 ½ tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp sugar. Shred 1 3/4 cups sharp cheddar, set aside 2 tbsp and toss the rest with the flour mixture. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Pare, core, and dice a large Granny Smith apple.
In a small bowl beat together 2 eggs, 3/4 cups milk, and 2 tbsp melted butter.
Chop 1/2 of a medium onion and saute in 2 tbsp butter for 5 minutes. Cool slightly and stir into the egg mix.
Make a well in the flour mix, pour in the egg mixture, and beat on low with a hand mixer until mixed and still contains a few small lumps. Stir in the chopped apple.
Spoon mixture in a muffin pan sprayed with a baking spray. Sprinkle the set aside cheddar on top. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool in pan for a few minutes before removing from the pan.
Fry to crisp 8 slices of bacon, drain on paper towels, and crumble. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Whisk together 2 eggs, 1 1/4 cups milk, 1/2 tsp onion powder, and 6 tbsp melted and cooled butter.
In a large bowl whisk together 1 cup yellow corn meal, 3/4 cups flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions, and the crumbled bacon.
Pour the egg mixture in a well of the dry ingredients and mix well. Divide batter among cups in a muffin pan sprayed with a baking spray. Bake for 20 minutes then cool slightly before removing from the pan.
In a small bowl whisk together 2 eggs, 3/4 cups milk, 1/3 cup olive oil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp finely chopped garlic, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary, and 3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Pour the egg mixture in a well in the dry ingredients and mix well. Divide batter among cups in a muffin pan sprayed with a baking spray. Sprinkle the batter with additional 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until golden and a tester comes out clean. Cool slightly before removing from the pan.
These savory muffins may even become breakfast favorites for some of us who are not fond of sweet breakfasts and they would pair nicely with eggs.
“Yes, I know the muffin man/ Who lives on Drury Lane.”
(I. Winicov Harrington, of Waldoboro, is the author of “How to Eat Healthy and Well for Less Than $5.00 a Day: The Smart-Frugal Food Plan.” For more information, go to winicov-harrington.com.)