Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Herb & Onion Muffins

Softly fragrant with a medium-dense crumb, these muffins are the perfect outlet for fresh herbs. I've been hunting the web for recipes that use vast amounts of fresh herbs, something I usually avoid since they are expensive to buy.

The past few days, I've made herb-smashed new potatoes (parsley, tarragon and thyme), feta-watermelon salads (mint), herb-&-roasted-mushroom-spiked ziti (basil, oregano, parsley and thyme), caprese salad (loads of basil) and tossed a handful of herbs into every kind of hodge-podge dish that would take them. But with Virginia's fount of herbs starting to age on my countertop, I realized suddenly what a waste it would be to throw even a few of them away.

This morning I made a batch of blueberry muffins, greedily folding in extra berries, while facing my cupfuls of herbs, now separated like the sexes on high school bus trips. It occurred to me that a batch of herbed muffins, deliciously savory with onion, might be a beautiful alternative to corn bread. I tried it immediately, and, yes, I think they are. Judge for yourself.

Herb & Onion Muffins
Makes 11 (or, uh, 12 if you fill more judiciously)

3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
2 T sugar

1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cornmeal
1-1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1/2 cup herbs, mixed, minced (I used basil, oregano & parsley)
1/2 cup cheddar, grated

fresh ground pepper
2 T cheddar, grated
2 T parmesan, grated (optional)

Heat oven to 350ยบ and grease a muffin pan. Mix first four ingredients well, then add in baking soda, salt and cornmeal and mix. Add flour to top, then scoop out 2 tsp into a separate bowl. Mix the remaining flour into the batter. Cut the onion and herbs and place into the bowl with the 2 tsp of flour. Toss with your fingers to coat lightly. Add the 1/2 cup cheddar and toss again gently. Fold the cheese, onion and herbs into the muffin batter. Scoop batter into muffin cups, sprinkle with the cheese(s) and a grating of pepper. Bake 20-24 minutes, until springy at the top and nicely browned. Serve alongside a crisp, hearty summer salad or with anything barbecued.

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