Whenever the holiday season approaches, I look for ways to give familiar, crowd-pleasing dishes a dash of unexpected fa-la-la flavor.
That’s not hard to do with savory muffins, which have a dedicated spot on my brunch spread. The batter can be scenty with herbs or meaty with ham bits. Lately, I went the cheesy route using a recipe from cookbook author Laura Goodman’s “Carbs” (Quadrille, $22.99).
Goodman’s muffins put the spotlight on halloumi, an eastern Mediterranean cheese. Made from sheep’s or goat’s milk and preserved in whey, the cheese can range from semisoft to firm in texture, and offers a slightly salty flavor.
Because of its high melting point (that makes it ideal for grilling or frying), this cheese will hold its shape in a baked goods recipe as opposed to melting into gooeyness. Here, the result is a moist muffin studded with salty white chunks plus flecks of green from grated zucchini and mint and a gorgeous golden top.
A mind-blowing muffin? No. But certainly tasty enough to keep the crowd merry during the holidays.
“If you were to put them on a table with some other brunch items – in a spread scenario – these muffins wouldn’t be the showstopper, but they’d be the thing everyone wanted more of,” writes Goodman.
That’s my experience, too, especially when they’re served straight out of the oven.
Adapted from “Carbs” by Laura Goodman (Quadrille, 2019).
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