In my ideal world, breakfast consists of freshly baked bread or freshly baked savory muffins, or both. There is herbed butter that, when smeared on the still-warm bread, transforms into a glistening creamy liquid that the bread soaks up with cheerful readiness. Beside the tub of butter, a bowl of homemade jam. The steaming coffee was brewed from freshly ground Arabica beans. And there is a tray of colorful fresh fruits in season. All that laid out on a table in the veranda that overlooks a verdant garden where herbs and fruit trees grow.
What a dream. It sounds so Martha Stewart — almost Stepford wifey, in fact — that’s guaranteed to make the first women’s libbers turn in their graves. But, really, who wouldn’t prefer that tranquil scene over the reality of boxed cereals eaten haphazardly in a mad dash to get to the car and roar through the rush hour traffic to get to the rat race called work?
I like the dream better. And I’m halfway there because I happily work from a home office that now doubles as a studio. We have a garden planted with herbs and fruit trees. But I know that without an efficient full-time two-person (at the very least!) domestic staff, the greater part of that dream will always be a dream. Unless pots, skillets, baking pans, plates, glasses, cups, spoons, forks and knives magically wash themselves and return to their proper places in the cupboards and drawers without human intervention, toasted bread with good butter and cheese washed down with two cups of coffee will have to do for most days.
Once in a while, however, breakfast almost approximates the dream. The December weather is cool and perfect, and I don’t mind baking while sipping my first cup of coffee for the day. Today, I baked savory muffins with bacon, asparagus, spring garlic and cottage cheese. No table overlooking the garden though. It was raining and there was a huge — the HUGEST — gecko prowling in the lanai and I kept all the doors shut. Geckos have never been part of my dream.
Bacon, asparagus and cottage cheese breakfast muffins
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Line a six-hole muffin pan with paper cups.
- Heat a frying pan on the stovetop and add the chopped bacon. Cook until lightly browned. Add the asparagus and spring garlic. Cook, stirring often, for about half a minute.
- Turn off the stove. Pour off the excess bacon fat. Add the butter to the pan and swirl until melted. Set aside to cool a bit.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar.
- In another bowl, lightly beat the egg and milk.
- Add the cheese to the flour mixture, breaking up large lumps and toss to coat the cheese with flour.
- Add the bacon mixture and the milk-egg mixture to the flour-cheese mixture. Stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened, no more than a dozen turns.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 350F and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Serve the muffins while still warm.