Sunday, February 26, 2012

Not-Bacon Breakfast Muffins

I love Sunday mornings. There's a distinct feel about Sunday mornings, don't you think, that just isn't present any other morning of the week. It's ok to be lazy on Sunday mornings. You can sleep in, not brush your teeth till noon, stay in your pajamas, read a book in bed or bake something special that's loaded with flavour and calories, hips and waist be dammed.

As much as I like to roll around in bed, my internal alarm clock wakes me up at 5am everyday, completely oblivious to how special Sundays are. I stopped fighting it years ago. 

And, when I get up, Mojo (my adorable but spoilt dog) gets up too. So this Sunday morning, after playing with Mojo for a bit (yeah, the neighbours must hate me for throwing a bone for Mojo to fetch at 6am) I decided to bake.

Hot out of the oven. 

On the menu this Sunday morning was a savoury breakfast muffin I adapted from a recipe from Dine & Dish. The original is a bacon (yes, real bacon of the pork variety) and cheese muffin. It looked appetizing. Naturally, I had to adapt it to make it vegetarian. 

Now as it turns out I bought a packet of vegetarian bacon when I was in New York City last week. Yup. It was in Chinatown (where I swear you can find anything). I usually am not a big fan of fake-meats but vegetarian bacon — this one I could not resist. I had to try it. 

When I became a vegetarian 23 years ago, the hardest thing for me to  give up was bacon. I loved my bacon. But, I'd made a choice that I was sure of and I gave it up. 

Don't get me wrong, I have no misgivings. I don't have any desire to eat bacon although when I watch chefs/cooks using it in the recipes and extolling the taste it brings to a dish, I understand. So to have a vegetarian version of bacon in front of me... well, I was skeptical. The person who could replicate the taste of bacon using purely vegetarian ingredients must surely be a genius.

Seriously? Vegetarian bacon?

Visually, the vegetarian bacon looks somewhat like real bacon. A little paler, perhaps. There is even that layer of fat as you can see in the pictures above. But taste-wise? Well, it really tastes nothing like the bacon I remember eating years ago.

Not bacon and eggs. Nah...

What did I make with the vegetarian bacon? Well (fake) bacon and eggs, of course. The eggs were good. The bacon ... well, it was ok. It was tasty but not tasty enough to be eaten on it's own like this. I wouldn't make this again but what I thought I would do was use the fake bacon to add flavour to other recipe or to add texture to a sandwich, maybe (for it crisps up well).

I decided to use it also to add a little something to these breakfast muffins.

The bacon was the star ingredient in the original recipe on Dine & Dish but not in mine. I added mushrooms, chopped and sauteed in garlic oil. I added herbs (basil and chives) and I added something else I bought in NYC: Sriracha hot sauce (see pic below).

I know, I know. Who goes to NYC and comes back with chilli sauce? Seriously it's amazing. Have you ever tried it? It's bloody good. Spicy and tangy, it's the real deal. Not half-assed at all. I brought a bottle home but how I wish I'd brought three or four.

So, yeah. Forget about the fake bacon. Go for Sriracha. Originally a Thai Chilli dipping sauce, this bottled Sriracha sauce is actually produced in the US by Huy Foong Foods (founded by Davin Tran, a Chinese Vietnamese who came to the US in 1980) since 1990.  

Of course, you can substitute this with any hot sauce you have (the Tabasco jalapeno hot sauce is a close second) or you can add chilli flakes. But if you can, try Sriracha. 

Mushroom and Cheese Breakfast Muffins (with fake bacon and Sriracha)

2 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 egg
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup milk
2 tsp Sriracha chilli sauce (or any hot sauce) or 1 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, lightly sauteed in garlic oil/olive oil
8 strips fake bacon, crisped and crumbled (optional)
1 cup cheddar cheese (I used mozzarella as that was all I had)
1 tsp chopped chives
3 basil leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 200C.

Whisk the egg, milk, oil and chilli sauce. Add the cheese, mushrooms, fake bacon and herbs and stir to combine. 

Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt and mix in the black pepper. Add to the egg mixture and stir to combine.

Spoon the batter into greased muffin cups and bake for 15-20 mins or till tops and slightly golden and a knife inserted comes out clean.

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