I like things cheesy. How cheesy? Cheesier than a Michael Bolton music video, cheesier than a rhyming Hallmark Card on Valentines Day and cheesier than a Phil Dunphy philosophy on “Modern Family.” Okay, I’m sure you get the picture. Whether its romance, 80’s music or a slice of toast, everything in life is better when adorned with a little (okay, a lot) of cheese. I don’t discriminate when it comes to the beloved fromages of the world (that’s French for “cheese,” because I’m super faaaancy) and because I believe that all cheeses were made “just to love and be loved in return.” (That’s from “Moulin Rouge,” which, coincidentally, is also French).
In my mind, friends are like cheeses. Some are strong, mature, extra cheesy and frighteningly orange (hey, go easy on the self-tan), whilst others are subtle, mellow, a bit nutty or deathly pale. Ha. There’s a right time and place for each cheese and some I can’t help but like more than others (sorry, I’m not sorry). But all in all, I tend to like my cheeses the way I like my group of friends, all thrown together for good measure.
It’s said that the most perfect of relationships is one in which you can show your cheese without fear of judgment and 100% be yourself. For some it may mean drinking wine straight from the bottle and repeatedly refusing a wine glass each time they’re offered one (Jennifer). Or the way they spontaneously burst into song (with scarily appropriate choreography) when they find lyrics that correspond perfectly with their current situation. This of course creates the optimal blend of “Glee” and “Pitch Perfect,” complete with killer jazz hands (Kaylee). What’s my cheese? Quoting movies and song lyrics in everyday situations as well as baking and eating copious amounts of cake, although my intention to distribute saves my waistline from the latter (and also from diabetes). This, I believe, renders me a stereotypical female who spends a moderate amount of time in the kitchen. (Kyle Roodt, be proud!)
The theory behind this post had me a bit puzzled to begin with. It all started when Ryan “I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I’ll have two slices of Lemon Tart” Celine had been on my case for quite some time about putting something savoury on the blog. As much as I could see the value in it, I had several reservations… You see, I have the sweetest tooth in all the land, and as much as I like savoury things, I’m the type of person who would much rather skip dinner and head straight for dessert. But then I realized… shame on me for assuming that errrbody was like that too. I mean, this is not “High School Musical” and we are not, “All in this together.” Shout out to Zac Efron in his heyday though… (Pour one out for one’s homies that got lost along the way…)
My theory was again confirmed last weekend when Stof (another not-so-sweet-toothed male) asked me, straight faced, when he was going to see some savories on Baking & Bitching. It then became apparent that I was neglecting a rather large sector of my audience. And for this… I am monumentally sorry. Please accept my heart-felt apology and this recipe for these epic muffins.
And so began the “Quest for the Quattro Formaggio.” It became surprisingly much like the journey to Middle Earth in, “Lord of the Rings.” How so? Well, let me break it down for you…
- It was packed with long periods of walking (around three different supermarkets to gather ingredients).
- It contained epic battles with goblins and trolls (fighting strangers for the last wedge of pecorino at Woolworths).
- It involved scenes of wild hair flailing about in the midst of a sweltering backdrop (Durban Summers and their humidity are uncannily like the fires of Mordor).
- And of course, there were multiple utterings of “my precious,” usually directed towards my bowl of four cheese mix. Drool.
These are the muffins to end all muffins. They’re perfectly good as is or hot out of the oven with a slather of butter and a sprinkling/small mountain of grated cheddar. But if your heart can take it, do yourself a favour and use these muffins in place of toast during this weekend’s lazy brunch. Topped with a poached egg, crispy bacon, a tiny dollop of basil pesto and fine shavings of pecorino, these will change your life. (If you didn’t find yourself salivating as you read that last one, please don’t ever read this blog again. It’s late for you). With four different types present in one muffin, these “Not-Quite Quattro Formaggio’s” are packed full of more cheese than Carly-Rae Jepson’s, “Call me Maybe.” So, grab your grater, muster up your muffin tin (that sounds awfully provocative) and get your cheese on! Your oven needs to be preheated and at the ready. Only 200 degrees centigrade will do, so make sure you turn it on ahead of time and crank that baby up. (“Turn down for what?!”)
To Kays and Jen, the two cheesiest bitches I know (besides only myself, of course), thank you for the laughter, song and dance you bring to my life (despite the fact that you’re both tone-deaf… but I love you all the same). To Ryan, my winner of a boyfriend, we both know it was these muffins that won you over. For them and for you, I am eternally grateful! Thank you for always challenging me to think out of the (cake) box and for embracing all of my cheese. You’re a terribly good looking fellow as well, and everything about you is absolute magic. (Insert swoon here). To Stof, thanks for backing a brother up and for tipping the proverbial scale. This one’s a ‘one-up’ on your beloved “Quattro Formaggio.”
So here’s to the start of a long line of savories, may they grow from strength to savoury strength. After all, was it not Drake who said, “Started from the bottom now we’re here?”
Yours in Baking, Bitching, cheesy one-liners and even cheesier muffins (Because “xoxo” was too mainstream and yes, I do know the Muffin Man).
Not-quite Quattro Formaggio’s
375g Self-raising flour
250g Spinach, washed, trimmed and shredded (or use baby spinach leaves)
150g Feta, crumbled
3 Tablespoons of grated Peccorino (plus 1 Tablespoon for topping)
100g Mature White Cheddar, grated
80g Mozzarella, grated
90g Butter, melted
110g Sundried Tomatoes, chopped
1/2 Teaspoon of dried Chili Flakes
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees centigrade and grease a 12 hole muffin pan.
- Sift flour into a large mixing bowl, add spinach, cheeses, chili flakes, tomatoes and mix.
- Mix melted butter, milk and egg together with a whisk.
- Add milk mixture to flour bowl and mix with a metal spoon until just combined. Don’t over-mix.
- Fill muffin pan and sprinkle leftover pecorino on top.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and leave muffins to cool in tin for 15 minutes before removing from the tin and placing on a cooling rack.
Health Hack: I’ma be real with you.. If you’re looking to be healthy, these are not for you. There’s four types of cheese for goodness sake. (“And none for Gretchen Wieners, Bye!”)