If you dive into the rich buttery crust of a dessert pie but leave the sweet fruit filling behind, Mary Cech has a concept you'll appreciate.
In her book, "Savory Baking", (Buy it at a discount by clicking here.)
Cech takes the same tempting crusts, biscuits, crumbles and other toppings that traditionally accompany desserts and uses them to add appeal to entrees and side dishes.
"I'm taking a favorite dessert, such as a cobbler and transforming it into a savory item, such as a tomato crumble or a chicken brown betty," says Cech, in Park City, Utah.
"It's fun to rethink these ideas," she says of the turnabout.
Adding dough to a dish makes it more elegant, says the professional baker and cooking instructor. However, adding a topping to a dish or turning a sweet into a savory doesn't make it more expensive.
In fact, it can be an economical technique if you adopt her strategy to refresh leftovers.
For example, if you have scraps of cooked rotisserie chicken, don't reach for the salad bowl. Instead, serve the chicken in split biscuits and call it chicken shortcake.
Check the vegetable bin for inspiration. Transform a handful of carrots, parsnips or broccoli into a brown betty. Chop and cook the vegetables, place in a gratin dish, sprinkle with seasoned breadcrumbs and bake. Vegetable brown betty is more exciting than clean-the-fridge steamed vegetables.
Even muffins, which often have enough sugar to qualify as dessert, get a Cech makeover. Her versions call for cheese, herbs and even onions.
The cheddar and cherry muffin recipe that follows is adapted from Cech's book. Serve these for lunch along with soup or a salad.
CHEDDAR AND CHERRY MUFFINS
Makes: 7 muffins
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 20 minutes
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
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Place cherries in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling hot water. Set aside for 10 minutes. Drain well.
Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cheese in a large bowl. Stir together milk, egg and melted butter in a small bowl. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture. Stir just to mix. Do not beat. Fold in cherries.
Grease a muffin tin (use cooking spray or shortening). Spoon in batter filling 7 indentations about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 17 to 20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown. Remove from oven. Cool muffins for 5 minutes. Turn out onto wire rack.
Freeze leftovers and reheat in a preheated 325-degree oven for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Each muffin has: 215 calories; 10 grams total fat; 6.3 grams protein; 24.5 grams carbohydrates; 57.5 milligrams cholesterol; 262 milligrams sodium and 3.5 grams dietary fiber.