With spring in the air and flowers abloom, my thoughts turn to the quintessential vernal repast: brunch.
Brunch is both celebratory and relaxed. It’s comfort foods and festive foods at the same table. It’s an opportunity to socialize with the wide promise of a whole day before you. It’s an excuse to drink champagne before noon.
For all those reasons, to me, brunch the culinary equivalent of hedonism.
One of the best brunches I can remember was spent with my friend Dana, who was visiting me in Los Angeles from her home in New York City. We were invited for brunch by her brother and his wife, neither of whom I’d never met. My friend and I wound our way up Laurel Canyon in the Hollywood Hills to their little hippy house at the end of a cul de sac. Our hosts led us to the back yard where, under a tree with a swing, a table was set with a colorful, thrift store hodgepodge of dishes and linens. We chatted endlessly, the perfect combination of old friends and new, while we ate muffins and scones, fruit salad and frittata, and sipped champagne. For hours we lolled there, noshing and sipping, appreciating the company, the food, and the setting – and loving not having to be anywhere else doing anything other.
It was exactly as a brunch should be.
Essential for a proper brunch is some kind of muffins or scones, both of which are easy to make in advance and freeze. (I actually prefer them reheated – in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes – because they get nicely toasted and crispy around the edges.) The flavors for your muffins and scones, savory or sweet, can be seasonally adapted and/or shifted to suit the rest of your menu. I have a basic muffin recipe, for example, and I adjust it to make lemon blueberry muffins, orange cranberry muffins, whole wheat apple spice muffins – whatever.
Perhaps my favorite iteration of all, however, is the springy Strawberry Rosemary Muffins below. They’re a great way to enjoy the amazing strawberries that are pouring into your farmer’s markets right now. And the rosemary? Don’t be put off by it. Berries and rosemary are a killer combo.
Special thanks to Dana, her brother, and her sister-in-law for that incredible, long-ago brunch, and to my friend Pammy, for reminding me how much she loves this recipe and inspiring this post.
Strawberry Rosemary Muffins
A super-simple recipe made out-of-the-ordinary thanks to fresh rosemary.
Makes 24 regular or 10 jumbo muffins
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose white flour
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 cups sliced strawberries
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Coat muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, butter, and vanilla. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, rosemary, baking soda, and salt. Mix the flour mixture into the egg mixture, stirring until just combined. Gently stir in the strawberries.
Fill tins barely to the top. Bake until the muffin tops are golden brown and set, about 25 minutes for regular muffins or 30 minutes for jumbo muffins.