Going out for breakfast on the weekend is one of those little luxuries that signals a shift in the daily routine—and we all need those. No matter how on your grind you may be Monday through Friday, weekend mornings offer freedom, slow living, an excuse to skip your green smoothie. Of course, the flaw falls in the procuring of the indulgent breakfast: you have to get dressed; you have to wait in line; the coffee is rarely as good as at home; the brunch crowd can be annoying.
A quicker route to breakfast bliss is this speedy, one-bowl recipe for muffins that taste like you made a doughnut run—without having to actually make a doughnut run. Composed of basic pantry ingredients, the batter can be mixed up while your coffee brews. When the muffins come out of the oven, puffed and golden, you’ll give them a quick dip in a mixture of melted butter and vanilla and then roll them in cinnamon-sugar. The result is equally reminiscent of a dense old-fashioned doughnut and the sugary-sweet joy of a churro. They are sublime with coffee, and even better if you serve smoky bacon or silky scrambled eggs on the side.
Best of all, you can enjoy the sweet, nutmeg-scented muffins while lingering in your PJs as long as you want, or while pouring that second cup of coffee—and honestly, it’s hard to say which is the better luxury.
It is, however, the quintessential way to prepare collards. Although I have lived south of the Mason-Dixon line my whole life, my portrait of Southern food is cultural, not personal. My family ate well, but we didn’t eat the defining foods that make up a good meat-and-three buffet. When I got older, I didn’t flee the South but stayed for a job, and my job taught me the power of place and its relationship to food. And Southern food, with its abiding link to Southern land, taught me the richness of heritage, and my knowledge expanded but didn’t settle on my own table until one day, I decided to make collards for myself.
I don’t have a cherished recipe from my grandmother, nor did I consult any other icons before turning a bunch of collards into deep-green ribbons for slow-cooking. The only pork in my kitchen was bacon (hardly something to apologize for), and I had no idea how long the greens should braise. After crisping up the bacon, I sautéed lots of sliced garlic along with the chopped sweet onion and chile flake, before adding the greens. I was cooking by feel, finding my own road to the spicy, smoky, sweet taste of the braised collards I craved.
The resulting tangle of collard greens swimming in delicious pot-likker outshone everything else on the table, including the barbecue pork my husband had smoked for hours. It was—is—a reminder that those who came before us knew a few things, especially how to eat their greens.
French Doughnut Muffins
Yields 9 Regular muffins or 24 mini muffins
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
¼tsp. ground nutmeg
½ cup milk
1 egg, beaten
5 tbs. butter, melted
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 Tbs. butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
2. Combine first five ingredients. Stir in milk, beaten egg, and 5 tablespoons of melted butter until thoroughly mixed.
3. Grease a muffin tin (regular or mini-muffin size will both work). Fill cups 2/3 full and bake for 15–20 minutes or until lightly browned. (Time will vary according to muffin size.) Do not overbake.
4. Meanwhile, stir together 1 tsp. cinnamon and ½ cup sugar in a small bowl and then mix together 1 tsp. vanilla extract with 4 Tbs. melted butter in another small bowl.
5. When done, remove muffins from pan immediately, dip the tops in the butter mixture, and roll in the cinnamon-sugar. Serve warm.