Rosemary-Scented Cherry Muffins

Fresh or dried, I have to have herbs around when cooking.  I love the fresh twist they add, each with their own personality and contribution to a dish.  Saturday night my husband and I hosted a group cook-in.  Most of what we made was from the award-winning St. Louis Herb Society Cookbook.  This month the Society will take the prize for best fund-raising cookbook in the United States for 2009 at the World Exhibition of non-profit and fundraising cookbooks at the Gourmand Paris Cookbook Fair in Paris, France.  Based on Saturday night's outcome this is an award well deserved.  Everything we made turned out fabulous.  I don't own a copy of the book, yet.  I'll be buying one this week as this is my kind of cooking; herbs in every recipe and used in some very innovative ways. The Braised Short Ribs were tender, falling right off the bone, and the flavor deep and rich, highlighted with bay leaves and tarragon.   The root vegetable mash was phenomenal; rutabaga, parsnips, carrots and sweet potatoes roasted with bunches of fresh thyme and rosemary.  These were pureed and and then mashed with cooked Idaho potatoes, cream and butter.  The salad dressing featured ginger.  The dessert, which was of the rich chocolate genre, contained cinnamon and chipotle; a surprise kick, but amazing.  This just shows the rewards for trying herbs and spices in almost anything and in almost any combination.  

Even something like muffins can take on a new personality when herbs are introduced.  In this SimplyCooking® recipe, Rosemary-Scented Cherry Muffins, the sugar is reduced, leaving the job of subtle sweetening to dried cherries, an ingredient featured in the SimplyCooking® Pantry and used often in SimplyCooking® recipes.  The flavor of rosemary with its strong, buttery scent is then introduced and complements the cherries, creating a nice savory muffin, appropriate to serve along-side meat or a hearty dinner salad.  

rosemary-scented cherry muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 cup. butter
1 egg
1 cup dried cherries

Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Make a well in the center and set aside.  Place the milk in a small saucepan.  Add the rosemary and bring to a boil.  Immediately, reduce the heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Strain most of the rosemary from the milk, leaving a little.  Add the butter and stir to melt.  Cool for 5 minutes.  Grease or line 12 muffin cups.  Whisk the egg into the cooled milk and pour into the dry ingredients.  Mix lightly with a spatula.  Fold in dried cherries.  Divide into muffin cups and bake 20 - 25 minutes.  Turn out of pan and serve hot.