However, this is not to say that my guests go without when it comes to a suitable accompaniment to their fresh truffle pappadelle or rich penne al'arrabiata.
These are the most perfect alternative to bread, will take you a half-hour to prepare and can be altered to suit whatever you're eating. Goat's cheese and sundried tomatoes, Stilton and walnut, Edam and fig … the list is endless!
Whatever you put in, you can be sure that your guests will love this unusual take on the humble bread roll, and it'll leave you with enough time to beautify before your friends arrive.
Mozzarella and Oregano Savoury Muffins (makes 12)
You will need:
- 300g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- one tablespoon of baking powder
- black pepper (freshly ground)
- 150g mozzarella, finely chopped
- heaped tablespoon of dried oregano
- two medium eggs
- 250ml buttermilk
- 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- fresh basil leaves and sundried tomatoes for decoration
- Get your oven nicely pre-heated to 200ºC. Don’t scrimp on heating-up time; a hot oven allows your muffins to rise and cook through evenly without burning. Whilst it’s warming up, pop 12 muffin cases into your muffin tin. You can daydream about a pay-rise whilst you do this if you like.
- Sift together all your dry ingredients into a glass or ceramic bowl. Add the mozzarella and oregano, distributing evenly throughout the mixture.
- Beat the eggs then add the buttermilk and oil. Be sure not to over-blend.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the beaten mixture. Mix together gently and by hand. Over-mixing will leave you with dry muffins – moisture is key!
- Divide the mixture into the muffin cases; taking time to ensure each muffin has a decent amount of mozzarella.
- Add a basil leaf and slice of sundried tomato to the top of the muffin and bake for 20 minutes. Your muffins should rise a little, be golden in colour and spongy to the touch.
- Serve warm with butter as an alternative to a bread roll.