I only have a few days before I am heading back to Cyprus. As per usual, the time in Canada has again flown by and I feel as though I have just arrived. The last week before I travel consists of the usual errands and pigging out on foods that I can’t find back in Cyprus. (This is where I reveal to you my weakness for Dairy Queen Peanut Buster Parfaits.)
Anyway, one of the foods I love to enjoy at home are my mom’s cheese muffins. The funny thing is that my mom started making these muffins because she couldn’t find the Cypriot ingredients she needed to make them with in Canada. In Cyprus there is a cake called “haloumopita”. It is a basically a savoury cake made with a type of Cypriot goat/sheep cheese called halloumi, and mint. When Cypriots first immigrated in Canada in the 1950s and 1960s, it was pretty impossible to find things like “halloumi” (a Cypriot cheese) in Canada. Your options were to either to illegally bring these foods yourself into the country (not such a good option unless you had a particular desire to be accosted by Canadian customs) or to modify these recipes and use local ingredients. So my mom and her friends had no choice but to start experimenting with these traditional Cypriot recipes.
And some of these recipes are so good, they can easily hold their ground against the originals. Like these cheese muffins. The only difference is the absence of halloumi, but the presence of parmesan, pecorino romano and feta provide a savoury punch that is more complex than your traditional “haloumopita”. They make an ideal breakfast companion. Or – in my case – a great do-it-yourself plane food.
I am looking forward to going back to Cyprus. I am looking forward to seeing my boyfriend and my pug. I am also looking forward to enjoying some of the fruits and vegetables currently in season. But it is always a bitter-sweet departure. I will miss my family and friends here. I’ll miss the Peanut Buster Parfaits. I’ll even miss my family’s crazy parrot (it’s nickname is T-Rex, I say no more). But at least I’ll have some cheese muffins to remind me of home.
1 cup buttermilk*
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pecorino romano
1 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan
1 tbs dried mint
2 & 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
2 tbs baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
*In Cyprus, I can not find buttermilk. You can use milk. Or create your own buttermilk by mixing 1 cup of milk with 2 tbs of regular yogurt (you will only need 1 cup of this mixture).
2. Beat the eggs just to break them apart with a mixer, about 1 minute.
3. While continuing to mix add oil and buttermilk. Stop the mixer.
4. Combine the dry ingredients together.
5. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture with a spatula until combined. Do not overmix.
6. Put into muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve warm. You can also freeze them, or if they have been sitting out for a few days, heat them in the microwave or oven to make them soft again on the inside.