As the CEO of Lifeway Kefir, Julie Smolyansky is no stranger to the probiotic-filled, cultured smoothie. It’s already the focus of her business, and it’s now centerstage in her new cookbook, The Kefir Cookbook.
In her debut book, Smolyansky shares the history of both the family-owned business, and the history of the beverage itself alongside over 100 recipes—that’s a lot of probiotic goodness.
While the fridge staple is an obvious choice for a fruit and granola-topped breakfast, or a post-workout smoothie base, Smolyansky advocates thinking beyond the breakfast bar when it comes to kefir. “It’s a great substitute for buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, or whole milk in baked goods,” she says.
Kefir is the standout ingredient in Smolyansky’s go-to muffin recipe, too. While the heat from baking will deactivate its probiotic cultures, she notes, the delicious taste and boosts of protein and calcium will linger until the last bite.
Keep reading for her super photogenic, healthy egg muffin recipe.
Renegade muffins and cultured kefir butter
For the browned butter:
2 Tbsp cultured kefir butter, plus more for greasing the pans
For the eggs:
1 tsp baking soda
4 large brown eggs
For the muffins:
1 1/2 cups dry pancake mix
3/4 cup organic plain whole-milk kefir
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 slices thick-cut bacon, diced and cooked
1 bunch chives, chopped
For the cultured kefir butter
1. In a large bowl or food processor, combine the cream and kefir. Cover it with a kitchen towel and seal using a rubber band around the lip of the bowl.
2. Leave the bowl out on a countertop overnight or longer until the cream looks to be thickening. The texture at the top will be similar to sour cream. At this point, place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours or overnight.
3. Once the mixture is cold, mix it in with a stiff whisk, or use the paddle attachment on your stand mixer on high. The mixture should turn to whipped cream fairly quickly. Keep whipping until the mixture starts to separate and the fatty part turns yellow.
4. Once the liquids are fully separated, drain the butter in a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl. (You can save the liquid for baking or sipping; it will taste like buttermilk and is full of live and active cultures.)
5. Work the drained butter with your hands on a cutting board or piece of marble for a minute or two like you would when kneading bread dough; this will smooth out the butter and release any more liquid. The final product is your kefir butter; store it in a mason jar or wrap it in waxed paper and keep it on the counter in a cool place for months
For the browned butter
1. In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat, stirring periodically until it develops a light brown color, four to five minutes. (It will smell deliciously nutty.)
2. Once that happens, remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour the butter into a small bowl.
For the eggs
1. Set up a bowl of ice and water.
2. Bring a sauce pot of water to a boil.
3. Add the baking soda to the boiling water, then gently place the eggs one by one into the water and boil eggs for five minutes exactly.
4. Pull the eggs out and immediately place in the ice bath. When cool to the touch, carefully and gently peel the five minute eggs underwater, which will facilitate the peeling process.
For the muffins
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Five minutes before you’re ready to start baking the muffins, place an extra-large porcelain or metal muffin tin in the oven to preheat.
2. In a bowl, mix together the dry pancake mix, kefir, cold water, and browned butter, blending until very smooth. (There should be no lumps.) Fold in the cheddar, bacon, and chives.
3. Rub four cups of the preheated muffin tin with a little melted butter, then fill the cups halfway with batter. Set one soft-cooked egg into each cup, then fill up the rest of each cup with pancake batter to cover. Cook until the muffin tops are golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. (A knife pierced vertically through the side of the muffin, so as to avoid the egg, should come out clean.)
From The Kefir Cookbook: An Ancient Healing Superfood for Modern Life, Recipes from My Family Table and Around the World. Copyright © 2018 by Julie Smolyansky. Reprinted with permission by HarperOne, a division of HarperCollinsPublishers.
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