Category Archives: brunch

Drop Biscuits

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Last weekend was Dan’s 30th birthday (!!) and when I asked him how he wanted to celebrate he said that he wanted to spend the weekend making and eating great food with great friends.  We invited down some of our closest friends– Brit and Aaron and Kellie and Corey– for the weekend and we did just that. We cooked and baked and sat around the fire and enjoyed each other’s company. It was an incredible way to spend a birthday weekend.

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I asked Dan to come up with the menu for the weekend and his request for Saturday morning breakfast was bacon, egg, and cheese on buttermilk biscuits. I’d been looking for an excuse to add a drop biscuit pan to my cast iron collection, and this was the perfect opportunity.

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Drop biscuits are the kissing cousin of traditional buttermilk biscuits. Meant to be simply “dropped” into a pan or onto a baking sheet they aren’t kneaded and folded and are thus a little more crumbly and free form when baked. My drop biscuit recipe calls for a bit more buttermilk and the result is a moist and flavorful biscuit.

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Those were the first of many biscuits I made that weekend at the request of my house guests. On Sunday morning we served them with my new favorite honey- Bee in Your Bonnet (I’m especially loving the vanilla bean and hibiscus), sausage that Dan and Aaron made and smoked, cheese, peach jam, and salted butter.

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I spent the weekend being incredibly grateful for two things. I cannot believe my fortune that Dan counts the partners of my closest friends as some of his closest friends. It was so wonderful for me to spend the weekend with Brit and Kellie, and it was even more incredible to watch the men in our lives hang out and bond. I’m also very glad that we’ve finally reached the point in our lives where hanging out at home with our friends, eating biscuits and smoking sausage is something everyone unanimously agrees is the best choice. There is no way I would rather spend my time.

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Drop Biscuits
makes 7-8 biscuits

4 cups flour

2 tsps baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsps salt

2 sticks butter

2 1/4 cups buttermilk

Heat oven to 400F.

Mix together dry ingredients. Cube butter and work in with your hands, breaking the butter up into small pieces and mixing in with the dry ingredients, until the texture resembles cornmeal. Stir in the buttermilk.

Use a spoon to drop the dough into a drop biscuit pan or onto a lined baking sheet.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Huevos Rancheros & a Birthday

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Happy July! Today is my 28th birthday, and we’ll be celebrating with tacos, margaritas, and a concert with good friends. After a long and exhausting weekend of packing, moving, unpacking, and then repacking so that the painters could paint, Dan and I are ready for some relaxation, fun, and tequila. And queso, of course.

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I thought that today, in honor of one of my best days of the year, I’d share one of my favorite recipes from The American Cookbook. To be totally honest, this is one of my favorite recipes from life. On average, since we learned how to make them in 2008, Dan and I have eaten huevos rancheros at least once a week. We spent years perfecting our method and so I was thrilled when the recipe made it on to the content list of the cookbook. It’s simple, easy, and so delicious that on more than one occasion Dan and I each finished our plate and then fried up another serving. Worth it, every time.

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Also, in honor of my birthday and America’s birthday, we thought we’d do a little giveaway. We’ll be giving five copies of The American Cookbook to readers, and all you have to do to enter is answer the simple question in the comments:

What are your birthday traditions?

I eat something different every year, but I always have blueberry mountain pie for dessert. It’s a family tradition started by my grandmother, Bobbie. I can’t wait to hear all of your traditions!  Winners will be selected randomly on July 12, 2014. Good luck!

This giveaway is closed. Congratulations to Tommy, Carm, Becky, Alex, and Caitlin!

the american cookbook

And, for posterity, a picture of me as a mermaid, circa sometime in the 90s.

elena mermaid

Huevos Rancheros

Drizzle of olive oil

4 large flour tortillas

8oz/ 226g Cheddar cheese, grated

4 eggs

1 425g can black beans

1 tsp smoked chipotle

Salt and pepper

1 avocado

Pico de gallo:

3 large tomatoes, diced

1 jalapeno, minced

½ red onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ bunch fresh cilantro

2 large limes, juiced

Salt and pepper

Combine tomatoes, jalapeno, red onion, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper, and lime juice in a mixing bowl. Mix well and set aside. In a medium sauce pan heat black beans, in liquid. Stir in smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.

Heat oil in a heavy pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot place tortilla in the center of the pan. Make a ring of shredded cheese and crack an egg into the center, containing the egg. Let cook until the cheese has melted and then use a spatula to flip the tortilla and the egg. Let cook for 2-3 minutes for a runny yolk or 4-5 minutes for a firm yolk. Use a spatula to lift the tortilla and the egg, flipping egg side up onto a plate. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Thickly slice avocado. Strain black beans and top tortilla and egg with black beans, pico de gallo, and avocado.

Tips: Use a wide spatula to flip the tortilla so that the egg is cradled in the middle, helping to keep everything together. Flip quickly and confidently!

 

Romesco Grits, Soft Boiled Egg

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Of all my travels throughout the past few months, very few have been vacation. In fact, in the past few years, very few of our trips have been purely vacation. So it was a special luxury to take a week this Spring to travel to San Francisco, to spend a whole week doing absolutely no work and just enjoying what the city had to offer.

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soft boiled eggs 9 We walked over 60 miles that week. We had magnificent dinners with friends, we saw all the sites and more, we visited with family, we relaxed. I spent the week walking all my stress away, enjoying the relaxation and calm that comes with a vacation where you focus only on what you want to do that day, that moment. It was liberating. It’s been ages since I did something that was just for me, and this trip to San Francisco was a luxury I sorely needed.

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soft boiled eggs 6 One of my favorite parts of our trip was the time I spent with my Uncle Everett. Everett, my grandfather’s youngest brother, and his wife Stephanie have been living in San Francisco since the 1970’s and know the town inside and out. Our second day there, after synchronizing our watches over the phone, Uncle Everett picked me up and took me on a driving tour of the city. We visited parks, restaurants, museums, and more, ending up at their house near Twin Peaks, where Uncle Everett showed me his collection of paprika as we pored over recipes for Spanish romesco sauce.

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soft boiled eggs 11 A few nights later we ate a fantastic dinner with Everett and Stephanie, where he whipped up a batch of romesco using a recipe from Tarragona. Romesco sauce is a chile sauce that combines dried chiles, fresh chiles, tomatoes, spices, almonds, and hazelnuts. When we got home I wanted to try my hand at the sauce so Uncle Everett sent me a recipe try. I stirred my romesco into a batch of creamy grits and topped them with a soft boiled egg and fresh garlic scapes. The flavor was rich and spicy, and the creamy yolk of the egg was the perfect balance to the scapes and chiles. This was, perhaps, my favorite souvenir from our trip. Thanks for the recipe, Uncle Everett, and thanks for the amazing time, San Francisco!

soft boiled eggs 7 Soft Boiled Eggs, Romesco Grits
serves 6

romesco sauce:
courtesy of Everett Rosemond

3 dried peppers softened in hot water for about an hour (I use Ñoras from Spain but any dark, dried pepper—Pasillas, for example—will work. Remove seeds and chop

1 hot pepper, chopped

Extra virgin olive oil

2 tomatoes

6 cloves of garlic

24 toasted blanched almonds

24 toasted filberts

2 branches of parsley

2 slices of bread, fried in a bit of oil

2 tsp red-wine vinegar—good quality

Salt

grits:

2 cups dried yellow corn grits

4 cups water

2 cups heavy cream

1 tbsp red pepper flakes

4 tbsp butter

Salt & pepper

6 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

Garlic scapes

Preheat oven to 365º F

In a medium sized pot start the grits by combining cream, water, butter, salt, and red pepper. Bring the pot to medium heat and stir in the grits. Bring to a soft boil and reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally as it thickens.

Sauté the hot pepper and the ñoras in a small amount of oil.  Lightly oil a tray and roast the tomatoes for 10 minutes in the oven; allow to cool.

Make a paste out of the peppers you just fried, either in a mortar-pestle or in a grinder;  you want a thick paste.  Add the nuts, the parsley and dry bread and mix with the mortar-peslte until you get a homogeneous mixture. (I used a small grinder for this)

Peel and seed the tomatoes, cut into strips and add them to the mortar;  add the vinegar and 2 ó 3 Tbsp of olive oil, together with the salt.  The mixture should look like a thick liquid. Stir it into the grits and season to taste.

Bring a pot of water to boiling. Add baking powder and a pinch of salt (the baking powder helps the eggs peel more easily). Add the eggs, cold, gently. Boil on high for 6 minutes. Remove and plunge into cold water. Peel, slice, and serve on top of grits. Sprinkle with sliced garlic scapes.