Category Archives: brunch

Bone Broth Bloody Mary

bone broth bloody mary 1 After the Savannah Marathon we went out for lunch at a The Public, and had, for many reasons including the fact that I had just finished running 26.2 miles, one of the best meals ever. I spent the better part of the marathon fantasizing about the hamburger I was going to eat and it absolutely stood up to muster; it was delicious. But the start of the show, truly, was the Bloody Mary. When I ordered it the waiter asked me "you're not a vegetarian, are you?" which is probably the best question I've ever been asked after ordering a cocktail. I knew in that moment that I was going to have a love thing with this Bloody Mary, and I was right.

bone broth bloody mary 3The special ingredient in the Bloody Mary at The Public that makes it so fantastic is not bacon or even bacon infused vodka, it's bone broth. They start their cocktail with a hearty beef stock and it makes all the difference. This Bloody Mary made enough of a mark on me that I decided to try it at home, so after putting together a big pot of bone broth I whipped up a batch of hearty, rich, tangy, filling Bloody Marys. Perfect for brunch. Perfect for the back porch. Perfect for after a marathon. Perfect for after a nap.

bone broth bloody mary 2 Bone Broth Bloody Mary Inspired by one delicious meal at The Public makes 1 pitcher, serves 6 1 can whole peeled tomatoes 5 cloves garlic, peeled 3 tbsp  horseradish 1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce 1 tsp salt 1 tsp celery seed 1 tsp Old Bay 1 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp mustard powder 1 cup bone broth 2 tbsp  Tabasco Juice of 2 lemons 1 1/2 cups vodka 2 cups tomato juice Pickled carrots for garnish In a blender combine tomatoes and juices, garlic, horseradish, Worchestershire, spices, Tabasco, and bone broth. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Combine in a pitcher with lemon juice, vodka, and tomato juice. Stir well. Serve over ice with pickled carrots, okra, or green beans for garnish.

Country Ham, Grits, and Eggs with Red Eye Gravy

country ham 3Sometimes, after a long night of celebrating your husband's birthday, you need a breakfast that is more than a breakfast. A breakfast that is comforting, delicious, and yeah, a little greasy. A little salt and meat and coffee that goes a long way. country ham 2We had an incredible group of friends with us last weekend, and it was my great pleasure to feed them. I love feeding people, it's one of my personality traits that comes from all sides of my family- the desire to nurture and nourish, the love of hosting, the inherent food pushing. We cooked and ate so much that it was a whirlwind, but this may have been the meal I loved cooking the most. Some of my closest friends from across my 27 years of life, all sitting in my kitchen drinking coffee and laughing and enjoying each other as I stirred the grits, fried the eggs, browned the meat, whisked the gravy. It was a perfect morning, and I wouldn't trade it for the world (even with the hangover). country hamRed eye gravy is a simple combinations of drippings, usually from country ham that's been fried in a skillet, and black coffee. The combination (plus a bit of butter), creates a thin gravy that adds depth and richness to the grits, eggs, ham, and everything else it touches. It's unlike anything else on the breakfast menu. country ham 4 Country Ham, Grits, and Eggs with Red Eye Gravy serves 8 16 slices of country ham 8 eggs 2 cups dried yellow corn grits 6 cups of water 2 cups heavy cream 1/2 stick butter 1 cup black coffee Salt and pepper In a large pot, heat salted water to a boil. Stir in grits and cream, and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer, stirring frequently, until thick. Melt a pat of butter in a large skillet. Fry the ham for 2-3 minutes on each side or until browned. Place in a warm oven to keep temperature. As you're frying your ham, heat another pat of butter in a second skillet. Fry eggs over easy or to preferred yolk runniness, also placing in a warm oven to keep. Add more butter to the pan as necessary to keep the eggs from sticking. When your ham is cooked melt remaining butter in pan and stir in coffee. Whisk thoroughly, incorporating any drippings from the ham into the gravy. Plate each dish with grits, two slices of ham, and an egg. Drizzle gravy over everything and serve hot.

Fig, Marsala, & Sausage Biscuit

fig & sausage biscuit 2 One of the biggest challenges I face in writing a Southern food blog is the feeling that I don't spend enough time telling the other half of the story, talking about the other half of myself. On this site I tend to focus on the Southern story, the story that began across the Atlantic almost 200 years ago and wound its way through the coastal plains, the foothills of the piedmont, and the moon soaked mountains of the state I am so happy and proud to call home. The story that allows me to call myself a Southerner, that gives me the authority I need to write about Southern food. However, when it comes to my heritage there is another side to the story, one that also began across the Atlantic, albeit more recently. fig & sausage biscuit 3My mother's side of the family, the Irish Waldrons (my Poppie) and the Italian Fiorellos (my Grammy), hail from Trenton, New Jersey. Their families both immigrated from Europe to the United States after the turn of the century, and worked hard to establish themselves in this new country. Their stories are that of so many American families- brothers and sisters working together to send one sibling to college, parents working themselves to the bone to to create new opportunities for their children and grandchildren. Like many families that built new lives in America during the 20th century, being American is only half of the identity. The Waldrons (our little branch, anyhow) are, strictly speaking, Italian-Irish Americans. However, due to the the nature of who rules the roost and who cooks the food,  we tend to lean Italian. I think it's summed up nicely by my cousin Maeve's response to my Uncle Michael telling her that he was making Italian sandwiches for dinner-- "do you just put 'Italian' in front of whatever you're cooking because we're Italian?'" fig & marsala biscuit 8 When Colombo Marsala invited me to participate in their Twelve Days of Marsala recipe challenge I immediately called Grammy. I love talking to Grammy for many reasons, but I especially love that she gives frank, honest, and compassionate advice. When I called her a few months ago about The American Cookbook her response was that she was very proud of me, that I deserved it, and that she wasn't just saying that because she liked me. So when I needed advice on a recipe featuring marsala, I knew I could count on her to be straight with me. Her thoughts were as such- it's an honor to even be considered and asked to participate and that I should go with my gut and do what I do well. fig & sausage biscuit 6 I took her advice to heart and decided to make a dish that blended both sides of who I am, a dish that married together the Sicilian and the Southerner. The base of this dish is a simple, flakey, delicious buttermilk biscuit. Spread over the biscuit is a fig and marsala jam, a jam that is subtle and allows the sweet marsala to play on your tongue. Next comes the butternut squash and Italian sausage hash. This hash is caramelized onions, hot sausage, tender squash, and enough dry marsala to echo the flavors in the jam and accentuate the spiciness in the sausage, but not to overwhelm. Finally the whole dish is topped with quick pickled jalapeño and bell peppers- a perfect acidic note to bring freshness and tang. fig & sausage biscuit 4 The competition is fierce and the stakes are high. The winning dish will be determined based on the recipe, visual appeal of the dish, creativity, and votes.  The voting will be open until December 15, and each day Colombo will select a random voter to win a $50 gift certificate. The prize? A trip for two to Italy. It's like a dream. As Grammy says, it's an honor to even be competing. So make this dish (and all the others!), vote for your favorite (I hope it's this one), and enjoy! Fig & Sausage Biscuit UPDATE: Running the risk of being obnoxious, I just discovered that you can vote every day in this competition, which means more votes and more opportunities for you to win $50! So go, vote, daily! This post was sponsored by Colombo Marsala as part of their Twelve Days of Marsala recipe competition.  Fig, Marsala, & Sausage Biscuits  This recipe serves 4  fig & marsala jam:  2 pints fresh black mission figs ¼ cup brown sugar 1 cup Colombo Fine Sweet Marsala Pinch of salt 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 tbsp classic pectin Juice of 1 lemon quick pickles: 2 cups apple cider vinegar 1 jalapeno pepper 1 small red bell pepper 1 small yellow bell pepper sausage & butternut squash hash: 1 tbsp butter 1 onion, diced 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup cubed butternut squash 3 hot Italian sausages, casings removed 1 cup Colombo Fine Dry Marsala Pinch red pepper flakes Salt to taste buttermilk biscuit: 2 cups flour 1 tbsp brown sugar 1 tsp baking soda ½ tsp baking powder 1 tsp salt ½ cup vegetable shortening 1 cup buttermilk Begin with your jam. Quarter figs and combine in a medium saucepan over low heat with brown sugar, wine, vanilla, and salt. Simmer 25-30 minutes or until jam has thickened. Stir in pectin and lemon juice and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. As the jam is simmering, slice your jalapeno into rings and mince your bell peppers. Combine in non-reactive saucepan with apple cider vinegar. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. In a large skillet brown sausage, then set aside. In the same skillet, melt butter.  Sauté onions and garlic until onions have browned. Return sausage to the pan along with squash, marsala, red pepper, and salt. Simmer 25-30 minutes or until squash is tender and liquid has cooked down. Season to taste. As your sausage hash is cooking, begin your biscuits by combining flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Use your hands to work in vegetable shortening until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Stir buttermilk in with a wooden spoon until a soft dough ball forms. Heat oven to 350F and flour a work surface. Roll your dough out until it is ¼” thick. Fold onto itself and roll it out again. Repeat once more, rolling it out finally to ½” thickness. Use a biscuit cutter or 4-5” round jar to cut your biscuits into circles.  Transfer to a lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. As soon as the biscuits are out of the oven, begin plating. Spread a generous portion of fig jam on top of each biscuit. Follow this with a large scoop of sausage hash. Finally, top with pickled peppers, and serve hot.

Sweet Tango Hand Pies

apple hand pies 4Strictly speaking, these are sweet tango apple hand pies with a buttermilk biscuit dough and a buttermilk caramel sauce. But that's a heavy title for a little hand pie, isn't it? apple hand pies 1 Even down here in the southeastern corner of North Carolina, our markets are flooding with apples. The air is crisp, the world smells of cinnamon, and I'm always wearing socks. Which is generally how I know I'm ready for apple pie. Usually I'm a honeycrisp devotee, occasionally straying as far as the Pink Lady, but never over to the green side or even into the MacIntosh department. I want sweet, a little tart, and very very crunchy when it comes to my apples and since this time of year I subsist on a diet that is 99% apples (I'm a seasonal binge eater- see watermelon, tomatoes, and blueberries) I'm pretty particular about what I pick up. However, like most consumers I'm influenced by a well designed and carefully placed chalkboard, especially one assuring me that the apple I've always dreamed of (crisp, tart, sweet, crunchy) was in fact the sweet tango. They were right. I concede, market. apple hand pies 6 Each morning on Avery Island we woke up to a hot breakfast cooked by chef and food writer Stanley Dry. Among the bacon, eggs, pancakes, fig preserves, and boudain, were hot fresh fried hand pies. Featuring filling from apricot jam to sweet potato purée, these pies were a little slice of heaven and the reason to wake up early and sneak into the kitchen. Stanley shared that his secret was using biscuit dough, so when I started dreaming of apple pie I decided to experiment a little. I wrapped my classic apple pie filling in my buttermilk biscuit dough and topped the whole thing off with powdered sugar and homemade buttermilk caramel. The results were phenomenal. The dough is light and airy with a hint of tang, and the caramel complimented both the biscuit and the filling perfectly. Because the dough had leavening in it they puffed up beautifully, making the experience sort of like a funnel cake married an apple pie. So, heavenly. apple hand pies 2 Sweet Tango Hand Pies filling: 3 sweet tango apples 1/2 stick salted butter 1 tbsp cinnamon 1 tsp powdered ginger 1/4 cup sugar Juice of 1 lemon 1/4 flour dough 2 cups flour 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda 6 tbsp vegetable shortening or lard Pinch of salt 1 tsp cinnamon 1 cup buttermilk buttermilk caramel sauce 1 cup sugar 1 stick butter 3/4 cup buttermilk 1 tsp vanilla Pinch of salt Oil for frying Powdered sugar to top Peel and slice apples. In a skillet combine with spices, sugar, and butter. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. As filling is simmering sift flour, sugar, salt, and spices for biscuit dough. Cut in shortening and work with your hands until the dough is the texture of cornmeal. Stir in cold buttermilk. Refrigerate until ready to assemble pies. In a heavy skillet melt sugar over medium heat. Allow the sugar to cook, stirring frequently, for 7-8 minutes or until a rich brown color. Stir in butter. Once butter is fully incorporated remove from heat and add in buttermilk. Stir until mixed completely. Stir in vanilla and salt and allow to cool. Stir lemon juice and flour into filling. Heat oil for frying. Roll dough out onto a floured surface and cut the dough into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a small circle and fill with 2-3 apple slices. Wrap the dough around the slices and crimp the edges to seal. Fry each pie for 2 minutes or until golden brown on each side. Serve hot topped with powdered sugar and a drizzle of caramel sauce. apple hand pies 3


beignets 6 Last month we traveled to New Orleans for my sister Lauren's wedding. We've adored Bradley from the start and it was a joyous experience watching on as they took this big next step together. Even better was the opportunity to celebrate these two with our families in the city that they love so much. beignets 7 As I mentioned before the wedding we decided that the best way to make this trip affordable and also maximize forced family bonding was for us to carpool in a rented minivan with my brothers Reid and Ryan and Ryan's girlfriend Erin. So the Saturday before the wedding Dan and I drove to Durham, picked up the boys and the van, and then drove to Charlotte for Erin. The original plan was to stay the night in Charlotte and then start the 10 hour drive to New Orleans early Sunday morning. But the nice/insane thing about younger brothers is that they're up for things like pulling all nighters in a rental van driving through the rural South. Sure! We all said. Let's drive all night! We'll be getting there as the world wakes up, ready to eat po' boys and live it up in New Orleans! Who needs sleep? beignets 13 Ryan, Erin, and Reid at the Friendship Oak. Sadly the only two pictures of Dan and I together the entire week were blurry. The sad cost of being behind the camera. We made it safely with no hiccups (save that one victim of vehicular possumslaughter in the middle of Alabama somewhere at 2am) and arrived in New Orleans just in time for lunch with Lauren and Bradley (after a memorable stop in Gulfport to see the 500 year old Friendship Oak). After a sandwich and a nap we were ready for a crawfish boil with Bradley's family to get our week started on the right foot. And while most of the week was a blur of wedding projects and parties, Sunday stands out as one of my favorite family days, ever. I loved that we had the opportunity to spend some quality time with Bradley's family before the wedding, and it made my heart happy to see how much they've welcomed Lauren as one of their own. beignets 15 Dan and I photographed the wedding and its surrounding events, which was amazing and also insane. I loved being able to be there for their special moments, to help capture one of the most important days of their lives. And since I was also the Matron of Honor I had the rare opportunity to really throw myself into the wedding, to see it from the inside out. I relished being the sister of the bride, and since Genevieve is constantly threatening elopement this may be my one shot at the job. I like to think I did alright. beignets 14 Elena, Lauren, & Genevieve,  Bachelorette party beignets 1 One of the things I was most excited about in visiting New Orleans was the eating. You know me, I love to eat my way through every vacation, and this was no exception. We ate well. We ate a lot. We indulged. Mostly in beignets. Every day included at least a few iced cafe au laits and beignets a'plenty. From the famous Cafe du Monde to freshly fried dough in City Park we were not shy in our beignet consumption. In fact, some of us got very into it. beignets 16 Ryan enthusiastically coating himself in beignet powdered sugar, horrified child in the background. beignets 8 photo by Dan beignets 9 Inside the tornado of to-do lists we threw a bash of a bachelorette for Lauren in the Marigny (complete with lots of live music), hung out on some giant live oak trees, watched Ryan dig a hole with an old man, had the obligatory Bourbon Street experience (mine was at 9am on a run but Gen, Erin, and the boys did stay out until 6am one night), had take out daiquiris, explored the French market, played plenty of music on the back patio, cooked a big catfish dinner together as a family, and listened to Genevieve and Naoise say "only in America" about one gazillion times. Plus so much more I can't even remember it all to list it. Did I mention the beignets? beignets 2 beingets 12 photo by Lauren's bridesmaid, Caitlin. From left: Genevieve, James, Janet, Bradley, Lauren, Elena, Ryan, Reid, Dan. beignets 10 Cousins! From left: Mary, Elena, Lauren, Genevieve, Elizabeth. Photo by Dan All in all, the wedding was perfect. There were moments when it seemed the world might end (as with all weddings), but I'm of the school of thought that quirks enhance the experience, so the more the merrier! At the end of the day Lauren and Bradley were married, the family had a raucous good time, and their love and happiness were infectious. Congratulations, Lauren & Bradley! beignets 11 beignets 3 We'll definitely be back to New Orleans soon to visit (with a bit less on our figurative plate next time and more on our literal plate, I think), which already has me hungry. Until then, I'll have to make do with beignets at home. These were simple to throw together and hit the spot. They absolutely satisfied the beignet craving that strikes every time I look through the wedding photos! beignets 12 Lauren & Bradley's surprise second line exit from the reception, complete with a full brass band! For more pictures keep your eye on the Pressed Magnolia blog, they're steadily rolling out! beignets 4 Beignets 1 tbsp dry active yeast 1/2 cup hot water 3/4 cup sugar 1 tsp baking powder 2 eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 cup whole milk 1/2 cup heavy cream 4 cups flour, plus more for kneading Oil for frying (we tried it with coconut- fantastic results!) Powdered sugar to top Mix the yeast and the water together in a large bowl. Melt butter, milk, and cream together in a saucepan and then pour into the yeast mixture. Stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and half of the flour. Knead in the remaining flour and then knead for 5-7 minutes or until stiff and fully incorporated. Transfer to a plastic bag and chill 4-6 hours or overnight. Heat oil in a deep skillet to 375F. Flour a working surface and roll the dough out until it's about half an inch thick. Slice the dough into 3x3" or 4x4" pieces. Fry about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly and then coat with sifted powdered sugar. Serve very hot and with an ice cold cafe au lait.

Buttermilk Skillet Pancakes

buttermilk dutch babies 5 Pancakes are, you could say, my culinary Achilles heel. They always turn out awful. Too undercooked, burnt, too gooey, too chewy, not fluffy enough, whatever. I hate making pancakes. I've yet to find a recipe that gave me the perfect results I want so usually when I crave pancakes it means we're going out. Why eat mediocre pancakes at home when the world is full of diners? buttermilk dutch babies 8 buttermilk dutch babies 7 However, thanks to the power of suggestion and certain websites, I learned about skillet pancakes, also known as "Dutch babies" or "German pancakes." Essentially these are pancakes that you cook in a skillet and slice like pizza. No muss pancakes AND another recipe to add to my ode to skillet collection, PLUS a good way to use up the rest of my buttermilk? Sold! I searched around a bit and finally settled on this recipe and I have to say, these were fantastic. Not only were they delicious (topped with strawberries and honey hallelujah Spring is here), they heated up in the toaster oven for days to come, making breakfast (my least favorite weekday meal to worry about) a piece of (pan)cake. buttermilk dutch babies 3 We're off today for New Orleans for Lauren's wedding. We'll be gone for 8 days (ah!) and I'm a mess of frantic, excited, anxious, and thrilled. Happy almost wedding, Lauren & Bradley! buttermilk dutch babies 1Buttermilk Skillet Pancakes adapted from Williamette Food Adventures 4 tbsp butter 3 eggs 1 cup buttermilk 1 tsp vanilla 2 tbsp sugar Pinch of salt Dash of powdered ginger 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (I used rye) Preheat oven to 425. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar, salt, and ginger. Stir in flour. Melt butter in a skillet on the stovetop. Pour batter into the hot skillet and transfer to the oven. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  

Almond Grit Cakes with Clementines & Honey

clementine grits 7 One of the very best things about the internet is the community. It has it's ups and downs, definitely, and sometimes having a public blog that is open to criticism leads to reading, well, criticism of my person and my recipes and my life which sucks but the trade off for the positive is huge. I've met people and made connections and friendships that I wouldn't trade for the world. Not to mention of course that this blog and everything that it is and has become wouldn't be possible without a supportive community. The readers, the commenters, the people who email to tell me that the like/love/adore the blog make it all worth it. So, thanks friends. clementine grits 1 clementine grits 2 Through some chain of mutual friends (real and internet) I met the lovely Carrie from Plums in the Icebox on twitter. She's a Baltimore native and we became friends on the internet and in real life.  She's great- sweet, intelligent, witty, talented, and a Jill of all trades. Professionally she writes for Bliss Tree and recently she reached out to me about contributing to a "Brunch Off" series she has in the works. The concept is simple- two food bloggers create a brunch menu using the same seasonal ingredient and readers vote on which one they prefer. The ingredient was clementines (something I've been buying in bulk for a few months) and I love a good challenge, so count me in! clementine grits 3 clementine grits 4 My goals with this challenge were to create something fun, tasty, and unique to my niche, Southern food. Surprise to no one I chose grits as a foundation ingredients (are you getting sick of grits?). Sweet grits made with cinnamon, ginger, and almond milk formed into cakes and lightly fried. Topped with fresh clementines that had been tossed in local raw honey. Something light, full of flavor, and designed for brunch. That is to say, complimentary to mimosas and bacon. clementine grits 5 Dan and I tried some this morning and I'm happy with how they turned out. The grits were the perfect base- not overwhelmingly sweet with a good crunch thanks to the slivered almonds and a richness thanks to the almond milk. The clementines in honey were so simple and amazingly delicious, the perfect tribute to two of nature's most wonderful ingredients. I like that it isn't anything audacious (like fried chicken eggs benedict) or overdone (like french toast), just an unassuming combination of complimentary flavors and textures. Head over to Bliss Tree to see the Brunch Off, make both recipes, and tell me what you think! clementine grits 6   Almond Grits Cakes with Clementines & Honey Serves 4-6 grits: 2 cups almond milk 1/2 cup stone ground grits 1 tbsp honey 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp powdered ginger 1/2 cup corn flour 1/4 cup slivered almonds Dash of cinnamon/ginger topping: 3-4 clementines 2 tbsp honey Pinch of salt (optional) The grits cakes need to be formed at least an hour before being fried, though the night before is ideal. In a medium saucepan combine grits, almond milk, honey, and spices. Cook over medium heat unti the grits are thick but still creamy. Pour into cupcake pans and chill for 1 hour or overnight. Chop clementines in half or thirds and toss in honey. Let sit. Combine corn flour, almonds, and spices and heat 1/4" of oil in a heavy pan. Carefully (I used a fork so my hands didn't warm the grits) coat the grits cakes in the flour mixture and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until crispy. Top with clementine mixture and a sprinkle of salt.