Friday, November 13, 2009

Have A Hearty Brunch

Restaurant chefs hate the brunch shift. They party hard the night before and probably hate the rest of us "civilians" for ruining their Sunday morning lie-in. If you've ever read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, you'll remember how he spilled the beans on what not to order for brunch at a restaurant unless you know the chef (seafood mainly). Now, as much as you know I love Tony, I'm not going to let his cynicism ruin my brunch experience. It's a great way to start a lazy Sunday, when family and friends are over for a visit. I like cooking brunch, because I can incorporate a lot more savory and heartier items into my menu - plus I get more time in the mornings to cook it. Then again, my favorite brunches were in Las Vegas when DH and I went there for vacation one year. Man. Oh. Man. It was hedonistic. I have fond memories of waking up late at our hotel after a night of indulgence and pleasure and hopping all over the Strip, then making our way down to the hotel's ginormous brunch buffet - where we easily spent a good hour or two, devouring our way through plate after plate of carby goodness. DH even became firm friends with the omelette guy.

But Vegas is very far from my little town in Connecticut, and a girl can't live on memories alone. So, once in a while, I try to re-create that feeling of lazy indulgence at home, by whipping up a hearty brunch whenever my family pops over for a weekend visit. Lately, biscuits have become one of my favorite brunch items. They're surprising easy to make (although a bit messy) and go really well with all kinds of eggs. Like these craggy little bundles of cheesiness - which claim to be like the ones you get at Red Lobster, but I personally think they're even better!Easy Cheddar Biscuits (this recipe is all over the web, but I found it here)
Makes 1 dozen

Click here for printable recipe

2.5 cups Bisquick baking mix
3/4 cup cold whole milk
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) cold butter (cut into cubes)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 heaping cup grated cheddar cheese

To brush on top:
2-3 tbsp melted butter
1/4 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. Combine Bisquick mix with the cold butter - cut it in using a pastry cutter or a large fork. Don't overmix; you want to see some pea-sized chunks of butter in there.

3. Then add the cheddar cheese, milk and garlic. Mix by hand until just combined.

4. Drop approximately 1/4 cup portions of the sticky dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

5. Bake for 15-17 mins or until the tops turn golden brown. Take the biscuits out of the oven and immediately brush them all over with the mixture of melted butter, parsley flakes, garlic powder and salt. Serve right away to your eager and hungry brunch crowd.

Verdict: These really are super easy. And they disappear pretty quickly when you serve them fresh from the oven. I love the cheesy, buttery smell that wafts through the house as these bake in the oven - I think that's the perfect smell to bring everyone to your table on Sunday morning! I did feel like a cheat, using a baking mix, but it's really convenient and quick, considering you have a bunch of other things you need to cook that morning. And it's a no-fail recipe in my books, erm, unless you forget about them in the oven. So use a timer, would ya?!

This recipe is going straight to Meeta's Monthly Mingle: Brunch event. I'm always looking out for great brunch ideas, so can't wait to see what the others cook up.

Ozzy enjoying his brunch. My poor plant - I have sacrificed thee for the digestive needs of my kitty.

One last thing, dear readers. Please check back here on Monday, Nov 16th, to find out about my new blogadventure with Debby of A Feast For The Eyes. That's also when you'll find out how you can have the chance to get your paws on The Pioneer Woman's uber-popular new cookbook (for free, I mean it) ! Mark your calendars, set your alarms, synchronize watches .... erm, you get what I mean!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mysteries Unfold

Hmmm. "Curiouser and curiouser!" cried Alice.

Well Alice, 'ol girl, my life may not be as odd as your adventures in Wonderland, but strange things are happening that could either go in the "weird" or "wonderful" category ... or both.

For one thing, the weather here has become unbelievably gorgeous, which in itself is surprising, because only two weeks ago it snowed in my small Connecticut town. Just the other day, our apartment heater was chugging away, and I was wearing socks around the house to keep my tootsies toasty. So these last few days of "Indian summer" (as we used to say in Canada) are a beautiful interlude in an otherwise bleak weather pattern.

Secondly, I'm multi-tasking. No, the world isn't coming to an end, funnily enough! For those of you who really know me, realize that I used to be the ultimate uni-tasker, but now there's more than one pot bubbling on my stove. Debby of A Feast For The Eyes and I have been cooking up a delicious little project on the side that we hope to unveil to all of you in the next few days. It revolves around Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. Ah Ree, what can I say about thee? You are super-mom, super-cook, super-photographer, super-funny, and super-lucky to land yourself a handsome specimen of a cowboy as your husband! But the fact that you can laugh at yourself at all times is what hooked me on to your blog since the last two years. Ree shows no fear of butter or cheese or carbs (atta girl!), but she also embraces healthy greens, so her recipes have something for everyone. If you aren't a fan yet, you will be after you try her cutie-patootie Individual Berry Cobblers.

I didn't have raspberries, so used these plump, juicy blackberries - darlin' little jewels!

PW's Individual Berry Cobblers (original recipe on P-Dub's site here with step-by-step photos)
Makes 10-12

Click here for printable recipe

1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen (and thawed) berries
Extra sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Prep a regular 12-serving muffin pan; coat it with non-stick
cooking spray.

2. If using larger berries, like strawberries or blackberries, cut them in half and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine flour with sugar, then whisk in the milk. Whisk in melted butter and vanilla.

4. Using a 1/4 cup measure, pour batter into greased muffin tins. Top off with your choice of berries. (no need to press down) Sprinkle each serving with 1/8 tsp sugar.
Something else that was weird. Ree's original recipe was for 24 of these babies, so when I halved it, I figured I'd get 12 servings out of it - but lookie here, only 10! How did that happen?! I feel like I've let down my high-school math teacher somehow.

5. Bake for 30-40 mins (keep an eye on it, because you don't want them to turn too dark around the edges) until golden brown. Invert onto a cooling rack (use a butter knife to loosen the edges, and these babies will pop right out) and serve warm with ice-cream or whipped cream. But they're so cute - no one will judge you if you pop a couple into your mouth as is.
Another conundrum. Ree said that the berries would sink to the bottom of the batter - but mine didn't at all! Are raspberries more sinkable than blackberries?!

Verdict: No matter what, these adorable mini-cobblers are ultra-delicious. Crispy around the edges and pillowy soft in the center, bursting with fresh berry juices, these babies are keepers. Even as I'm typing this, I'm trying to figure out a scenario where having these for breakfast, with ice-cream, would be acceptable! And let's not forget how easy this recipe is! My goodness. No mixer needed, and barely any baking skills required. Hence, minimal effort with maximum payback - me likey.

Bet you can't have just one.

And finally, here's something you've never seen on my blog before. A giveaway! And not just any giveaway, dear readers. Soon you will all have the chance to win a hardcover copy of Ree's brand-spanking-new cookbook! It was released on Oct 27th, and you can be a proud owner of it. I've only heard good things about this from other foodies, so I can't wait to share this with you. Keep checking back here to see how you can get your hands on this, for freeeeeeeeeee!
Four kids, and deliciously calorific food, but she still looks great - what more do I need to get inspired?!