Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Brunch or Breakfast

Southern Hot Chocolate Gravy

A friend of mine from Oklahoma told me that they would eat hot chocolate gravy for breakfast.  Add a side of fresh fruit and you have a meal.  Here is the gravy recipe.

1 cup white sugar
2 T flour
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups milk
1 T butter

Combine everything except butter in a heavy saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.

Once boiling, cut the heat down and stir for a minute more (it will get pretty thick rather suddenly). Take off heat and stir in butter.

Pour over biscuits and serve hot.

As a child my mother who was not from the south, sometimes made us hot chocolate pudding for supper.  When the cupboard was bear near the end of the week before Dad’s pay day, we always had milk because of daily deliveries from our local milk man so she could always whip this up to fill our tummies.  She could feed 8 kids on a dime (exaggeration, but you know what I mean). Her warm pudding was not runny like a gravy though; it was thick like a pudding.  It was basically hot cocoa that she thickened with a slurry of corn starch.  I still like pudding warm because of the memory of it.

Sausage Gravy

8 ounces breakfast sausage
2 tablespoons shortening or lard 
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups milk
Salt and pepper, to taste

This is another way to extend sausage to go further but is now a very common dish all over the US.  Cook sausage in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring and break up the sausage. With a slotted spoon, removed the browned sausage to a paper towel lined plate. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter to the drippings in the skillet. Add flour, stirring into a rue for a couple of minutes until lightly browned and bubbling. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups milk; stirring and cooking until thickened. Add the crumbled sausage. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more milk. Taste and add salt and pepper.

Serve over hot, split, buttered biscuits.  Biscuit recipe is below, but if you don't want to deal with the time and mess, you can always by those biscuits in a tube and bake them.  Serves 4 to 6.


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the board
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
1 cup buttermilk (approx)

Preheat your oven to 450°F.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, or in a food processor.

Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the flour until it resembles course meal.

If using a food processor, just pulse a few times until this consistency is achieved.

Add the buttermilk and mix just until combined.  If it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk. It should be very wet.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board.

Gently, gently pat (do not roll with a rolling pin) the dough out until it's about 1/2" thick. Fold the dough about 5 times; gently press the dough down to a 1 inch thick.  Use a round cutter to cut into rounds.

You can gently knead the scraps together and make a few more, but they will not be anywhere near as good as the first ones.

Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet and do not let them touching each other.

If you like "crusty" sides, put them about 1 inch apart.   These will not rise as high as the biscuits put close together.

Bake for about 10 to12 minutes. The biscuits will be a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom.  Do not over bake.

The key to real biscuits is not in the ingredients, but in the handling of the dough.  Do not over mix.  The dough must be handled as little as possible or you will have tough biscuits.  I have found that a food processor produces superior biscuits, because the ingredients stay colder and there's less chance of over mixing.  You also must pat the dough out lightly with your hands.  Rolling with a rolling pin is a guaranteed way to over stimulate the gluten, resulting in a tougher biscuit.

When you want fresh biscuits, simply place them frozen on the cookie sheet and bake at 450°F for about 20 minutes.  You may freeze these and bake as you need them.

Pecan Pancakes

Yesterday I shared some pecan recipes with you since it was National Pecan Day.  Don't forget to put them on pancakes.  I like to use a simple buttermilk pancake mix in a box, but then you can goose your pancakes up by adding pecans and hot maple syrup.  Maple syrup goes so well with pecans.  

Canuck Cakes

Many years ago I dated a Canadian who taught me how to make something he called Canuck Cakes which was his version of a cross between a pancakes, a crepe, and a funnel cake.  I like them because of the different textures.  They have a nice crispy edge from frying in more oil than you would use for a pancake or crepe.   I have always made them from memory when I make them and had no recipe, so I made notes and pictures yesterday and wrote down the quantities I used as I made them to share the recipe.  Josh loves them so I make extra, refrigerate, and he microwaves them when he is hungry.  

1 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour (approximate)
2 eggs, beaten
Good pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups milk
Oil for frying

In a blender add milk, eggs, and salt.  Start your blender on blend and slowly add flour a little at a time stopping to test the thickness of the batter.  The batter needs to be a little runny but not as runny as a crepe or not as thick as a pancake.  Blend until smooth.  Let batter sit a little like you would a crepe batter and it will thicken a bit.  Test by using a wooden spoon to run your finger across.  If the line stays the batter should be thick enough.  If not, add a tablespoon more of flour at a time.  If it is too thick, add just a bit more milk.   

Heat oil about ¼ inch deep on medium heat in a skillet. When the oil is hot, pour the runny batter into the hot oil and with a spatula spread it out into the pan. 

The edges will bubble up and get crispy and the center will be thinner.  When golden brown, turn over and cook on other side.

Drain well on a paper towel for a second and then serve on a plate, putting a slice of butter on the Canuck cake to melt.  Serve with maple syrup or a fruit syrup while still hot.  Maybe toss on some fresh berries to match your fruit flavored syrup.  Serve with bacon or sausage and your meal is complete.  I find them quite rich and can only eat 2 at the most, but Josh can eat 4 at a time. It is a great camping meal if you have the cast iron skillet.  I don't know what I would do without mine.  Makes 6 very large Canuck Cakes.

You can also look back in my blog for other recipes such as breads that are good for breakfast, along with crepe and blintz recipes.  The ham balls recipe I recently shared is great for a brunch.

Ham Balls 

I made ham balls today and will fix a bird's nest for my grandson (he always has them for breakfast when he is here).  I also talked about them in my blog recently but they are simply a slice of bread with a hole cut in it and an egg put in the hole and fried.

I wanted to take a picture of the ham balls because I fixed them different today (I'm always messing with a recipe).  My camera broke so I took the picture with my cell phone.  It is not the best picture.

Anyway, this time I did not put any filler in the ham loaf and just fried them in my skillet turning them until they were browned on every side and done.  I made a sauce of orange juice, brown mustard, and maple syrup and simmered the meat balls in the sauce until the sauce thickened a little. Season with salt and pepper.  I then added a few Marciano cherries and Mandarin oranges and some of their juice to the meat balls and sauce and served the fruit warm with the meat balls.  It is really tasty.

I think next time I will add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar for a little more sweet and sour taste and maybe thicken it a bit with corn starch for a sweet and sour sauce consistency.  Test one last time for seasoning of salt and pepper.  Maybe a couple of pepper flakes for a little heat.

This was 1 pound of ham loaf

Experts say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so take time to make something.  On the weekends make it a family affair, open up the cook books and go through them together for ideas, and share the experience of a leisurely breakfast together.  Breakfast is also good time to make a meal where you can really limit your processed foods.  I like to use it as a time to spoil my grandsons and fix their favorites and it becomes all about them.

Fresh Fruit and Smoothies

Get out the blender and invent smoothies that the kids can make.  My earlier blogs have some ideas for smoothies under my strawberry and raspberry chapters.  Set up a fruit bar and let the kids pick out their favorite fruits for their smoothies or if they don't like smoothies they can  garnish their plates and have extra nutrition.  To have them involved, let them decorate everyone plate before serving.  Have a blessed Sunday and a great breakfast!

Be happy and God bless your and yours.  

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