Tag Archives: family

Breakfast in Bed: Cheese Grits

Cheese Grits 7

Post by Alison Hein.

Years ago you could only find grits, or ground corn cooked porridge-like, in the southern United States. Luckily for us northerners, this delectable, creamy dish has become more prominent in our area. To me, grits tastes like a heavenly cross between polenta and popcorn. When cooked slowly with milk instead of water, it makes a perfect bed upon which to place your favorite breakfast food.

As with other grains, cooking grits takes a bit of patience. You must bring the milk (or water) to a boil, then find the perfect simmering temperature to bring your grits to a creamy (not burnt) finish. I strongly recommend looking for traditional stone-ground grits with no additives. It may take a few minutes longer to prepare, but the natural flavors are extraordinary. Try ordering online if you can’t find these locally. My favorite purveyor is Palmetto Farms, a family-owned South Carolina tradition since the 1930s.

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Grits have long been considered a homey breakfast dish, but can be enjoyed for dinner, too – serve them as a simple side with a pat of butter, or spruce them up by stirring in chicken stock, cheese, fried onions, or bacon. Try the Carolina classic shrimp and grits – a mournful of creamy corn grits, topped with plump seasoned and sautéed shellfish – astoundingly easy to prepare, yet deep and rich in flavor.

In this breakfast recipe, I add spunky grated cheddar to the grits as they cease simmering. Then I fry up a couple of crispy eggs to place on top, and complete with some fresh, green parsley sprigs for color and punch in my heavenly breakfast in bed.

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Ingredients

2 cups milk
½ cup grits
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 eggs
Fresh parsley, for garnish

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Preparation

Pour milk into a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Stir in grits and a dash of salt. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until grits are thick and creamy. Stir in grated cheddar cheese and keep warm until ready to serve.

To make eggs, heat olive oil in large, heavy frying pan over medium low heat. Crack eggs into pan one at a time, making sure to leave enough space between the eggs so the whites don’t run together. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook each egg until white is solid, edges are beginning to crisp and yolk is still soft, about 4 minutes.

Spoon cheese grits into two bowls. Top each serving with a fried egg. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings

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Breakfast in Bed – Mango Mint Julep

Mango Mint Julep 10

Post by Alison Hein.

The origin of Mint Juleps is clouded with the mist of the past. We know that the drink emanated from the southern United States most likely sometime in the 18th century. The word “julep” itself is quite unusual, and is thought to have been derived from the Persian word “golâb”, meaning rose water. Made by diffusing rose petals in water, rose water has historically been used for flavoring food, scenting perfumes, supporting religious rites, and enhancing medicinal concoctions.

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A traditional Mint Julep is made with just four ingredients: fresh mint, sugar, bourbon and water.  What began as a medical tonic to aid with “sickness at the stomach” has since morphed into a southern tradition and the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby. Approximately 120,000 Mint Juleps are sold during the race each year. The frosty thirst-quenching drinks are a surefire winner.

There are as many recipes for Mint Juleps as there are drinks sold at the Derby. Some make a mint-infused simple syrup while others prefer to muddle the fresh sprigs; some use blender-crushed ice and others like large, crystal cubes; and some add the traditional bourbon, though others favor whiskey, gin, or rum. Mine is a virgin version (unless we’re having a weekend champagne brunch) which calls for fresh mango purée to be added to the mix. A very refreshing option for a sticky summer morning.

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Island mango and aromatic mint go together in every way – sweet counters spunky, herbal offsets fruity. Even the colors work! Rosy golden mango blush blurs and swirls with deep forest green for a winner of a breakfast in bed and a cure for what ails ya.

Ingredients

3 sprigs fresh mint, plus additional for garnish
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup mango purée
½ cup crushed ice
½ cup sparkling water, ginger ale, or champagne

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Preparation

Clean mint and trim leaves from stem. Add to a tall glass. Add sugar, and muddle together until the sugar and mint take on a pasty texture. Add mango puree and stir. Fill the glass with crushed ice, then finish with sparkling water, ginger ale, or champagne, Add a tall spoon and straw to the glass. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve icy chilled.

Makes 1 drink

Note: You can purchase mango purée, or make your own by peeling, chopping, and puréeing a fresh mango in a blender until thick and smooth. To make a traditional Mint Julep, replace the mango purée with bourbon, then add the crushed ice and fill the glass with water.

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Breakfast in Bed – Cheesecake

Cheesecake 9

Post by Alison Hein.

From the depths of my ancient recipe box, buried beneath layers of tattered newspaper clippings and scribbled notes, I found the remnants of an old family favorite – cheesecake! Trouble was, this recipe was jotted down in an abbreviated fashion – omitting minor details such as oven temperature settings, baking time, and order of mixing ingredients.

Trial, tribulation, and a faint stirring of memories finally resulted in a successful product. I altered it a bit, increasing the amount of fresh lemon juice, and topping with fresh cherries instead of additional graham cracker crumbs.

Cheesecake 1

It takes time to bake this cake, and some babysitting during the process. The top may crack a little, and a natural depression will form after cooling. Never fear – this is the perfect spot for piling on a bunch of ruby ripe fruit. Add a spot of whipped cream, if you like, and cherish the details of this family favorite breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

Cake

1 tablespoon butter
2 to 4 ounces graham crackers
2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt

Cheesecake 2

Topping

2 cups sour cream
¼ cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 dry pint fresh fruit, such as cherries or strawberries, for topping
Whipped cream, for garnish (optional)

Special Equipment

Spring-form pan

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Preparation

Preheat oven to 325°. Place graham crackers in a sealable plastic bag. Break into crumbs using a tool (rolling pin, pan, etc.) to crush crackers. Generously grease a large spring-form pan with the tablespoon of butter. Cover butter with graham cracker crumbs and set aside.

To make cake, add cream cheese, sugar, eggs, sour cream, lemon juice and salt to a food processor. Cream together until smooth and light. Slowly pour cake batter into prepared pan. Use a spatula to smooth top. Place in the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until cake is still slightly wobbly, but set.

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To make topping, mix together remaining sour cream, sugar, egg and lemon juice until smooth. Remove cake from oven and pour topping over cake. Bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes until cake and topping are set. Remove from oven, let cool, then refrigerate at least 12 hours before serving. Top with fresh fruit, and garnish with whipped cream, if you like.

Makes 1 large cake, about 10 to 12 slices

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Breakfast in Bed – Parsleyed Eggs – Seventies Style

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Post Alison Hein.

We invited our good friends Michael and Luis for dinner shortly before Easter. When Luis offered to come a little early and help me prepare, I agreed whole-heartedly. Little did he know I intended to trick him into making tie-dyed Easter eggs! (You can now buy these kits in your local grocery store.) Anyway, they turned out beautifully. Luis’ artistry made for an impressive display, and I even let him take a couple home.

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After the holiday, a handful of these beautiful eggs still remained, and I longed to use them purposefully. My first inclination was for some type of deviled eggs, but then I remembered an old favorite from Anna Thomas – parsleyed eggs on the half-shell. Eggs, hard-boiled and scooped out, their innards mixed with parsley and butter, then returned to their shells and cooked to a crisp, golden finish. What inspiration! Now I could showcase my lovely tie-dyed eggshells, and pay homage to Anna Thomas, famed for her 1972 book The Vegetarian Epicure, sometimes called “the vegetarian Bible of the 1970s.”

Slicing through the shells and removing the cooked egg is difficult work, so take your time. Don’t worry if the first couple don’t work out so well – you’ll soon get the hang of it. And, even if you don’t feel like tie-dying your parsleyed eggs, I’m sure you will still enjoy the artistry of Anna’s recipe, and a beautiful vegetarian, epicurean breakfast in bed.

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Ingredients

4 eggs
2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus additional for cooking
½ cup fresh parsley, washed
Salt and pepper, to taste

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Preparation

Place eggs in a small heavy saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil on high heat and continue to cook eggs for 10 minutes, until hard-boiled. Cool.

Using a sharp, serrated knife, carefully tap and score the eggshell in half lengthwise, then cut entire egg in half. Gently scoop out cooked yolks and white, retaining shell halves. Repeat with remaining eggs. Place cooked egg whites and yolks in blender or food processor. Add softened butter and parsley and blend to a smooth, thick paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Trim off any jagged edges, and fill shells with egg mixture, smoothing to a flat top.

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When ready to serve, heat butter in heavy pan over medium low heat. Place egg halves in pan, stuffing side down, and cook over low heat until light brown and crisp on top and heated through, about ten minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

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Breakfast in Bed: Coffee Pancakes

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Post by Alison Hein.

Many of us cannot imagine facing the day without a tall cup of thick, strong coffee. It’s a ritual, a kick-start, and a requirement. But perhaps you can imagine infusing fluffy breakfast pancakes with the same deep, dark and mysterious flavors as your favorite cup of Joe.

Fiddling with this recipe is as easy as brewing up some hazelnut coffee, or vanilla, or mint… A dash of cocoa powder in the batter, or a sprinkle on top after griddling, and you’ve got café mocha. Instead of maple syrup, make a coffee-flavored simple syrup –simply swap out ½ cup of water for ½ cup of brewed coffee.

Coffee Pancakes 1

No need to beat the egg whites if you’re in a desperate hurry for your morning coffee pancakes – they will be slightly more dense but just as delicious. Don’t forget to freeze some for when you just can’t wait another minute to dive into  what will soon become your favorite  required ritual, a dark and mysterious breakfast in bed.

Ingredients 

2½ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup strong coffee, cooled
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, separated
4 ounces (one half stick) butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus additional for cooking

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Preparation

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Gradually whisk in the cooled coffee, milk, vinegar and vanilla. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Slowly add melted butter to batter. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and gently fold them into the batter. The batter should be thick, smooth and creamy.

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Place a pan or griddle on the stove over medium to medium low heat. Melt a small amount of butter in the pan for the first pancake. Ladle batter into pan and cook until small bubbles appear throughout pancake, about 1 minute. Flip once with spatula and continue cooking until golden brown, another minute or so. Adjust heat as necessary while cooking. Serve hot with real maple syrup.

Makes 10 to 12 4-inch pancakes.

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