Today, I have failed you as a food blogger. I’m not proud. I cooked and cooked, and our loved ones and we ate like kings; there was not a single recipe that shouldn’t be archived and returned to, and yet, in the whirl of things, we forgot to pick up the camera. (Hangs head in shame.) You get no photographic evidence of the shredded hash browns, chive biscuits, egregious amount of thick-cut maple-cured bacon, baked almond-orange French toast, extremely spicy bloody marys, plain yogurt I flavored myself with natural vanilla, and just a pinch of sugar. You’re just going to have to trust me that it was grand.
Since we’ve been together, Alex and I have twice taken our mothers and those dudes they married for Mother’s Day brunches. I won’t say we haven’t had good meals, but we’ve never had a great one. No matter who cooks it (and really, it’s always a short-order cook; the chef with their name on the menu isn’t called in six hours early to flip eggs), in the end, most brunch menus look precisely alike, and with the prices jacked up for a holiday, you’ve got to question the sanity of a $50 over-cooked egg. I don’t overcook my eggs, do you? And yet I’ll pay someone else to serve bacon that’s never quite crisp. My bacon is always crispy.
It was a post on the Gourmet Editors blog by Ann Patchett that finally knocked some sanity back into my head. Among her seven reasons that food always tastes better at home, she talks about never needing a reservation; food always served at the correct temperature, and meals are always perfectly portioned for her current level of hunger (“I don’t overeat at home. No one ever steps out of the pantry and asks me if I want a dessert when I am already perfectly full.”), and knowing everything that went into her food, even saturated fat. But this was my favorite:
And with that, I couldn’t rationalize another fabric napkin-wrapped basket of stale scones and overly-sweet muffins because if there is anything I can’t abide, it’s a chalky scone, not when a flawless recipe is available at the touch of your fingertips.
So, yes. Onto the food already.
- You already know about the three varieties of miniature muffins (corn, raspberry-lemon, and banana with chocolate chips), but I think I’ve found my go-to biscuit recipe. Even better, I plopped them on their baking sheet and stored them in the freezer until I was ready to bake them to create less work for myself this morning. I’m brilliant, right? Uh, anyway.
- Bacon is bacon, but I do love the thick-cut stuff. You can have them packed at the Whole Foods meat counter. It always gets noticed.
- I shred a russet potato or two and half an onion in the food processor, squeeze them out very well, and fry them in a big patty to make hash browns (my favorite bedding for a poached egg).
- I’ve already told you about my baked French toast, but I must add that the glug of Triple Sec, zest of half an orange, and a splash of almond extract combination is my favorite. I soaked it only for an hour and used 1% milk instead of whole, and you’d never have known the difference.
- Finally, the baked eggs: If you’re tired of the same old poached/baked/fried/scramble fix, you need a dose. You create the thickest and most lush bed of sauteed spinach, mushrooms, and onion with a splash of cream, dig and fill egg-sized wells all over and bake it in the oven until the whites are solid before finishing it off with parmesan. You scoop-scoop-it onto your plate and never look back. I know I haven’t. Don’t be put off by this unseemly picture: excellent deliciousness is within.
- 5 ounces tomato juice
- 1 1/2 ounces vodka
- Juice of 2 lime wedges
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated
- fresh horseradish
- 2 or 3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- 3 or 4 drops of Tabasco sauce
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of celery salt
- Small bit of cayenne pepper
- Combine all of the ingredients in a pint glass. Pour the drink back and forth between the pint glass and a cocktail shaker four times, then pour the Bloody Mary into a highball glass over ice.
- Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms
- 10 oz baby spinach leaves
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- One garlic clove, finely chopped
- Two tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced (2 cups)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Four large eggs
- Two tablespoons finely grated parmesan
- Put oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 450degF.
- Bring 1/2 inch water to a boil in a 10- to 12-inch ovenproof heavy skillet (not cast-iron), then add half of the spinach and cook, turning with tongs, until wilted, about 30 seconds. Add remaining spinach and wilt in the same manner, then cook, covered, over moderately high heat until spinach is tender, about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and cool under cold running water. Gently squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible, then coarsely chop.
- Wipe skillet dry, then cook onion and garlic in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and increase heat to moderate, then cook, stirring, until mushrooms are softened and have exuded liquid, about 3 minutes. Stir in cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and chopped spinach, and bring to a simmer. Remove the skillet from heat and make four large indentations in the spinach mixture. Break an egg into each indentation and bake, uncovered, until egg whites are set but yolks are still runny for 7 to 10 minutes. Lightly season eggs with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with cheese.