Posts Tagged ‘breakfast’

Breakfast Sausage

Sausage, I think, is one of those foods that very few people ever attempt to make at home, partially because it seems a bit daunting and because there are lots of decent options readily available. We do not eat a lot of sausage because we tend to try to eat a pretty healthy diet, but who doesn’t like some sausage every now and again? Once again, my Good Eats project pushed me to make something at home that I may otherwise not have tried, and it let me finally put to use the KitchenAid sausage attachment that has been sitting in the basement for five years.

A classic bulk breakfast sausage was Alton’s first project in this episode, and the only special equipment you really need for this is a meat grinder. Alton emphasizes that a food processor is not ideal for grinding fresh sausage because it results in sausage with a very dense texture. A food processor is suitable, however, for cured sausages. To make Alton’s breakfast sausage, begin by cubing two pounds of boneless pork butt and a half pound of pork fat back in to 1-inch pieces. I had to go to the local butcher shop to get my fat back.

Add the following to the cubed meat:  2 t Kosher salt, 1 1/2 t black pepper, 2 t chopped fresh sage, 2 t chopped fresh thyme, 1/2 t chopped fresh rosemary, 1 T light brown sugar, 1/2 t red pepper flakes, 1/2 t cayenne pepper, and 1/2 t nutmeg.

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Herbs/spices for sausage, clockwise from upper left: Kosher salt, black pepper, fresh sage, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, light brown sugar, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg.

Mix the meat and spices thoroughly with your hands and chill the mixture for at least an hour; you want the fat to be cold prior to grinding, so it stays evenly dispersed in the sausage.

Once your meat has chilled, run it through your meat grinder of choice (using a fine die), one handful at a time.

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Bulk breakfast sausage.

Wrap the sausage in butcher paper, if you have it, and refrigerate it for up to a week, or freeze it for several months. I vacuum-sealed my sausage, freezing it for later use. When ready to cook your sausage, form the sausage into patties of desired size, and cook them in a pan over medium-low heat until they are no longer pink in the center.

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Breakfast sausage patties, cooking over medium-low heat until no longer pink.

Oh, and to clean the meat grinder, Alton suggests running stale bread through the grinder prior to washing it. We tried this sausage for breakfast one morning, eating it alongside English muffins.

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Alton’s breakfast sausage.

I found this sausage to really resemble the spicy bulk Jimmy Dean sausage my dad always ate when I was a kid. This sausage has lots of flavor from the variety of spices it contains, and is moderately spicy. The hardest part of making this bulk sausage is cubing the meat, which really is not much effort. All in all, this recipe taught me that bulk sausage is super easy to make and worth the effort.

Italian Sausage

The second recipe in this episode is for Italian sausage, which means you will need to have collagen sausage casings and a sausage-stuffing attachment. I bought my casings on Amazon.

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Collagen sausage casing.

The process for this sausage is very similar to that of the breakfast sausage above until you get to the stuffing portion. Fennel is a prominent spice in Italian sausage, so you first need to toast 1 1/2 t of fennel seeds in a pan over medium heat until fragrant.

Grind the fennel in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and add 2 t Kosher salt, 1 1/2 t pepper, 1 T chopped parsley, and 2 pounds of cubed pork shoulder.

Toss the spices with the meat and refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour to chill the fat.IMG_5235 Once chilled, grind the meat, one handful at a time, into a chilled bowl.

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Ground sausage.

Next, install the stuffing nozzle on your mixer, loading sausage into the hopper. Turn the mixer on, allowing it to run until sausage starts to come out of the nozzle.

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Ground sausage, loaded into the hopper.

Using a wooden spoon handle as a guide, load the collagen casing onto the nozzle (all the way to the far end of the casing), twisting the far end and clamping it with a clothes pin.

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Collagen sausage casing, loaded onto nozzle. Casing needs to be pushed all the way on. Excuse the somewhat phallic photograph.

Turn the mixer on at medium speed, using the plunger to push the sausage through while holding the casing with your other hand. This process is a lot easier with an additional set of hands. Once your casing is sufficiently stuffed, tie the end of the casing with twine.

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Filled casing.

It is now time to form links by twisting your desired width of sausage away from you (Alton did a hand-width portion). Form the second link by twisting the long part of the sausage the opposite direction. Be careful not to twist the links too much or the casing will tear; I found this out the hard way. Once your links are formed, twist them all into an accordion shape, keeping them all attached.

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Links formed.

Age the links in the refrigerator for at least two hours, and up to three days, before cooking or freezing. I will tell you that Alton makes the sausage stuffing/forming look really easy in the episode, while I found there to be a substantial learning curve. To cook Alton’s sausage, place your links in a lidded pan with 1/4-inch of water, and bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, cover the pan and set a timer for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes have passed, remove the lid from the pan and continue cooking your links, turning them every couple minutes until they are golden brown and have an internal temperature of at least 150 degrees.

As far as serving the sausages, Alton suggests serving them on buns with mustard.

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Italian sausage on a bun with mustard.

Though these sausages were a bit of a pain to form, we were really happy with their flavor. The toasted fennel flavor is prominent in these sausages and they taste as good as any Italian sausage you can buy.

Blueberry Muffins

First up in the 88th episode of Good Eats are blueberry muffins. Blueberry muffins were something we ate a lot growing up. My mom would make a batch of blueberry muffins, giving them to us for breakfast before school. She would take day-old muffins, split them in half, butter them, and place them under the broiler until the butter had melted and the muffin edges were slightly crispy. Gosh, they were good. I really should make blueberry muffins more often.

Alton’s recipe begins with preheating the oven to 380 degrees. While the oven preheats, combine 1 C plain yogurt, 1/2 C vegetable oil, 1 C sugar, and 1 egg in a bowl, whisking to combine.

In a separate bowl, sift together 12 1/2 ounces cake flour, a pinch of Kosher salt, 2 t baking powder, and 1 t baking soda.

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Wet and dry muffin mixtures.

For his muffins, Alton recommends using fresh blueberries when possible, but if you must use frozen berries, do not thaw them before adding them to your batter. Either way, toss 1 1/2 C blueberries with 1 T of your dry ingredient mixture; this will serve to keep the berries from sinking to the bottom of your muffins.

Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients, mixing with a spatula for a long count of 10.

Add your berries, reserving 1/2 C for later. Mix the berries into the batter, but only for a count of three, as you do not want to over-mix the batter.

Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray and use a #20 ice cream scoop to dispense batter into each cup; a #20 scoop is equal to 0.2 C, so I used a ladle that was about this size.

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Sprayed muffin cups filled with batter.

Remember those reserved berries? Sprinkle them onto the tops of the muffins, lightly pressing them into the batter.

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Reserved berries sprinkled over muffins.

Place your muffins in your preheated oven, but increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Alton explained in the episode that increasing the oven temperature when you place the muffins in the oven gives a guaranteed burst of heat, which will help to ensure a good rise. Bake the muffins for 12 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake them for an additional 8-13 minutes. The muffins are done when they are golden brown and they pass the toothpick test.

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Muffins, straight out of the oven.

Flip your muffins onto a tea towel, letting them cool upside down.

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Muffins, inverted onto a tea towel to cool.

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Blueberry muffins, split, buttered, and broiled.

I had to test one of the muffins while it was still warm, splitting and buttering it. These blueberry muffins are outstanding. Not only are they littered with blueberries, but their flavor and texture is spot-on too. The yogurt in the muffin batter gives the muffins a faint tartness, so they are not overly sweet, and they are tender on the inside while being slightly crispy and golden on the outside. Good stuff. This blueberry muffin recipe is hard to beat.

English Muffins

It was probably about 15 years ago when I first saw this episode of Good Eats. I remember being super intrigued by Alton’s English muffin recipe, deciding to try it for myself. At the time, I was at my parents’ house, and all I can remember is that my English muffins were ugly… really ugly. They tasted fine, but they were hideous, and I never tried them again – until now.

To make English muffins, dissolve 1/8 t sugar in 1/3 C warm water. Sprinkle on 1 package of yeast, and set the bowl aside for about five minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the wet ingredients:  1 C very hot water, 1 T shortening, 1 T sugar, 1/2 t salt, and 1/2 C milk powder.

Add the yeast mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring to combine.

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Yeast added to wet ingredients.

Place 2 C of sifted flour in a bowl, making a well in the center, and pour in the wet ingredients.

Stir the dough with a wooden spoon until it comes together. Set the dough aside for 30 minutes.

Alton used an electric griddle to cook his English muffins. We do not have an electric griddle per se, but we do have a Panini press that has smooth plates. You want your cooking surface to heat to 300 degrees (an infrared thermometer is helpful for checking this, especially if you don’t have a griddle).

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Griddle, preheated to 300 degrees.

Now, you will need some metal rings to serve as molds for your English muffins, and Alton used four tuna cans from which he had removed the tops and bottoms. I, however, discovered that tuna cans no longer seem to have removable bottoms; unfortunately, I did not come to this realization until I had purchased and opened four cans of tuna. Oops! I wound up purchasing a set of four rings on Amazon, which were not expensive. Once your cooking surface has sufficiently preheated, place your rings on the griddle, spraying them lightly with non-stick spray.

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Rings placed on preheated grill and sprayed with non-stick spray.

Using a #20 scoop, place two scoops of dough into each ring. I used a ladle that was approximately 1/4 C in size.

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English muffin batter added to rings.

Place a sheet pan on top of the rings and let the muffins cook for five minutes.

Using tongs, flip the rings, place the sheet pan on top again, and let the muffins cook on their second sides for five more minutes.

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Flipped muffins after five minutes.

Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool.

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Finished English muffins, cooling on wire rack.

I was pretty happy with how my English muffins turned out, as they at least looked like English muffins this time around. They had the “nooks and crannies” in them that really make an English muffin an English muffin, along with a slightly yeasty flavor.

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English muffin, toasted and buttered.

They toasted up nicely, and were a perfect breakfast with a pat of butter. Next time around, I will have to plan ahead and use the muffins to make eggs Benedict. Alton’s recipe shows that English muffins are surprisingly easy to make, and they’re pretty tasty too.IMG_4683

It’s hard to believe that this post will finish up five seasons of Good Eats – only nine more seasons to go! So, what did Alton choose to finish up his fifth season with? Potatoes were the choice for this season finale, and if you recall, they were also the subject of the second episode of Good Eats. It’s only fair for the mighty potato to star in two episodes since there are so many things you can do with it, such as…

Leftover Baked Potato Soup

First up was Alton’s potato soup. This soup comes together pretty quickly, so you can easily make it on a weeknight. Begin by melting 3 T butter in a pot.

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3 T butter

Add 1 1/2 C diced leeks, 1 1/2 T minced garlic, and some Kosher salt. Sweat the leeks until they are translucent and add 6 C chicken stock to the pot, increasing the heat to a simmer.

While the liquid simmers, press four baked russet potatoes through a ricer into a bowl. Though the online recipe says you should peel the potatoes, Alton did not peel his potatoes in the episode.

Pour 1 1/2 C buttermilk into the riced potatoes, whisking. The starch from the potatoes will prevent the buttermilk from curdling when it is added to the hot stock. Also whisk 1/2 C sour cream and 1/2 C grated Parmesan into the potato mixture.

By the time you are done prepping the potatoes, the stock should be simmering nicely on the stove. Add the potato mixture to the hot stock, and bring the soup back to a simmer.

Just before serving, stir 2 T sherry vinegar into the soup.

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Sherry vinegar, to be stirred in right before serving.

Garnish the soup with Kosher salt, pepper, and chopped chives.

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A bowl of Alton’s potato soup with Kosher salt, pepper, and chives.

I fixed this soup for us two nights ago after baking my potatoes earlier in the day. The soup itself really takes no time at all to make. We liked this soup, though I prefer potato soup that is a bit thicker and that has chunks of potato. I did like the tang this soup had from the vinegar, buttermilk, and sour cream, and leeks always pair well with potatoes. Overall, I’d say this was good but not spectacular. I give it an ‘A’ for flavor, but only a ‘C’ for texture/consistency.

Cold-Fashioned Potato Salad

Just as with potato soup, you couldn’t very well have a potato episode without including a recipe for potato salad. This was one of those recipes where I got hungry watching Alton make it. Begin by placing 2 1/2 lb small red potatoes in a pot, covering them with cold water.

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2 1/2 lb red potatoes covered with cold water.

Bring the water to a boil, and then drop the heat to a simmer. Check the potatoes after 5 minutes, and every 3 minutes thereafter for doneness; you should be able to stick a skewer through a potato with no resistance. If you cook your potatoes too quickly or for too long, their skin will crack. I thought my potatoes were done after about 20 minutes of cooking. Drain the water from your potatoes and immediately place them in ice water for 2-3 minutes to halt their cooking.

Again, drain the potatoes. According to Alton, you should be able to easily remove the skins of your potatoes by simply rubbing them in a tea towel, but this was not the case for me, and I ended up using a peeler. Either way, once your potatoes are peeled, thinly slice them; if you have an egg slicer, that will work well for this. Place your still-warm potato slices in a large Ziploc bag, add 3 T cider vinegar, seal the bag tightly and place it in your refrigerator overnight.

The following day, combine in a bowl:  3/4 C mayonnaise, 1/2 t dry mustard, 2 t minced garlic, 1 T minced tarragon, and 1/4 C chopped parsley.

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Mayonnaise, dry mustard, garlic, tarragon, and parsley.

Once combined, add 1/4 C chopped cornichons, 1/2 C minced red onion, and 1/2 C thinly sliced celery.

Give everything a good stir and fold in the potato slices, along with their vinegar. Season to taste with Kosher salt and pepper.

Remember how my potato skins did not come off very easily? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s because I didn’t cook them quite long enough. I loved the combination of flavors in this potato salad, but my potatoes were a little too toothsome. It seems to me that most people generally prefer either creamy potato salads or German-style potato salad. I felt that this recipe would really please both camps, as it is both creamy and acidic. The dry mustard and red onion give the salad a nice bite, while the celery and cornichons lend a good crunch. I also really liked the anise-like flavor from the tarragon. This is a winning potato salad – just be sure to cook your potatoes long enough. Doh!

Potato Roesti

I really did not know what a roesti (“roshe-ti”) was until I watched this episode. Basically, it is like a hashbrown that contains onions and is tender on the inside. I made this for breakfast for us last weekend, as it seemed like a perfect breakfast before a 14-mile run. You will start by grating 3 Yukon Gold potatoes and 1 onion. Spin the potatoes and onion in a salad spinner, getting rid of as much moisture as possible.

This recipe makes four servings, and Alton recommended seasoning/cooking each serving separately, as the salt will pull moisture out of the potatoes. Since I knew we had a long run ahead of us, I divided the mixture into only two portions. While you melt 1/2 T butter in a nonstick skillet, season 1/4 of the potato mixture with Kosher salt and pepper. Add the seasoned potato mix to the melted butter, using a spatula to form a thin, round cake. You should hear a light sizzle when you press the cake with a spatula.

Cook the roesti for 7 minutes or until golden; now it is time to flip. Cut 1/2 T butter into chunks and disperse it on top of the roesti. Slide the cake onto a pan lid, using the lid to flip the cake back into the pan, butter down.

Cook the roesti for ~5 more minutes, or until golden brown. If you want to serve your cakes all at once, you can keep them warm in a low oven for ~20 minutes while you cook the other cakes. Serve the roesti with sour cream.

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Roesti with sour cream.

We thought this was tasty. At first, we thought it was possibly undercooked inside, but then I read that a roesti is supposed to be tender inside. I liked the additional flavor the onion added to potatoes, and the crispy exterior. I like sour cream, but wasn’t sure how I would like this combo; it turns out that sour cream really did pair nicely with this. The one thing I will say is that we had some GI issues as the day progressed, and I have to wonder if they could have been from the roesti. This did make for a tasty breakfast, so I think I will have to give it another go and hope for the best. With that… onto the 6th season!

The 56th episode of Good Eats commences with Alton dressed as a primitive Scotsman and making haggis in the woods. Though there is an online recipe for Alton’s haggis, it was really prepared as more of a shtick than as a real Good Eats demo; therefore, I’m taking the liberty of not preparing haggis. I will freely admit that I was quite happy to learn that haggis would not be a “required” portion of my blog project. If, however, I ever make a trip to Scotland (and, I hope I do), I will surely give haggis an honest try.

Steel Cut Oatmeal

Prior to watching this episode of Good Eats I had never before consumed steel cut oatmeal. Types of oats are differentiated by the amount of processing they have undergone. Whole oats are unprocessed oats that still have their coats, while steel cut/pinhead oats have been run through steel cutters. Rolled, or old-fashioned, oats are even further processed by being steamed, pressed, and dried. Finally, instant oats are the most processed oats, which have been further mashed, par-cooked, and dried. My brother loved flavored instant oatmeal packets when we were a kid, but they were never my thing. I decided to make Alton’s steel cut oatmeal for us on a lazy Saturday morning. The ingredients you will need for Alton’s steel cut oatmeal are butter, steel cut oats, boiling water, whole milk, buttermilk, Kosher salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

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Ingredients for steel cut oatmeal: whole milk, buttermilk, Kosher salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and steel cut oats. Not pictured: water.

In a large saucepan, saute 1 C steel cut oats in 1 T melted butter until there is a nutty aroma.

Add 3 C boiling water, decrease the heat to a simmer, and stir the oats. You do not want to add salt to the oats at this time because polysaccharides in the oats (called pentosans) give oatmeal its creamy texture; salt will compete with the pentosans for water, leaving you with non-creamy oatmeal.

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Three cups of boiling water to add to the sauteed oats.

Cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

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Lid on the pan for a 30 minute simmer.

Meanwhile, combine 1/2 C whole milk with 1/2 C buttermilk. Combining the dairy ingredients will prevent the buttermilk from curdling when you add it to the hot oats.

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Buttermilk combined with whole milk.

When your 30 minute simmer is up, add the milks and 1/2 t Kosher salt to the oats.

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Dairy and salt added to oats.

Gently stir the oatmeal with the handle of a wooden spoon, letting it continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve the warm oatmeal in bowls with buttermilk, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

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A delicious bowl of steel cut oatmeal with brown sugar, buttermilk, and cinnamon.

We really enjoyed our steel cut oatmeal and I will be making it again. It is a hearty breakfast and the oats have a lot more texture than old-fashioned or instant oats, which I really appreciate. I also really liked the addition of buttermilk for a bit of tang in the oatmeal. Though steel cut oatmeal takes a bit longer to prepare than old-fashioned oatmeal, I think it is well worth the additional time.

Overnight Oatmeal

If you are looking for a super easy, fast, and delicious hot breakfast, Alton’s overnight oatmeal is fantastic. All you will need for this are a few ingredients and a slow cooker. In your slow cooker combine 1 C steel cut oats, 4 C water, 1 C dried cranberries, 1/2 C sliced dried figs, and 1 C cream.

Note that the online recipe calls for 1/2 C half-and-half instead of the cup of cream Alton used in the episode. Set the slow cooker to low and let it cook overnight for 8-9 hours.

I made this for us to have in the morning before a long run and we both really thought it was good. Actually, we liked it so much that I made it a second time a few days later. The oatmeal is rich and still has some texture from the steel cut oats, and the dried fruit adds the perfect amount of sweetness. The dried fruit really plumps up after cooking overnight. Plus, you could add any dried fruit you would like. We found that no additional toppings or seasonings were needed for this oatmeal. As an aside, Ted is doing pretty well as he is going through chemo, and ran 10 miles recently!

Granola

A recipe for granola is the final recipe in this oat episode of Good Eats. You will need to be sure you can hang around your kitchen for a little while when you start this one. Begin by combining the following ingredients in a large bowl:  6 T brown sugar, 1 C slivered almonds, 3/4 C sweetened coconut, 1 C cashews, 3/4 t Kosher salt, and 3 C rolled oats.

Thoroughly mix all of these ingredients before adding 1/4 C canola oil and 6 T maple syrup. We are very fortunate because Ted’s aunt and uncle in Wisconsin produce their own maple syrup, and it is much better than what you can purchase in stores.

Toss the granola well and spread it on a sheet pan.

Bake the granola at 250 degrees for an hour and 15 minutes, stirring the granola every 15 minutes.

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My granola, after baking for about an hour and 15 minutes.

Let the granola cool for a half hour before adding dried fruit of your choice; I added a cup of dried cherries to my granola.

This granola is sweet, crunchy, and delicious. We still have some granola in our pantry and I find myself grabbing a handful when I pass by. This is another recipe I will keep on hand and plan to make again, perhaps altering the nuts and fruit.

My brother and I ate pancakes often when we were kids, and they were always prepared by Mom. While we occasionally would have Bisquick pancakes, usually our pancakes were made with one of Mom’s two sourdough starters. The one starter gave pancakes that were thin and airy, while the other sourdough pancakes were thick, slightly crispy on the outside, and soft in the center; the thick ones were always my favorite, and I have that very starter in my refrigerator right now. I don’t know exactly how old that sourdough starter is, but I believe it is at least 30. Mom almost always made a blueberry sauce to go with our pancakes, and I vividly remember fights over every spoonful, and especially the very last spoonful. Mom, in her apron, often had to mediate, deciding which one of us would get that final bit of sauce, and promising that the other of us would get it next time. Dad, in his shirt and tie, would hide behind his newspaper shield, ignoring the commotion to the best of his ability, while eating his own share of the blueberry goodness. Ah, the beauty of the family pancake breakfast.

“Instant” Pancake Mix

Seeing as we are starting a four-day mini vacation today, what better way to begin the day than with homemade pancakes? Last evening I watched the 34th episode of Good Eats, and quickly mixed up a batch of Alton Brown’s instant pancake mix.

Pancake mix ingredients:  flour, baking soda, baking powder, Kosher salt, and sugar.

Pancake mix ingredients:  flour, baking soda, baking powder, Kosher salt, and sugar.

To make his mix, into a lidded container scoop 6 C of all-purpose flour; the moderate protein content of AP flour is ideal, as low-protein flours (like cake flour) result in pancakes that are too soft and light, while high-protein flours (such as bread flour) yield pancakes that are too dense and tough. Prior to scooping your flour, give it a good shake to aerate grains, as this will result in a more accurate measurement.

Spoon 6 C of flour into a lidded container.

Spoon 6 C of flour into a lidded container.

To the flour, add 1.5 t of baking soda, 1 T of baking powder, 1 T of Kosher salt, and 2 T of sugar.

Add 1.5 t baking soda.

Add 1.5 t baking soda.

Add 1 T baking powder.

Add 1 T baking powder.

Plus a tablespoon of Kosher salt.

Plus a tablespoon of Kosher salt.

And 2 T sugar.

And 2 T sugar.

Shake the mix well and use within three months.

Before shaking.

Before shaking.

After shaking to combine.

After shaking to combine.

Note:  This recipe can easily be scaled up or down – just use the following formula:  1/4 t baking soda per cup of flour, 1/2 t baking powder per cup of flour, 1/2 t Kosher salt per cup of flour, and 1 t sugar per cup of flour.

When ready to make your pancakes, for every 2 C of pancake mix, you will need 4 T of melted butter, 2 C of buttermilk, and 2 eggs, separated. Oh, and fruit, if you want to have fruit in your pancakes. Alton used blueberries in the episode.

Pancake ingredients:  2 C pancake mix, 2 C buttermilk, 4 T melted butter, blueberries, and 2 eggs, separated.

Pancake ingredients: 2 C pancake mix, 2 C buttermilk, 4 T melted butter, blueberries, and 2 eggs, separated.

To give you an idea of how much mix to use, for us this morning, 2 C of pancake mix gave us 9 pancakes, made using a 3 oz. ladle. Measure your dry pancake mix into a large bowl.

2 C of pancake mix in a large bowl.

2 C of pancake mix in a large bowl.

For the liquid ingredients, buttermilk and butter go together like oil and water, so, for proper mixing, add the egg whites to the buttermilk and mix with a fork; since egg whites are mostly water, they will mix easily with the buttermilk.

Adding egg whites to buttermilk.

Adding egg whites to buttermilk.

Buttermilk/egg white mixture.

Buttermilk/egg white mixture.

Separately, add the egg yolks to the melted butter; the yolks will mix well with the butter because their lipoproteins like both fat and water.

Adding egg yolks to melted butter.

Adding egg yolks to melted butter.

Egg yolk/butter mixture.

Egg yolk/butter mixture.

Finally, combine the egg white/buttermilk mixture with the egg yolk/butter mixture, and whisk.

Combining liquid ingredients.

Combining liquid ingredients.

Once combined, heat a griddle or skillet to 350 degrees. If you plan to serve pancakes to numerous people at once, you will also want to put a towel-lined baking sheet in your oven and heat it to 200 degrees. We do not have a griddle, so I used a large, heavy-duty nonstick skillet. I was given an infrared thermometer for Christmas, so I used that to determine when my skillet had reached 350 degrees.

Large skillet preheating.

Large skillet preheating.

Pan just about ready.

Pan just about ready.

If you do not have an electric griddle or an infrared thermometer, you can tell that your skillet is ready when water droplets dance on the surface. When your cooking surface is heated, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix just until combined. You do not want to over-mix your batter, and do not worry about lumps, as they will cook out.

Adding wet ingredients to dry ingredients once the pan is hot.

Adding wet ingredients to dry ingredients once the pan is hot.

Mix just until barely combined.

Mix just until barely combined.

Lube your hot pan by rubbing it with a stick of butter, and then wipe it with some paper towels until no fat is visible on the pan.

Hot pan lubed with butter.

Hot pan lubed with butter.

Using a 3 oz. ladle, gently spoon pancakes onto the pan.

3 ounce ladle.

3 ounce ladle.

Batter in the pan.

Batter in the pan.

If you want to add fruit to your pancakes, sprinkle it onto the pancakes now.

Fruit sprinkled on.

Fruit sprinkled on.

Cook the pancakes until bubbles set around the edges and the undersides are golden brown. Flip the pancakes and cook the second sides until they, too, are golden brown, which should take about half as long as for the first sides.

Flipped pancakes.

Flipped pancakes.

You can hold the pancakes in your warm oven for 20-30 minutes, or serve them immediately with butter and real maple syrup. I opted to eat mine with just butter.

Blueberry pancakes with butter.

Blueberry pancakes with butter.

Alton's blueberry pancakes.

Alton’s blueberry pancakes.

If you have leftover pancakes, Alton says you can cool them completely on a cake rack, wrap them individually in paper towels, and freeze them in a plastic bag; they can be reheated in a toaster or microwave. We had five extra pancakes, and they are in the freezer as I type. We thought these pancakes were really good, and they cooked up very nicely. They were thick, fluffy, golden brown, and slightly crispy on the outside. The tang from the buttermilk was evident, and paired well with the sweetness of the blueberries. Chopped bananas would also be good in these pancakes. Perhaps I will be making these pancakes when our family comes to visit next week. We may not have any chocolate chip cookies left (see my previous post here) but we do have pancake mix! If you are looking for a good, fast pancake recipe that is superior to commercial mixes, Alton’s pancakes are great.

 

This post is far overdue. I suppose Summer has gotten the best of me! Without further ado, here is my recap of the recipes featured in the eighth episode of Good Eats, featuring gravy.

I was not raised on gravy. Yes, you read that correctly. Our family did not eat gravy at holidays. While there was a place on our Thanksgiving dinner table for sauerkraut, gravy rarely, if ever, made an appearance. I realize this is a rarity in our country. The funny thing is, I did technically eat gravy as a child… it just wasn’t called gravy! My grandma and my mom would make Chipped Beef or “Shit on a Shingle (SOS)” for us, and it was one of my very favorite breakfasts. I never realized I was eating gravy because SOS was, to me, its own entity. Every time I eat Chipped Beef I recall eating it at Grandma’s house with my brother, Rusty, and my cousins, Jimmy and David. I have gone on to make SOS for my husband, and it remains a family favorite to this day. I guess this proves that gravy, or SOS, or whatever you choose to call it, truly is comfort food.

White Roux

The first recipe featured in the 8th episode of Good Eats is for White Roux. Alton explains that the white roux is the thickener used in the actual gravy recipe. While the online recipe uses 4 T of fat and 6 T of flour, Alton uses equal portions of fat and flour (by weight) in the episode. I used 2 oz. of butter and 2 oz. of flour.

Two ounces of butter and two ounces of flour.

Two ounces of butter and two ounces of flour.

The butter is melted in a pan, and the flour is added to the pan, whisking until the mixture is combined and starts to thin.

Melted butter.

Melted butter.

Flour added to melted butter.

Flour added to melted butter.

At this point, the heat is reduced and the roux is cooked until it smells as if it has been toasted.

Completed white roux.

Completed white roux.

A key note is that the roux should be used to thicken a liquid of opposite temperature; so, a hot roux should be combined with a cool liquid, while a cool roux should be used to thicken a warm liquid.

Gravy from Roast Drippings

The primary recipe in the eight episode is for a gravy made from roast drippings. Since this recipe uses drippings from a roast, I roasted a pork tenderloin to get some drippings. Since tenderloin is such a lean cut of meat, there was not a large yield of drippings, so a different cut of meat with a greater fat content may have been better suited for making this gravy.

Pan drippings from pork tenderloin roast.

Pan drippings from pork tenderloin roast.

Following the recipe in the episode, Alton instructs you to deglaze the pan (with drippings), using red wine.

Deglazing the pan with red wine.

Deglazing the pan with red wine.

This liquid is then strained into a pan, and the broth (low-sodium is specified in the episode), bay leaves (2), and peppercorns are added. This liquid is reduced to approximately 2 1/4 C.

Drippings, wine, broth, bay leaves, and peppercorns.

Drippings, wine, broth, bay leaves, and peppercorns.

At this time, you whisk 1/2 C of the liquid into the cooled white roux. The remaining liquid is whisked into this mixture over high heat, reserving 1/4 C.

Hot liquid combined with cold white roux.

Hot liquid combined with cold white roux.

Alton encourages you to leave your gravy on the thin side, as it will thicken as it cools. I added all of my liquid to my roux, and it definitely ended up being on the thick side.

Finished gravy.

Finished gravy.

Conversely, the online recipe tells you to utilize only 2 T of the white roux to thicken your gravy. This is a large difference in the amount of thickening agent. I probably would use less white roux if I were to make this again. The resulting gravy had a very pleasant flavor. The red wine flavor really did come through, which I really liked. In fact, it was probably my favorite gravy I have had. Ted said he also liked this wine flavor, though it was different from the more traditional gravies he is used to having. I will go to this recipe in the future for any gravy needs I have!

Sawmill Gravy

When I saw Alton make his Sawmill Gravy, I immediately recognized it as a version of the “gravy” I grew up eating. I took some liberties with this one, and made my grandma’s version of sawmill gravy, which differs (only slightly) from Alton’s. Alton’s recipe uses fat from sausage or breakfast meat. To this, flour is added and stirred until a nutty, toasted aroma is present. The pan is removed from the heat and milk is added, whisking. This is cooked over high heat until thickened. My grandma’s version uses butter, which is melted over medium heat.

Melted butter.

Melted butter.

To this, a whole jar of shredded, dried meat is added. The jar’s label instructs you to rinse the meat before using. Ignore this, or you will shamefully rinse the goodness (aka flavor) down the drain.

Shredded canned beef added to butter.

Shredded canned beef added to butter.

The meat is stirred until thoroughly coated with the butter. 8-1-2014 021To this, flour is added, and this mixture is stirred until the flour is no longer visible and a toasted aroma appears.

Flour added to beef and butter.

Flour added to beef and butter.

Cooking out the raw flour taste.

Cooking out the raw flour taste.

Gradually, milk is added to this mixture, stirring until each addition begins to thicken.

First milk addition to meat.

First milk addition to meat.

Beginning to thicken.

Beginning to thicken.

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Finished Chipped Beef.

Finished Chipped Beef.

The final mixture is served over toasted English muffins. I like mine topped with lots of fresh ground pepper and a dash of Tabasco. I am sure that all nutritionists would highly frown upon this use of sodium-laden jarred beef. It is worth it. Trust me.

Shit on a Shingle!

Shit on a Shingle!

 

Southern Biscuits

I have previously mentioned that differences exist between the recipes featured on Good Eats and the online versions of the same recipes. The recipes from the 7th episode had many differences, so I, of course, made the recipes as made on the show. The first of these recipes was for biscuits, as made by Alton’s grandmother. In the episode, Alton explains that it is desirable to make biscuits with soft flour, which has a lower protein content. You can use self-rising flour for this, or you can simulate soft flour by combining 3 parts of all-purpose flour with 1 part of cake flour; I did the latter. No mention of soft flour is made in the online recipe. In the episode, Alton tells you to use 10 oz. of flour, while the online recipe calls for 2 cups. He also tells you to weigh one ounce of butter and two ounces of shortening, while the online version calls for 2 T of each.

I combined my dry ingredients, and then cut in the fat with my fingers until I had a crumb-like texture.

Combined dry ingredients.

Combined dry ingredients.

Buttermilk, shortening, and butter.

Buttermilk, shortening, and butter.

Cutting in the butter.

Cutting in the butter.

Crumb-like texture.

Crumb-like texture.

I then mixed in my buttermilk, being cautious not to overwork the dough. Alton and his grandmother emphasize this point in the episode, saying overworking the dough can lead to tough biscuits. My dough seemed wet and sticky, and like it would possibly be difficult to work with once turned out onto my board.

Adding the buttermilk.

Adding the buttermilk.

Surprisingly, it was actually very easy to work with. I cut out my biscuits with a 2.5-inch cutter, and placed them on my baking sheet so they were just barely touching. I indented the top of each biscuit with my fingers (this was another thing mentioned in the episode that is not in the online recipe) to prevent having domed tops, and baked them until they were golden brown.

Indented biscuits pre-baking.

Indented biscuits pre-baking.

Golden brown biscuits.

Golden brown biscuits.

Biscuits straight from the oven.

Biscuits straight from the oven.

Split and buttered biscuits.

Split and buttered biscuits.

We ate our biscuits warm from the oven, split, and buttered. My dad has made biscuits for years, and his are quite different from these biscuits. I grew up with super light, flaky biscuits, while these biscuits were more cake-like and dense. I thought they were very good, and they are such a quick breakfast treat. Having listened to some of Alton’s podcasts, I have gathered that he now uses a round pan when he makes biscuits, and that he covers them when they come out of the oven. Perhaps I’ll have to try a round pan next time, along with self-rising flour.

Scones

Like the biscuit recipe, the scone recipe differs between the episode and the online recipe. As in the biscuit recipe in the show, Alton recommends using soft flour for the scones. The sugar content in the two versions of the recipe is different, with the episode calling for 2 T of sugar, while the online recipe has 1/3 C of sugar, and Alton tells you to bake your scones at 400 degrees F, while the online recipe uses a temperature of 375 degrees. The overall recipe process is very similar to that of the biscuits, beginning with combining the dry ingredients.

Dry ingredients.

Dry ingredients.

To this mixture, you add your fat, cutting it in with your fingertips, and then you add your cream and egg, mixing until combined.

Cutting in the fat.

Cutting in the fat.

Adding the cream and the egg.

Adding the cream and the egg.

Currants or dried cranberries (I used currants) are then lightly mixed into the dough, which is turned out onto a board and cut into individual scones.

Currants mixed in.

Currants mixed in.

Dough round.

Dough round.

I used to work at a bakery and we made our scones in triangles by cutting the round of dough into pizza-like slices. I opted to make my scones this way, rather than using a round cutter. I also brushed my scones with melted butter, and sprinkled them with some sugar before baking.

Brushed with melted butter, sprinkled with sugar, and cut into triangular scones.

Brushed with melted butter, sprinkled with sugar, and cut into triangular scones.

Scones ready to bake.

Scones ready to bake.

The scones turned out well, with a crumbly, slightly cakey, texture. They were not particularly sweet, which went well with coffee in the morning.

Golden scones.

Golden scones.

Ready to eat for breakfast!

Ready to eat for breakfast!

This was not my favorite scone recipe of all time, but they were still pretty good. If I make these again, I’ll likely add a different fruit, such as berries.

Shortcake

The final recipe in this episode was for shortcake. Again, the basic dough was similar to that of the biscuits and scones, though, again, there were some differences in the two versions of the recipe. Actually, this recipe had a lot of disparities.The printed recipe tells you to preheat your oven to 450 degrees, while Alton uses a 400 degree oven in the show. As with the biscuits and scones, in the episode Alton suggests using soft flour, rather than the all-purpose flour in the online recipe. The online recipe omits baking soda, while the TV version calls for 1/4 t of baking soda. The sugar also varies between the two recipes, with Alton adding 1/3 C of sugar in the TV episode, while the online recipe calls for only 1 T of sugar. Alton tells you to weigh your butter and shortening (1 oz of butter and 2 oz of shortening), while the online edition uses 2 T of each fat. The final deviation in the recipes is the amount of half and half used:  1 C used in the show and 3/4 C online. How is it possible that the online recipes differ so substantially from the show recipes? This just confirms that I need to continue watching each episode prior to making the recipes.

As with the other two recipes in this episode, the dry ingredients are combined, the fat is cut in, and the liquid is added.

Dry shortcake ingredients.

Dry shortcake ingredients.

Half and half, shortening, and butter.

Half and half, shortening, and butter.

Cutting in the fat.

Cutting in the fat.

Adding the liquid.

Adding the liquid.

Resulting shortcake dough.

Resulting shortcake dough.

The resulting dough is then dropped onto a baking sheet, brushed with butter, sprinkled with sugar, and baked.

Dough dropped onto baking sheet, brushed with melted butter, and sprinkled with sugar.

Dough dropped onto baking sheet, brushed with melted butter, and sprinkled with sugar.

Completed shortcakes.

Completed shortcakes.

We ate our shortcakes in several ways:  with ice cream, with berries and whipped cream, and with nectarines and whipped cream.

Shortcake with ice cream

Shortcake with ice cream

Shortcake with berries and whipped cream.

Shortcake with berries and whipped cream.

The shortcakes were best when they were first made, as they had a light, crumbly texture. A day later, the texture was less crispy and more on the cakey side. I tried “refreshing” our shortcakes with a few minutes in a warm oven, which helped to somewhat restore their original texture. I thought the cakes had just the right amount of sweetness to pair well with the fruit and whipped cream, which was my favorite of the ways we ate ours.

Of the three recipes in this episode, the biscuits were definitely our favorite. The shortcakes followed, with the scones not far behind. Thank goodness we work out a lot!