EGGS BENEDICT

Mother’s Day brunch screams Eggs Benedict? But don’t wait until Mother’s Day to make this iconic breakfast.

Don’t be afraid of making Hollandaise. It really is easy. But, you can also buy a packet from Knorr Hollandaise mix that is very respectable.

This is how I like to make it…using an immersion blender.

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt or to taste
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Poached eggs
  • English muffins
  • Canadian Bacon
  • White vinegar
  • Chopped chives
  • Paprika

Directions:

  • Place the eg yolks, lemon juice, and salt in the cup of your immersion blender.
  • Melt the stick of butter and keep warm.
  • Using your blender stick, blend the egg until well combined and beginning to thicken. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter while blending. After all the butter is in, continue to blend another 30 seconds until everything is doubled in size. Add the cayenne and taste for seasoning. You can keep it warm in a bowl over a pan of barely simmer water while the eggs cook.
  • Bring a medium sauce pot to a low simmer. Turn down the heat so it is NOT bubbling.
  • Toast tops of the English muffin on the “Bagel” setting, or, place them on a sheet pan and brown in a 350 degree oven until golden brown.
  • Lightly grill the Canadian bacon on a flat griddle or skillet until browned.
  • Add about 1 tsp of white vinegar to the water. Using a slotted spoon, stir the water to star a whirlpool then add an egg. Continue to stir until the egg has set, about 3 minutes. Remove the egg and plate on a paper towel lined plate while you cook the other eggs.
  • Place half a muffin on a plate. Add 1-2 slices of Canadian bacon depending on the size. Place a poached egg on the bacon. Spoon on the Hollandaise. Garnish with paprika and chopped chives and serve immediately.

THE FRENCH OMELETTE

The French Omelette is just eggs and butter. Unlike some of the American “Omelets” we are used to…you know, eggs wrapped around everything but the kitchen sink…this elegant egg dish is painfully simple. But, it’s 10% ingredients and 90% technique. The result will be a fluffy, light omelette that is creamy and custard-like on the inside.

I’ve been practicing my French Omelette technique for a few months now, and am still working on it. To do justice on how to make one, you should search YouTube for “French Omellete Jacques Pepin”, and you will see the definitive technique. I have not reached a point where I have to confidence to film mine for YouTube, but will come soon.

The only other things that go into a true French Omelette would be fresh herbs (chives, parsley, and chervil), salt, pepper, and, I break the rules a bit here…the slightest touch of some Gruyere cheese (I put about 1 tbsp in mix 4-egg omelette).

Having a nice 8-9 inch non-stick skillet is essential…they were made for making a French Omelette. Use good butter (I like to use Irish butter). Placing the skillet over medium low heat, add the butter. Thoroughly beat the eggs, then add a pinch of salt and pepper, plus your herbs (about 2 tbsp)…I used chives and flat leaf parsley.

After adding the eggs, it’s the technique that comes into play. Using the bottom of a dinner fork (not actually touching the pan), start mixing the eggs constantly, occasionally pulling the eggs away from the sides. Once you have obtained lots of small curds and the bottom is set, roll the omelette away from the handle. Using your fist, bump the edge of the skillet on the hand to help dislodge the eggs from the edge of the skillet. Holding the handle upside down, told the skillet over your plate, use your fork to fold the omelette most of the way…then tilt the skillet over allowing the omelette to fall onto the plate. Use your hands to shape it into a French Omelette shape (pointed at the ends). Rub their surface of the omelette with some of the cold butter…and serve. It takes practice, but that’s part of the fun of cooking. When you can successfully plate a French Omelette, it will reignite your passion for cooking…at least it did for me!

Again, please check out Jacques Pepin’s YouTube video for a great demonstration on how to make a French Omelette. My video is coming soon.

CHICKEN FRIED NEW YORK STEAK

Chicken Fried or Country Fried…what’s the difference? Well, Country Fried Steak is cube steak breaded in flour, fried, then slathered with a brown gravy made from onions and the drippings. Chicken Fried Steak is cube steak breaded with bread crumbs, fried, then served along side fried eggs or mashed potatoes with a white cream gravy. This recipe is Chicken Fried Steak…very thin and fork tender.

So what is cube steak? It’s usually made from sirloin or top round, sliced thin then pounded and tenderized. The way I made this is with thin New York steak that I sliced thin, very thin, then pounded and tenderized. I breaded it the usual 3-station method: flour, egg, and bread crumbs. I used half panko and half regular bread crumbs. One of the keys is to season the meat (salt and pepper), the flour (a southwest or Cajun seasoning), and the egg (Frank’s Hot sauce.

These are so thin, they only take a minute or so per side in olive oil and butter. And, they cut with a fork! With mashed Yukon Gold next to it, I try not to slather too much gravy on the steak so as to keep it crispy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (12 ounce) New York strip steak, cut in half then each piece butterflied
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Flour
  • Southwest seasoning
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp Frank’s hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Chopped parsley
  • Chopped chives

For the cream gravy:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp chicken bouillion
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • Pinch of paprika

Directions:

For the gravy:

  • Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer as it thickens. Add the cream and continue whisking. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chicken bouillon, and salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat down and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring. Cover and keep warm.
  • Cut the steak in half. Then butterfly each piece so you have 4 pieces. Place between some plastic wrap and pound using the tenderizer side of the mallet until they are about 1/8 inch thick.
  • Set up a 3-bowl breading station: seasoned flour, seasoned beaten egg, and the bread crumbs. Dust the meat with four, then into the egg, then into the bread crumbs, pressing down to make sure it is thoroughly breaded and the breading has stuck. Place on a small sheet pan in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  • Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, place the steaks in the oil without crowding and cook for about 1 minute or so (depending on the thickness of the steak) per side. Place on a wire rack over a sheet pan in the oven until all the steak are done and your are ready to plate.
  • Plate some mashed potatoes then a steak leaning against them. Spoon on your desired amount of gravy then garnish with chopped parsley, chopped chives, and a sprinkle of paprika.

SAUSAGE GRAVY, BISCUITS, AND EGGS

Of course, the star of this is the sausage gravy. Recipes abound for this, traditionally Southern, breakfast…although, it’s not exclusive to the south at all anymore.

I really like to keep the gravy pretty basic: ground breakfast sausage (I use Jimmy Dean), butter, flour, and milk. I don’t add a lot of much else except a little salt, pepper, and a pinch of a couple spices (recipe below). There is also a tiny bit of my secret ingredient for my sausage gravy…and that’s a half teaspoon of chicken base (or bullion cube).

Admittedly, I cheated by using Pillsbury Grande Biscuits. But, when I want everything perfect, I make the biscuits from scratch. Maybe next time!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound ground pork breakfast sausage, like Jimmy Dean
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 chicken base or half a bullion cube
  • 1/4 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp granulated onion
  • Pinch paprika
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1/4 or more of black pepper
  • Chopped chives or green onions

Directions:

  • Place a medium saucepan over medium low heat and add the ground sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Let it get browned and cooked until no longer pink. Remove from saucepan to a small bowl.
  • To the saucepan, add the butter then the flour and stir to cook for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 2 cups of the milk, hold back 1/2 cup in case it gets too thick, and bring to a simmer. Cook and let it thicken for about 2 minutes, whisking. Add the chicken base, granulated garlic, granulated onion, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt to taste, and black pepper. Lower the heat and let it cook another 3 minutes or so. Add more milk if it is too thick. Some people like it real thick, I prefer it to be a little loose. Taste and reseason if necessary, especially the pepper. Cover and keep warm until ready to use.
  • Slice the biscuits in half, lightly butter then brown on a griddle. Place the two halves on a plate, spoon on the gravy, then top with the egg(s). Garnish with chopped chives or green onions.

McDONALD’S SAUSAGE McGRIDDLES

The other day I saw a guy do this on YouTube and just had to give it a try.

They’re easy to make, though require little silicone rings to cook the pancakes and eggs in…at least, to make it uniform. Also, apparently McD’s has figured out how to infuse the little pancakes with maple syrup by using crystallized maple. Substituting a drizzle of real maple syrup when serving does the job.

This recipe for the buttermilk pancakes was enough for about 8 pancakes (4 McGriddles), though we only made 2 McGriddles and saved the batter for tomorrow. Use your favorite ground breakfast sausage but I always recommend Jimmy Dean.

Ingredients:

For the buttermilk pancakes:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted plus more for the griddle and the eggs

For the McGriddles:

  • 3 ounces of ground breakfast sausage, divided into 2 patties
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 slices of American Cheese
  • Real maple syrup

Directions:

  • Make the buttermilk pancake mix by combining the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. In another small bowl, beat together the egg, buttermilk, melted butter, and 1 tbsp maple syrup. Stir the buttermilk mix into the dry ingredients using a fork until well combined. Don’t whisk as a few small lumps is alright.
  • Heat a griddle over medium low heat. When hot, brush the griddle with butter then place the silicone rings. Spoon in about 1 1/2-2 tbsp of pancake batter into each and let cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Remove the ring and flip the pancakes. Cook another 1 minute or so until golden brown. Remove from the griddle and keep warm in the oven on a plate. Repeat with the remaining pancakes.
  • Cook the sausage patties on the same griddle until well browned on both sides. Drain on a paper towel then keep warm while you cook the eggs.
  • Place two silicone rings in a non-stick skillet and add about 1 tsp of butter to the each ring. Crack an egg into each and break the yolk, stirring it a little. Let the egg cook until set then remove the right. Flip the egg for about 20 seconds to finish cooking.
  • To assemble the McGriddles, place one of the pancakes on a plate. Add the sliced cheese, then the cooked sausage patty, then the egg and the top. Drizzle with a little maple syrup and serve immediately.

MINI AIRFRYER FRITTATAS

We love Frittatas. They are so open to customization with any omelet ingredients you like. These were made with salsa, grated sharp white cheddar, chopped deli ham, and chives. Even though this recipe utilizes the little frittata tins provided with the Power XL Pro air fryer, you can just as well make this recipe using small ramekins and a regular oven. If baking in an oven, cooking times with need to bee increased a bit since the airfryer required less cooking time with most recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp of your favorite salsa (we use Pace Chunky)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped deli ham
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives or green onions

Directions:

  • Note: we made these in our airfryer using a non-stick mini-frittata pan provided with the Power XL Pro. You can just as well use small ramekins in the airfryer or in the oven, just adjust cooking time for the regular oven, ie, increase to 8-10 minutes.
  • Preheat airfryer to 350 degrees. Spray the mini-frittata pan or ramekins with cooking spray.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper, add the salsa, and whisk again. Divide the egg mix evenly between 4 of the frittata tins or ramekins.
  • Sprinkle in the chopped ham, shredded cheddar, and chopped chives evenly over the frittatas. Add any other desired ingredients now as well.
  • When the airfryer has preheated, place the frittata pan or the ramekins on the center tack. Cook for 5-6 minutes making sure the eggs are set.
  • Remove from the tins and serve immediately and garnish with chives and cheese if desired.

WAFFLE MAKER HASH BROWNS

I have made these before, but I borrowed this recipe from my newly-acquired Ina Garten Modern Comfort Food cookbook.

It’s basically, a potato pancake made in a waffle maker. I used a fresh-shredded Russet potato, though frozen Ore-Ida Hash Browns will work fine as long as use defrost them first. I shredded my potato with my little cranked vegetable shredder, though a box grated works fine. One key: be sure to rinse then thoroughly dry the hash browns in a clean kitchen towel before cooking.

This version serves 2 people. Depending on the size of your waffle maker, you may need to make these in more than one cooking, keeping them warm in the oven on a sheet pan.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb Russet potatoes ( 1 large), peeled, shredded
  • 1/2 cup shredded onion
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tbsp flour
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Cooking spray or more melted butter
  • Shedded cheddar cheese (opt)
  • Sour cream (opt)
  • Chopped chives or green onions (opt)

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Preheat your Belgian waffle maker on medium-high heat.
  • Grate your potatoes, then rinse in cold water thoroughly, then drain. Squeeze out all the moisture by wrapping in a clean kitchen towel and twisting. Place in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Add the beaten egg, grated onion, melted butter, salt and pepper to taste to the potatoes. Add any other seasoning if you want at this point. Fold together and mix thoroughly.
  • When the waffle iron is hot, brush both sides with butter or spray with cooking spray (as I did). Place a generous amount of hash browns on your waffle maker and close the lid then turn the cooking plate if using a Belgian Waffle maker. Cook for 8-10 minutes depending on your individual maker. When done, remove to a sheet pan in a warm oven while you make another batch.
  • Serve hot. Garnish with shredded cheddar, sour cream, and chopped chives if desired.

QUITE POSSIBLY THE BEST COUNTRY GRAVY EVER

O.K., so maybe that is too bold a statement to make. Country gravy recipes abound. Everyone’s mother, grandmother, or uncle made the best country gravy you ever had. So let’s start by looking at the most basic of basic country gravy recipes.

White country gravy, in its purest form, is a Béchamel sauce…a white sauce…made from butter, flour, and milk…plus salt and pepper. Proper seasoning with the salt and especially the black pepper is crucial to make this the least bit flavorful.

Moving on. Country Sausage Gravy is what I have strived to perfect for many years. And this is what this recipe is all about.

I didn’t want to stray too far from the basic béchamel. Let’s face it, if you watch the Food Network you will find all manner of country gravy concoctions adding all sorts of weird stuff to what started as an exquisite sauce. Here is what I did.

I start out by browning a small amount of country sausage, about 1/4 of a pound for this 2 cup recipe. While the sausage is rendering, add 1/4 cup of minced shallots. Cook the sausage and shallots for about 3 minutes, smashing and stirring. Add 2 tbsp of unsalted butter and let it melt. Then add 2 1/2 tbsp of flour and stir in, cooking and stirring for about 2 minutes. Now gradually whisk in 2 cups of whole milk. Bring it to a simmer and continue to whisk until it begins to thicken. At this point, add 1 tsp of chicken base (I use Better Than Builiion) and whisk until everything is incorporated. Here is where your seasoning skills come in…season to taste with salt and black pepper. A lot of black pepper. Taste and reseason if necessary. Finish with a few scrapes of whole nutmeg on a microplane then let it cook on low for about 4-5 minutes. Serve over a hot biscuit and top with a sunny side up egg and that’s what a Country Sausage Gravy is all about. All you need is a dash of Tabasco or Cholula if it suits you.

I like to make my Sausage Country Gravy the night before and store in the refrigerator overnight. It’s always better the next day!

This recipe makes about 2 cups of gravy.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound country breakfast sausage (I like to use Jimmy Dean)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 tbsp of flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp chicken base (I like Better Than Buillion)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • Pinch of fresh nutmeg
  • Chopped chives for garnish

Directions:

  • (in the text above)

HOW TO PROPERLY MAKE FRENCH TOAST

  1. USE THE RIGHT BREAD.
  2. MAKE THE RIGHT EGG AND MILK MIXTURE.
  3. SOAK THE BREAD LONG ENOUGH.
  4. COOK UNTIL THE INSIDE IS DONE.

Those are some of the key points for making French Toast successfully.

One of the biggest miscues is not making the right egg and milk mixture…it should be a “custard”. Eggs, milk (or half and half), and sugar…that’s a custard mix. When you bake that, it becomes a baked custard. The ratio of milk to eggs is a little different for French Toast, but its basically the same.

Pass on the sourdough! It just doesn’t make the best French Toast. Sweet French bread yes…or country white or brioche or challah. And, it needs to be slightly stale. You can force this (like I did) by placing the bread in the oven for about 3 minutes at 350 degrees. Also, the bread should be thick sliced, at least 3/4 inch thick. Leaving the bread out on the counter just before bed overnight also does the trick.

Soak the bread in the custard mixture for at least 1 minute per side. Most people tend to quickly dip their French Toast and it doesn’t let the custard soak in at all. Use a spatula to transfer the soaked bread to the skillet.

Be patient when you cook it. Monitor the heat so each side gets golden brown while the inside, soaked with custard, gets cooked. Use a medium-low heat and use unsalted butter in the pan.

I know this all sounds like a lot to worry about just for French Toast, but, really, it is quite simple and basic. Plus, what a great way to utilize older bread that is beyond sandwich consistency.

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 slices of Texas toast, challah, or brioche sliced at least 3/4 inch thick
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup half and half or whole milk
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Real maple syrup

Directions:

  • If the bread is very fresh, leave it out on the counter overnight, or, place in a 350 degree oven for about 3 minutes.
  • In a bowl, beat together the eggs, half and half, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Place this mixture in a baking dish large enough to hold at least 2 slices of the bread. Place the bread in the baking dish and let it soak for at least 1 minute on each side.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add about 1 tbsp of butter and let it melt. Carefully lift the bread out of the custard with a spatula and place in the skillet. Do not use a fork as it will tear the bread apart if it is soaked properly. Let the bread cook until golden brown on one side, then turn over with a spatula and cook the other side. The inside of the bread should not be wet when done. Check with toothpick if need be.
  • Place the French toast in the 300 degree oven on a sheet pan to keep warm if cooking more than 2 slices.
  • Sprinkle with powdered sugar, slather on some melted butter and warm maple syrup and enjoy.

TATER TOT SAUSAGE GRAVY BREAKFAST CASSEROLE


The easy way to make almost any Tater Tot casserole is with Cream of Mushroom soup. I’ll go one step further and say, almost any casserole dish you find on the internet involves Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Chicken soup. But, this one is a simple little T.T. casserole that can be made in minutes from scratch, and, it has sausage gravy in it! Let’s make it.

As usual with my recipes, it only feeds 2-3 people. That’s an 8-inch cast-iron skillet in the photos.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces Jimmy Dean sausage
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup cream
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 8 ounces tater tots
  • Chopped chives or green onions
  • Sour cream – opt.

Directions:

  • To a small saucepan over medium heat, add the sausage and crumble. Add the minced onions. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and smashing, for about 7 minutes, until the sausage is cooked and the onions have softened.
  • Add 1 tbsp of butter then 1 tbsp of flour and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Whisk in the cream and bring to a simmer just to let it thicken a bit. Lower heat and cook about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a small baking dish or small cast-iron skillet with cooking spray.
  • Add the gravy to the skillet, then top with the shredded cheddar.
  • Whisk the eggs with 2 tbsp milk and season with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the cheese, eggs, and gravy evenly.
  • Top the casserole with the tater tots in a circular pattern. Bake for 35 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before slicing. Garnish with chopped chives or green onions. Enjoy!