July 31, 2009
I love breakfast. A nice, leisurely, tummy-stuffing, weekend breakfast (or maybe brunch, depending upon your sleeping habits). There’s really just nothing like it; something savory with something sweet, a big steaming mug of coffee, the scrape of fork against plate where the syrup was. Sigh. Now I’ve gone and made myself hungry.
Going out for breakfast or brunch is one of my favorite indulgences; I have favored spots in every city I’ve lived in. I dream about the huevos rancheros at Baby Barnaby’s & the cheese grits at Brother Juniper’s, but when push comes to shove, I’m actually much more likely to make a big breakfast for myself.
No changing out of your pajamas, no standing in line with your stomach growling, no having to hear “Actually, we’re out of bacon.”
Having friends over for brunch can be a really economical way to entertain, much cheaper than throwing a dinner party. Plus, everybody loves breakfast! It’s comfort food at its best. Throw in some mimosas or Bloody Marys and everyone’s happy.
Okay, enough about that, I know you’re thinking “what the heck is a Ziploc-bag omelet?” It’s basically the best magic trick I know, making individual omelets in Ziploc bags. Totally solves the problem of how to fix eggs for a group, since this person doesn’t like mushrooms and this child can’t stand onions. Plus, it is SO much fun to do—great to do with kids, though we’ve definitely made them with all adults and they had a good time, too.
It’s not just the novelty, though; the omelets actually taste great, and without having to add any fat to cook them. I’m sure someone out there is terrified by the thought of cooking food in plastic. If that’s you, you probably shouldn’t try this.
Biscuits are also fun to do with kids—you’re going to get the counter messy anyway, so why not let them enjoy? Two of my favorite kiddos in the world, Isabella & Antonio, whom I’ve known since they were each tiny babies, are always my biscuit souz chefs when I visit them or they visit me. We use funky cookie-cutters (lobster or cactus-shaped biscuits, anyone?) to liven up things even more.
There are a million ways to make biscuits in this world; this happens to be my way. I’ve been experimenting with homemade biscuits for as long as I can remember and let me just say, these are really, really good. I’m from Tennessee; I know a good biscuit when I meet one.
Have great weekend, ya’ll. And eat something good for breakfast.
4 T each, butter & vegetable shortening (don’t soften the butter)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 T baking powder
1 T sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ cup buttermilk
extra 2 T butter, melted
pan: heavy baking sheet, jellyroll pan, or cast-iron skillet
Place the shortening and butter inside a large bowl. Add in dry ingredients—flour, baking powder, sugar, & salt—and, using your fingers, smush (yes, that’s a technical term) until you have a crumbly mixture, with large pieces. The pieces shouldn’t be too small or too uniform—just no big chunks of fat.
Pour in the buttermilk and mix very gently with your hands (try to remember to take your ring(s) off; I always forget!). The mixture will seem wet and as if there’s no way it could ever become biscuits. Do not panic and do not overmix.
Turn the loose mixture onto a heavily floured surface, coating the dough once with flour on both sides before patting it out very gently to about a half-inch thickness. Even though the dough still may not look completely together, trust me. That’s how you want them—if you work with the dough too much = hard biscuits.
Using a biscuit cutter (if you are a good Southerner & have one, unlike me) or an upside-down water glass, cut out biscuit rounds from the dough, placing them close together on your baking sheet or in your skillet/pan.
Cobble together scrap pieces to do a second, and if needed, third round of biscuit-cutting. Brush the tops of the biscuits with half of the melted butter and place them in the oven.
Bake for 15-20 minutes; at about the 12 minute mark, your biscuits should have risen nicely but will look a little pale. Brush with the remaining melted butter and finish baking.
Serve warm (of course) with more butter, honey, jam, sausage, pepper gravy, etc. Or, if you are my father-in-law, ribbon cane syrup (ew).
(thanks to our friends Vicky & Lois for sharing this years ago!)
This is so simple that I can’t even rightly call it a “recipe”—it’s more like a formula or a magic trick. Every time I do it I’m halfway afraid it isn’t going to work, but it always does!
eggs (2 per person, or perhaps just 1 for tiny eaters)
Ziploc bags (sandwich-size)
a Sharpie or permanent marker
any omelet add-ins you like:
shredded cheese (cheddar, fontina, mozzarella, Monterey jack)
crumbled/chopped meats (ham, sausage, bacon or a meatless substitute)
chopped veggies (peppers, mushrooms, onions, green onions, spinach, asparagus)*
seasonings (fresh or dried herbs such as basil or thyme, hot sauce, etc)
salt & pepper
First, get a tall pot of water (the kind you’d use to cook a big batch of pasta) filled with water and bring the water to a boil.
To assemble the omelets, first have everyone claim a Ziploc bag & write his/her name on it. Then, using a bowl to help the bag “stand up,” crack two eggs into each one.
Instruct everyone to seal their bags and then smush up the eggs with their fingers. Kids, naturally, l-o-v-e this part, so they’ll happily manage this step for everyone.
Then, have everyone open their bags back up and throw in whatever accoutrement they desire—just make sure not to overload! Think in finger-pinches, not handfuls.
Once everyone’s loaded up their omelet-to-be, seal the bag and mix it all up again.
One last step, and this is important (the kids may need help with this one). Unseal the bag so you can force all of the ingredients down to the bottom, then press the air out through the top and re-seal.
You should have a concentrated band at the bottom of your bag, and no, it won’t look very appetizing, but don’t worry! I promise you this will taste excellent.
Bring your pot of water down to a simmer—don’t use a rolling boil or your eggs (and bag) will overcook. Drop the bags into the water, one at a time—they’ll kind of bob up at the top, but that’s why you pressed all of the ingredients down to the bottom.
You may need to kick the heat back up on your burner to compensate for the addition of the bags, but at this point, set a timer for exactly thirteen minutes and go about your business.
When that timer goes off, carefully fish the bags out of the water and onto a kitchen towel. To serve, simply open each bag (there will be steam, so watch little fingers) and slide the omelet onto a plate. Enjoy!
*If you decide to use asparagus, I recommend pre-cooking it in a little water, either over the stove or in the microwave.