That’s kind of what happens when we go to Austin. We stop by the original Kerbey Lane Cafe at least once… a day. And before the server can even get his or her name out, my husband is already reaching for his tranquilizer gun.
So maybe it’s not that bad, but I am a certifiablechileconquesojunkie. And I’ve never really paid much attention to their menu. (Seriously, they have a menu! Who knew?)
But a reader recently brought to my attention a dish from that alleged menu: “Eggs Francisco.” Eggs Francisco is an English muffin topped with scrambled eggs, tomatoes, bacon and a scoop of Kerbey queso.
That? That sounds like my kind of breakfast. (Or breakfast for dinner, as it turned out.)
We took a slightly different approach to Eggs Francisco, instead merging Eggs Benedict with a few TexMex and breakfast favorites to create a dish totally worthy of a fancy & pricey brunch: bacon, avocado, pico de gallo, and a generous spoonful of queso.
Eggs Benedict con queso y avocado y bacon y pico de gallo. But you can call ‘em Eggs Benedict con Queso.
I already had English muffins in the freezer and leftover pico and queso in the fridge from the night before, so I really only had to cook the bacon, poach the eggs, and toast the muffins. It took no time at all for it all to come together!
“Dough! Are you making dough? I can have some dough?”
The clank of the mixer bowl snapping onto mixer sends The Little running to the kitchen from anywhere inside our fence line. She has always had super Spidey hearing. When she was a newborn, the sound of milk pouring over my cereal downstairs in the kitchen would be enough to wake her from a nap upstairs. Every single time.
Unless we’re talking about cracking eggs or making pizza/bread dough, she’s not overly interested in helping in the kitchen. And this is what it usually looks like when I ask “Do you want to help Mommy measure the flour/cut cookies/do anything else besides eat raw bread dough or crack a couple of eggs?”
Lately, she’d rather paint or draw. Or wear a princess fairy dress.
It’s like we’re barely related some days
But the promise of a pinch or two of bread dough can cut a tantrum short and get my scattered toy mess of a living room picked up in no time. So we’re making a lot of bread lately.
English muffins are one of those bread things that are plenty easy enough to drop into your cart at the store but are so much more delicious when made at home, you just need to find a couple of hours on a weekend to let the dough rise and then some hands-on shaping and cooking time.
Just be warned – after eating Eggs Benedict or a breakfast sandwich on homemade English muffins, the store-bought variety will never even come close to living up to them. Even when drowned in all that magical Hollandaise sauce.
Need help deciding what to do with all those English muffins? We clearly vote for Eggs Benedict:
English muffins couldn't be easier to make and taste so much better than their store-bought counterpart.
1 3/4 cups lukewarm milk
2 1/4 tsp (1 pkg) yeast
3 Tbsp butter, softened
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 large egg
4 1/2 cups flour
Oil for bowl and hands
Cornmeal for pans
Place milk in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and sprinkle yeast over top.
Let sit for 10 minutes and then add the butter, salt, sugar, egg, and flour.
Mix on low until the flour is incorporated and then switch to medium and beat for 5 minutes - dough will be very soft and sticky.
Scrape dough out into an oiled bowl and cover, letting rise for ~2 hours.
Keeping your hands well oiled to prevent the dough from sticking, pinch golf ball sized pieces of dough off (2 oz, if you have a kitchen scale), form a ball, and place on a griddle pan that is generously dusted with cornmeal.
Lightly press down on the balls once on the pan (I could fit 8-10 on my griddle and then I put the remainder on a baking sheet to cook in two batches).
Let rest for 20 minutes.
Turn burner or grill to medium low and cook until golden brown, ~12 minutes on each side. (If they brown too quickly, reduce the heat.)
Carefully transfer the second batch to the griddle so as not to deflate them and cook until done.
Let cool completely on a rack before splitting open with a fork.
Muffins will keep fresh on the counter a few days and freeze well.
A few years ago, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to start making most of our own bread. With a little bit of scheduling and some room in the freezer, I could bake up sandwich bread, burger buns, english muffins, and bagels without having to buy very much.
Aside from burger buns, my favorite bread-thing to make is bagels. Partly because 1 batch will allow us to share a bagel for breakfast for nearly 2 weeks. And partly because the bagels from the nearby bakery place that we used to adore have really gone downhill over the last couple of years. Shelling out $12 for a disappointing breakfast for 2 isn’t the ideal start to a weekend.
This batch, we flavored the dough with some vanilla and added chopped semisweet chocolate. The dough isn’t overly sweet so you feel like you’re eating dessert for breakfast but there is chocolate. So you’re still kinda eating dessert for breakfast.
Chocolate Chunk Bagels
An overnight rest yields chewy, flavorful bagels studded with your favorite chocolate.
For the sponge:
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups warm water (divided)
1 tsp active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
For the dough
1/2 tsp dry active yeast
2 1/2 - 3 cups flour
2 3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
1 Tbsp baking soda
Cornmeal for dusting pan
To make the sponge, dissolve sugar into 1/2 cup warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast over top and let proof for 5 minutes.
Add the remaining water and flour and mix on low with the paddle until sponge is smooth and the consistency of pancake batter.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit until doubled, approximately 2 hours. (The sponge will be foamy and bubbly and will collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop).
To make the dough, fit the mixer with the dough hook. Add the additional yeast to the sponge and mix on low until combined.
Add 2 cups flour, all of the salt, sugar, vanilla, and chocolate, mixing on low until the ingredients form a ball, adding additional flour 1/4 cup at a time to stiffen the dough.
Knead the dough for 6 minutes. It will be firm but still pliable and smooth and should clean the sides of the mixer bowl. The kneaded dough should feels satiny and pliable but not be tacky.
Form the bagels: Divide the dough into 4 oz pieces and shape into rolls. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and let sit for 20 minutes.
Line two baking sheets with parchment. Shape the bagels by pushing a hole through the center of each roll and working the dough around your thumb, stretching out the hole to ~2.5 inches in diameter.
Place bagels 2 inches apart on the pan. Cover with a damp towel and let sit for 20 minutes.
Fill a small bowl with room-temp water. Drop one bagel into the water. If the bagel floats within 10 seconds, remove the bagel, pat it dry, return it to the pan, and place the pans in the refrigerator overnight covered loosely with plastic wrap. If the bagel does not float, pat it dry, return it to the pan, and test again in 10-20 minutes.
Baking the bagels: Preheat the oven to 500 with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the baking soda. Boil the bagels in batches 1-2 minutes on each side (for chewy bagels, go 2 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula.
Sprinkle the same parchment-lined baking sheets with cornmeal. Transfer the pans to the oven. Bake for 5 minutes and then swap the pans in the oven. Lower the oven setting to 450 and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels are golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.
To freeze: I slice the completely cooled bagels almost all the way through, enough that they flip open all the way but still are just barely attached so tops and bottoms stay together. A square of wax paper in the middle keeps them from freezing shut. I layer them in a gallon freezer bag and put in the freezer. To reheat, I place the frozen bagel halves in the oven when I turn on the broiler to toast. They thaw, heat, and toast perfectly
I’m ready for 2013. Like ready ready. I stepped onto the bathroom scale this morning and it said “error.” It’s such a jerk sometimes. Like when it randomly tells me I weigh 10lbs less than I did the day before… and then 6lbs more 8 seconds later. But it does have a point.
So all of those wonderful Trade Joe’s goodies that Santa left in our stocking have an “Eat before Monday or get hidden on the top shelf that you can’t reach without getting a chair from the dining room – and we both know you’re far too lazy to go get a chair from the dining room” label on them and the pages of my new Cooking Light Cookbook are littered with post it tab bookmarks.
Our post-holiday detox starts Tuesday. But until then, there’s bacon. And biscuits.
And Trader Joe’s Sweet-Salty-Nutty Trek Mix that is like crack. Certifiable crack.
On a quiet Saturday morning when the not-so-little-anymore one is at Gia & PaPaw’s house for the weekend, we sat down to a quick & simple breakfast of peppery Maple Bacon Biscuits, eggs, and some grapefruit juice.
Crumbly, airy biscuits made with bacon grease and sweetened with maple syrup. And it was the first recipe I made from my new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Flipping through it for the first time, I spotted them on page 28. And then I ran to the kitchen to make them immediately.
And then I immediately ate two straight out of the oven, mostly in celebration that the first recipe from a new cookbook turned out to be such a huge homerun. And partly because it was 4:30pm and that’s when I kick myself every single day for not having a snack an hour earlier.
I added a healthy dose of black pepper to help balance the sweet & savory just enough to almost make them a meal in itself. (“Almost,” like eating 2 biscuits wasn’t all of the calories I had left for dinner the other day.) I also made a double batch to be able to make the biscuits bigger than the 2-inch originals. And just a note – the dough was softer than expected for the double batch and I ended up kneading in a bit more flour after cutting the first few biscuits and realizing that they would spread quite a bit (and they did). The “extra flour” biscuits baked up nicely.
Maple Bacon Biscuits
Make breakfast really count with these sweet, crumbly biscuits studded with crispy bacon and black pepper.
5 slices thick-cut bacon
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 1/4 cups flour, plus more for work surface
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
~8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter (see note below)
1/2 cup buttermilk (I whisked 1/4 cup 2% milk with 1/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt)
You want 12 Tbsp total between the butter and the grease reserved from cooking the bacon. If you end up with more bacon grease than 4 Tbsp, you can reduce the butter accordingly. And if you end up with less bacon grease, you can use more butter. Make sense? Good. Let's get started.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Fry the bacon until crisp and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to cool.
Turn off the heat and add several generous dashes/grinds of black pepper to the pan and stir, letting the pepper cook for ~10 seconds.
Pour the rendered bacon grease and pepper (scrape the peppery bits out if necessary) into a heat-safe measuring cup and stick it in the freezer to solidify.
Chop the bacon into chunks and transfer to a small bowl, pouring the maple syrup over top.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and add the butter chunks and the bacon grease (use a spoon to scrape out the measuring cup).
Using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut the butter and bacon grease into the dry ingredients until well mixed (no large chunks) and the mixture is mealy.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk and maple-bacon mixture and stir/fold until your dough forms.
Turn your dough onto a generously floured surfaced and give it a few kneads to come together and then pat it to 1-inch thick .
Using a floured round cutter, cut as many rounds as you can and then pat the dough back together and repeat until the dough is gone - I got 10 biscuits using a 2.75-inch cutter.
Place biscuits on a lined baking sheet (sides just barely touching) and bake 12-14 minutes or until the tops are golden.
Serve warm. Leftovers reheated nicely for the 2-3 days they stuck around.
Yields: 10 biscuits
Slightly adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook