Category Archives: Brunch

Turkey Breakfast Sausage

Whenever I visit a diner or breakfast eatery, I usually order the quintessential American breakfast plate – eggs, toast, hash browns and bacon/sausage. Every so often, I may look for healthier options to substitute for the hash browns or meat, and many restaurants in Southern California offer a turkey sausage option as an alternative. But I can’t tell you the number of times I have been disappointed after ordering the turkey sausage. So often the turkey sausage is dry and tough, falling short of its pork counterpart, but it doesn’t have to. (I can hear the naysayers already – BUT BACON!) As proof, today I am sharing my juicy and moist turkey sausage recipe.

There are three key steps to ensure a moist and juicy sausage. First, I use ground turkey meat and not ground turkey breast, because breast meat tends to be more dry. The ground turkey meat has dark meat in the mixture, which yields a juicier result. Second, I add finely-grated onions to the sausage mixture. The grated onion creates moisture pockets in the meat when cooked. Finally, I gently incorporate the ingredients until the mixture is just combined. Over-mixing will also contribute to a tougher sausage. Follow these steps and I guarantee you’ll have juicy and moist little turkey sausages. Enjoy!

 

Turkey Breakfast Sausage

Yield: 8 patties

1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds

1 1/2 tablespoon of grated onion

1/2 garlic clove, minced

12 ounces of organic ground turkey (not ground turkey breast)

2 teaspoons of brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon of sweet paprika

3/4 teaspoon of sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

Pinch of red pepper flakes, optional

Olive oil or sunflower oil for frying

 

1. Add the fennel seeds to a small sauté pan. Toast at medium-low heat for about 3 minutes. Transfer the toasted fennel seeds into a clean coffee grinder. Pulse 3 times. Set aside.

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2. In a large bowl, add the ground fennel seeds, grated onion, minced garlic, ground turkey, brown sugar, thyme, paprika, sea salt, three turns of the black pepper mill, and a pinch of red pepper flakes, if using.

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3. Using your clean hands, mix all the ingredients until just combined. Don’t over-mix. Using a medium-sized ice cream scoop, portion out the patties onto parchment paper.

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4. Using a large sheet of plastic wrap, cover the patties and press on them until you get round patties about 1/2″ in thickness.

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5. Heat a large frying pan to medium heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil.

6. Once the oil is hot, add the sausage patties. Fry them in two batches so you don’t crowd the pan.

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7. Fry for 2-3 minutes or until you get a nice sear. Flip the patties and cook for another two minutes.

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8. Serve immediately with some eggs.

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Duck Confit Hash

Duck leg confit is one of my favorite French dishes. The duck is slightly salty, mildly gamey, and has a crispy skin. In France, you will find duck confit on the menu of most brasseries. It is often served with crispy potatoes fried in duck fat and with a side salad. The process to make duck confit is a long one, which includes salt curing in the refrigerator for a couple of days and the poaching in its own fat for several hours. The duck is then pan-fried until the skin is crispy.

I’ve made duck confit in the past, but now for convenience sake, I buy it from my local specialty or gourmet shop. For my duck confit hash recipe, buying pre-made duck confit works beautifully. The recipe is relatively easy, and perfect for a special occasion like Mother’s Day Brunch. This recipe makes 2 servings, but you can double the recipe if you need more. Just remember, one duck leg confit and 4 ounces of potato per person. Enjoy!

 

Duck Confit Hash

Serving Size: 2

8 ounces of Yukon gold potato, 1 medium

Duck fat* or olive oil

2 prepared duck leg confit, about 8 ounces with the bones*

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of fresh time leaves, chopped

1/2 cup of reduced duck stock or veal stock**

Sea salt

Freshly grated black pepper

1 tablespoon of chopped Italian parsley (extra for garnish)

2 farm fresh eggs, poached soft

Cayenne for garnish, optional

 

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Peel and cut the Yukon gold potatoes to 1 inch dice.

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3. Toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of melted duck fat or olive oil and sprinkle a little salt and freshly grated pepper. Transfer the potatoes to a sheet pan. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until nice and crispy.

4. Meanwhile, hand shred the duck confit meat off the bone. You want the meat in bite-size pieces.

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5. Poach the 2 eggs at this time for about 2 minutes. Place the poached eggs on a paper towel until ready to use. Set aside.

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6. Heat a large sauté pan to medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon of duck fat or olive oil to pan. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.

7. Add the duck confit meat and the chopped thyme. Sauté until the duck gets slightly crispy, about 2 minutes.

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8. Add the roasted potatoes and sauté for 1 more minute. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

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9. Pour the reduced stock and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened.

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10. Divide the hash in to serving bowls and top with a poached egg. Sprinkle cayenne pepper and parsley. Serve immediately.

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*Duck fat and duck leg confit can be purchased at a gourmet food store like Bristol Farms or Dean & Deluca, or online on Amazon. You can also purchase the duck leg confit in duck fat and get both ingredients in one purchase.

**Duck stock or veal stock can be purchased at your local gourmet food store. Make sure you purchase the frozen version without any salt. You can also use chicken stock if you can’t find duck or veal stock. Place 1 cup of stock in a small sauce pan. Cook on high heat until the stock is reduced by 1/2.

Raspberry Almond Cake Bars

I love the flavor of almond in baked goods. Frangipane, marzipan, almond paste, shaved almonds – however the almond flavor gets in there is fine with me – so it should come as no surprise that my favorite flour to bake with is almond flour. I love the richness that it adds to baked goods, and because of the natural oils from the almonds, you use less fat in your recipes. A few years ago, I tried a Bakewell tart with frangipane, raspberry jam and icing. The tart, which originated in England, was delicious, but little too sweet and rich for my taste. I loved the combination of flavors but wanted a lighter version, so I decided to create my own. The bottom layer is a crispy shortbread crust, the filling is a raspberry jam, and the top is a moist almond cake made with olive oil and Meyer lemon zest. These bars are perfect for breakfast, afternoon tea, or a late-night snack. Enjoy!

Raspberry Almond Cake Bars

Yield: 9 large bars or 16 small bars

Non-stick baking spray

 

Shortbread Cookie Crust

1 stick of unsalted cold butter, cut into 16 cubes

1/4 cup of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour

 

Almond Cake Layer

1/2 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour

3 ounces of almond flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of almond extract

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

3 tablespoons of whole sour cream

1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon of Meyer lemon zest

 

Filling

1/2 cup of raspberry jam (Bonne Maman is my preferred brand)

1/2 teaspoon of organic cornstarch

 

Topping

1/8 cup of toasted sliced almonds

Organic confectioners sugar for dusting, optional

 

 

1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan with non-stick spray.

2. To make the shortbread, add the butter pieces into a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Beat on medium-low speed for 1 minute.

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3. Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes until creamy. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Beat until just combined.

4. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and slowly add 1 cup of the flour. Mix until most of flour has been absorbed by the butter-sugar mixture.

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5. Using your hands, press down on the shortbread so the mixture comes together.

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6. Transfer to the greased pan and press down evenly to create the shortbread crust. Using the tines of the fork, create holes throughout the crust.

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7. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes

8. While the shortbread is baking, add 1/2 cup of flour to a medium bowl. Whisk in 3 ounces of almond flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Set aside.

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9. In a large bowl, whisk the 2 eggs and the sugar until combined. Add the almond extract and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Whisk again.

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10. Add the sour cream and olive oil and whisk until smooth.

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11. Add the flour mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula until no lumps are present. Set aside.

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12. Remove the par-baked shortbread from the oven. Let cool for 5 minutes.

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13. Increase the temperature of the oven to 350°.

14. Add the cornstarch to the raspberry jam and whisk well.

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15. Spread the jam evenly over the shortbread, leaving 1/4″ border.

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16. Carefully spoon the cake mixture over the jam and smooth out with a rubber spatula.

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17. Sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds.

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18. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Use a toothpick to test the center for doneness.

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19. Cool on a wired rack for about 1 hour before cutting. Dust with confectioners sugar.

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20. Serve with coffee or tea. Leftovers keep well in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.

Pumpkin and Swiss Chard Lasagna

I was hesitant to post a recipe with pumpkin this season because of pumpkin spice overload. Come fall, most markets dedicate a whole section to products with pumpkin spice. Trader Joe’s started this trend a few of years ago and other supermarkets quickly followed suit. There is pumpkin spice in chips, crackers, BBQ marinade, and even in kombucha. It has gotten so out of control, Anthony Bourdain said “I would like to see the pumpkin spice craze drowned in its own blood. Quickly.” Even though this lasagna recipe doesn’t contain any pumpkin spice, pumpkin has gotten a bad rap, kind of an instance of guilt by association.

Despite Bourdain’s loathing of pumpkin spice, pumpkin is a wonderful autumnal ingredient perfect for savory dishes. This pumpkin lasagna recipe is a nice change from your traditional meat sauce lasagna. There are two layers of pumpkin purée and one layer of Swiss chard/ricotta, and the dish is topped with béchamel, mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano. There is also sage brown butter in the pumpkin purée, which adds a layer of nutty and woody flavor. There is some advanced preparation involved before assembling the lasagna, so plan ahead. This a good dish for a crowd, or if you omit the chicken stock, a nice vegetarian option at a potluck. Serve it with a side salad for a complete meal. Enjoy!

Serving Size: about 12

Non-cooking spray, preferably olive oil-based
Béchamel sauce (see below)
1 lb. of lasagna noodles, no-boil
Cooked Swiss chard (recipe below)
Pumpkin layer (recipe below)
Ricotta layer (recipe below)
1 cup of grated mozzarella
1/4 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup of chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375°

2. Spray the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ x 3″ baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Ladle and spread half of the béchamel sauce on the bottom of the baking pan.

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3. Place 4 lasagna sheets, overlapping, on top of the béchamel layer.

4. Spread 1/2 of the pumpkin mixture on top of the lasagna noodles.

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5. Add another layer of lasagna sheets.

6. Spread the remaining ricotta mixture on top of the lasagna sheets.

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7. Evenly spoon all of the Swiss chard mixture and top with 1/2 of the grated mozzarella.

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8. Add another layer of lasagna sheets.

9. Spread the remaining pumpkin mixture on top of the lasagna noodles.

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10. Add another layer of lasagna noodles.

11. Ladle and spread the remaining béchamel, then the remaining mozzarella, and finally the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. If using, pour the chicken stock along the sides. Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes.

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12.  Remove foil and increase the heat to 400° and bake for 10 additional minutes.

13. Place the lasagna on a cooling rack. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

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Swiss Chard

2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups of chopped onions
1 teaspoon of chopped thyme leaves
Pinch of red pepper flakes
8 cups of chopped Swiss chard
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté of for 15 seconds. Add the onions and thyme leaves. Sauté for 3 minutes.

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2. Add all of the Swiss chard and red pepper flakes. Sauté and cook until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Season to taste.

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3. Add the lemon juice and transfer to a bowl until ready to use.

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Béchamel sauce

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of low-fat milk, heated
3/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1 pinch of ground nutmeg (half of 1/8 teaspoon)
Freshly ground pepper

1. Heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the butter and stir until melted.

2. Slowly rain in the flour while whisking to prevent clumping. Cook while whisking for about 1 minute.

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3. While whisking, slowly add the heated milk. Add the salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Continue to whisk and cook until the sauce thickens and the mixture bubbles on the sides. Turn off the heat. Set aside until ready to use.

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Pumpkin layer

2 tablespoons of butter
8 fresh sage leaves
3 cups of cooked pumpkin (fresh or canned)
3/4 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
Pinch of nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper

1. In a small sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sage leaves. Cook until the butter turns brown and toasty. Turn off the heat, remove the sage leaves and set aside.

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2. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt, nutmeg and few turns of the pepper mill. Stir to combine.

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3. Add the brown butter. Stir well and set aside until ready to use.

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Ricotta layer

1 1/2 cup of ricotta
1/2 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Freshly ground pepper

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside until ready to use.

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Apple Cider Breakfast Cake

Growing up and living in Southern California, it feels like summer all-year round, but my favorite season is fall, and it’s such a treat to see fall foliage when I visit my friends in New Jersey and Delaware. I recently learned of Oak Glen, a small section of Yucaipa just an hour and a half away from LA, where you can experience fall like on the East Coast. Oak Glen is famous for their apple orchards, and the leaves on the apple trees transform to various shades of autumn. Visitors from all over Southern California make the trek this time of year to go apple picking and purchase delicious apple cider. My trip yesterday inspired me to make a breakfast cake using the apples from their farm.

This breakfast cake, similar to coffee cake, has layers of apple flavors with grated apples, chopped apples and apple cider. You also taste the lovely warm spices of fall like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. The cake is incredibly moist with a nice crispy cinnamon and sugar topping. It’s perfect for breakfast, bunch or an afternoon snack and pairs well with hot apple cider or coffee. Enjoy and Happy Fall!

Apple Cider Breakfast Cake

Serving Size: 9 slices

1 2/3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon of ground allspice
2 large eggs
1/2 cup of neutral oil like sunflower or organic canola
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of fresh-pressed apple cider*
1/2 cup of grated apples (Pippin, Fuji, Pink Lady or your favorite baking apple)
2 cups of diced apples, 1/2 inch (same apple type as above)

Topping
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1. Heat the oven to 325°. Grease a 9 x 9 square a pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, Kosher salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice. Whisk and set aside.

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3. In a large bowl, add the eggs, oil, and apple cider. Whisk well.

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4. Add in the flour and sugar mixture to the wet ingredients. Fold in with a rubber spatula until only a few streaks of flour are visible.

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5. Add the grated and diced apples and gently fold to combine. Don’t over mix.

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6. Pour the batter into the greased baking pan.

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7. Whisk the topping ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly on top of the batter.

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8. Bake in the oven for about 40- 45 minutes. Insert a toothpick in the center of the cake to test for doneness.

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9. Place the cake on a wired rack to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing. Serve warm with a cup of hot apple cider or coffee. Enjoy.

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*You can find fresh-pressed apple cider at your local apple farm or farmers market during the fall. You can substitute store-bought cider if fresh-pressed Apple cider isn’t available.

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Chocolate Chip Muffins

My oldest son loves chocolate chips in cookies, pancakes, scones…pretty much anything and everything. So whenever I make any baked goods, he asks if I can swap I out the fruit for chocolate. Since most of my baked goods usually have less sugar, this is one indulgence I don’t feel too bad about. After testing a few muffin recipes, I came up I with one that is super-moist but still crunchy on the top, just the way he likes it. This is my son’s favorite muffin and he asked me to post the recipe. I hope you enjoy them as much as he does. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Chocolate Muffins

2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of whole milk
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, cut into 16 cubes
2/3 cup of granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of good quality chocolate chips (dark or semi-sweet)
Crystallized sugar for topping

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees

2. Line muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

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4. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and milk.

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5. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add the butter and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for 2 more minutes. Scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

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6. Add one egg and beat well. Scrape the bottom with a rubber spatula. Add the other egg and beat well. Scrape the bottom with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla extract and beat for 15 seconds.

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7. Adjust the speed to low, then add the sour cream and milk mixture. Beat for 15 seconds.

8. Add the chocolate chips to the flour mixture. Give it a quick whisk and slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixer on its lowest setting until they just combine. Remove the bowl and using a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and give it a couple of stirs.

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9. With a large ice cream scoop, add the batter to each of the cupcake liners.

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10. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of crystallized sugar on top of each muffin.

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11. Bake in the oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

12. Set the oven on broil. Broil the muffins for 1-2 minutes until you get a nice golden muffin top.

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Cheddar and Bacon Grits

Many years ago, I worked at Square One Dining, a wonderful breakfast and lunch restaurant in Los Angeles. While I was working there, the restaurant was voted the Best Breakfast in LA by Los Angeles Magazine. One of the keys to the restaurant’s success was that the owner sourced and selected the best breakfast ingredients: Nueske bacon, Anson Mill grits, local produce, farm fresh eggs, etc. One of the most popular items on the menu was the stone grits. They excuted the grits (polenta) perfectly, and occasionally customers ordered it with cheddar and bacon. Lately, I have been craving these grits.

As luck would have it, last week I was in Milwaukie, OR and visited Bob’s Red Mill, where I purchased a bag of organic grits. This was the perfect opportunity to recreate the cheese and bacon grits from Square One! This recipe does not include milk, but you will still get the creaminess from the cheese and butter. A couple of tips: first, when making grits, it is important to not to overstir or they will become gummy. Stir just enough to keep the grits from sticking to the pot. Second, once the grits are done, it is important to serve right away, again so it doesn’t harden or get lumpy. You want the grits to ooze in your bowl. Finally, adding a poached egg makes this recipe a complete breakfast dish in one bowl. Enjoy!

Cheese and Bacon Grits

Yield: 4 Servings

3 cups of water
1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 cup of organic grits (Bob’s Red Mill or Anson Mills)
3 thick cut bacon slices, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/2 cup of shredded good quality cheddar
1 tablespoon of grated Parmigiano-reggiano, plus extra for topping
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
Sea salt to taste
4 poached or sunny-side up eggs
Freshly ground pepper

1. Bring water and Kosher salt to a boil in a 2 quart pot.

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2. Once the water comes to a boil, add the grits all at once and stir. Reduce the heat to a low simmer.

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3. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking.

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4. Meanwhile, cook the bacon pieces in a sauté pan over medium heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel-lined plate.

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5. Poach or fry 4 eggs. Make sure the yolk is still runny inside. Set aside.

6. Once the grits are done cooking, add the butter, cheddar, Parmesan, and a pinch of sea salt. Stir until combined.

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7. With a large serving spoon, divide the grits among 4 serving bowls. Top each bowl of grits with bacon pieces and one cooked egg. Top with black pepper and grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

 

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