Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Lot Of Butter, A Lot Of Breakfast, A Lot of Lovin’ – It’s The Neelys

Down Home With The Neelys

Sunday Sleep In
Breakfast Trifle Grits
Nana's Cinnamon Rolls
Buttermilk Waffles with Homemade Strawberry Sauce
Lazy Sunday Mimosa

Two words about The Neelys: They actually cooked everything FROM SCRATCH this week. THIS is what they should have been doing from the beginning. I'm not saying it's healthy or even stuff that I would make. But, at least, we're learning about their cooking traditions without the reliance on boxes and pouches (except the one you get after breakfast at their house).

Gina starts the cinnamon rolls before Pat gets up. She doesn’t get very far, before he comes bounding into the kitchen, greeting her warmly. You may think their lovey-dovey shtick is over the top, but I'd like a little of what's he's serving. (Would it get annoying, though? I wouldn’t mind finding out.)

They proceed with the dough, using the dough hook in the mixer. Gina reminds us to use warm water with the yeast, saying, "Nothing cold activates anything”. Pat, down boy. The dough is very sticky, but between the two of them, they get it all mixed and kneaded and sitting in a bowl to rise.

To make the rolls, Gina sprinkles flour on the board, dough and rolling pin. Pat rolls it out and they both stretch it even thinner. They brush 1 stick of melted butter over and sprinkle over 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/4 cup pecans and raisins if you with.

I would have mixed those ingredients together and then put them over the dough to avoid a glut of cinnamon in one bite and not enough sugar in another.

They roll it up from the long ends. They cut the ends off and cut it into 8 sections. The rolls go onto a buttered baking dish. They let it rise one hour. Now that's a good all-purpose homemade cinnamon roll recipe with nary a dough boy in sight (except Pat, just kidding...sort of).

They get to work making waffles. They separate 3 eggs and Gina beats them until stiff. Pat melts copious amounts of butter and mixes it with buttermilk and vanilla. The wet gets mixed with dry ingredients. They make rather short shrift of the waffles, so we never actually see Pat making them. Who knows if it took him 15 batches to get those perfect waffles or if he did it right the first time?

The cinnamon rolls go into the oven to bake. The waffles (finished during the commercial, outside of our prying eyes) go into the oven to stay warm (the SAME oven? That’s kinda hot).

Pat and Gina slice up strawberries for a strawberry sauce. They get mixed with sugar and lemon zest and brought to the simmer with a bit of cornstarch.

Pat starts on a recipe that I've never encountered before. It's a kind of trifle made with grits, eggs and sausage. Gina's family always made it with scrambled eggs; Pat's with hardboiled eggs. (I like the sound of Gina's more.)

Pat uses quick cooking grits. I give him a pass for that, because they are making quite a few things for breakfast. But, for all you grit aficionados, tell me if that’s sacrilege. He adds ½ cup of the quick stuff to 2 cups of boiling water.

He seasons with salt and pepper and one of them says (don’t ask me which one. As our daughter says about H and me, when we independently lecture her on the same subject - we share a brain), “Here in the south, we love butter in our grits”. Frankly, although I know there are exceptions, THERE in the south is the only place they eat grits…Now don’t be telling me about your grandmother in Milwaukee or uncle in Portland that loves grits – they ARE a dish mostly cooked by southern cooks, no matter where they live…

Oh, they add sugar too.

They’ve gone about boiling their eggs in that imprecise way that I detest: If the recipe starts with "Put eggs in cold water", I don’t want hear about it. What if you add too much cold water? It takes longer to come to the boil and then your eggs will have the same tell-tale overcooked grey-green line between the yolk and white that the Neely’s eggs do.

Try this, you’ll be a convert. Put your eggs in boiling water. Add a squidge of white vinegar to set the white instantly, if you have a crack. Bring back to the boil, simmer for eggsxactly (get it?) ELEVEN minutes. Plunge into ice water. Finis. Perfect eggs.

After Gina peels her eggs, she chops them up and puts them in the bottom of pretty glasses.

Pat fries up 2 sausage patties. I’m assuming Jimmy Dean isn’t involved. Gina grates some cheddar cheese. She gets the cinnamon rolls out and brushes over a quick powdered sugar glaze. Pat tops the hardboiled eggs with the crumbled sausage and spoons the buttery (remember they’re from the south) grits over. Just a little cheddar cheese and chopped tomato for garnish and voila you have…WHAT do you have? Breakfast Trifle Grits. That could be good.

Pat spoons the strawberry sauce over the waffles. And Gina sugars up 2 champagne glasses and makes a nice variation of a mimosa: blood orange juice, pineapple juice, champagne and Grand Marnier. I likey, so does Pat, but he’d like anything Gina serves up, and, this week, at least, so do I.


Mary Sue said...

You do realise there are a whole bunch of people from the South who moved to Portland and taught us pale, coffee-swilling salmon eaters to like grits, right?

Like these guys:
And these guys:

Magi said...

Quick-cooking grits are okay. The best, of course, are stone-ground, but you don't always have the time they need. I use quick-cooking all the time for a quick meal for me or my daughter. My husband doesn't care for them.

Instant grits, however, are the most vile thing that could ever be put in your mouth. Stay away from instant.

Emiline said...

Cinnamon rolls and waffles sound pretty good right now. I don't know about the trifle. I think it might taste good, but I don't like it being called trifle.

This seems like a heavy breakfast. Too much starch going on.

Sue said...

Hi Mary Sue,

You're funny. How are grits WITH the salmon?

I liked those links.

Hi Magi,
Interesting. I guess not too many instant things are good.

Hi Em,
They could have called it breakfast pudding, which would have been worse.

It certainly isn't a meal for lightweights.