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Waffles and Grits for Brunch

by Sidney Carlisle

Cooler weather signals the end of the summer, and by now most of us are ready to entertain with something other than a menu of grilled meat and cold salads. Inviting friends for brunch is a way to bridge the gap between casual backyard barbecues and the more elaborate plans of the approaching holiday season.

For the host or hostess, brunch has several good points. Many people enjoy a leisurely breakfast, especially if someone else is in charge. If the invitation isn′t for the crack of dawn, even notorious sleepyheads can make a timely appearance. And most foods will hold in the oven or a warmer, in case everyone doesn't eat at the same time or some guests linger over coffee or mimosas. Brunch also eliminates the need to serve overnight visitors both breakfast and lunch.

Brunch may be casual or not. It′s an opportunity to use fancy dishes, or the perfect time to set out a collection of miss-matched plates and cups.

You can also show off your Texas waffle maker.

It may be indoors or out, depending on the weather. And the menu can be as varied as the guest list. This is one occasion where there are no rules to follow.

The event will be easier if most of the food can be prepared ahead of time and served at room temperature. Planning only one or two hot items will keep the cook out of the kitchen and able to enjoy the party. It's nice to include the usual egg and meat items. However, serving something not usually eaten every day will make the brunch seem special.

The Simple Brunch Necessities

Two things that may seem ordinary, but are important to some people, should always be included. One is fruit, since many of us are trying to eat the recommended daily amount. The other is to have water available for those who don′t drink coffee or tea or who prefer to drink water with their meal.

Remembering a couple of other things will help the brunch go well. One is to remove the butter from the refrigerator so that it has time to soften. If muffins and bread are being served at room temperature, it′s nice to be able to actually spread them with butter. If waffles or pancakes are available, they may be only warm, not hot, by the time a guest reaches for the butter. The other hint concerns syrup. Serve it warm. Heat the syrup ahead of time in a saucepan or the microwave, and pour it into a heavy glass or crockery pitcher to keep warm. It's back to those same not-quite-hot pancakes - warm syrup will make a difference.

The recipes that follow will round out almost any menu. The waffles made be prepared ahead and kept in the oven. The grits will keep well if baked and then covered with foil. Serving cake satisfies guests who don′t usually eat much breakfast -- the donut and pastry group -- and will also cross the line from breakfast to brunch.

Crispy Waffles

These waffles keep well in the oven with the heat on the lowest temperature. They may also be frozen.
  • 4 cups buttermilk baking mix (such as Bisquick)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2-1/2 cups club soda
Preheat a waffle iron. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with a wire whisk until well blended. Pour onto hot waffle iron and bake until golden. Number of waffles will depend on the size and shape of the waffle iron.

Great Grits

Even guests who insist they don′t like grits will enjoy this recipe.
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cups water
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter, divided (do not substitute margarine)
  • 1 cup regular grits (do not use quick or instant)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 ounces baby Swiss cheese, chopped in pieces
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (see note)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10-inch or 9 x 13-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Bring milk, water and 1/2 cup of the butter just to a boil. Whisk in the grits and reduce the heat to low. Cook uncovered until thick, whisking frequently, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add the salt and pepper. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and the Swiss cheese and stir until melted. Pour the grits in the baking dish and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown on top. Cooking time will vary slightly, depending on the size of the baking dish. Yields about 8 servings.

Note: For best results, use freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese from Italy, rather than pre-grated canned Parmesan cheese.

Apple Coffee Cake with Apple Vanilla Icing

This cake is just right for brunch, but is also a nice addition to any fall menu.
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 carton (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped, peeled apples
  • 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Cream the butter on medium speed of mixer. Gradually add the sugar, mixing well. Add the eggs and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. Add the sour cream and vanilla, mixing well. Batter will be thick. Use a spoon to stir in the apples, coconut and pecans. Spoon into the prepared pan.

Bake about 45 minutes, until a wooden pick or cake tester comes out clean. Do not over-bake. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and invert onto a wire rack. Drizzle with icing while the cake is still slightly warm.

Apple Vanilla Icing: Combine 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons apple juice and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl. Stir until smooth and drizzle over the coffee cake.

Sidney Carlisle lives on a ranch in Meridian, Texas.

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