Brunch Casserole

This recipe is a fun way to mix it up for breakfast. It is also an amazing way to serve breakfast to a crowd. It can actually be made the night before and refrigerated. I did this for the holidays to save some time and mess on Christmas Day. This recipe will easily serve 8 people as prepared. I would recommend dividing it in half and baking half in an 8 inch square pan. I like to take the other half and freeze it in a disposable foil dish. Then you have breakfast ready to go in the freezer next time you have guests visiting or just can’t bear to make a mess of your kitchen.

There is a lot of flexibility in this recipe. I think you can just fry the chopped bacon in the skillet and do a one dish kind of thing, you could also use breakfast sausage. You could also make this vegetarian and amp up the veggies – extra bell peppers, fresh tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms. The possibilities are endless! I am now cooking bacon in my oven for easy cleanup and because the bacon just gets done perfectly every time, you cannot mess it up. And I just cheat and make a whole pound of bacon and then there is plenty for a whole weekend or for one hungry husband who constantly asks (re bacon sitting on the counter in the afternoon) “Is this snack bacon?”

As far as brunch wines go… you probably already know what I am going to suggest. Sparkling wine, duh. If your fridge doesn’t have at least two different sparkling wines in it at all times, you are living your life wrong. If you really like the people you’re serving brunch to… then pour some Mumm or Chandon. If the people you’re serving brunch to drink a lot… pour Friexenet or Jaume Serra and make mimosas. This spring I will be serving one thing and one thing only, grapefruit mimosas. My second favorite mimosa mixer is cider. I love the unfiltered cider from Trader Joe’s but any hard cider added to your mimosa will really kickstart your weekend. Add in a quick pour of Laird’s Applejack and get ready to ruin your Saturday. This brunch casserole plus Apple Cider Mimosas are basically the perfect meal for a group on vacation, skiing, beaching, or if you are just going to any of the fabulous parades and festivals in the KC area.

Brunch Casserole

6 slices thick bacon
1 large onion, peeled, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
Salt
8 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups hash browns (frozen or reconstituted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13×9 inch baking pan. Plae the bacon on a foil lined baking sheet and cook for about 20 minutes, until it is crispy. Crumble the cooked bacon.

In a large skillet, heat the bacon grease (or olive oil or butter). Saute the onion and bell pepper for about 7 minutes until it is soft. Add in the garlic, sun dried tomatoes, 1 tsp salt and cook for 2 more minutes.

In a metal bowl, beat the eggs and whisk in the milk and black pepper. Stir in 2/3 of the cheese, the potatoes, the bacon, and the cooked onion mixture. Pour this into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 40 minutes or until the edges are firm.

Apple Cider Mimosas

2 oz sparkling wine
3 oz cider
1/2 oz Laird’s Applejack
Lemon and apple slices for garnish

If everything is cold in the fridge, just pour all ingredients into a champagne flute and serve. If not cold, shake up the applejack and the cider in a cocktail shaker and pour into a champagne flute, finish with sparkling wine. You can also serve the applejack and cider over ice and fill the glass to the top with sparkling wine.

These are Bubbly Kitchen original recipes.

Brunch Hash with Brussels and Fried Eggs

Brunch is by far one of our favorite meals here at Bubbly Kitchen. One of the fantastic things about being back in Kansas City is that there is an endless selection of fabulous brunches. And we also happen to live across the street from the best breakfast place in the city. So, basically we haven’t been cooking as many brunches. There is always Brinner, a hugely important meal for my husband. And this recipe is a perfect excuse for Brinner. It has been pointed out to me that there is a paucity of vegetable recipes on this blog. But I think thats because I usually just grill vegetable kabobs and… I constantly make these brussels. And if you want to add a breakfast tweak to them, drizzle them with a little maple syrup. This is also a nice addition during the fall or on thanksgiving when having an indulgent meal.
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So sometimes on this blog there are some pretty complex recipes… but then sometimes we make hash browns from a box. But these really are the best hash browns, and so easy! This is an elaborate appearing dish that will impress your brunch guests. It’s so easy though! You can even make the  brussels sprouts in advance and just microwave them. As Ina would say, “how easy is that?” It  is super hard for me to make any vegetables for breakfast (besides potatoes of course).

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Champagne, a history lesson.

I have recently been reading the novel, The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It and learning so much about the history of champagne. This fascinating book provides a personal look into the creation of one of the most popular champagnes, Veuve Cliquot. There is an untrue rumor that Dom Perignon invented champagne. The credit actually goes to monks in the Abbey Saint Hilaire. They created Blanquette de Limoux in the early 1500s, long before the Champagne region was defined. You can buy Saint Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux today in many stores. If you have not tried it, you should. This sparkling is made from Mauzac grapes which have a characteristic green apple flavor. It is a truly wonderful wine, rich in flavor and history, it is also very affordable.

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For the most part, bubbles that formed in wine bottles were considered a bad thing. Bottles would explode from the carbonation if primary fermentation was not complete prior to bottling the wine. Champagne came into style in the 17th century, associated with luxury and royalty. French Kings were anointed in Reims, where champagne was served during the coronation. The climate in Champagne is actually not the most suitable for growing grapes for wine. The grapes are fickle and difficult to ripen. This rough climate produces these lighter bodied wines with high acidity.

The thing about champagne is, there are a lot of rules. There is literally a government committee in a France to regulate anything and everything when it comes to champagne. In fact the use of the term champagne is restricted by the Treaty of Madrid and the Treaty of Versailles. The US was actually not under those regulations and allowed to use the word champagne until recently. It obviously must be made in the traditional method, or méthode champenoise. Champagne is usually made from 3 particular grapes but others are approved. Pinot noir, chardonnay, and petit meunière are typically all used to make champagne. Blanc de Blancs however is made solely from white grapes (Chardonnay). Blanc de Noirs is made from red grapes (Pinot noir and petit meunière). The wines are not red though because the wine is not left in contact with the skins of the grapes.

The rules require a minimum of one and half years of aging per the Appellation d’Origine Controllée. AOC is basically a certification granted to certain regions of France to produce certain things. Some years if there is a particularly good harvest the AOC will call this a millesemé. This must age for at least three years. Most champagne that you drink will be labeled NV or non-vintage. They are blends of multiple grapes from different years. To label a champagne a vintage wine, it must be 85% the grapes of that particular year.

The Traditional Method

If you visit Napa Valley, you absolutely must visit Mumm Napa. You will learn so much. The tour is phenomenal. The tour guide will teach you all about the traditional method and show you how it works. After that you will relax in a beautiful room, with an amazing view, and an abundance of some of the most delicious wines you will ever drink. (images below.) Although you may not be able to enjoy French champagne regularly, sparklings made via traditional method will bring you very close. Champagne is always made this way, as are most cavas (sparkling wine from Spain), and most of the Napa Sparklings.

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When browsing sparkling wine in the store you will often see the phrase “méthode traditionelle” or “méthode champenoise.” This is the process of giving sparkling wine (and this kitchen) it’s bubbles. The fine bubbles of sparkling wine are produced during the secondary fermentation. Secondary fermentation produces the bubbles but sparkling wine undergoes primary fermentation just like any other wine. Primary fermentation is the initial step when the natural sugar from the grapes is converted to alcohol. With the traditional method, this secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle. If the wine is not produced this way, secondary fermentation takes place in large tanks. The bubbles produced in the bottle are much finer and the differences is obvious with two glasses of wine side by side.

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The traditional method entails much more than secondary fermentation in tanks. The cuvée (the wine blend before secondary fermentation) is bottled with a small amount of sugar (liqueur de tirage) and yeast. A temporary cap is placed on the bottles which are then riddled to collect the yeast sediment in the neck. Riddling used to be performed by hand, each bottle was shaken and turned then dropped back in the rack at a steeper angle each day. This is now performed by machines. The temporary cap and sediment are removed during the process of disgorging. Today the sediment in the neck is frozen to prevent loss of much liquid. After disgorging, the dosage is added to the bottle and the cork is placed. The sugars in the dosage balance the acidity of the wine as secondary fermentation consumes most of the sugar.

Pizza on the Grill

IMG_2413 My husband and I are basically obsessed with our Weber Kettle Grill. We are grilling anything and everything. I was previously obsessed with my pizza stone but it has unfortunately fallen out of favor. I have also been excited with the opportunity to repurpose my 8 inch parchment rounds that I bought for all the cakes I never made. Cupcakes are just superior to a layer cake! The parchment really makes the shaping of the pizzas and the transfer to the grill much easier. The recipe below is just the basics to get you started. You can be creative with toppings. Unfortunately my pictures are not the best because we could not help but to immediately slice and taste these pizzas. Be careful here, it is easy to overcook the pizzas. It takes just 2-3 minutes for each side of the pizza. This technique of grilling one side and then placing the toppings on the grilled side allows you to cook the pizzas evenly. Use plenty of olive oil to prevent sticking. We enjoyed our grilled pizza night with a bottle of Chandon Blanc de Noir. This is a rich sparkling made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. It really complements the flavors of grilled foods. You can serve this light pink sparkling wine with any food that you might traditionally serve alongside a still pinot noir wine.

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Grilled pizza

Makes 3 x 8 inch pizzas

One recipe pizza dough
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey (sugar or agave can be substituted)
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups bread flour

Your favorite pizza sauce – tomato based or otherwise
(The white sauce recipe pictured above can be found here.)
Fresh or shredded mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes
Pepperoni
Sliced mushrooms
Any toppings you want!
Parchment paper

Make the dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast and honey with warm water (110 degrees). Wait 10 minutes until bubbles form and it gets foamy (see bubbly yeast to the left). Add in salt, oil and half the flour. Using the dough hook, mix to combine.

Once the flour is mixed in, add in the rest of the flour bit by bit until combined. The dough should be tacky but should not stick to your hand. You may need to add more flour, add this 1 tbsp at a time.

Knead the dough with the mixer on a medium to high setting for 7 minutes. The mixer bowl will be clean after 7 minutes. Use olive oil to lightly grease the dough and the bowl. Cover with a warm towel and allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Make the pizzas
Light the grill. When using charcoal, you will want this to be a “hot” fire. You should not be able to hold your hand over the heat 5 inches from the grill for more than 3 seconds. Prepare a pizza peal or baking sheet with sprinkled corn meal.

Cut the parchment paper into 8 inch circles and coat them lightly with olive oil. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces, you can use a scale for accuracy. Shape it into a ball and stretch the outer edges with your hands forming it into a disk that is almost the size of your parchment circles. If the dough is too stick, use some olive oil on your hands. Place the dough on the parchment and continue to stretch it to the edges. Lightly coat the surface of the dough with olive oil.

Flip the dough onto the hot grill, remove the parchment paper. Replace the lid and let this cook for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, check the dough, it should be crispy with grill marks. Transfer the dough to your prepared pizza peal, grilled side up.

To the grilled surface of the pizza, apply your sauce, red pepper flakes, parmesan, toppings and mozzarella. Yes, in that order. Be careful not to overload the pizzas with sauce and toppings.

Transfer the dough back to the grill with the uncooked side facing the coals. Replace the lid and cook for 2 more minutes, or until the bottom begins to char.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.