My youngest and I walked through Costco hungry yesterday. “Mmmm. Feel like brats?” She responded, “Um, yeah!” I’ve been in Texas for 10 years now, but I grew up in Wisconsin, and sometimes that need for brats just hits. If it were summer, I’d be talking to you about grilling them and tossing them into a beer hot tub, while enjoying an ice cold beer on my partio (like a patio, but equipped for fun. Cred to my friend Tracy for my favorite summer word). A few years ago, I had all my ingredients for the brat tub and it started raining. I love my grill, but draw the line at rain and tornadoes. With that, the Brat Tray Bake was invented. It was so awesomely cozy that it was an obvious keeper. It’s super easy, so kids can get involved and proudly bring trays of yum to smiling people at the table. Niiiice.
Okay, since there’s no tub of beer waiting for your brats on the grill, it’s imperative that you begin with fresh beer brat links. Plain and pre-cooked are right out. Don’t consider them. Unless you have to. Then okay.
I’ve included pics of my kid prepping everything below, because she cracks me up. Her coconut oil hair mask and onion goggle combo is quite the fashion statement, no? The onion goggles do work well, though. Okay, she glared at me….
Bon Bratétit! If you love it, come find me again! 😀
Twine Swine. It may be the perfect gift. You can hand it to your friend, and in your best Shakespearian theatrical style, loudly proclaim, “The Twine Swine be Thine!” as you thrust your arm skyward. Yeah, I know. That’s a picture from Braveheart, but my attention span wavered a bit looking for just the right Henry V shot. Or you could treat yoself. In that case, it would be more like Montgomery Burns drumming his fingers together and declaring quietly and creepily, “The Twine Swine is mine.” Either way, people will be happy.
Really, I think Twine Swine might have been invented by pigs who were sick of bacon trending, wanting to see people eat more chicken. They might have been inspired by the Chick-fil-a cows. I love roast chicken. Ina Garten makes a perfect roast chicken in Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients. It’s lickable. Then I got Marcela Valodolid’s Casa Marcela: Recipes and Food Stories of My Life in the Californias. She sticks jalapeños under the skin of the roast chicken and it’s a total game changer. It’s not really spicy, just insanely flavorful. I played with their ideas, and it was like Ina’s chicken and Marcela’s chicken had a delicious, delicious baby. Here’s my Rock Star Jalapeño Roast Chicken and Vegetables.
It’s cold outside! I’ve lived in Texas for 10 years now, but I grew up in Wisconsin, and chilly air is like Pavlov’s bell to this Cheesehead. I start craving melted cheese.
My favorite fondue method is a little unorthodox. Rather than heating wine and tossing corn starch coated cheese into the pool, I love to start by making a roux and building a lovely béchamel. The resulting texture is velvety. I like to use a combination of both milk and wine, like you would in a wine cream sauce. It’s a bit less boozy which is nice for family fondue night. This uber-garlicky fondue is just as nice for roasted veggies as it is for bread. Really. I know that that’s not generally true, but you need to trust me here.
It is of utmost importance that you cut the broccoli into bite-size pieces. Your guests will be armed with nothing but a fondue fork, and will not be singing your praises if you make them feel like a moose, trying to navigate a ginormous piece of broccoli into their mouth. Seriously. No one feels attractive with an overstuffed broccoli mouth. My husband, the physics major – I’ll call him Nerd Boy for my purposes here – would have you scale down the size of all objects to be dipped for a different reason. It increases the surface area that cheese can adhere to, resulting in a higher cheese to bread ratio.
We have a glorious brunch place in Fort Worth, Texas, that I adore. It’s called Bird Café. It’s a wonderful place, and you must go if you’re ever in town. Their brunch cocktail menu is inspiring. My husband’s favorite thing there is called the Mother and Child Reunion. It’s fried chicken, a poached egg, and jalapeno gravy on a bed of grits. <I know!> But you will forgive their sick sense of humor the second you taste it. My favorite is called The Badass Waffle. It’s a waffle covered in berries, caramel apples, bacon, brie fondue, and maple syrup. It’s why I have a mouth.
I should probably explain why I’m telling you about that amazing waffle. We’re doing a traditional Texas Christmas Eve this year. That’s tamales, queso, and margaritas. I thought it would be super fun to decorate in an understated cowboy glam. Then I wondered to myself what the best Texas Christmas Eve breakfast would be. Well, migas are my favorite, but I make them constantly. We’ve always cracked up at the Texas shaped waffles that you see in hotels all over the state. I have a killer double waffle maker, so I couldn’t justify buying The Texas Waffle Maker. Well, I can think of no better excuse than Christmas Eve morning! Now for a waffle that’s special enough. I had to try to recreate that Bacon, Berry, Brie, and Caramel Apple Waffle with Warm Maple Syrup. Sounds like a delicious challenge to me! Giddy up!
I love yeasty waffles with a bit of exterior crunch from Belgian pearl sugar. I adapted a King Arthur waffle recipe as my jumping off point.
Vegetarian friends, go ahead and skip the bacon, and go to your happy place. Swine-enthusiasts –scale up the bacon as needed. You do you.
My Amazon affiliate links to the waffle irons are below the recipe if you need one.
I adore PBS cooking shows, don’t you? Christopher Kimball has a new one, Milk Street, that’s just fantastic. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the book, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: The New Home Cooking. I’ve edited this to the current copy that includes all 4 years! I need this one! 😀
A huge thanks to Milk Street for letting me share their recipes for Israeli Hummus with Spiced Beef Topping and Tabbouleh with you! I was wowed by it! Vegetarian friends, skip the spiced beef topping, and go to your happy place. Omnivores, wait til you try that hummus!
(In my pic, 2/3 of the spiced beef topping is at the bottom of the serving bowl, then the hummus, then the other 1/3. The dish is about the hummus, so I didn’t want that covered up by its topping.)
My review of the book with my pics and thoughts of the dishes I tried is below the recipes.