Fluffy Biscuits, Breakfast Biscuits and People Biscuits

Categories: Breakfast

Photos by John Kiely
You can't fool me. These things are cookies.

A snack was rolled up in our Sunday paper -- a new product called Breakfast Biscuits, from Nature Valley. It was a small pouch of four, so the biscuits could not have been the ones I was used to -- warm and fluffy, made from flour, butter, baking powder and buttermilk.

No, these Breakfast Biscuits looked like cookies, and I recalled that in England, certain cookies are referred to as biscuits. But I don't speak British. I speak American, and when I read a British food blog, I'm lucky to understand 80 percent of the language. In American lingo, a small crisp biscuit is something you toss to a cute puppy and say "Good boy!"

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France à la Houston

Photo by Catherine Gillespie
The Tempting Pastry Case at French Riviera Bakery

When translated from France to America, the culinary capital of the world's traditions often amount to starched white table clothes and stuffy service. Houston is luckier than most cities, as there are a few places in the Bayou City to get a great croque madame or a delicious foie gras torchon. In order to recreate the real magic of a day in Paris here, however, you'll need to spend some time in Rice Village, travel to The Heights, and traipse around the Menil's lawn.

The French phrase for breakfast begins with the word "petit." Keep that in mind when kicking off your day. Instead of going overboard with a brunch-style morning meal, stick to the basics at Croissant Brioche or French Riviera Bakery. The former is a homey place good for a quick croissant (or brioche), Americano and glass of juice. The latter has a generic interior -- don't expect to see any clay roosters or decorative plates -- but the pastry case is anything but. Don't miss the cream-filled profiteroles or delectable eclairs.

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Up Your Bloody Mary Game With Mixes From Austin's Bloody Revolution

Photo courtesy Bloody Revolution
Which mix would you sip?
A few weeks ago, we were hand-delivered a curious package here at the Houston Press office. It was a big wooden crate with sturdy rope handles, and it was packed full of five large glass bottles of bloody mary mix. Our administrative assistant immediately went wild over the wooden crate, which he thinks would make a great addition to his bicycle. I immediately went wild over the plethora of different bloody mary mixes, as the vodka/tomato juice/spice combo is my all-time favorite cocktail.

So I set about (with a few of my kind and brave co-workers) to taste-test all five varieties of Bloody Revolution bloody mary mix and rank them in order of deliciousness. Unfortunately, we had no vodka for this experiment, so now our esophaguses are burning and we don't even have a good buzz to show for it.

The good news is most of these are pretty darn good. Bloody Revolution launched in Austin in late 2013, and it's already available here in Houston at H-E-Bs across town. We like supporting Texas products when we get our drink on, and we've been looking for a new mix to give Zing Zing a run for its money.

Here's what we think about the five Bloody Revolution flavors:

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Baking with Bacon Grease

Photo by Catherine Blanchard
Bacon Granola Parfait

So you're up on the locavore movement and appreciate organics, but what are your thoughts about nose-to-tail eating? You don't have to enjoy sweetbreads to get the most out of the meat you make on a weekly basis. To avoid creating waste, try putting side products to use. Bacon is a favorite in my family, so I spent the past week substituting everything from Crisco to sunflower oil with bacon grease. Fans of pork might not be surprised to learn that everything is better with the bacon.

The mission began when my sister sent me a recipe for granola, using five simple ingredients: oats, brown sugar, maple syrup, bacon fat and an oil of your choice. Feel free to change the ratios depending on how many people you have to feed, because this is a recipe that's (almost) impossible to ruin. (Who doesn't love a good maple-bacon combination?) I used five cups of oats with a quarter cup each of sugar, syrup and the fats. Preheat the oven to 215 degrees F. Mix the oats and sugar together before topping with the wet ingredients to blend. Once they're coated, transfer the oats to two baking trays. Bake for an hour or so, tossing every 15 minutes to ensure even color.

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DEFCON Dining: Whole-Wheat Pancakes are for the Birds at Buffalo Grille

Photo by Nicholas L. Hall
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a whole-wheat pancake to be a good decision.
Dining out with children is an exercise in situational awareness. Each experience is unique, with different variables leading to different possible outcomes, DEFCON-like in their escalating threat levels. Keen observation, forward planning and prior experience are critical in determining the proper strategy. Here at DEFCON Dining, we do the grunt work for you. It ain't always pretty.

Somehow, we became The Pancake Aunt and Uncle. I blame my wife, mostly.

It started innocently enough. We'd been pressed into emergency service to watch our soon-to-be four-year-old nephew one morning after dropping ours off at school. We hadn't eaten. He had. He's a picky eater at the best of times, and my wife really just wanted to get some breakfast. She baited him with pancakes. He took the bait. Since then, it seems that pancakes somehow find their way onto the itinerary every time we watch him. He doesn't seem to mind.

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Breakfast Tacos at Tierra Caliente

Photo by Nicholas L. Hall
Nature's cure for apathy
Familiarity breeds contempt, and proximity to tacos breeds apathy. Or so goes my reasoning for why we don't frequent Tacos Tierra Caliente more, well, frequently. "It's right around the corner; we can go there anytime we want," I would reason. Truth be told, the fact that I rarely carry cash has a lot to do with it.

When we do get around to it, we both wonder why it's been so long. My wife, in particular, makes New Year's Resolution-esque declarations with every fajita con todo, only to see the resolution abandoned every time we drive by cashless. "We really should get tacos more often," we always say.

Since my schedule changed, I've found myself home during the day an awful lot, which means lunch for my wife and me. We've tried to make a habit of going somewhere once a week when I'm off, but instead have trended toward a habit of crawling back into bed after dropping the kids off at school. A three hour mid-day nap is a luxurious mistake, frequently resulting in missed lunches and (arguably) wasted days off.

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Have Your Pizza for Breakfast at These Five Eateries

Photo by Brooke Viggiano
Chorizo and hot sauce make for a killer breakfast pizza at Montrose's Royal Oak.
Some mornings, you just want pizza for breakfast. And we're not talking about leftover Domino's from your post-bar 3:00 a.m. bad decision. We're talking fresh-out-of-the-oven, hot and bubbling breakfast pizza.

And because Houston is such a wonderful, wonderful place, you can get your fix of bright-and-early egg-topped pizza all over town. Here are five of our favorites:

1. The Southern

Where to find it: Royal Oak Bar & Grille
Eggstraordinary ingredients: Hot Sauce, Chorizo, & Scallions

You can feast on this spicy flatbread during Royal Oak's weekend brunch, available from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The $7 mimosa pitchers and house DJ make for a fun time, but it's the breakfast pizza that keeps us coming back for more. Baked on ultra-thin lavash, the square pie is piled with fluffy scrambled eggs, crumbles of hot chorizo, mozzarella, fresh green onions and a healthy dose of hot sauce -- all of which the beautifully-charred crust holds up to with ease. For those of you who would like to keep your jeans buttoned, a vegetarian pie -- topped with eggs, tomatoes, zucchini, roasted mushrooms, red onion, and basil -- is just as satisfying.

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Five Houston Eateries Serving Chocolate for Breakfast

Sweet Paris Creperie 011.jpg
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
This is just one of the chocolate-drizzled crepes that you can find at Sweet Paris.
Last week, in honor of February, Valentine's Day and what is basically (for us at least) a month of unashamedly consuming chocolate, we brought you five chocolate-studded recipes that are completely acceptable for breakfast.

This week, we're sharing five of Houston's best chocolate breakfasts for your morning pleasure (and this isn't even taking a chocolate croissant from one of our many amazing French bakeries into account).

From a hot cocoa to a French toast bread pudding, here are Fives Local Ways to Eat Chocolate for Breakfast:

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Five Ways to Eat Chocolate for Breakfast

Photo by Alexis Fam
In our opinion, this is a totally acceptable, perhaps even necessary, breakfast option.
In honor of February, Valentine's Day, and what is basically (for us at least) a month of unashamedly consuming chocolate, we're bringing you five delicious chocolate recipes that are completely acceptable as your first meal of the day.

From chewy oatmeal bars to cocoa-punched pancakes, here are Five Ways to Eat Chocolate for Breakfast.

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Five Healthy Breakfasts to Kick Off 2014

Photo by SweetOnVeg
Sweeten your smoothie by using real fruit rather than added juice or syrup.
The first meal of the New Year ought to be a healthy one. From the Christmas parties complete with a bounty of booze and food to the box of cookies Aunt Sally sent you to share with your friends and family that you kept all to yourself, your body is in need of something light and healthy.

You could do a juice cleanse, or jump on the bandwagon of the fad diet of the moment, or better yet, you could attempt a balance of eating real food and exercising. Since breakfast sets the tone for your entire day, we came up with five options:

5. Breakfast Smoothie

Smoothies have a bad reputation for being loaded with carbs and unnecessary amounts of sugar. But if you omit the syrups, the peanut butter and the sugary items such as chocolate or even chocolate syrup, then all you're left with is fresh fruit and milk or yogurt. Use fruits high in fiber such as oranges, strawberries or pears, and dairy low in fat such as skim milk, light soy milk, almond milk or low-fat Greek yogurt. Rather than blending bananas with peanut butter and chocolate (that's basically a shake), add half a banana to about half a cup of strawberries and 1½ cups of skim milk or light soy milk instead.

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