Bon Appetit: United States of America

United States of America: Brunch Buffet

I spent a lot of time thinking about what to make for the U.S. meal. Since our country has such a unique history, much of what we consider “American” food really has its heritage from another country. Last year, before I came up with the idea for this project, I heard a radio interview with a woman who traveled the U.S. and talked to people about food, and was writing a book/cookbook about cuisine in the U.S. Unfortunately I can’t remember her name or the book’s title. Anyway, the interviewer asked her what foods are truly American and she responded, well, not much, because even the things we think of as typically American often are not. For instance, hamburgers and hot dogs. From Hamburg, Germany and Frankfort, Germany (hence the name Frankfurters). She said, I think we can claim hash brown casserole!

I love brunch, and it is quite common in the U.S. So, for my U.S. meal I decided to do a brunch buffet (BUFFETS! Another thing we in the U.S. love 🙂 ). I made hash brown casserole (per the radio interview) cheesy grits with bacon (grits are a food of Native American origin) and bananas foster (a dessert created and popular in New Orleans). A wonderful group of friends came over and brought other food and drinks to round out the buffet. It was a beautiful spring day in Philly, and the perfect way to spend a Saturday.

Here are the hash brown casserole ingredients:

Is there anything more American than Bob Evans sausage?

The recipe is from Taste of Home, though I modified it a bit. Here’s the recipe:

Hash Brown Casserole

4 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 pound bulk pork sausage, cooked and drained
1/2 pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 green onion, chopped
1 cup reduced-fat biscuit/baking mix
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
3 cups milk

  • In a large bowl, combine the hash browns, sausage, bacon, green pepper, 1 cup cheese and onion. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.
  • In another bowl, whisk the biscuit mix, salt, eggs and milk; pour over the top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for about 45 minutes or a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Yield: 12 servings.
I made it just a few hours ahead instead of overnight. I also used turkey bacon.
There are few things I like in life more than cheese. And while I love trying different kinds of cheeses, I’m always happy with regular ‘ol cheddar.
Putting the casserole together: 

After baking:

I spent last summer in Baltimore and often went to my favorite Baltimore restaurant, Miss Shirley’s, where they make the best grits I’ve ever had. These grits are my attempt to recreate Miss Shirley’s grits. I don’t have a recipe, just make plenty of grits, add butter, half-and-half, grated cheese, bacon, salt and pepper.

As my dad would say, them’s grits!

I also made bananas foster to order. This is such an easy yet interesting dessert, and great for a crowd! This dessert was created in New Orleans in 1951, and when I was there a few years ago I ordered it and was made table side. Such a stunning presentation. Here are the ingredients:

Again, I don’t use a recipe, but it’s really easy. Saute a chunk of butter, a handful of brown sugar, a dash of vanilla until melty. Add sliced bananas and cook until slightly soft. Pour a a couple dash of rum and with the pan still over the lit stove, your sleeves rolled up, your hair back, and quick reflexes, use a match to light the rum on fire. Wait for the alcohol to burn off, and then serve over vanilla ice cream.

Such wonderful friends came over for the buffet and brought great food and drinks, we had quite a spread!

LOVE my friends!

L to R: Rae holding Dylan, Lil, Leo

Emily and Lalita

L to R: Justin, Erica, Ira, Patti, Cody, Kristen

Me holding Sienna.

We had such a fun time hanging, eating, and enjoying a beautiful Saturday!

Notes for Next Time:

Do this as many Saturdays as possible!

About couchcuisine

I like traveling, cooking and eating...especially with friends.
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One Response to Bon Appetit: United States of America

  1. Dd- says:

    Dad says them’s cheezy grits – sorry l missed this one, but l have had the first-fruits and look forward to them again. Guess it’s quite fitting that you did American food this weekend…

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