This 'brinner' is a winner: Breakfast pizza and Hawaii-tinged pancakes
Having friends over for dinner on weeknights can be a trick. We like to do it, for a lot of reasons, not least of which is the obvious: our friends are fun. But we also like for our kid to get to see other kids during the week, and we like an excuse to put together a decent meal that doesn’t consist of melting cheese in tortillas or melting cheese between pieces of bread or picking up the leftovers on your kid’s plate and calling them “dinner.”
One of my favorite ways to pull together a good dinner for friends in the short space between work and dinner time (which, when you have kids, happens earlier and earlier, seeing as they go to bed at 7:30 p.m.) is to make breakfast for dinner. Everything cooks fast, and most of the necessary ingredients are always lingering in my pantry and refrigerator. Also, most everything is kid friendly.
Recently, I told my friend Lindsey that her family’s presence was required for a Monday night meal, and then I immediately thought, “Crap, I didn’t make it to the store this weekend. What the heck will I feed them?” And immediately, after a quick mental review of the contents of our kitchen, I decided on “brinner.” But because I didn’t feel like making made-to-order omelets for seven, and because Mr. Meat and Potatoes is not a fan of breakfast casseroles, I had to think a little harder about what, exactly, that meant.
I arrived upon the idea of breakfast pizza pretty quickly, but I knew I didn’t have time to make pizza dough and let it rise, yada yada, after work, so I called up 715, 715 Mass., and told them I’d be by after work for a few crusts — or, rather, four dough balls that could quickly become crust in my kitchen. So easy, so delicious.
I made four breakfast pizzas with varying ingredients. The beauty of this is it’s sort of a “kitchen sink” situation. I had a half a pack of bacon, a bunch of eggs, and a pound of breakfast sausage. I made two different sauces, one red (a very simple and basic combination of tomato sauce and herbs), and one white.
Breakfast Pizza White Sauce
1/2 brick of cream cheese (I always use Neufchatel)
1/2 cup of milk
1 teaspoon salt black pepper to taste
2 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon oregano
1 pat of butter
Melt it all together and stir until it’s smooth. Add more milk as necessary to get it to a smooth, spreadable consistency.
I cut about six strips of bacon into bite-sized pieces and cooked them, as well as the breakfast sausage, and set it all aside. You don’t have to get the bacon fully cooked — in fact it’s desirable to leave it a little underdone because it’s going to get really done in the process of cooking the pizzas.
Meanwhile, roll out your dough and prepare your pans for pizza. I like to sprinkle a little corn meal on my pizza pans before I put the crusts on them to prevent sticking.
I assembled the pizzas, all four a bit differently. Two had red sauce, two had white sauce. I topped them in various combinations with jalapeños, bacon, sausage, mozzarella and eggs. The trick to getting the eggs right is to cook the pizzas at a high heat — 425 degrees — for 12 or 13 minutes, and them pull them out. Then crack the eggs over. I did four eggs per pizza, close to the center; they’re slippery and they’ll try to run off. Cook again for four to five minutes, to your desired doneness. I like them to be runny, so the buttery yolks run all over each slice.
Top the finished pizzas with fresh basil leaves, green onions, cilantro, whatever makes you happy.
But we didn’t stop with just the pizzas. We wanted pancakes. For the kids! Right! We’re making pancakes for dinner because of the kids! But, we wanted to grow up the flapjacks a little, so we copied a favorite of Lindsey’s from a recent trip to Hawaii: coconut macadamia nut pancakes.
To do this, make your usual pancake batter but replace the liquid with coconut milk. Chop up some macadamia nuts and toss them on the pancakes when they’re half done — right before the flip. You can put real coconut in as well, but we didn’t think the kids would like that textural element. We topped them with some amazing coconut syrup Lindsey had brought back from the island. If you don’t jet off to the tropics regularly, you can order this amazing stuff online.
Here’s the recipe we used*:
Coconut-Macadamia Nut Pancakes
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups lite coconut milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped, and divided to sprinkle onto cooking pancakes
*makes about a dozen good-sized pancakes
A bowl of fresh fruit, some leafy greens, some good juice, and the meal is complete, in well under an hour. Brinner! A great way to entertain friends, get kids to happily eat, and do it without killing your wallet or your back.