If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you’ll find lots of options to savor in a new cookbook by James Beard Cookbook Award finalist Terry Thompson-Anderson. Her collaboration with photographer Sandy Wilson features the best breakfasts in Texas.
From bacon and eggs to saag paneer omelets, there’s something to please any palate in “Breakfast in Texas: Recipes for Elegant Brunches, Down-Home Classics & Local Favorites” (University of Texas Press Austin, 2017).
Thompson-Anderson and Wilson traveled across the state to compile the best morning meals Texas has to offer. “We were struck with the regional and cultural diversity of the dishes served for the morning meal, both in mom-and-pop diners in the small towns and in luxury hotels and eateries in big cities,” Thompson-Anderson writes in the cookbook’s introduction. “We began to realize that breakfast is the all-day meal.”
That’s certainly true, as many restaurants serve items off their breakfast menus all day, and many families will serve breakfast tacos or pancakes for dinner at home.
“Breakfast in Texas” is organized into seven sections, beginning with “Breakfast and Brunch Libations.” The section offers a variety of beverages — alcohol optional in many of them — to pair with recipes in the book. The chapter, like the entire cookbook, also features short stories about recipes, the chefs who created them or the cultural origins that brought them to Texas and fantastic photographs that made my mouth water.
Chapter two is all about eggs and begins with a quick lesson about cooking them. Recipes in this section feature basic bacon and egg or herb and egg omelets, to the more sophisticated Pondicheri Cafe’s Saag Paneer Omelets, inspired by the growing influence of Indian cuisine in Houston, and the Austin-based Driskill Hotel’s 1886 Cafe & Bakery’s Roasted Farm-Fresh Vegetable Quiche with Tomato Jam. The Driskill serves an amazing brunch, and thanks to Thompson-Anderson, I can recreate part of it at home.
Section three focuses on pancakes, waffles and French toast. Like Thompson-Anderson, pancakes are part of my earliest food memories, making the section a favorite of mine. She shares the secret to perfect pancakes — not overbeating the batter.
I don’t really like raisins, but Wilson’s photograph of Dallas Garden Cafe’s Apple-Raisin Blinis with Mascarpone and Texas Honeybee Guild Honey made me want to try the thin pancakes. It was fantastic, as is the Simple But Delicious Texas Toast French Toast and the German staple Apfelpfannkuchen.
Meatlovers will enjoy the recipes in chapter four, from Spicy Candied Bacon to several tasty takes on breakfast tacos.
Section five features “Breakfast and Brunch for the Bounty of the Waters,” offering many options with fresh seafood such as crabcakes and catfish mousse. It even offers a history of hot sauce — a secret ingredient that elevates breakfast dishes.
Vegans get to enjoy a few options in chapter six, which also features side dishes to accompany any breakfast. Recreate the Vegan Breakfast Platter at Austin’s Kerbey Lane Cafe or try a Breakfast Chalupa Bar to accommodate a crowd. I’ve already served the Minted Summer Berry Parfait to rave reviews and can’t wait to try the Mexican Hash Browns.
Finally, section seven offers pastries perfect for any meal. As Thompson-Anderson explains, “Texas has a rich heritage of breakfast breads and pastries, due, in part, to the large population of Czech families who settled in the central region of the state.” It takes a little more time, but you can prepare your own biscuits — plus jams to top them — scones, donuts, cinnamon rolls and, of course, kolaches.
While there are lots of foods to tempt your taste buds, the cookbook’s best feature is that most of the recipes can be made completely or partially ahead — a fantastic feature when you’re preparing breakfast or brunch for a crowd and don’t want to get up before daylight to do it.
Thompson-Anderson tested all of the recipes to ensure that each one you prepare at home tastes as close to the original as possible, especially the ones shared with her by top chefs at some of the state’s best restaurants.
Whichever recipes you try, “Breakfast in Texas” is sure to leave your mouth watering for more.