Maybe it’s time for brunch to make way for brinner.
The “brunch” concept has been around since the 1890s, when British college students came up with the word for having a later Sunday breakfast after Saturday drinking binges.
But brinner is another idea: Eating breakfast foods for dinner because you love them.
It must be a real word. It’s in the Urban Dictionary, and it’s turning up on the food-trend lists, part of a larger movement toward eating what you want, when you want it: Breakfast for dinner, pizza for breakfast, eggs on pizza for dinner.
You can’t look around the food-blog world without seeing new uses for waffle irons: Stuffing waffles, made with leftover Thanksgiving dressing. Pizza waffles, using a waffle iron to reheat pizza slices. French toast waffles, mac-and-cheese waffles. It’s enough to make Mrs. Butterworth’s head spin.
There are even reports of breakfast-for-dinner wedding buffets, with omelet and pancake bars served with mimosas and Bloody Marys — and not just for morning weddings.
It’s all starting to go a little far, but what kid, or kid-at-heart adult, doesn’t clap hands at the idea of breakfast for dinner?
Lindsay Landis, a Nashville food blogger (Love & Olive Oil) wrote the cookbook “Breakfast for Dinner” with her husband, Taylor Hackbarth. Landis has fond memories of her own childhood, when her father would whip out breakfast for dinner.
“He could barely do a frozen pizza,” she says. “But he could do scrambled eggs. Whenever Mom was out of town, that’s what he did.”
These days, brinner is more practical than brunch. Who really has time to go out for brunch on a busy weekend morning? Add the typical restaurant wait and you could blow a whole Saturday trying to get a waffle.
Make a waffle yourself on a Tuesday night, and you have a delivery system for maple syrup and bacon, too.
That’s part of the idea behind turning breakfast foods into dinner: We love pancakes, waffles, omelets and the like. But actual breakfast — the event between getting up and leaving your house — is not the time to do anything more elaborate than cereal/bowl/milk/skedaddle.
“Breakfast is usually on the go,” says Chapel Hill, N.C., cooking instructor Caitlin Burke. She got a lesson herself in how much people love the idea when she taught a breakfast class for kids and parents last summer at A Southern Season.
“The parents said, ‘What we need is breakfast for dinner for adults.’” So Burke held a class on it in January and it was a hit. “Everyone likes breakfast, so there’s more opportunity to play.”
What makes breakfast for dinner different from a bowl of cereal eaten over the sink? “It requires a little more time and organization,” she says. “And more substantial, heavier dishes fit better at the end of the day.”
Landis picks savoriness, doing things that might involve eggs but don’t necessarily involve maple syrup, like Shakshuka, a Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in a rich tomato base.
“You’ve always got eggs in the (refrigerator),” she says. “We tried to take it a little beyond that.”
From “Breakfast for Dinner,” by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth (Quirk, 2013). This traditional Mideastern breakfast of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce can be a substantial vegetarian dinner. Serve it with pita or crusty bread for sopping up.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 mild chile peppers, such as Anaheims, seeded and diced
1 hot chile pepper, such as jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
½ cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 medium or large eggs
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
Pita bread or crusty bread
Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and chile peppers and cook until the onion is softened and just beginning to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, broth, cumin, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer 20 to 22 minutes, or until thickened. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick.
Make indentations in the sauce with the back of a spoon and crack an egg into each. Cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the whites are set and yolks are thick but still runny. Sprinkle with the parsley and feta and serve with warm bread.
Yield: 3 to 4 servings.
LEMON RICOTTA PANCAKES
These fluffy, lemony pancakes beg to be topped with our lemony blueberry compote, although you could just use maple syrup. Adapted from “The Can’t Cook Book,” by Jessica Seinfield (Atria, 2013).
1 cup white whole wheat flour (or ½ cup each all-purpose and whole wheat flour)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 cup nonfat or reduced-fat milk
½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon vanilla
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons butter, divided, if needed
Warm Blueberry Compote (see recipe) or maple syrup
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, milk, ricotta, vanilla and lemon zest. (Grate the zest directly into the bowl to catch the oils from the lemon.) Whisk everything together but don’t overmix. The batter should be a little lumpy.
Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Add ½ teaspoon butter and swirl it around until melted. (If you’re using a nonstick skillet or griddle, you may not need butter.) Add about ¼ cup batter and let it spread. Add more pancakes if there’s room.
Cook until there are bubbles all over the top of the pancakes, particularly around the edges, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side 30 seconds to a minute, until beginning to brown. Transfer to a plate. (Place in a warm oven until they’re all done if desired.) Continue to cook, adjusting the heat and adding more butter to the pan as needed.
Serve warm with butter and Blueberry Compote or maple syrup.
Yield: 4 servings.
2 cups frozen blueberries (or a blend of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)
Juice of a whole lemon
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Place the frozen berries in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring, about 10 minutes, until heated through. Serve warm. Can be made ahead, refrigerated and reheated when needed.
Yield: About 4 servings.
From “Breakfast for Dinner,” by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth. If your breakfast dinner is an adult occasion, a spoon of this will fit right in. It’s fabulous on pancakes or waffles, on a grilled cheese sandwich, or spooned over runny cheese to serve with crackers.
1 pound bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cold brewed coffee
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup bourbon
Heat a large skillet or pot with a lid over medium-high heat. Cook bacon until it starts to brown but is still chewy, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and spread on a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but about 2 tablespoons bacon fat.
Reduce heat to medium. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn. Return bacon to the skillet and add the coffee, vinegar, orange juice, maple syrup, brown sugar, orange zest, ginger and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.
Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse briefly until finely chopped. Return to pan and cook 15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. (If it gets too dry and paste-like, add a ¼ cup of water.)
Add the bourbon and simmer 15 to 30 minutes, until thick, syrupy and dark in color. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Refrigerate up to 3 to 4 weeks in an airtight container.
Yield: About 2 cups.
Adapted from “The Pioneer Woman Cooks,” by Ree Drummond (William Morrow, 2009). This breakfast for dinner is very family-friendly. Kids can help put these together.
1 tablespoon butter, plus more for the bowls
¼ large onion, diced
1 russet (baking) potato, baked, cooled and cut in cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
5 eggs, beaten
½ cup half-and-half
3 plum tomatoes, cored and diced
2 green onions, chopped
½ pound breakfast sausage, browned and crumbled
½ cup each grated Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar (or 1 cup grated cheese mix)
Butter 4 ovenproof bowls or ramekins. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are warmed through and the onions are a little softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Whisk together the eggs and half-and-half in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the tomatoes and green onions in a small bowl and set aside.
Assemble by placing potatoes, sausage, a little of the cheese, a quarter of the egg mixture and some of the tomato mixture in each ramekin. Top with a little more cheese.
Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the eggs are just set. Watch carefully and make sure the eggs don’t brown and overcook.
Yield: 4 servings.