Friday, July 23, 2010

Brunch with the Butlers (a Bonus Edition of Southern Cookin')

Because we're already somewhat awash in weekly features here, we decided we would post our Southern Cookin' series on a more intermittent basis, so the blog doesn't start to resemble a soup du jour menu ("Oh, it's Thursday? I'll take the tomato soup Poster of the Week, please.") 

And while that'll still be the plan going forward, we did have a special request from a reader for another installment of Southern Cookin' this week.  And since we aim to please (and we're in possession of a storehouse of old-time recipes), we're happy to feature another selection from Charleston Recollections and Receipts: Rose P. Ravenel's Cookbook. (If you're just tuning in now, info on the cookbook and its ties to the real Butler clan of Charleston can be found in our inaugural post.)

This week's bonus recipe is a full breakfast/brunch menu.  It's just out of the oven and waiting you on the other side of the jump.   

Breakfast or Brunch Menu
  • Fresh Grapefruit
  • Drum Fish Roe
  • Omelette
  • Baked Eggs
  • Breakfast Biscuits
  • Orange Marmalade

This is a large party breakfast or brunch. The last three receipts can be prepared before hand.

The Drum fish roe is only available at certain times of the year. Any other roe may be more salty, and should be soaked overnight.

Fresh Grapefruit
Cut pink grapefruit in half core, loosen, and serve.

Fish Roe
Drum roe
½ lb. butter
3 pt. milk
1 lemon
2 Tbs. flour (all-purpose)

Wash large fresh Drum roe thoroughly in cold water and dry in a sieve. Have 3 pt. milk boiling. Tie roe in a towel (or cheesecloth) and boil in the milk for 20 or 30 minutes. Drain off milk. Reduce to half and thicken with flour and butter. Add one squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste before serving. This makes the sauce to pour over the roe.

1 or 2 eggs
3 Tbs. breadcrumbs
1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. parsley
Ground minced meat
Salt and pepper to taste

Beat the yolk and white of one or two eggs separately, then together. Add salt and drop into boiling butter for a few minutes. Turn it carefully but need not be turned. Take care that it is not too much done. A little parsley or meat minced may be added. It should rise and be quite light. The crumbs of a slice of bread can be added and rubbed up with the eggs. Serves two. Increase for proper amount for your guests.

Baked Eggs
6 or 8 eggs
2 Tbs. milk
2 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. mustard
Some finely chopped cooked meat
Dash pepper
Dash salt

Boil 6 or 8 eggs hard. Start them in cold water and when done throw into cold water. Peel and cut in halves. Take the yolks and mash them well, adding butter, mustard, pepper, salt, milk and crumbs of bread. If it is fancied, add some finely chopped meat. Put most of this in a deep dish which must be buttered first and fill whites with the remainder. Set them into the mixture in the dish. Standing them up. Put the dish in the oven just long enough to heat and brown slightly.

Breakfast Biscuits
1 pt. (2 C.) all purpose flour
1/2 C. milk
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. butter, heaping

Mix dry ingredients first, then add liquid. Roll, not too thin, on floured board, and cut. Place on ungreased sheet without touching edges. Bake 10-12 minutes in 450° oven. (Keep dough soft, and use cold milk.)

Orange Marmalade
3 lb. oranges
1/2 tsp. soda
4 and1/2 lb. sugar
2 C. water
1/2 C. Orange juice
1 bottle pectin

Choose good juice oranges, wash, and dry them. Lightly grate off the outer part of the oranges and cut them in half. Squeeze out the juice and pulp. Put the seeds aside. Boil the skins in sweetened water, (1C.) until they are quite soft and have lost most of the bitter taste. Put a little soda in the water to keep the color the first time they are boiled. When well boiled, add the pulp and 2 C. of the juice, and the remainder of the sugar. Add pectin and boil for 10 minutes.

Bottle in jars with secure screw-on tops.


  1. Love this series! MM hardly gives us a glimpse into the more intimate details of the Butler marriage; the meals they shared being one of them ;-). All we get is stony silence across the dinner table and breakfast in bed with a Rhett spoon-feeding Scarlett.

    Very 'eggie' brunch this but then driving around 'astride or aside' on that horse all day one needed the extra calories. Not so sure about the minced meat in the omelet; I think I prefer ham or salmon but maybe it is an American thing. I do think Scarlett would go for more lavish brunch buffets. I can picture her ordering things that she never ate before just because the name sounded fanciful. Think 'chalet'. Mmm, blinies? Brioches?

  2. "I can picture her ordering things that she never ate before just because the name sounded fanciful."

    And Rhett being Rhett would let her order disgusting things with fanciful names just to make fun of her afterwards. Think Caveat Emporium :P

  3. These comments bring to mind this passage in the book:

    "Dining with him was an adventure too, and one more thrilling than shopping, for he knew what to order and how it should be cooked. The wines and liqueurs and champagnes of New Orleans were new and exhilarating to her, acquainted with only homemade blackberry and scuppernong vintages and Aunt Pitty's "swoon" brandy; but oh, the food Rhett ordered! Best of all things in New Orleans was the food."

    Sounds to me like Rhett wasn't ordering disgusting things in order to trick her. But they were on their honeymoon, and MM says they got along for the most part. I don't think he started to be cruel until after they moved into the new house. But, yes, I can picture Rhett taking advantage of her this way (just not in New Orleans, maybe).

    I really wish we could have gotten some more domestic details from MM. I enjoy stories that explore the little things like meals or other domestic routines. I think for me I'm so interested in their meals together because we have that image from the movie of the imposing dining room and that carved furniture. I keep picturing in my head the difference between meals in the beginning when things were okay vs. later on when there would have been palpable tension in the room.

  4. Oh yes, I agree; this wouldn't happen in New Orleans (and when it comes to Creole recipes, we pledge to only feature yummy ones :). I think this is something for that period between Rhett starting to make crueler jokes (the store sign, his remarks about her friends etc.) and the time it all went sour (let's say the separate bedrooms conversation, though they didn't seem to get along during her pregnancy either).

  5. "Not so sure about the minced meat in the omelet; I think I prefer ham or salmon but maybe it is an American thing."

    Hmm... as the lone U.S. blogger around here (and a big omelet fan), I gotta say this is the first time I've see an omelet with minced meat too. So let's blame this one on the old Charlestonians and not us Americans proper. :)

    Yes, that's me, iso, here to defend America's omelet honor! :)


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