A Family Brunch with Paula

updated 06/17/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/17/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

CANDIED BOURBON BACON

Serves: 6
Hands-On Time: 10 min.
Total Time: 45 min.

¾ lb. thin-sliced bacon
2 tbsp. bourbon
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 15"x10"x1" baking pan with aluminum foil; top with a wire rack.

2. Arrange bacon strips on wire rack. Brush bacon generously with bourbon; sprinkle with brown sugar.

3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer bacon to a wire rack; cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Paula's Brunch

Cousin Johnnie's Peach Sangria
Breakfast Strata with Mushrooms, Shrimp and Brie
Strawberry Cream Cheese
Stuffed French Toast
Candied Bourbon Bacon
Blackberry Almond Crumble

Bursting in the front door of his grandmother's house in Savannah, 2-year-old Jack Deen has just one thing on his mind. "Let's eat!" he declares as he bounds up to his grandma. It's a fitting greeting, considering that Grandma—or "Guinny," as he calls her—is Paula Deen, the Food Network star and author of 10 bestselling cookbooks. "That's exactly what a grandchild is supposed to say to their grandmother," says a clearly delighted Deen.

On this day the Albany, Ga.-reared chef is busy preparing brunch for a group that includes Jack, her sons Jamie and Bobby, husband Michael, brother Bubba and aunt Peggy. At the center of it all is the boisterous Deen, 62, who spins around her homey kitchen frying decadent cream-cheese-and-strawberry-stuffed French toast, chatting with relatives and passing around copies of her newest recipe collection, Paula Deen's The Deen Family Cookbook. Brunch "is one of my favorite times of day to have all the family over, because everyone's coming off a good night's sleep," says Deen. "It's just a fun, relaxing meal. But the fact that we're all together—that is the most important thing. When this house is full of all those children, I could literally go from one to the other and lick 'em."

T. J.'S CREAM CHEESE AND STRAWBERRY-STUFFED FRENCH TOAST

Serves: 6
Hands-On Time: 15 min.
Total time: 33 min.

2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup milk
½ tsp. sugar
1 (8-oz.) container whipped cream cheese
12 slices white bread
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
Unsalted butter
Maple syrup
Powdered sugar
Garnish: fresh strawberries

1. Whisk together eggs, milk and sugar in a shallow dish.

2. Spread about 2 tbsp. cream cheese on each of 6 bread slices. Arrange strawberries over cream cheese; top with remaining bread slices, pressing around edges to seal.

3. Preheat griddle over medium heat. Melt 1 tbsp. butter on griddle. Dip sandwiches in egg mixture for a few seconds on each side. Cook sandwiches 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve with maple syrup and powdered sugar. Garnish if desired.

BREAKFAST STRATA WITH MUSHROOMS, SHRIMP AND BRIE

Serves: 6 to 8
Hands-On Time: 40 min.
Total time: 2 hrs., 30 min.

Make strata at least 1 hour before serving. Or make it the night before and bake it just before your guests arrive.

3 tbsp. butter, divided
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 (8-oz.) carton presliced mushrooms
1 lb. large (26-30 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1¼ tsp. salt, divided
¾ tsp. pepper, divided
1 (16-oz.) loaf French bread, cut into 1½-inch cubes
1 (8-oz.) round Brie cheese, rind removed, cut into pieces
8 eggs
2 cups milk

1. Melt 2 tbsp. of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté green onions until softened, about 2 minutes. Add thyme and cook 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

2. Move mushroom mixture to one side of skillet; add remaining butter to empty side of skillet. Add shrimp and cook, stirring constantly, until just opaque, about 2 minutes. Toss shrimp and mushroom mixture together; season with ½ tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper. Remove pan from heat.

3. Layer bread cubes and cheese in a lightly greased 13"x9"x2" baking dish. Spoon shrimp and mushroom mixture evenly over bread and cheese.

4. Whisk together eggs, milk, remaining ¾ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper in a large mixing bowl. Pour egg mixture over bread and cheese, pressing bread cubes down to absorb egg mixture. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake strata, covered, 25 minutes; uncover and bake until golden, and custard is set, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

BLACKBERRY-ALMOND-CRUNCH CRUMBLE

Serves: 6
Hands-On Time: 15 min.
Total time: 1 hr., 30 min.

8 cups fresh blackberries
1 cup sugar, divided
1 tbsp. quick-cooking tapioca (optional)
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1¾ cups flour
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. salt
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup finely chopped whole almonds (with skin)
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Toss berries with 1/3 cup sugar, tapioca (if desired) and lemon zest in a large bowl; spoon mixture into an ungreased 9-inch square or round baking dish.

3. Stir together flour, remaining sugar, brown sugar and next 3 ingredients in a medium bowl; add butter and almonds, stirring until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over berries.

4. Bake 1 hour or until bubbly and light golden brown. Cool slightly; top with with vanilla ice cream if desired.

Tip!
No blackberries? Try blueberries or strawberries.

COUSIN JOHNNIE'S WHITE SANGRIA WITH PEACHES

Serves: 12 to 16
Hands-On Time: 10 min.
Total Time: 1 hr., 10 min.

1 (750 ml.) bottle dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
¾ cup Grand Marnier
¾ cup brandy
1 tbsp. sugar
¾ lb. (about 2 cups) white peaches, unpeeled, pitted and cubed
1 liter ginger ale, chilled

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a 2-quart pitcher, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add peaches; cover and chill 1 hour.

2. Spoon peaches into bottom of wine glasses. Pour chilled wine mixture over peaches; top each serving with ¼ cup ginger ale.

Note: Even Paula admits this drink packs a punch. For a less alcoholic version: Combine ½ (750 ml.) bottle of white wine with ¼ cup Grand Marnier, ¼ cup brandy and 1 tbsp. sugar. Add peaches; cover and chill 1 hour. Assemble servings as directed. Stir in 1½ liters chilled ginger ale; serve immediately.

From PAULA DEEN'S THE DEEN FAMILY COOKBOOK by Paula Deen with Melissa Clark. Copyright © 2009 by Paula Deen Enterprises LLC. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.



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