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baked cheese grits with spinach

(post, Elizabeth Stark)

primary-image, l

I really love a nice breakfast. Before we had our daughter, Brian and I would sleep in and then spend the better part of the day lazily making waffles, or pancakes, or eggs. An involved breakfast now takes a little more planning, but I still think it's worth the time. After five days of cold cereal, I like to have something cooked with care. I usually opt for desert masquerading as breakfast, but I also love a savory dish, and especially grits and eggs.

You don't have to worry about all the butter and cream because you are eating spinach. It cancels out, I swear. The baked grits develop a buttery crust that melts in your mouth, the shallots lend bite, and the cheese has a quiet, flavorful presence. The baked grits are very forgiving, so don't fret if you are without the exact ingredients. You could easily use a half an onion in place of the shallots, and cheddar cheese would be just fine. At the heart of a cozy weekend breakfast is using what's around.

Baked Cheese Grits with Shallots

1/2 cup grits or polenta (not quick cook)
2 cups water
1/3 cup firm, flavorful cheese such as Consider Bardwell Farms Pawlet, or Gruyere, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 tablespoon butter, plus more to grease the baking pan
2 tablespoons cream
2 small shallots, diced
plenty of salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Boil the water in a medium to large saucepan. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add a teaspoon or two of salt and the butter, and then whisk in the grits. Keep whisking to prevent lumps. When the grits start to bubble, turn the heat to low, switch to a wooden spoon and stir frequently. Cook for 20-25 minutes. When grits are smooth, but still have a little bite, add the cream and shallots. Continue to cook, stirring often for a few more minutes, and then toss in the cheese. Liberally butter a small gratin or cake pan, and gently fold the grits in. Bake until the grits have a golden crust, about 40 minutes.

Pull out of the oven and carefully flip onto a plate. Serve in wedges.

Creamed Brunch Spinach

4 heaping cups spinach, washed thoroughly
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon soy sauce
salt to taste
drizzle of cream

Place a frying pan over medium heat and add the butter. When it is bubbling, start adding the spinach and handful at a time and wait for it to shrink down. When all the spinach is in, drizzle the soy sauce until continue to cook. After 10 minutes add the cream, check the salt, and turn the heat to low.

Serve over a wedge of baked grits with a couple over-easy eggs on top.