• Vegetarian Sausage Gravy:
  • 2 tbsp butter, divided
  • 2 leeks, rinsed and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • sprinkle sugar
  • 1 pint of baby bellas, rinsed and sliced
  • 2 field roast sausages (breakfast or apple-sage), roughly chopped
  • 2c milk
  • 1/4c all purpose flour
  • Buttermilk Biscuits:
  • 1 3/4c all purpose flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp butter, cubed.
  • 3/4c buttermilk
  • Pomegranate Applesauce:
  • Between 5 and 8 medium apples, cored and roughly chopped
  • 3/4c water
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 pomegranates worth of seeds (see note in recipe)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

There is nothing like brunch. Sleeping in late, stumbling through the morning as slowly as possible, and then toiling away in the kitchen full force until you devour a compilation of breakfast and lunch’s greatest hits, all between sips of coffee and mimosas. When an opportunity to eat pancakes and champange arises, you take it. And you never look back.

As a Virginian, I have a strong love for Southern breakfast fare. Grits ? Yes please. Sausage gravy ? Even more yes. Biscuits ? Hand them over. All of them. When my friend suggested we make buttermilk biscuits at our next brunch, I immediately thought of gravy (as this is my typical reaction to almost everything). We ended up with a gigantic spread of food–homemade biscuits with gravy, sauteed kale and apples, pomegranate-applesauce I had made the night before, fried eggs, and sliced kiwi (more vitamin C than oranges, and so tasty !).

So here’s the gist of what I’m about to share with you: 1. We discovered how to make the most amazing, realistic vegetarian white sausage gravy.  2. applesauce is a great way to use up mealy apples, and it tastes even better after it’s been refrigerated overnight. All of these recipes are easy to double or triple, and everything from the applesauce to the biscuit dough can be made days in advance and then baked/reheated/served when necessary, which makes it perfect for feeding Thanksgiving guests over the next few days !

As I’ve said before, it’s easy to start feeling down when the weather turns cold, and having good friends, good food, and good prosecco to keep you warm and smiling is essential to surviving.

Vegetarian Sausage Gravy
In a cast iron skillet or deep saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat.  Once melted, add the sliced leeks and minced garlic. Cook until the leeks are wilted, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle over the sugar to help carmelize the leeks–once they begin to brown (a few more minutes), add the sliced mushrooms. Cook until the juices from the mushrooms start to evaporate and all the vegetables are soft–about 10 minutes. Add the chopped sausage and cook for about 3 minutes, then use a wooden spoon to smash the sausage until it is fairly uniform–do not over-smash–you definitely want some larger pieces of sausage to remain in the end.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and flour until smooth. Add into the skillet/saucepan with salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture come to a boil, then bring the temperature down to low, letting it simmer for about 3 minutes or until the mixture is thick. This happens quickly and can burn to the bottom of the pan, so keep an eye out ! Here it is right before it gets down with the thickness:

Once done, stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, and spoon over biscuits.

Buttermilk Biscuits
(recipe from Joy of Cooking, makes about 15 biscuits)

Preheat the oven to 450. In a bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until the consistency resembles coarse crumbs, and the butter is about pea-sized. Make a well in the center, and add the buttermilk. Mix to combine to a shaggy dough–if it seems a little too dry, add in more buttermilk a tablespoon at a time.

Turn the dough out onto a floured table and knead for about one minute. Then using your palms, gently press the dough until it is about 1/4 of an inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or an inverted cup about 2 inches in diameter, cut out rounds of dough and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden. Let cool slightly before serving with delicious sausage gravy !

Pomegranate Applesauce
This is an incredibly vague recipe. I totally winged it, so bear with me. Basically, use however many apples you feel comfortable using based on what you have on hand or how much you are trying to make–I used about 7 small-to-medium sized apples and made about 8 servings of applesauce. Peeling the apples is also up to you. I like apple peels and they are a good source of fiber, so I kept mine in. How you choose to seed the pomegranates is also your choice–to ensure getting the maximum amount, cut down each raised bump on the fruit, then break into segments and submerge into a bowl of water to separate the seeds from the white membrane. I wasn’t too concerned about mine because they were on the verge of death, so I just cut them into chunks and pulled them out by hand as best I could.

In a pot, combine apples, water, and honey over medium heat. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and add the pomegranate seeds and cinnamon. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apples are almost completely mushed/saucy (in texture, not attitude). Stir in the lemon juice and continue to cook until your desired consistency is reached–I like mine with some rogue little chunks of apple, so I took mine off almost immediately after adding the lemon. For a really saucy dish, continue to cook on low for another 15 minutes.

All in all, this brunch had everything you could ask for. The meal was the perfect balance between nutrition and indulgence, and there was just the right amount of booze, caffeine, and things to satisfy the sweet tooth. Best of all, there was great company. What a perfect way to kick off a week of even more eating, indulgence, and loving people ! Take that, winter blues !! And if I don’t appear until afterwards–Happy Thanksgiving, everyone !