Fall makes me think of breakfast, which I love, or — horrors — brunch. The late Anthony Bourdain once contemplated what he might do if his gig as a celebrity came to an end. I could always cook brunch, he mused. Ending with, nobody wants to cook brunch. Boy, was he ever right! Back in those long ago days when I cooked in restaurants, Sunday brunch duty was the absolute worst. All of us would have rather done anything than that. Double shifts, no problem. No days off, no problem. Anything but brunch. I grew to hate it so much that, to this day, the thought of going out to brunch as a customer gives me chills, in part because I still identify with the cooks and feel their pain.

All the damn eggs benedict, gallons of hollandaise, mimosas and bloody marys. Half the customers are sloshed, the staff are hungover and cranky and don’t want to be there. Truth be told, many of the customers don’t want to be there either, and as the alcohol begins to take hold, arguments break out among couples for whom Sunday brunch is loved by one and hated by the other.

Enough of that. The recipes this month can be prepared for bunch, if you insist, but I think they taste better at breakfast. The boudin turnovers, in fact, taste good anytime. I like them for breakfast with fresh fruit, such as grapes or melon, which provide a nice counterpoint to their spiciness and richness. They are also excellent as a snack and even better with cocktails. Don’t be put off by lard in the crust. It makes for a very flaky pastry. Besides, if you’re eating boudin, what’s a little more pork fat?

For something sweet, try the sweet potato muffins slathered with butter. The breakfast bread puddings, which contain both bacon and eggs and are baked in a muffin tin provide a nice change of pace.

Increasingly, it seems that people are on gluten-free diets, and that can be a challenge for those of us who aren’t. So I’m including a recipe for gluten-free pancakes which are tasty enough to pass muster with even those who aren’t on a restricted diet. Cooking for someone who is both vegan and gluten-free is more of a challenge. This recipe can be adapted by replacing milk with almond milk, substituting coconut oil for butter, omitting the eggs and adding some applesauce, although it takes a little experimentation to get the proportions right. But playing around with recipes is fun, and it sure beats cooking brunch.

Boudin Turnovers

Mix 1 cup all-purpose flour and ½ teaspoon salt in bowl. Work ¹⁄³ cup chilled lard into flour with your fingertips or a pastry cutter until mixture is mealy. Drizzle in 3½ – 4 tablespoons ice water, mixing with a fork, until  dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times and form into a disc. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll  dough out to a thickness of ⅛18-inch. Cut out rounds of dough 4-inches in diameter. Combine scraps, roll out again, and cut more 4-inch rounds. You should have 9 to 10 rounds of dough.

Form 1 link boudin into lumps about the size of a pecan and place one on each round of dough. Moisten edge of dough with water, fold over, and press with fingertips to seal. With the palm of your hand, gently flatten turnover. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining rounds of dough. Brush turnovers with 1 tablespoon milk and bake in preheated oven until browned, about 15 minutes. Remove turnovers to a rack. Serve hot or warm.

Makes 9 to 10 small turnovers.

Breakfast Bread Pudding

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 18 teaspoon salt
  • 18 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups French bread torn into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a muffin tin.

2. Cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels, then chop.

3. In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper together. Add bread and push bread down so it is submerged. Add bacon and melted butter and stir to combine. Spoon mixture into a muffin tin, smooth the tops and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool for a few minutes in muffin tin, then use a small spatula to remove puddings.

Makes 6 servings

Sweet Potato Muffins

  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 18 teaspoon ginger
  • 18 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 18 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a muffin tin.

2. Peel sweet potato and cut into small pieces. In a small pot, cover potato with water and boil until softened. Drain, combine with buttermilk in a small bowl and mash.

3. Measure dry ingredients into another bowl and whisk to combine.

4. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add sweet potato-buttermilk mixture and beat until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold in dry ingredients. Spoon batter into a muffin tin and smooth tops. Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes. Cool for a few minutes in muffin tin then turn out onto a rack.

Makes 6 muffins

Gluten-Free Pancakes

Place 1 cup finely ground almond flour, ½ cup gluten-free flour blend, 1 tablespoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Add 2 eggs, lightly beaten, 1 cup milk and ¼ cup melted butter and whisk to combine.

Grease grill or pan lightly and heat. Cook pancakes until lightly browned, then turn and cook briefly on the other side.

Makes 4 servings.