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Southern-Style Brunch, On A Shoestring

There's only one thing better than a delicious Southern-style brunch, and that's one you can prepare without forking over too much money.

On The Early Show Saturday Edition, Scott Peacock, executive chef of the Watershed restaurant in Decatur, Ga., accepted our "Chef on a Shoestring" challenge of making a scrumptious, three-course brunch on a recession-busting, slender budget of $35.

He also threw his chef's hat into our "How Low Can You Go?" competition: The "shoestring" chef whose total cost is lowest gets to return to make our blowout holiday meal at the end of the year!

Peacock's customers line up for his shrimp and grits, not to mention his famous buttermilk pancakes. His vision of Southern cuisine emphasizes fresh, seasonal, regionally-grown ingredients.

Peacock's menu Saturday included:

  • Southern Ambrosia (fruit salad with navel oranges)
  • Country Baked Ham and Eggs with Buttermilk Biscuits
  • Warm Georgia Pecan Apple Pie


    Country ham, or Virginia ham, is a variety of cured ham from the United States, associated with the South. It's typically very salty in taste.

    Pecans contain more antioxidants than any other nut, including walnuts and almonds. Georgia leads the nation in pecan production, and has since the late 1800s.


    Southern Ambrosia


    1/2 cup grated fresh coconut
    4 large navel oranges
    2 teaspoons sugar
    Pinch of kosher or sea salt
    1 tablespoon cream Sherry


    Cut peel and pith from oranges with a sharp paring knife. Working over a large bowl, cut segments free from membranes, letting them drop into bowl; squeeze juice from membranes into bowl.

    Gently toss oranges with coconut, sugar, salt, and sherry. Chill, covered, at least 1 hour.

    Eggs Baked With Spinach, Cream and Country Ham


    1/4 cup thinly sliced country ham, finely chopped
    3/4 cup heavy cream
    1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
    3/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
    10 ounces spinach, coarse stems discarded
    8 large eggs


    Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

    Bring ham and cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, and then remove from heat. Let steep, uncovered, about 10 minutes.

    Cook onion in 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and season lightly with salt and pepper, then cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add spinach, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and cook, turning with tongs, until spinach is wilted.

    Drain spinach in a colander, pressing to remove excess liquid, and then coarsely chop. Divide spinach, then ham, among ramekins, spooning 1 tablespoon cream into each serving.

    Crack eggs into ramekins and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon 1 teaspoon cream over each egg. Cut remaining tablespoon butter into 8 small pieces and dot each egg with butter.

    Put ramekins in a shallow baking pan and bake, rotating pan halfway through baking, until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 15 to 20 minutes.

    Serve with warm buttermilk biscuits.

    To see more of Peacock's recipes, go to Page 2.

  • Buttermilk Biscuits


    5 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour (measured after sifting)
    1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
    1 tablespoon kosher salt
    1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter or lard, chilled
    2 cups chilled buttermilk
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


    Heat oven to 500ºF

    In large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and kosher salt. Add lard or butter, coating in flour. Working quickly, rub lard between fingertips until roughly half is coarsely blended and half remains in large pieces, about 3/4 inch.

    Make a well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk all at once. With a large spoon stir mixture quickly, just until it is blended and begins to mass and form a sticky dough. (If dough appears dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons additional buttermilk.)

    Immediately turn dough onto generously floured surface. Using floured hands, knead briskly 8 to 10 times until cohesive ball of dough forms. Gently flatten dough with hands to even thickness. Using floured rolling pin, lightly roll dough to 3/4-inch thickness.

    Using a dinner fork dipped in flour, pierce dough completely through at 1/2-inch intervals. Flour a 2 ½- or 3-inch biscuit cutter. Stamp out rounds and arrange on heavy parchment-lined baking sheet. Add dough pieces, as-is, to baking sheet.

    Place on rack in upper third of oven. Bake 8 to 12 minutes until crusty and golden brown. Remove. Brush with melted butter. Serve hot

    Warm Georgia Peach Apple Cake With Caramel Glaze


    The Cake
    1 cup light-brown sugar, packed
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
    3 eggs
    3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    5 fresh apples (such as Winesap or Granny Smith), peeled and diced into ½-inch pieces
    1-1/4 cups not-too-finely chopped pecans
    2-1/4¼ teaspoons vanilla extract

    The Glaze
    4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 light-brown sugar
    Pinch of salt
    1/2 cup heavy cream


    Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

    Put the sugars and vegetable oil in a mixing bowl, and beat until very well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and gradually add to the sugar and eggs, mixing just until well blended. Stir in the apples, pecans, and vanilla, and pour into a buttered and floured 9-by13-inch baking pan.

    Bake in the preheated oven until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1-1/4 hours (begin checking after 50 minutes). Remove from the oven, and allow to cool in the pan while you prepare the caramel glaze.

    To make the glaze: Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add both the sugars and the salt. Stir until blended, and cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

    Use a skewer or toothpick to poke holes all over the top of the cake, and pour the warm glaze over the surface. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    So, how did Peacock do in our "How Low Can You Go?" competition?

    Southern Ambrosia
    coconut $1.49
    oranges $3.16
    Sherry $4.79
    total $9.44

    Country Ham & Eggs
    country ham $3.50
    heavy cream $1.19
    onion $0.53
    garlic $0.39
    spinach $1.69
    eggs $1.99
    total $9.29

    Buttermilk Biscuits
    flour $0.99
    butter $1.99
    buttermilk $2.39
    total $5.37

    Pecan Apple Pie
    nutmeg $0.99
    apples $2.33
    pecans $3.99
    heavy cream $1.19
    total $8.50

    Grand Total $32.60

    How Low Can You Go So Far In '09:
    1. Scott Peacock $32.60
    Watershed Restaurant

    2. Patrick Connolly $33.32
    Bobo Restaurant

    3. Lachlan & Allison Patterson $34.24
    Frasca Food and Wine