A Very Vera Thanksgiving Brunch

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A Very Vera Thanksgiving Brunch

University of Georgia alumna, Southern cooking show host, entrepreneur, caterer, mail order aficionado, cookbook author, and mentor, Vera Stewart, shared some entertaining tips with the Heritage Garden Club of Athens. Enjoy two recipes from her cookbook that she prepared for the group.

Bourbon Pecan Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding

3/4 c dark brown sugar, packed

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

1/2 c pecan pieces

4 large croissants

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

1 c whole milk, at room temperature

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 c granulated sugar

Bourbon Sauce

6 tbsp. unsalted butter

Floured baking spray

2 tbsp. bourbon


Bread Pudding

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Grease an 8 x 8-inch casserole dish with floured baking spray and set aside. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. In a mixer, beat the melted butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the mixer. Beat until well blended. Tear the croissants into 1-inch pieces and layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour the egg mixture over the croissants and soak for 5 to 10 minutes. You will need to push the croissant pieces down during this time to ensure even coverage.

After the bread has soaked in the egg mixture, sprinkle the pecan pieces over the bread. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes to brown the top.

Bourbon Sauce

Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar to the melted butter and stir until dissolved. Stir in the bourbon and cook for 10 minutes to reduce and thicken.

Cheddar Cheese & Chive Biscuits


½ cup lard, cut into small cubes and chilled

4 c self-rising flour

1 c sharp cheddar cheese, hand-shredded

½ cup green onions, chopped

1 ½ cups buttermilk, chilled

Self-rising flour, for dusting

2 tbsp. salted butter, melted


Preheat the oven to 500°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cut the lard into the flour with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is crumbly. The crumbles should be pea-sized and the flour should start to look like wet sand. Add the cheddar cheese and green onions, stirring just until the ingredients are coated with flour. Add the buttermilk and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and sprinkle with the self-rising flour. Knead the dough 2 to 3 times or until it is smooth. Pat the dough into a ¾-inch-thick rectangle. Cut out biscuits with a floured 2-inch round cutter, being careful not to twist the cutter. Twisting the cutter can seal the edges of the biscuit, which could prevent the biscuits from rising. Reshape the scraps as needed to finish cutting. Place the biscuits with sides touching on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush the tops of the baked biscuits with melted salted butter. Let cool completely on the baking sheet. Serve warm or store in an airtight container.

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Cheri Leavy is a connector, cheerleader and marketing consultant for fellow entrepreneurs. Constantly on the lookout for the newest talent in the South, Cheri has a passion for helping entrepreneurs create and share their brand storytelling through her endeavors - The Southern Coterie • guide2athens • Bulldawg Illustrated