Ah, breakfast for dinner — call it ‘brinner’

The Charlotte ObserverApril 2, 2014 

Maybe it’s time for brunch to make way for brinner.

The “brunch” concept has been around since the 1890s, when British college students came up with the word for having a later Sunday breakfast after Saturday drinking binges.

But brinner is another idea: Eating breakfast foods for dinner because you love them.

It must be a real word. It’s in the Urban Dictionary, and it’s turning up on the food-trend lists, part of a larger movement toward eating what you want, when you want it: Breakfast for dinner, pizza for breakfast, eggs on pizza for dinner.

You can’t look around the food-blog world without seeing new uses for waffle irons: Stuffing waffles, made with leftover Thanksgiving dressing. Pizza waffles, using a waffle iron to reheat pizza slices. French toast waffles, mac-and-cheese waffles. It’s enough to make Mrs. Butterworth’s head spin.

There even are reports of breakfast-for-dinner wedding buffets, with omelet and pancake bars served with mimosas and Bloody Mary’s — and not just for morning weddings.

It’s all starting to go a little far, but what kid, or kid-at-heart adult, doesn’t clap hands at the idea of breakfast for dinner?

Lindsay Landis, a Nashville food blogger (Love & Olive Oil) wrote the cookbook “Breakfast for Dinner” with her husband, Taylor Hackbarth. Landis has fond memories of her own childhood, when her father would whip out breakfast for dinner.

“He could barely do a frozen pizza,” she says. “But he could do scrambled eggs. Whenever Mom was out of town, that’s what he did.”

These days, brinner is more practical than brunch. Who really has time to go out for brunch on a busy weekend morning? Add the typical restaurant wait and you could blow a whole Saturday trying to get a waffle.

Make a waffle yourself on a Tuesday night, and you have a delivery system for maple syrup and bacon, too.

That’s part of the idea behind turning breakfast foods into dinner: We love pancakes, waffles, omelets and the like. But actual breakfast — the event between getting up and leaving your house — is not the time to do anything more elaborate than cereal/bowl/milk/skedaddle.

“Breakfast is usually on the go,” says Chapel Hill, N.C., cooking instructor Caitlin Burke. She got a lesson herself in how much people love the idea when she taught a breakfast class for kids and parents last summer at A Southern Season.

“The parents said, ‘What we need is breakfast for dinner for adults.’” So Burke held a class on it in January and it was a hit. “Everyone likes breakfast, so there’s more opportunity to play.”

What makes breakfast for dinner different from a bowl of cereal eaten over the sink? “It requires a little more time and organization,” she says. “And more substantial, heavier dishes fit better at the end of the day.”

Landis picks savoriness, doing things that might involve eggs but don’t necessarily involve maple syrup, like Shakshuka, a Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in a rich tomato base.

“You’ve always got eggs in the (refrigerator),” she says. “We tried to take it a little beyond that.”

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