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Neil Patrick Harris, David Burtka, Gideon Burtka-Harris and Harper Burtka-Harris posing in the kitchen
Me and my brunch bunch

The Ultimate Brunch Recipe Bundle From the Burtka-Harris Family

How to make your favorite essential brunch foods — Burtka-Harris style

September 11, 2023 9:54 am

Question: How many cooks are too many cooks in the kitchen? 

Answer: 2.

You all know I love a good riddle but (surprise!) this is not one. It’s my personal ideal, because, well, I’m married to a chef (who also acts and is eagerly seeking gigs — I digress). It is my joy to let him do his thing in the kitchen, while I do mine. (Which, for the record, is: snack, enjoy a drink or two, occasionally offer encouragement — “That smells good, Honey!” or “You folded that batter better than a floor manager at the Gap!” — play with the dogs, text with friends, write Wondercade articles, and repeat.)

But there is an exception to my one-person-shall-cook-alone theory…and it’s when we go the other way completely and make meal prep a full, fun family affair, where EVERYONE is welcome. And by welcome, I mean forced to participate by penalty of device confiscation. Sunday is family brunch day in the ol’ Burtka-Harris household. We all join in and make a dish. True to form, my dish usually comes in a tumbler. But more on that later.

So today, in a special themed Wondercade article, we share a recipe from each member of my family: my husband David, our 11-year-old twins Harper and Gideon, and your oft humble Wondercade editor. It’s our badass brunch: Participatory. Fun. Delicious. Please don’t arrive any earlier than 10 a.m. Gifts are encouraged.

From our family to yours. Enjoy. – NPH

Gideon Burtka-Harris’s Slow-Cooked Eggs Recipe

A Q&A with Gideon, and the best slow cooked eggs

The eggs are slow cooked but we devour them quickly
Neil Patrick Harris

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS: Hi! We’re making our family brunch, and Gideon is starting with his eggs. Take it away and tell us about your recipe, Gid.

GIDEON BURTKA-HARRIS: It’s weird to use a recipe because I’ve done it so many times that I just eyeball the entire thing.

NPH: Okay, Chef. But since you want the Wondercade readers to learn, tell us what you’re doing as you do it. Talk us through it.

GBH: Okay. I’ve already cracked six eggs and added a portion of heavy cream. So it looks like Mars — a bit milky, and red or orange.

DAVID BURTKA: Gideon, do you know that expression, “Girls go to Jupiter to get more stupider, boys go to Mars to get more candy bars”?

GBH: Umm, how old are you?

NPH: [Groans] So, Gideon, you use one quarter cup of heavy cream?

GBH: Yes. But before I add it, immediately after cracking the eggs, I wash my hands. Sometimes I do it twice.

NPH: Safety first, smart. You never want to run into a guy named Sal Monella. He’s filthy. And runs an auto body shop in Brooklyn. Always avoid Sal Monella.

DB: [Groans] Neil.

GBH: Now I’m whisking. Most people just whisk the eggs until there’s a lot of yolk left, but I mix it so that it’s almost watery.

DB: Interesting. And I see you’re using a fork as opposed to a whisk.

GBH: Yeah, I like using a fork because I have a much better grip on things. Unlike you two.

NPH: Agreed. And you’re lifting the fork out of the egg mixture to check its viscosity. Boom. I know big words. 

DB: Do you add your salt and pepper now, while it’s in the bowl?

GBH: That’s the secret! A pinch of black pepper and more than a pinch of salt into the mix. And now that we’ve added the salt and pepper it looks like, I don’t know, Mars in an asteroid field. It’s a little crowded here, don’t you think?

DB: Your cooking surface is crowded?

GBH: Yeah, can we remove some of these pots and pans?

NPH: Okay, I’m sorry, Chef. We’ll get you a pristine surface.

GBH: Please do. [We do.] Okay, now I’m ready to cook. The first thing I add to my pan is my bacon grease. You take the remaining grease from when you cook the bacon and pour it — strain it — into a bowl…

Boy breaking eggs into bowl on kitchen counter
Gideon is an eggcellent cook
Neil Patrick Harris

DB: …It’s good to strain it because you get all your black burnt bits out, and you’ll have nice, clear bacon grease.

GBH: Right. And then when you use it, the eggs have the aftertaste of bacon. It’s the best. Once it’s in the pan, the only thing you want to do is just slowly move the spatula around the sides into the center.

DB: And you have it on low heat?

GBHLow heat. These are slow-cooked eggs!

NPH: You’ll do this for an hour, two hours?

GBH: Maybe three…nah, I’m kidding. It takes about 10 minutes.

DB: And you’re just moving the spatula around in a constant stir, so nothing sticks to the bottom?

GBH: If you’re really impatient, you can speed it up a little with higher heat, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

DB: Another trick for doing scrambled eggs is to put them on medium heat and cook them for about 30 seconds, scramble them, then take them off the heat and then scramble them again, and then put it back for 30 seconds, put it back on the heat. That gets that nice small curd that you like.

GBH: So it’s really starting to get up to temperature now. Just keep going around the sides with your spatula. That is a huge tip, because that is where all the egg tends to stick. And don’t forget the middle! Go around the sides and make, like, what’s that red sign…?

NPH: A Do Not Enter sign?

GBH: The sign in Ghostbusters, like their logo. This is also the time that you might want to sprinkle chives over the eggs.

DBMmm. Could you add cheese at this point?

GBH: If you want, but I don’t usually add cheese. I just think it makes the whole thing…cheesy.

NPH: Like Dad—

DB: [Simultaneously] —Like Papa.

GBH: Yup. Also, eggs really tend to cook down, this is what I have now.

NPH: It seemed like you were making enough eggs for an entire football team. And now that it’s cooked down, it feels like enough for maybe two players. That was football terminology, because I’m into sports.

DB: Football season is over.

NPH: What? When did that happen? It’s looking like it’s almost done…Gid, are you going to put it in a bowl? We have one that’s great…it’s super. It’s a super bowl. That’s another sports reference.

GBH: Please stop.

NPH: Okay.

DB: They’re looking great!

NPH: The chives are present, the eggs look fluffy, light, almost creamy. Not dry, like my wit.

GBH: And your skin.

NPH: It’s cold out, I’m dehydrated. But still funny. Oh wow, look at those eggs, well done! And that’s the recipe for Gideon’s slow-cooked, bacon fat…

GBH: …yummy eggs.

NPH: Anything else you want to call it? Yummy eggs-plosion?

GBH: Yummy eggs-plosion!

NPH: Slow-cooked, bacon fat, yummy eggs-plosion. You’re welcome.

Gideon's Slow-Cooked Eggs

Servings: 3-4 servings

Copy Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons strained bacon fat
  • Salt and pepper
  • Minced chives (optional)

Copy Directions

    1. Whisk the eggs until light and fluffy, add in cream and plenty of salt and pepper.

    2. Place a nonstick skillet over low heat. Add bacon fat to coat the pan. 

    3. Slowly add in eggs and stir constantly till fully cooked, about 8-10 minutes.

    4. Garnish with chives and enjoy. 

Harper Burtka-Harris’s Recipe for Party Pancakes

A Q&A with Harper, and then the best pancakes you’ll ever make

Confetti pancakes on dish
These pancakes are light and fluffy, and sugar-packed
Neil Patrick Harris

HARPER BURTKA-HARRIS: Hi Wondercade reader. Let’s make some pancakes! Okay…you start off by scooping some AP flour into a cup with a spoon. You do this because you don’t want to make your flour compact. That makes the pancakes fluffier. Also, I take the side of the spoon — this is Gideon‘s trick, actually — to level the flour, and then add it to a bowl for the dry ingredients.

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS: Quick question. AP flour: is that like AP English or AP Biology?

DAVID BURTKA: It’s all-purpose flour.

NPH: Ah. So Harper, you’re not planning on taking AP Flour at school next year?

HBH: Wow. Okay, so here’s two tablespoons of sugar I add to the flour, as well. I like to do two heaping spoonfuls of sugar because everyone loves sugar. Two teaspoons of baking powder—

NPH: Quick tip with the sugar: you might want to taste it first, because we’ve done this before and accidentally used salt.

HBH: Yes, but that wasn’t my fault…okay it was. Now, if you’re using regular milk, you don’t have to use the baking soda. But because in this recipe we decided to use buttermilk, we add half a teaspoon of baking soda in the dry ingredients. Then we add half a teaspoon of salt.

DB: Salt always makes things better. You always need salt in your baking — it brings out flavor.

NPH: Unless you think it’s sugar.

Girl measuring flower in kitchen
Harper, my flower, works the flour
Neil Patrick Harris

HBH: So then I take two tablespoons of butter, and I melt it for about 30 to 40 seconds in a microwave. Be careful not to put it in the microwave for too long because the butter will explode, and my dad isn’t thrilled when he has to clean up the microwave.

Okay, I did my dry ingredients, I whisked them and I have my melted butter here on the side. I’m going to add one large egg to the butter once it cools a little bit. And then I’m going to add one cup of buttermilk. I like buttermilk, it gives it a bit of a tangy flavor.

DB: Make sure you shake your buttermilk before you pour it into your wet ingredients.

NPH: Here’s a good tip when you’re measuring the cup with the buttermilk: if you pour too much, you can take the stem of the spoon and level it flat.

HBH: No! That’s not something to do!

NPH: Not like the flour?

HBH: Ugh, no. Now we add the vanilla. It says one teaspoon in the recipe, but I eyeball it. Okay, so then you add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients. Now this is really important: when you mix them together, it’s okay if it’s lumpy. You don’t want to overmix your batter because then the pancakes won’t be light and fluffy. When I finish mixing, I let it sit for a couple of minutes while I get the griddle ready.

NPH: You often sit for a few minutes and play with your iPad.

HBH: Ha-ha. There are a lot of dishes piling up. Papa, do that. Instead of comedy.

Okay, so now I’m spraying the griddle with some coconut oil. You don’t want to use butter because it’ll burn.

NPH: If you don’t have a flat top, explain what you’d do…

DB: If you don’t have a flat top, just use a big pan or a cast iron skillet.

HBH: So we take a big spoon, and we add our pancakes to the hot griddle. One big spoonful is great. Now here’s another secret to my recipe…I’m going to add in sprinkles to the top. These are Amirah Kassem unicorn sprinkles, because my dad’s good friends with her, and she makes the best sprinkles. There’s rainbows and unicorns and little chocolate things in it. 

The way to tell that your pancakes are ready to flip is that they’re going to bubble on top. Once they do, you can flip right away. Oooh, these are turning out to be nice and fluffy.

DB: Sometimes when it looks like the center’s not cooking, I like to put them in the oven for a couple of minutes, just to finish baking.

HBH: Okay they’re all done! I like to put Nutella on mine — I’m 11, I crave sugar — but you can put anything on yours. Syrup, whipped cream, butter…enjoy!

Harper's Party Pancakes

Servings: 4 servings

Copy Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled) 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • Cooking spray or coconut oil as needed
  • 1/2 cup assorted sprinkles, optional 
  • Optional toppings: butter, syrup, chocolate chips, Nutella, jam and whipped cream

Copy Directions

    1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

    2. In a second bowl stir buttermilk, butter, egg and vanilla. Add in dry ingredients; do not overmix.  

    3. On a flat top or big frying pan use cooking spray or add a small amount of coconut oil. Spoon three or more tablespoons of batter. If using sprinkles, add a couple of pinches to the top. 

    4. Cook until you see tiny bubbles on the top of the pancake, 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook till both sides are brown.

    5. Transfer to a platter and cover with foil while cooking the remaining batter. When all pancakes are finished, enjoy with desired toppings. 

David Burtka’s Crunchy Maple Peppered Bacon

Have candy for breakfast with this delicious (and easy) recipe from chef David Burtka

Most cooking instructions for bacon recommend a 375-degree oven, but I like to put mine up to 400 degrees. I’m all about crispy bacon.

Then I ready my handful of ingredients and prep work. I get a cup of maple syrup, and I put foil on the sheet pan (it’s easier to clean that way). The bacon is laid on top of the foil in a single layer — I try to only use Nueske’s bacon…it’s the best. The ultimate. And also one of my rules in life: never skimp on bacon. 

Let it cook for about 10 minutes, until it starts to render. Then I take it out, and with a cooking brush I dab the syrup on the bacon…trust me, it’s really hard to spread, so just go with the dab method. Then I add a bunch of cracked black pepper. Put it back in the oven for about 5 minutes, and then take it out again to flip it. It can be a little sticky and hard to flip at this point because of the maple syrup, but with a pair of tongs and a fork you’ll be fine. I believe in you. Then dab the other side with syrup and add more black pepper, and cook it for another 5 or 10 minutes until it’s nice and crispy.

Usually when you take bacon out of the oven you want to put it on a paper towel to drain, but because with this recipe there’s maple syrup on it, you want to put it on a flat, dry surface in one single layer — do not overlap them, or they will all stick together. When cooled, they will crisp up like candy. ‘Cuz, well…that’s what it is: candied bacon. Delicious, crispy, peppered, candied, maple bacon. Mmmmm.

Maple peppered bacon on dish with eggs
David Burtka’s Crunchy Maple Peppered Bacon
David Burtka

Crunchy Maple Peppered Bacon

Servings: 4-6 servings

Copy Ingredients

  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • Fresh cracked pepper

Copy Directions

    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a large sheet pan in foil, edge to edge.

    2. Place bacon on the pan in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes or until bacon has started rendering.

    3. Remove bacon, then dab with maple syrup and sprinkle pepper.  

    4. Cook for another 5 minutes.

    5. Remove bacon and flip, add syrup and pepper on the other side, then cook for 5-10 minutes more until crispy.

    6. Remove bacon and place on a flat, dry surface. Let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy. 

Neil Patrick Harris’s Bloody Mary

NPH on the joys of the tomato-y libation.

So, here are my thoughts on Bloody Marys. The Bloody Mary is a delightfully simple drink because it relies on, essentially, two edicts: personal preference and garnishes.

You have a tomato juice base, but if you only mix that with hooch, it doesn’t taste great, nor is the consistency very appealing. So add a little Worcestershire sauce. Rounds it out. Provides a bit of smokiness. Add some Tabasco, and increase the spice. Add a little horseradish — increase the depth of flavor. Add a little fresh ground pepper. Now you’ve got yourself a solid foundation. Like it spicier? Add more of whatever you prefer. You do you. Because as Meghan Trainor reminds us all, it’s all about the taste, ‘bout the taste, no treble.

Man with bloody mary drink and bacon relish
A bloody good drink, if I say so myself
Neil Patrick Harris

So, you got a good base together that you like…it’s time to add a spirit. Traditionally, one would add vodka to make a Bloody Mary, but really, any clear spirit will work. I’m sure there are actual names for each spirit’s Bloody, but I’m gonna make up my own. If you add gin, you could call it a Bloody Gary. If you add a blanco tequila, you could call it a Bloody…HarryBarry? Nah. I’m trying to think of something in Spanish…[long pause]…Maria. Boom. De nada.

If you’re a non-drinker, the Bloody Mary is a fantastic choice, because there are plenty of spirit-free, botanical-based beverages that work beautifully with the tomato base. Seedlip makes a great one, so does Amass. The Optimist Botanicals: Bright has jasmine, green mandarin, lavender…it’s an amazing flavor additive whether you’re drinking it with alcohol or not. Secret ingredient. Can’t recommend it enough.

Now you get to move on to things to put inside the glass. Consider them amuse-bouches. Palate cleansers. Snacks. Extra appetizers. Okay, clearly you need a celery stick. I think they’re called stalks. Some guy was following me around, and wouldn’t leave me alone, and kept mentioning celery. I think he was stalking me. De nada. Celery adds a nice crunch. Then you can add some olives. I recommend them without seeds. I’ve never understood how seedless, pitted olives grow. It seems like it wouldn’t be allowed to happen that way in nature. A peperoncini is always nice — adds a little vinegar kick and, sometimes, spice. It’s the shishito of pickled peppers. What else? Oh, you definitely want to add some citrus. Limes are great. Balances out the deep-seated tomato acid with some bright citric acid. Squirt that up in your business. And by business, I mean glass.

But really, you can go nuts. Just add stuff. How about a piece of bacon? I’d advise that you cook it first, it displays better that way. You could also do poached shrimp. Although honestly, if you’re having a Bloody Mary bar for a group brunch, the idea of a bowl filled with shrimp seems kind of smelly. But some people like them some shrimp. Pickled vegetables would be great. You could do a sprig of rosemary. You could do a Hershey bar. You never know, it could be interesting. A Pixy stick. Seems like it might dissolve quickly. But I’d go for edible things, as opposed to a ruler or a steak knife. Choose anything that’s going to make it look bushy and fun. Like porn stars in the ‘80s.

So, yeah. That’s your Bloody Mary. Give people lots of options, let them go crazy. Have a pitcher of tomato juice, base spices, clear spirits and botanicals, an array of garnishes. Maybe some fun instructions. Oh, did I mention Pop Rocks? I shouldn’t, that’s a terrible idea. But you never know.

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