(This one is for all you lovely people who have asked for the recipes from last Sunday’s brunch.)
For those of you who don’t know, I just bought a condo and am still in the “settling in” stage, which, due to my insane work schedule, has been extended over a four month period. After spending all of last week priming and painting my entrance hallway (Chinese Red) I felt a sudden need to show the place off to my friends (a feeling most likely caused by lingering paint fumes affecting my neuromuscular system), so on Friday, I threw the idea of hosting a Sunday brunch at David. “Just a few people, you know, Paul and Laura, Dana, Susan, Heidi, etc. And you can invite friends, too.”
Of course, David’s house is fabulous for entertaining, and since he cooks (routinely and spectacularly) he has all the bells and whistles necessary to make a meal for more than one person. I, on the other hand, have a spatula and a whisk, a weak gathering of condiments and a motley assortment of damaged pots and pans acquired since college.
So, what to make under limited circumstances? A couple of glasses of wine and some quick internet browsing yielded the following potential menu:
- Fresh Fruit
- Spring Vegetable Frittata
- Candied Bacon (it’s a Kim and David thing – wildly delicious, btw)
- Bananas Foster French Toast
We had big plans to shop the Dekalb Farmer’s Market over the weekend for fresh seasonal fare, a la “Farm to Table” (I spend a little too much time watching Top Chef) but as I dedicated much of Saturday afternoon to a greatly overdue girl’s day out “Bitch-n-brunch/Mani-pedi” with Laura, David and I ended up missing the Market and resorting to Whole Foods and Publix late Saturday night for our ingredients.
Sunday morning we were up early for last minute cleaning (a.k.a. throwing everything without a home in the closet) before diving in to prep. David set up his laptop for a Skype connection with his parents in Augusta, and they were able to sit in and watch the culinary madness via Web-cam (I should add, having a camera follow you as you run around like a chicken may not be the best first meeting with your boyfriend’s folks, if you are trying to impress them.)
As I gathered my stuff for the French Toast , I realized that my original recipe (a “Paula Deen Food Network staple) called for individual French Toast Slices made to order for each serving. Wow. Halt. Cease. Absolutely not. That would seriously interfere with my hostessing duties. Hmmm. Endive does a French Toast Casserole, and I’ve made Bread Pudding before (close enough), so I had the last-minute inspiration to improvise my own casserole version of my chosen dish (I think I scared the crap out of David since he’s incredibly organized and I’m all “happy chaos”) and came up with a rough approximation of the following Cooks.com recipe) Note: I cook like I bartend, so it’s a little of dis and a dash of dat, specific quantities and exact order be damned. In my defense, it almost always works with cocktails.
|BREAKFAST FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE|
1 long loaf French bread
3 c. milk
4 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. butter, cut in sm. pieces
Syrup or honey to pour over top before serving
Generously butter a 9 x 13 inch cake pan. Cut French bread into 1 inch thick slices. Arrange bread slices in single layer over bottom of pan. Beat eggs, milk, sugar, salt and vanilla in large bowl until mixed. Pour over bread. (Can sprinkle a little cinnamon over top also if you’d like.)Cover with foil. Refrigerate overnight. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Dot casserole with butter pieces. Bake until bread is puffy or lightly browned, 45 to 50 minutes. 8 to 12 servings.
I happily stole the Bananas Foster Topping straight from Paula’s recipe:
In a large skillet, combine corn syrup, brown sugar, maple syrup and pecans. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer for 2 minutes. Add banana halves and rum extract. Coat with the syrup mixture, and simmer 1 minute. Spoon over French toast.
David was in charge of the Candied Bacon and the Fritta.
This one is from Gastronomer’s Guide:
5 large eggs
5 large egg whites
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, minced
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small zucchini, sliced
2 tablespoons torn basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Gruyère
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Using a whisk, beat together eggs and egg whites until frothy. Season with salt and pepper.
Warm olive oil and butter in a 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and zucchini, cook until tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Lower the heat. To the pan add the tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and distribute vegetables evenly in pan. Pour in the egg mixture. Let eggs set for a few minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the frittata has puffed and is light brown. Yield: 4 servings.
Candied Bacon: (also from the Food Network)
- 12 slices bacon, about 1/4-inch thick
- Finely ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- Equipment: 2 baking sheets, preferably flat
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Put bacon slices in a bowl, season them with pepper and toss with the brown sugar. Cover a baking sheet with parchment or foil and arrange the bacon in a single layer on top. Sprinkle any sugar left in the bowl over the bacon. Top with another layer of parchment or foil and top it, squarely, with another baking sheet. The baking sheet will flatten the bacon as it cooks.
Place the tray in the center of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Check the bacon by lifting the top tray and parchment. If it is not golden brown and fairly crispy, resist the temptation to turn up the oven temperature, and cook it for 10 to 15 minutes longer. Check it again. Keep in mind that when you remove the tray and transfer the bacon to a serving platter or individual plates, the bacon will “crisp” up a little more. Be patient!
(courtesy of Susan) plus a wonderful Lemon Cake with Fresh Strawberries and Freshly Whipped Cream (contributed by Heidi) and you’ve got a bold and tasty brunch for a very courageous group of people (alcohol helps). Many thanks to Dana, Susan, Heidi, Jami, Matt, Chance and Rachelle for making our first brunch party at my new condo such a special one.
Oh and not to forget, the Adult Beverage Du Jour: Pomegranate Blueberry Mimosas! Fill 1/3 of a champagne flute with chilled Minute Maid Enhanced Juice Blend Pomegranate Blueberry, top with chilled Sparkling Wine (we used a Spanish Cava) and serve. Would be gorgeous garnished with a fresh blueberry and a slice of kiwi, but ::sigh:: that will be for next time.
And of course, there will be a next time. This was way too much fun and I can’t wait to do it all again! Well, maybe I’ll wait until I paint the dining room. “Hey David, what’cha doin this weekend?”