Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mother's Day Brunch

I love a good brunch and if I had my druthers I would spend Mother's Day at the fanciest brunch in town, repeatedly filling my plate with small tastes, sipping champagne mimosa's, pondering an afternoon nap and debating whether to save room for dessert or go back for another waffle.

I have never had a Mother's Day like that. Since being a daughter trumps being a mother, I usually end up cooking for my mother and mother-in-law and family. My parents would never pay that kind of money for brunch! Sometimes my girls help in the kitchen and usually I am excused from dishes. I am sure there are other mother's that find themselves in a similar situation. In the past, I usually make Eggs Benedict. I love Eggs Benedict and since I never get out for brunch the only way I am going to get it is to make it. It is somewhat time consuming, although sometimes I poach the eggs ahead of time, place them in ice water and heat them in simmering water just before serving. I also have a blender hollandaise recipe which is no fail and delicious. This year I want something easy. I haven't decided yet but here are a couple of ideas if I’ve had. Overnight French Toast casserole - get a loaf of bakery brioche or a soft french loaf and slice it in thicker than usual slices. Stack it in a 9 x 13 pan standing up and overlapping a little side ti side - you want the crust on top. You soak it overnight in an eggy mixture, add a pecan brown sugar top (the best part) and throw it in the oven. Serve with real maple syrup, heated in the microwave with a pat or two of butter thrown in and some more pecans. Serve in a gravy boat. A grapefruit half broiled with some brown sugar on top makes a nice partner.

>Another easy brunch that requires very little work and is for those crowds that are picky and don't want "strange" stuff for breakfast is Baked Eggs in Ham Crisps. Pick up some good Black Forest Ham. Butter or grease 2 holes in a muffin pan, per person. Tuck the ham in each cup, like a little bowl, kind of creasing a little if necessary to make enough room for an egg. For a little “oomph”, you could brush the ham with some maple syrup before adding the egg. Preheat the oven to 400. Crack an egg into each ham cup. Bake these for 15-18 minutes, depending on how done you like your eggs. Voila! Use a tablespoon to remove the ham cup intact. Buy some cantaloupe halves from the grocery store and use them as fruit bowls. Cut off a little flat slice on the bottom, if needed, to stand up and then fill with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Add a store bought croissant (Bread Co. is worth the stop.) Then make a “fancy” butter by mixing your favorite jam with softened butter along side.

I still wish I was going out to brunch but at least I won’t be a slave to the stove! And I do get to skip the dishes!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Quatro De Mayo

I had an early Cinco De Mayo party last night. Mexican is not one of my favorites cuisines. Some of my guests were big fans of those flavors and some weren't so I had to tame the menu to fit all tastes. My main entree was Chicken Enchiladas in a sour cream and monterey jack sauce, with chilies and celery and onions in the filling. I cooked some chicken breasts in my pressure cooker -my favorite way to cook chicken when I need just the meat for chicken salad or a filling. It always comes out moist and perfect. To compliment the enchiladas, I made a Spanish style rice in the rice cooker by sauteing some onions and then the rice and substituting some diced tomatoes with chilies for some of the water. My final side was a cool black bean and corn salad, using frozen corn (uncooked and still frozen), chopped red pepper and black beans and flavoring it with cumin and lime juice and a little olive oil. It was very fresh tasting and a nice compliment to the creamy enchiladas and rice.

For dessert, I knew I had to make flan. Ihave neveer made flan. I am not a big flan fan so I looked for a recipe that I thought I might enjoy as well as my guests and ended up combining two. I made a vanilla bean lime flan in individual ramekins the night before and chilled them. At serving time, I sprinkled some fresh pineapple slices with brown sugar and a little lime juice. I broiled the fruit until the brown sugar was melted and light brown. I served it alongside the flan. The lime peel and vanilla seeds had settled into a pool on the bottom of the flan which was now the top for an interesting effect. The combination of the creamy lime flan and the pineapple worked out great. Plates were licked clean and I lost my fear of flan!