Sunday, December 26, 2010

Brunch: A Very Nice Thing

Last week, before returning to our homes for the holidays, my roommate and I decided to host a holiday brunch, a potluck in theory but really just an overambitious menu designed by me, as I like it. However, unlike most of my eager menus that come from too many hours drooling over my favorite food blogs, this brunch did serve the nice convenient purpose of using up some stragglers in my soon-to-be-abandoned fridge.

On another fun note, it turned out to be a veritable (if in the abstract sense) multicultural feast that began at noon and ended at 4 a.m. I regret I didn't get pictures of everything, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Our table featured:
  • To Drink - Mimosas and Poinsettias (featuring Champagne, wishfully from France)
  • Mexican Sweet Bread
  • New Orleans Beignets and Coffee with Chicory
  • Jewish Apple Latkes with crème fraîche
  • City-American homemade "Egg McMuffins"
  • Mountain-American Walnut and Pumpkin Pancakes
  • BelgianWaffles
  • Spanish (?) Clementines
  • Scrambled Eggs with Gouda (cheese that's ostensibly Netherlandish, don't you know)
  • and Plain Ole' Bacon
See! What a delight. Later in the night we snacked on leftovers, roasted Brussels Sprouts and Michael Boland's famous salsa while we watched -- yes this is true -- X-Men Origins: Wolverine, 17 Again, Black X-mas, and Shallow Hal late into the wee hours.  


For a non-poisonous, yet delightfully "libatious" (alcoholic and delicious) drink, mix champagne and cranberry juice (of any variety). We used Hibiscus Cranberry juice from Trader Joe's. Be sure to pop the top of champagne jovially and audibly to begin your meal, and naturally serve the drinks in the ever so classy plastic flutes you have lying around since New Year's two years past.
Pancakes and Waffles

We just used quick and easy Bisquik with two notable exceptions. For waffles and pancakes I always add some vanilla extract. And for the Walnut Pumpkin Pancake variety, add in some walnuts, pumpkin puree (if you can find it, pumpkin pie filling if you can't) and cinnamon or nutmeg as well. 

Cafe du Monde Beignet Mix 

Super easy way to have almost instant fried delights. Just add water to the mix which can be purchased at Whole Foods, at least. Then roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick using a very liberal amount of flour and cut into small rectangles (maybe 1 1/2 by 2 inches) using a pizza cutter if you have one or a knife if not. Heat about 2 inches of oil into a small fry pan. Then plop in a few squares at a time when it's hot and turn once. They'll cook really quickly - a minute at most. The box suggests basting but we didn't even need to. Just take them out onto a paper towel when they have puffed a bit and are golden brown. Sprinkle on liberal amounts of powdered sugar and devour while hot and fresh.

Apple Latkes

A delicious recipe I will revisit SOON now that I can pop the apples right into the food processor

2 or 3 Granny Smith Apples
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (another Christmas bonus, my new handy lemon squeezer that omits straining!)
6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
2 large eggs
Butter (about 1 Tbsp. per batch to make them crisp)
Trader Joe's crème fraîche for serving

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and place a baking sheet inside.
2. Peel and core apples (a corer would be a nice new tool to have but for now I'm on my own) and then grate them, either on the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor on the shredding blade with the apple chunks the long way for longer strands.
3. Transfer to a clean dishtowel or cheesecloth sling and wring out as much juice as you can into a small bowl. (I forgot this step, which obviously wasn't a disaster but might have helped them stick together better? Who knows).
4. Transfer grated apple to a medium bowl and toss with lemon juice and mixed flour, sugar, cinnamon and baking powder, coating the apples evenly. Whisk eggs and stir into apple mixture.
5. Heat a large cast-iron skillet to medium with one tablespoon butter. Once it has coated the pan, drop tablespoons full of apple batter in little piles, gently pressing them a bit flatter with a spatula. Fry until they are nicely brown underneath, about 3 to 5 minutes, then flip and continue to cook until they are browned and crisp. Drain briefly on paper towels and transfer to preheated oven to keep warm until serving up to an hour later
6. Add 1 Tbsp. of butter for each new batch in the pan, and repeat with remaining batter.
7. Serve with crème fraîche on top. Yum.

 Enjoy with friends

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