Help! If all goes according to plan, we will be hosting a Sunday Brunch in the next few weeks. The occasion? We wanted a “just because” reason to get together. I don’t know about your family, but with my family, any get together always involves food – be it munchies or full blown sit-down affairs.
We decided having a Family Brunch was better than a Family Barbecue because it would start earlier in the day and still leave all the working-folk plenty of time to prepare for that dreaded Monday Morning Mayhem. My sister has little ones, so whatever we do for Brunch, it has to be kid-friendly. I’m planning to bring an assortment of good-quality (although be it store-bought) pastries. Sis is talking scrambled eggs and pancakes. I’m thinking sausage and bacon – that’s a gimme since both travel well. (Sis is hosting, so I’ll be working in an unfamiliar kitchen). Apple and orange juice, French Pressed Coffee and maybe Mimosa for the “big people”. Fresh fruit with a dollop of fresh whipped cream is always a nice touch to any brunch.
While I’ve got most of the recipes in place and have a rough plan, I can’t decide between a few new dishes I’d like to try. I know myself well enough to know that if left on my own, I’ll be cooking up all the new dishes and making myself crazy. No, that will not do. I need to make a decision, pick one new brunch dish and stick with it. That’s where you come in – opinions matter!
When I think “Brunch” I think Continental Breakfast (Pastries; Fruits; Juice & Coffee) meets American (Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, Home-Fry Potatoes, Pancakes and/or Waffles) with a few “extras” thrown in for variety and elevation above the ordinary (Quiche, Frittata or Stratas). What do you think when you think “Brunch”?
The recipes that follow I have not made before, but I am considering as part of our Brunch Selection. What I really need from you is a little input – what would you make? All – one – none?
For Your Consideration:
24-Hour Wine and Cheese Omelette Casserole
Baked French Toast with Streusel Topping
Frittata with Sausage, Onions and Bell Peppers
24-Hour Wine & Cheese Omelette Casserole
1 large loaf day-old French bread, broken into small pieces
6 tablespoons of butter, melted
¾ pound shredded Swiss cheese
½ lb shredded Jack Cheese
3 cups milk
½ cup dry White wine
4 green onions, trimmed and minced
1 tablespoon mustard
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper
1 ½ cup Sour Cream (see note)
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated (see note)
Note: Top Casserole with Sour Cream and Parmesan Cheese just before baking.
Butter two 9×13 baking dishes. Divide bread between baking pans, drizzle melted butter. Sprinkle bread with Swiss and Jack Cheeses.
Beat together eggs, milk, wine, onions, mustard and peppers until foamy. Divide and pour over bread mixture. Cover with foil and refrigerate over night.
Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to baking.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Bake covered casseroles for 1 hour or until set. Remove from oven, spread sour cream over casseroles and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until crusty brown.
I love the look and presentation of the torte – the multi steps and detailed directions seem a bit overwhelming.
Baked French Toast with Streusel Topping
1 loaf Sourdough Bread
1½ cups Whole Milk
½ cup Half and Half
½ cup Sugar
1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 Pinch of Salt
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ stick butter, diced
Spray a 13″ x 9″ casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
Cut Sourdough bread loaf into 1-inch pieces. Spread bread cubes evenly in prepared casserole dish.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, half and half, sugar, vanilla, spices and pinch of salt. Pour over bread cubes. Press bread cubes into the baking dish to make sure they absorb custard. Cover baking dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
In a small bowl, mix together ingredients for the streusel topping being sure to break up butter into small pieces. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove baking dish and streusel topping from the refrigerator. Sprinkle streusel topping liberally over the top of the French toast.
Bake 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 3 minutes before serving. Serve warm with maple syrup.
Frittata with Sausage and Bell Peppers
8 Eggs, beaten
2 Breakfast Sausage Links, cooked
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 White Onion, chopped
1 Teaspoon Butter
Salt to Taste
Pepper to Taste
1/3 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Heat oven to broil.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs. Set aside.
In a 12 inch non-stick oven safe skillet, cook 2 sausage links until cooked through and nicely browned. Set sausage aside to cool. Once cool to the touch, cube sausage into small pieces.
Meanwhile, prepare the peppers and onions. Cut bell peppers in half. Remove core and seeds. Wrap half of each pepper in plastic wrap and refrigerate for another use (omelettes would be nice). Chop remaining halves and set aside.
Cut white onion in half from top to root. Wrap half the onion in plastic wrap for another use (thinking omelettes again). Peel remaining half and chop. Set aside.
To the now empty skillet, add butter and melt over medium high heat. Once butter begins to foam, add onions and saute for about 2 or 3 minutes or until just beginning to soften.
Pour eggs over the onions. Add the peppers and sausage. Carefully mix everything without causing the eggs to “scramble”. Season with salt and pepper.
Let eggs cook undisturbed over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the top of the egg mixture is starting to set. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the top of the eggs.
Slip skillet in the oven to broil for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the top has set and the cheese has melted.
Remove from oven, slice and serve!
Ingredients – For The Shell
1 pound puff pastry, chilled – homemade or store-bought. (If using store-bought, roll both sheets together for 1 lb, then cut off a 1/4 lb for the top of the torte. Use any scraps to cut out designs for the top, if desired.)
Ingredients – For the Eggs
10 large eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons snipped fresh tarragon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Ingredients – For the Filling
6 large red bell peppers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds spinach, trimmed and washed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
8 ounces Swiss cheese or Gruyère, thinly sliced
8 ounces smoked or honey ham, thinly sliced
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt
Prepare the pastry: Generously butter an 8 1/2-inch springform pan. Cut off one-quarter of the pastry, cover, and set aside. Roll out remaining puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick round. Carefully fit the pastry into the pan, pressing to get a smooth fit, leave a 1-inch overhang. Roll out the smaller piece of pastry until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut out an 8-inch circle of dough for the top of the torte and lift it onto a plate or baking sheet. Cover both the crust and the lid with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the filling. If using scraps for cut-out designs, like leaves, place the cut-outs on a separate plate, cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge along with top and lined springform pan.
Make the Eggs: Whisk eggs, herbs, salt and pepper together. Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat and pour in the eggs. Gently but constantly stir the eggs around in the pan, pulling the eggs that set into the center of the pan. Slide the eggs onto a plate, without mounding them, and cover immediately with plastic wrap. You want a loose, soft scramble since the eggs will be baking for a little over an hour.
Roast the peppers: place whole and untrimmed, directly over the flame of a gas burner. As soon as one portion of a peppers skin is charred, turn the pepper. When black and blistered all over, drop into a bowl…cover with plastic wrap and let steam (I throw them all in a paper or large zip-lock bag and seal it shut) for about 20 minutes. Use your fingers to rub off skin – DO NOT rinse under water, you lose flavor. Cut each pepper once from top to bottom, cut away the stem, open the peppers, and lay them flat. Trim away the inside veins and discard the seeds; season peppers with salt and pepper and set aside, covered, until needed.
Alternatively, lay the peppers on a baking sheet and place them under the broiler, turning them as each side chars Then continue to skin and seed them as instructed above.
The peppers release a lot of liquid once roasted. Make sure the peppers are dry (blot with paper towels) before adding them to the tourte. Cut up the roasted peppers because sometimes you end up with big or whole pieces pulling out with each forkful.
Cook the spinach: in a large quantity of boiling salted water for 1 minute to blanch it. Drain spinach in a colander, rinse with cold water, and press it to extract all of the excess moisture. Heat the oil, butter, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Add blanched spinach and sauté for 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and add a little heavy cream. Bring quickly to the boil and stir so it mixes with the spinach. Remove the spinach from the skillet with a slotted and set aside. Once it’s cooled, squeeze as much liquid out before adding it to the tourte.
Assemble the Torte: Remove the pastry-lined springform pan from the refrigerator and layer the filling ingredients in the following order: (quick tip: Sprinkle a little dry bread crumbs or grated Italian hard cheese on the bottom of the raw crust before adding first layer of scrambled eggs to protect against a soggy bottom crust).
- Half the eggs
- Half the spinach
- Half the ham
- Half the cheese
- All the roasted peppers, laid flat
Continue layering in reverse order;
- Remaining half of cheese
- Remaining half of ham
- Remaining half of spinach
- Remaining half of eggs
With each layer, make certain that the ingredients are spread to the edge of the pan. Fold the excess crust in over the filling, and brush the rim of crust you’ve created with the egg wash. Center the rolled-out top crust over the torte and gently push the edge of the top crust down into the pan, pressing and sealing the top and bottom crusts along the sides. Brush the top with the egg wash and cut a vent in the center of the crust. Use the point of the knife to etch a design in the top crust, taking care to cut only halfway into the dough. Chill the fully loaded tourte for 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees 20 minutes prior to baking.
Bake the Torte: Place the torte on a jelly-roll pan, give it another coat of egg wash, and bake it for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until puffed and deeply golden. Remove from the oven and let rest on a rack until it reaches room temperature. Run a blunt knife or offset spatula around the edges of the pan and release the sides. Let cool for 45 minutes before cutting.
Let me know what you think . . . you are the final judges in the What’s For Brunch Opinion pole. Thanks for stopping by and giving me your two-cents worth.
Have a great rest of your day!