I simply adore creating beautiful menus compete with delicious recipes to mark the significance of a particular day. While there are certain foods that make an appearance year after year, new twists are a fun way to bring variety to the table. While it has been twenty years or more since my family did a big brunch for Easter, I remember it fondly. A nice ham, Ann’s Awesome Quiche, warm rolls, several vegetable dishes that bring color to the table while complementing the overall “feel”. No true breakfast food in sight. Oh but it was all so very delicious. Why not do it again?
Let me share with you a lovely Easter Brunch we enjoyed at the family farm just a few years ago. It began with an innocent email . . .
As I sipped my morning coffee, I shot a quick email to my youngest sister: What are the plans this year for Easter?
Her response: Don’t have any. What were you thinking?
Me: I’m open to anything. What would you like? How about a day at the farm?
Her response: Sounds good. Let’s do brunch. We could make waffles, and apple juice.
I’m stunned. Are you kidding me? Waffles for Easter? I cringed. Don’t get me wrong, I like waffles. I love brunch. But this was Easter. When it comes to the holidays, I’m a traditionalist. Easter Dinner is Ham, Cheese Potatoes, Asparagus . . . special presentations for a very special day. Easter Brunch needed to be just as special.
What in the world was I going to do with waffles?
There were several obstacles to overcome, in addition to the “waffle” dilemma. It’s a bit of a drive out to the family farm. I thought about some of my favorite “fancy” morning dishes. Crab Cakes Benedict immediately sprung to mind. While Crab Cakes Benedict made the gotta be special cut, two problems made these wonderful eggs impossible. We (Hubby, Kiddo and I) were the big crab eaters in the group. My sister’s little ones would turn up their noses. Beside, anything involving poached eggs would mean the eggs needed to be made on the spot. I really did not want to spend the morning stuck in the kitchen with made-to-order poached eggs. I need to find dishes that would travel well, and hold in the warm oven while other dishes were prepared. Besides, the thought of Hollandaise Sauce of a Benedict and the Maple syrup of a waffle colliding on the same plate didn’t seem very appealing.
While some dishes could be made in advance, the “breakfast-brunch” foods that my extended family truly enjoyed generally didn’t travel well. Fritta and Strata dishes would require explanation. (I swear, when it comes to food, I must have been adopted!) Popovers are best served fresh from the oven, and the oven would already be occupied keeping everything else warm. Think, think, think.
A tray of breakfast meats could be prepared at home and held in the oven upon arrival while the waffles were prepared. Irish pancakes might travel nicely. The batter for my awesome Buttermilk Blueberry Waffles could be whipped up in the morning. (This batter, when properly stored, will keep for several days!). A basket of assorted muffins from the bakery would be nice. Yeah, the wheels were turning. A platter of fresh fruits would be colorful. Mini Quiche. . . all right, now we’re talking!
- The Easter Breakfast-Brunch Menu
- Blueberry Blintzes
- Mini Quiche Lorraine
- Cinnamon-Nutmeg French Toast Sticks (Kid-Friendly)
- Lemon Kissed Irish Pancakes
- Brown Sugar Bacon
- Maple Link Sausage
- Country Sausage Patties
- Malted Waffles (Kid-friendly)
- Buttermilk Blueberry Waffles (Belgium style)
- Assorted Mini-Muffins (from the bakery)
- Fresh Fruit Platter (from the deli or create your own)
Now that the menu is set, let’s get to cooking. Some of the recipes are my favorites that I have shared before, others are new. It is my hope that you will find something among them that will hit a cord with you or inspire you to create your own rendition of a Breakfast Style Easter Brunch.
First up, Blueberry Blintzes. These can be made well in advance, then lightly fried to “crisp” wrapping while heating the filling through.
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar
In a large bowl or mixer, begin making your batter by combining milk, water, butter, eggs, flour, salt and sugar. Mix until the batter is smooth and there are no lumps. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 12).
Use an 8-inch crepe pan or other small, non-stick pan. The size of the pan is important to insure the proper size and thickness of the finished blintzes. Place a small amount of butter into the pan and swirl pan over medium heat to spread the melting butter.
When the pan is hot, pour in a 1/4 cup of batter and slowly tilt the pan to evenly spread the batter in a circle, until the bottom is completely covered.
Cook for 45-60 seconds, or until the batter is just set and the bottom is browned; flip to brown the other side. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with the rest of batter.
1 1/4 pounds blueberries, washed and stemmed
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons diced lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
In a saucepan, mix blueberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cinnamon together. Place the saucepan over medium heat. Let mixture come just to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Butter, for greasing pan
Confectioners sugar, garnish
Sour Cream (optional garnish)
To assemble: Use a slotted spoon to put 1-2 tablespoons of berry mixture (leaving sauce in the pan to drizzle over the top) on the lower third of the blintz. Fold the bottom up and over the filling, tuck in both sides (like a burrito) as you go and roll towards the top of the blintzes. You should end with the seam side down. Repeat with rest of blintzes. (These can be made ahead of time to this point, then placed in the refrigerator or freezer).
When ready to serve, place a small amount of butter in a skillet. Fry blintzes until golden and warmed through. Arrange on a serving platter, drizzle with sauce. If desire, garnish with powered sugar and/or a dollop of sour cream.
Next step, Mini Quiche Lorraine . . . another make ahead option. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator until ready to reheat. To reheat, place Quiche on a baking sheet. Warm in the oven at 325 degrees for twenty minutes.
Mini Quiche Lorraine
1 Store bough refrigerated Pie Crust
2 Strips of Bacon, cooked and cut up in little pieces
2 Tablespoons of chopped Parsley
1 Cup of Gruyère, shredded
1 Cup of Half and Half
1/2 Teaspoon of Nutmeg (or more)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Vegetable spray for greasing the muffin tins
Pre-heat oven to 350 Degrees. Spray the mini muffin tin using non stick spray. Set aside until ready to use.
Fry bacon until nice and crisp. Place of paper towels to drain. Crumble bacon and set aside.
On a floured surface carefully spread out the pie dough. Using a cookie cutter, fluted biscuit or the rim of a glass, cut rounds from the pie dough. Place each circle into your muffin pan, pricking the insides of each cup with a fork to prevent crust from puffing up.
Cut out circles using the rim of a glass or a round cookie cutter. Insert one circle into each of the muffin tins. Prick the insides of each dough with a fork (this will prevent them from puffing up).
Bake shells for 10 minutes or until they start to brown. Remove from oven and set aside until ready to fill.
In a bowl mix the eggs, half and half, salt, pepper, parsley and nutmeg until combined. Place mixture in a large glass measuring cup for easy pouring. Set aside.
Fill each Quiche shell with bacon and cheese. Carefully pour in the egg mixture. If desired, add a little more cheese on top.
Bake Quiche in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until tops are browned, crust is cooked all the way through and the eggs have set. Remove from oven. Remove Quiche from tin, place on a rack to cool. These can be served slightly warm or at room temperature.
And now for French Toast Sticks. The great thing to do with French Toast Sticks is to serve with some warm syrup in small ramekins cups. The sticks can be dipped in the syrup, no need for a fork. Kids love it! Better yet, these can be made in advance, then warmed just before serving.
Cinnamon-Nutmeg French Toast Sticks
8 Slices Texas Toast
4 Large Eggs
1 Cup Heavy Cream
2 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
Butter for frying sticks
In a blender, whip together the eggs, heavy cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and vanilla. (Batter can be made in advance, kept in the refrigerator overnight). Let batter rest, then pour into a small casserole dish large enough to hold mixture and allow dipping of the bread sticks.
Cut each slice of Texas toast into four sticks.
Dip each piece of bread in the egg mixture, turning to coat it on all sides so that it’s well-saturated with the custard. Shake off any excess and place the coated bread on a large baking dish. Repeat the dipping process with the remaining pieces of bread. Once all the sticks have been “dipped”, you’re ready to fry them up.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter. Once the butter has melted, place several of the coated sticks in a single layer into the pan. (Do not overcrowd the pan.) Cook until golden brown on one side then flip and continue cooking until the sticks are golden brown and slightly crisped on all edges.
Serve with maple syrup for dipping.
If you have never had Irish Pancakes, think of the love-child between a French Crepe and a simple egg-omelette. They are thin like a crepe, yet have an eggy-ness of an omelette.
Buttery Lemon-Kissed Irish Pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1 & 1/2 cups milk
1/4 stick butter (2 oz melted)
1/4 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
1/4 stick melted butter (for frying)
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice, about 2 lemons (for finishing)
1/2 cup Fine Sugar (for finishing
Additional Melted Butter for serving
Powdered Sugar for Dusting
Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whip eggs until well blended. Pour eggs over the flour. Add milk and beat by hand for a minute or two, just to incorporate the ingredients.
Melt butter, allow to cool slightly and pour into the batter. Add 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice (more if a deeper lemon flavor is desired). Whisk once more.
Heat a 6 or 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Brush the inside of the pan with melted butter. (Butter will give the light pancakes a little extra flavor that you cannot get from oil or sprays).
Pour a little more than 1/4 cup of batter into the warmed pan. (I use 1/4 cup measuring cup and fill it about one and a half times to cover bottom o the pan with a thin layer of batter). Slightly tip and swirl pan to distribute batter evenly.
Cook the pancake for about two minutes, swirling the pan a couple of times as the pancake cooks. The pancake is ready to flip when the upper side appears dry and doesn’t “giggle” when swirled. With a thin flexible spatula, carefully life pancake from the pan, flip and cook underside for another 30 seconds or so.
Turn pancake out onto a warm plate. Set skilled aside (off heat) between pancakes. Brush pancake on plate with a little lemon juice, sprinkle with a little fine sugar. Roll pancake with a cigar to form a long cylinder. Transfer to serving platter and hold in a warm oven.
Repeat the cooking and rolling process until all the batter has been used.
Just before serving, brush pancakes with a little butter (you should have enough left over from the frying butter) and dust with powdered sugar.
These same pancakes can be filled with jams, hazelnut spread, fresh fruits such as sliced bananas or berries or whatever you like. The possibilities are limited to your imagination and the ingredients on-hand.
Next, the breakfast meats . . . Typically these meats, once cooked, can be arranged in a large casserole dish, covered with foil. Place the cooked meats in a warm oven until ready to serve. And just for the record, the Brown Sugar Bacon is a Kiddo creation. I’m here to tell you, these bacon strips are delicious!
Brown Sugar Bacon
2 Tablespoons Bacon Drippings (Approximately)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar (more as needed)
1 lb Bacon
Heat a flat skillet or griddle pan over medium heat.
Add about 2 or 3 tablespoons of bacon dripping to the warm pan. Stir in about a tablespoon or so light brown sugar to the melted drippings. Lay bacon over the brown sugar flavored drippings and fry bacon as you normally would, turning as needed to prevent the bacon from burning.
As the grease in the pan increases, add a little more brown sugar. Continue to cook bacon until it is golden and crisp.
To cook up additional slices, transfer cooked bacon to an oven safe rimmed dish and keep warm in the oven. To the now empty skillet, add a little more brown sugar and continue to cook a second batch of the smoky, sweet and oh so yummy bacon.
Each batch of bacon takes about 10 minutes to fry up, and that makes fried brown sugar bacon much faster than the usual oven method with the same delicious results.
For the meat platter, place cooked bacon in a casserole dish, piling high, to fill a third of the dish, leaving room for the meats that come next.
The Maple Sausage Links are best when using Johnsonville Vermont Maple Sausage Links. When it comes to sausage, Johnsonville knows their stuff! This method can be doubled or tripled as needed, simply keep sausage warm in the oven and repeat with each package.
Perfect Maple Sausage Links
1 Package Link Sausage
1/4 Cup Water
When the skillet is warm, add about a 1/4 cup of water. The water will start to sizzle and the sausage browns.
Cover skillet with a lid that is just a little smaller than the skillet. This forces the steam to concentrate more around the sausage. Cook covered until all the water has evaporated.
Remove lid, roll sausage with a spatula until browned on all sides. Once nicely browned, remove from skillet.
Place cooked sausage in the same casserole dish as the bacon, piled high at the opposite end. Reserve center for the sausage patties.
The easiest country sausage patties to make are the ones fully cooked, in the freezer section. Simply heat according to package directions. Typically, we are talking only a few minutes.
Country Sausage Patties
24 Frozen Country Patties, Pre-cooked
Warm griddle to about 325 degrees. Arrange frozen Country Sausage Patties on griddle and cook until just warmed, about 3 or 4 minutes per side. If necessary, cook sausage in batches.
Transfer to same dish with bacon, overlapping the patties to utilize space. Cover tightly with foil and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
The batters for the waffles can be made in advance, and stored in a pitcher with a tight-fitting lid. When ready to make, simply heat your irons and pour in the batter. Keep the griddles going until all the waffles are cooked.
A baking rack with a wire rack on top serves well to keep your cooked waffles warm until ready to serve. Break waffles along folds and arrange on a platter when ready to serve.
2 Cups Carbon Malted Waffle Mix
4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
1 1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Tablespoon Malt Powder
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
Mix Waffle Mix according to package directions until just blended. Add Malted Powder and Vanilla Extract. Whip until incorporated.
Prepare waffle iron according to manufacture’s directions. Fill iron, cook until golden.
Serve with butter and syrup as desired.
Buttermilk Blueberry Waffles
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup blueberries
4 cups buttermilk
1 stick butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients – flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.
Rinse blueberries and allow them to drain for a few minutes, then toss the blueberries into the flour mixture. Gently fold in the blueberries until nicely mixed and coated.
In another bowl, mix together buttermilk, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mix and stir together just until combined. Make sure everything is moist, no pockets of dry flour remaining. (This can be made in advance, held in a pitcher with a tight-fitting lid).
Warm waffle iron, and cook to your iron’s instructions. Be careful not to over-fill iron, the batter will rise and spread out as it cooks.
From your favorite bakery, pick up an assortment of mini-muffins. My favorites are blueberry and lemon-poppy seed. When ready to serve, arrange on a platter in an attractive manner or place in napkin-lined bread baskets.
To round out the table, and bring in bright colors, pick up a fresh-fruit platter from your local market. If you’re feeling exceptionally creative, simple buy a variety of fruits from the market and arrange on a tray as desired.
With this much food, the easiest way to serve is to utilize a buffet table. Set the table up in such a way that allows easy access. Hot foods at one end, warm in the middle and cold foods such as fruit and juices at the other.
I know, this is a lot of food. Serve it all, or pick and choose based on your family’s size and likes.
Happy Easter Everyone!