Sunday, April 10, 2011

Come For Brunch

Every other month, my book club gets together to discuss our latest read.  I think we usually end up spending more time eating and socializing than we do actually discussing the books we read.  A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hosting a brunch for our group.

I have a chronic habit of undertaking too many projects at once when it comes to having people over to my home for any reason.  Whether it is my mom coming over for a simple supper, a birthday dinner or a holiday spread for family, I always tend to overdo it, resulting in my still being in the kitchen an hour or two after people have arrived.  I don't think that creates a very welcoming environment.

When making brunch for our "Chick Lit" book club, I realized that it is all about the prep work or mise en place if you want to get all technical about it.  If you read over all of your recipes, prepare what you can ahead of time, have all of your ingredients in place for the day of, and create a simple schedule, it will make preparing for a party or any meal a breeze.

The Brunch Menu:
Homemade Granola
Honey Vanilla Yogurt
Fresh Fruit
Super-Size Cinnamon Rolls (by far, the star of the show)
Stuffed Baby Bellas
Potato, Bacon, & Spinach Frittata

 The Recipes:

Honey Vanilla Yogurt (printable recipe)
from Ina Garten

2 c plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. clover honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean (optional, but adds a really nice touch)

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and set in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Fresh Fruit
I used a mixture of strawberries (cut into 1/2 inch pieces), blackberries and blueberries.  I combined them in a large bowl and then placed a ring of sliced kiwis around the rim.  This made for a pretty presentation.  Use whatever fruit you like or whatever looks good at the market that day.

Super-Size Cinnamon Rolls (printable recipe)
1 c milk, warm
1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c margarine, melted
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
4 c flour

1/2 c margarine, softened
1 c brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon

Cream Cheese Icing:
1/2 pkg (4 oz) cream cheese, softened
2/3 c margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c powdered sugar
Pinch of salt

Combine dry ingredients for dough in large bowl.  Dissolve yeast in warm milk (I use fast-acting yeast so that the dough rises quicker).  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then add eggs, margarine and milk/yeast mixture.  Mix well, then knead with hands into a large ball.  Put in greased bowl, cover and let rise until the size has doubled, approximately 1 hour.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.  When dough has risen, remove from bowl and roll with rolling pin into a large rectangle that is a 1/4 inch thick.  It should be somewhere around 21 x 16 inches in size.  Spread the dough evenly with 1/2 c margarine, leaving about a 1/2 inch edge at the bottom of the dough.  Top evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Starting from the top (which should be the 21 inch side), roll tightly and evenly until you have reached the bottom.  By leaving the 1/2 inch gap at the bottom, the roll should sort of seal itself.  Slice the roll into ten 1 3/4 inch thick slices.  I find the best way to slice the rolls is to use unwaxed, unflavored dental floss.  Slide the floss under the roll, then criss-cross the ends like you're tying a knot.  You'll get perfect slices every time!

Place rolls in buttered 8 or 9 inch round or square pans with five rolls per pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until rolls are light brown.

Combine all icing ingredients in mixing bowl.  Starting on slow speed, begin mixing.  When ingredients start to come together, beat at high speed until mixture becomes soft and creamy.  Top warm cinnamon rolls with 2 Tbsp. icing each.  Serve remaining icing in small bowl in case people want extra! 

Stuffed Baby Bellas (printable recipe)
1 lb. baby portabella mushrooms
1 lb. breakfast sausage
1/2 pkg. (4 oz.) cream cheese
2 tsp. chopped parsley
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 c parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 c panko bread crumbs

Clean mushrooms with a damp cloth and remove stems.  Chop stems into a fine dice and reserve.  Cook breakfast sausage until barely pink, then add reserved mushroom stems and continue cooking until sausage is fully cooked and mushrooms have released a majority of their liquid.  Transfer sausage mixture to a bowl and add cream cheese, parsley, garlic, onion, and cheese.  Mix ingredients until well combined, then add salt and pepper to taste.  Toast bread crumbs in the same skillet that you cooked the sausage, until they just begin to turn golden brown.

Fill mushroom caps with a heaping spoonful of sausage mixture so that each cap has a mound of it, then top with toasted breadcrumbs.  Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until  mushrooms are fork tender.

Potato, Bacon & Spinach Frittata (printable recipe)
1 med. red potato, scrubbed clean and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 c Gruyere cheese, shredded
9 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. pepper

Place potato on microwave safe plate, and cook until just shy of done, about 3 minutes.  Meanwhile, begin cooking bacon in skillet set over medium heat.  Cook for about 2 minutes, then add onion and cook another 2 minutes.  Add potato and continue cooking until onion is translucent and potatoes are fully cooked and beginning to brown.  Add spinach, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up pieces and combine ingredients.  Let cool slightly, then add eggs, cheese, and pepper, making sure ingredients are well combined.

Transfer mixture to a lightly greased 8" pie plate.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until eggs are fully cooked.

The Planning:
If this all seems like a lot of work, don't be scared.  It may seem like a lot of steps, but if you read over the recipes, and make yourself a simple schedule, it really won't seem like that much work.  With a little planning, you'll even have time to enjoy a mimosa before your guests arrive!   

Two Days Ahead

One Day Ahead
Prepare Honey Vanilla Yogurt
Prepare Cream Cheese Icing, then store in an air-tight container
Cut up fresh fruit and keep in refrigerator
Measure out dry ingredients for Super-Size Cinnamon Rolls
Shred cheese for frittata and keep in refrigerator

Brunch Day
You'll want to start about 2.5 hours before your guests' scheduled arrival.  This will give you enough time to complete everything, but not enough time for food to get cold.

Start by mixing up the dough for the Super-Size Cinnamon Rolls, so it has time to rise.  While the dough rises, you can prepare the mushroom and frittata ingredients.  About a 1.5 hours ahead of time, bake the mushrooms.  When they are done, cover them with foil and place on the stove top, since the oven will be warm while you bake the cinnamon rolls and frittata.

While the mushrooms bake, you can put together the cinnamon rolls so that when the mushrooms come out of the oven, the cinnamon rolls go in.

While the cinnamon rolls bake, put together the frittata.  When the cinnamon rolls come out, frittata goes in.  While the frittata bakes, frost cinnamon rolls.

Put out plates, glasses, serving pieces, etc., do a little clean up (may require hiding some items in the dishwasher for the time-being), and make yourself a mimosa for a job well done!

Just as your guests arrive, pull the frittata out of the oven and voila...brunch is served!

1 comment:

  1. My fav was the cinnamon rolls! I couldn't eat the rest of the day b/c I was so full but that's a good problem to have ;) nom nom nom!!!!!