Crave: A wintry brunch menu
photo by: Azurita via Mother Earth News
This festive brunch menu is as colorful as it is flavorful, and it makes great use of seasonal ingredients.
Winter greens, bell peppers, onions, pumpkin, cranberries and more provide sweet and savory flavors, guaranteed to please friends and family.
While hosting a brunch can be stressful and overwhelming, this menu allows for some of the items to be prepared in advance, making things a little less hectic for the hostess.
This tangy twist on a popular brunch beverage takes advantage of the season’s citrus bounty. If you’re unable to find tangerine juice, or you just don’t care for it, use blood orange or ruby red grapefruit juice instead. In addition, if you prefer a nonalcoholic version, simply substitute ginger ale for the champagne. Be sure your juice and champagne or ginger ale are thoroughly chilled for the best flavor.
1⁄2 gallon tangerine juice
2 bottles sparkling champagne
Half slices of tangerine, for garnish, optional
1. Fill flutes or wine glasses half full with tangerine juice. Pour in equal amounts of champagne.
2. Garnish each glass with one or two tangerine slices, if desired, and serve immediately.
Egg and Cheddar Cheese Puff
Red, orange or yellow bell peppers, along with an assortment of early winter greens make this dish colorful, savory and delicious. Use whatever fresh greens you have left in the garden, or whatever looks best at your local grocery store. Chard, kale, spinach, beet and dandelion, or a combination, work well. Yields 6 to 8 servings.
6 large slices whole-wheat bread, toasted, rubbed with garlic, and cut into large bite-size cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 red, orange or yellow bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips
1 to 2 bunches of greens, stemmed, washed, dried, and cut crosswise into shreds (about 3 cups)
5 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 extra-large eggs
3 cups milk
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
1. Generously grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, or spray with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
2. Place bread cubes in a large bowl; set aside.
3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté for about 3 minutes. Stir in bell pepper strips and greens. Cover and cook for another 3 minutes.
4. Stir in garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and continue cooking until greens are wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove skillet from heat, and set aside.
5. Break eggs into a large bowl, and whisk until blended. Generously season with additional salt and pepper. Add milk, thyme, paprika and cayenne, and whisk to blend. Set aside.
6. Add sautéed vegetables to bread cubes, and toss to combine.
7. Turn bread mixture into prepared baking dish, and top with 1 1⁄3 cups cheese. Pour egg mixture over the top, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
8. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or let stand at cool room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes. If refrigerated, remove from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to baking.
9. Preheat oven to 350 F.
10. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until eggs are set and top is golden brown. Serve hot.
Seasonal Fruit Salad
The lemon juice will keep the fruit from discoloring, so you can prepare the salad in advance. Yields 8 to 10 servings.
1 jar (8 to 10 ounces) orange marmalade or apricot preserves
1 tablespoon orange juice or water
2 navel oranges, blood oranges, tangelos, tangerines or clementines, peeled, divided into sections, and cut in half crosswise
1 large red apple, cored, quartered and sliced thin
1 large yellow apple, cored, quartered and sliced thin
2 large pears, cored, quartered and sliced thin
1 cup red grapes
1 cup green grapes
Zest of 1 small lemon
1. Melt marmalade in a saucepan over low heat. Pour through a strainer, and measure 1⁄2 cup into a bowl. Add orange juice, and stir to blend. Save remaining marmalade for another use.
2. In a large bowl, toss together oranges, apples, pears, grapes, marmalade mixture and lemon zest.
3. Serve at room temperature.