Wednesday, August 6, 2014

brunch brunch brunch (brunch!)

brunch! brunch! brunch! the best meal of any day. breakfast is so exhausting to prepare ya know? so you might as well make it a double meal and eat for several hours straight and then collapse into the hammock and sleep it off. because brunch is tiring, even when it's this simple.

gigi: wow you guys, check out that leaf
ana: why is that leaf giving me the side-eye

my birthday was a week ago, so on sunday i hosted a brunch for some friends. the menu was simple: broccolini frittata, popovers, sautéed peppers/onions/chorizo, and an all-red fruit salad (i was feeling very monochromatic). the meal was served with iced tea with orange slices and lemon verbena, hence the random leaves in our cups.

chopped broccolini ft. fruit salad ingredients in the background.

in all honesty, the fruit salad was inspired by a buzzfeed list i read a while ago that suggested using fruit of all of the same color to make, ironically, a more interesting fruit salad. this one was the ultimate in red-toned summer simplicity: cherries, strawberries, watermelon and raspberries.

to cut the cherries, my mom used a technique she recently picked up. she was so excited when she found out about it - you sandwich the pitted cherries between two jar lids and cut in between the lids with a serrated knife to easily cut the cherries. it works really well for grapes and cherry tomatoes, too. she was pretty pumped until i told her that this same technique had been all over the internet for ages. duh, mom. get with it! 

regardless, it worked really well for us. i thought i'd share it with everyone in case, like my mom, you've been stuck cutting grapes the old-fashioned way. (just kidding - we usually use kitchen scissors instead of a knife. honestly, i still think that's the fastest + easiest method).

we're clearly advanced at strawberry slicing as well. here, we used an egg slicer. i've been doing this my whole life and so i had no idea that these little contraptions were meant for hard-boiled eggs, not strawberries. oh well! live and learn! it works great for both (and for other soft objects of a similar size (none are coming to mind right now)).


popovers, like speedily-sliced strawberries, are another food that i grew up eating and didn't realize that other people have never tried them. they're so quick and delicious that we used to make them after church all the time. recipe at the bottom!

i served the popovers with honey butter and my friend julia's homemade jam. the butter was really easy: i set out salted plugrá butter an hour before so it would soften, and then mashed it with honey. this butter was so good that i came into the kitchen later and found my cat greedily eating it on the kitchen counter. pretty unfortunate that i had nothing to put on my toast, but at least everyone got to try it.

julia's jam packed a concentrated strawberry punch that was great with the mild and eggy popovers. she's in florida, so she couldn't make it to brunch, but we ate the jam in her honor.

i used smitten kitchen's frittata recipe with just one exception: instead of adding the cheese into the egg mixture, i just sprinkled the 1/2 cup on top. i liked it so much that an hour later, i courageously stood up from where i was languishing on the couch to nab the last slice before my mom could. great stuff. egg + cheese + veggie (for some semblance of health) can never really go wrong.

we can all agree that broccolini is the weird, skinny cousin of the broccoli world, right? definitely tastier than normal broccoli but also definitely weirder looking. if nothing else, its an incredible lesson in not judging a vegetable by its florets.



adapted from melissa d'arabian
note: i used a popover pan, but the recipe should work well with a normal muffin pan as well

2 tablespoons melted butter, + a little extra for greasing the pan
2 eggs
1 cup lukewarm milk (use the microwave for about 30 seconds)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt

preheat the oven to 400°f and grease your pan. 

blend the eggs in a blender or food processor until fully mixed and a light yellow color. 

add the milk and blend. add flour, salt and 2 tablespoons melted butter and blend until smooth and completely incorporated.

pour into the pan.

bake at 400°f for 15 mins, and then lower the temperature to 350°f for 20 more minutes, until golden brown and very puffy.

try to resist the urge to peek! (i can't resist but i truly believe you can). popovers are like tiny, breakfast-y soufflés: they fall when the cold air hits them.

these are best served extremely hot and fresh, so this is not a time to stop and smell the roses. but also, don't get too stressed out because they are pretty dope served cold as well.


(not really) adapted from smitten kitchen

~9 small potatoes, scrubbed and sliced
1 cup salted water or vegetable broth
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bundle broccolini
1 small red onion, sliced
8 large eggs
1/2 cup cheese of choice (parmesan is particularly great, but it's hard to mess this part up)
salt + pepper to taste

place the sliced potatoes and water/broth into a 12-inch pan (i used cast iron). simmer until the potatoes are soft and the water is almost gone.

add olive oil, broccolini and onion to the pan. sauté on medium heat for about a minute. reduce heat to medium-low and cover the pan. cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, or until the broccolini is tender.

preheat your oven broiler.

break eggs into a bowl and use a fork to beat with salt and pepper. (i know the recipe says to taste, and you can't exactly taste raw egg, but just use your intuition on this one. it will all work out).

pour the egg over the vegetables. cover and cook on medium/medium-low until the eggs are pretty solid. sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and stick it in your oven, right under the broiler. wait about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and your house smells delicious.

let cool before slicing into wedges.

fruit salad:

pitted and sliced cherries (see above for handy instructions)
sliced strawberries (again, see above!)

slice the fruit and add in the above order to prevent smushing of the raspberries. use the proportion and quantity that your heart desires. recipes are so constraining, right?

sprinkle a little sugar on top to draw out the juices and then accidentally eat the whole salad even though you promised yourself you wouldn't because you want leftovers.

chorizo + peppers + onions:

note: i obviously forgot to take pictures of this part of the brunch. luckily, i think it's pretty self-explanatory.

2 sliced white onions
2 sliced bell peppers
4 chorizo sausages sliced into 1/2 inch chunks

again, the proportions and quantity of the above ingredients is up to you.

add the sliced ingredients to a pan with a glug of olive oil and sauté over medium-high heat until the onions are translucent and the peppers are fairly soft.

final parting shot of dumbo, i mean josie, spreading her ears and preparing to fly. puppy + brunch = the dream.

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