Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Just in Time

I don't think this post could come at a better time. For those of you scouring food blogs and the internet for a few amazing recipes for mothers day, you'd be crazy not to choose at least one from this laundry list of brunch delectables.

The members in our cooking club have been itching to do brunch, I believe since one of our first dinners. We agreed to hold off until Spring not only so we could enjoy it on a (fingers-crossed) blossom sweet and sunny morning, but also so that as cooks we could relish in the seasons incredible new bounty of fresh produce. We were blessed with a picture perfect May morning, lots of sunshine, a slight breeze, the smell of flowers and fresh cut grass lingering in the air, and the best ingredients and dishes a die-hard 'foodie' could dream of. In the background soft french music played as five excited girls prepared in the kitchen and sat around the dining table drinking one too many tall glasses of citrus laden champagne. It was utter perfection.

We started the meal with a tall, cool glass of champagne. Our newest member Laurel (who was incredibly lovely) went all out. When one sets out to pair champagne with fresh squeezed juice the natural option seems to be orange or grapefruit. Laurel took it a step further. She squeezed one dozen lemons, two minneolas and one grapefruit, all by hand. She made a simple syrup to only lightly sweeten the citrus juice. . . but I knew she was a keeper when out of from this little tupperware she pulled a variety of curled candied zests. Using our brunch as an excuse she sought out and purchased the tool that makes the perfect zest curls, boiled them in simple syrup, rolled them in sugar, and baked them. All to dress up the champagne glasses and for our enjoyment. . . she took something that can be fairly plain, and made it extraordinary. All five of us enjoyed quite a few glasses which lulled us into into a sweet champagne coma as we eagerly awaited the meal to come.

Rachelle started the brunch off with a super fresh fruit salad. When I arrived in her apartment, which is on the top floor of a gorgeous early 1900's brick building, there she was, in the kitchen delicately slicing a wide variety of fruits. Not only was this salad chocked full of pineapple, orange sections, kiwi, bananas, starfruit and grapes. . . she layered it in a trifle dish so that it looked like a fruity rainbow of green, yellow and orange. Just like Laurels champagne Rachelle didn't stop with a traditional fruit salad. Alongside it she served ramekins of lime sugar (that she had ground with a mortar and pestle and baked in the oven to crisp the mixture) and vanilla bean simple syrup. It was an unexpected toppings bar that added both interesting flavor and an incredible crunchy texture to the salad. For Rachelle's recipe, head on over to Use the Good China , where she'll give you the full lowdown on brunch as well as her dishes.

After salad it was time for les pommes de terre, or the potatoes. Laura had toted along a giant turquoise Creuset iron frying pan, filled to the brim with Potatoes Anna, a dish I'd never actually heard of, with her. The little pan waited patiently in Rachelles warm oven, filling the apartment with a rich buttery smell while we all made last minute preparations to our meal. The dish seems quite simple really, it's essentially baby red potatoes and sweet potatoes layered with leeks and plenty of butter. Laura chose not to use cow butter, instead she opted for goat, which really took the dish to a whole new level. The goat butter imparted the slightest musky flavor that goats milk seems to have (in my opinion), something until recently I wasn't very fond of. I don't think this dish would've been as good without the goat butter, truly, it almost added a mystery to the dish. An unexpected tastebud surprise. Alongside the potatoes she served a heaping bowl of creme fraiche speckled with fresh chive. The whole dish just 'worked', it seemed so effortless and delicate yet complex in flavor. It was such a treat! While I didn't get Laura's recipe, I have found one at epicurious that you might want to check out, it's a bit different, but the technique is the same (keep the goat butter in mind, as well as throwing in some caramelized leeks, seriously).

Onto the award for, hands down, the most creative, colorful and palate popping dish. Oven roasted asparagus with fresh garlic and thyme. . . and (drumroll please) deep fried dandelion blossoms! I don't even know that I have the words to properly describe the latter to you. If you're looking for a recipe that's simple, cheap, and is going to surprise your guests, this is it. I have a veritable organic dandelion farm currently growing in the backyard (thanks to a broken lawn mower), and I'm guessing you likely won't have a hard time tracking down a bucket full of dandelion blossoms this Spring yourself. To make this dish, you simply need to pick fully bloomed yellow dandelion blossoms, clean them thoroughly, dip them in your favorite fry batter, and then into a deep pan of hot oil. Viola! The result, a sweet, gorgeous little golden brown blossom, as easy to pop into your mouth as a french fry (but I must say, much cooler)! Alexis served her incredible dish on a cake plate dressed with fresh lavender and dandelion blossoms. I'm still shaking my head in wonderment over this dish as I sit here and write. . . amazing!

We started the brunch around 11 o' clock and by the time 1 something rolled around we were ready for my dish. I had spent a great deal of my morning whisking little pads of cold butter into warm egg yolk and lemon. I wanted the hollandaise sauce to be silky perfection. All of the other components I held off on until we were ready for the eggs benedict. The savory waffle should be made right before consumption, they're best eaten piping hot. Partially because the batter is speckled with pecorino or parmesan cheese and it's best to get bits of that sharp cheese while it's still warm in your mouth. I was lucky enough to stumble across a carton full of farm fresh eggs, which were gorgeous shades of brown, cream and green. The thing about poaching fresh eggs is that the whites don't 'run', they are very solid and sit in place perfectly while they poach. I like to tuck a healthy scoop of fresh avocado, lightly salted, between the egg and the waffle. After generously pouring the fresh hollandaise over the the tower of waffle, avocado and egg, I usually serve it with a sprinkle of fresh king crab. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any good crab (I'm really picky about my seafood, I won't purchase anything unless it's the best). I make this dish for my mom every mothers day morning and serve it alongside brown sugar/cayenne bacon and slow roasted baby red potatoes. You simply can't go wrong with eggs benedict, and served on top of (an easy) savory waffle with homemade hollandaise? It doesn't get much better than that when it comes to breakfast if you ask me.

Recipe: Savory Waffle

1-3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup finely grated cheese (parmesan, pecirino etc.)
3 scallions finely chopped
2 Tbs. fresh rosemary, minced
1-3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1- 1/3 cup whole milk
2 eggs
3 Tbs. melted butter
2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2. In a smaller bowl lightly blend milk, eggs, butter and mustard.
3. Add the blended liquid to the dry ingredients and whisk until incorporated
4. Pour into a preheated belgian waffle iron and allow to cook until golden brown 3-5 minutes

Note: If you have leftover waffles sandwich a thick slice of gruyere and ham on top of or between two and broil for an incredible ham and cheese 'sandwich'

Recipe: Hollandaise (Courtesy of Alton Brown)


3 egg yolks
1 teapsoon water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1. Pour 1-inch of water into a large saucepan; over medium heat, bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat to low.
2. Place egg yolks and 1 teaspoon water in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until mixture lightens in color, approximately 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Add the sugar and whisk for another 30 seconds.
4. Place the mixture over the simmering water and whisk constantly for 3 to 5 minutes, or until there is a clear line that is drawn in the mixture when you pull your whisk through, or the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
5. Remove the bowl from over the pan and gradually add the butter, 1 piece at a time, and whisk until all of the butter is incorporated.
6. Place the bowl back over the simmering water occasionally so that it will be warm enough the melt the butter.
7. Add the salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper. Serve immediately or hold in a thermos to keep warm.

Note: I used twice the lemon juice and sweet hungarian paprika instead of cayenne.

Recipe: Perfectly Poached Eggs

6 eggs
deep large skillet with lid
1 Tablespoon vinegar (white, cider, red wine etc.)


1. Crack eggs and place in heat proof cups or small ramekins
2. Fill skillet with ONLY three inches of water (in depth).
3. Bring water to a boil
4. When water is at a rolling boil add vinegar
5. One at a time, quickly add the eggs, a few inches apart
6. Place lid on the skillet, turn off the heat, and allow to sit covered for three minutes (for easy-medium yolk as pictured)
7. Remove from water with slotted spoon, place on sheet with paper towels to drain excess water, serve while hot.

To end our incredible meal Rachelle made strawberry filled scones, which were so delicious I've been craving one everyday since Sunday. The recipe for these scones are from Olive Juice Co. and feature both regular flour and cake flour, as well as a healthy serving of half and half, and a lot of fruit (although, each of us agreed more strawberries would've been even better, I would've wanted at least one strawberry bit in every bite) and that's just the dough. Each scone was drizzled with a milky sugar glaze, that as you can probably see just by looking at the picture, was incredibly heavenly. Since the girls had enjoyed so much champagne Rachelle served the scones with a giant pot of strong black tea laden with rose petals. It was the perfect ending to a mind-blowing brunch. I don't think you could go to any restaurant and get such a creative, spring inspired, delicious meal. Thanks ladies, you are each truly culinary gems and I so enjoyed our brunch together!

Recipe: Strawberry Filled Scones From Olive Juice & Co.

makes 24


4 cups flour

4 cups cake flour

1 cup sugar

2 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 lb. cold butter
Choice of fruits:

2-4 cups blueberries + zest of 2 lemons (4 C. = fruit doubled...)

2-4 cups blackberries + zest of 2 lemons ( " " )

2-4 cups chopped strawberries + zest of 2 oranges ( " " )
1/2 - 1 quart half & half (depending how juicy the fruits are that you're using)

In a bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and then cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter. Add the fruits. Stir in enough half & half to just make a moist dough. It should be moistened, but not sticky. With an ice cream scoop, scoop out dough 2" (or shape dough into four even disks and cut each disk into six yielding 24 scones) apart on parchment lined baking pans. Bake in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Top with glaze.


3 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup milk or half & half

a bit of vanilla & almond extract


Rachelle said...

Love this post! I really like the way a lot of your photos turned out, especially the champagne glass and the cake stand shot with the asparagus. Lovely!

I'm dreaming about your savory waffle benedict...