Sunday, May 3, 2009

Savory or Sweet? This Weekend’s Brunch

originally posted at ChefsLine 12 Feb 2009

We’re lucky to have all weekend to plan a special surprise homemade meal for our lovers. As with every brunch decision - to be sweet or savory is the question. One solution is to go for both! And this weekend bonus chops go for serving the meal in bed. What follows are two of my favorite brunch dishes - each easy enough to prepare and enjoy in one sitting. You can even (secretly) plan ahead and make the Blueberry Compote and Maple Whipped Cream the night before.

· Crusty French Toast with Blueberry Compote and Maple Whipped Cream
· Savory “Polenta” Oatmeal with Peppered Bacon and an Egg

Crusty French Toast
This recipe is similar to standard French toast, but instead of dipping the bread into the egg mixture, you lightly spoon it onto each side, so that some of the edges are crunchy and the center doesn’t absord too much liquid.

2 eggs
1 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
4 slices artisan bread, brioche, or croissants - about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick
2 tbsp. unsalted butter - cut in half

Heat oven to 200 degrees. In a pie plate, whip together eggs, milk, cinnamon, and salt. Place two slices of bread egg mixture and soak for 30 seconds. Spoon the egg mixture onto one side, spreading it around with the back of the spoon. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add butter and swirl to coat and avoid burning. Place bread, soaked side down in skillet and cook about 2 - 3 minutes. Spoon the egg mixture onto the other side of the bread before turning (after bread turns golden) Place cooked toast on a plate and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining toast.

Blueberry Compote
This a quick and easy feature for brunch featuring a blueberry compote you can make the night before served over French toast. Note, a slightly sweet and open crumb bread such as brioche or Challah work best. Serves 2.

2 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, unthawed
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed

Combine 1 1/2 cups blueberries, sugar, water, and coriander in heavy small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until berries burst, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup berries. Cook until compote coats spoon, stirring often, about 3 minutes. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.) Serve warm.

Maple Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
4 tsp maple syrup (use the real thing)

Chill a bowl and beaters in the refrigerator for at least an hour (this encourages the whipping process). Add cream to bowl and whip to soft peaks. While still beating, gradually add maple syrup and beat to stiff peaks. Store in bowl with plastic wrap on top to store overnight and whip briefly before serving.

Savory Polenta-Style Oatmeal
4-5 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmagiana Reggiano
1 Tablespoon chopped sweet basil or other fresh herb.

Boil 4 cups of the broth in a medium saucepan. Add the oatmeal. Reduce heat and simmer gently for a bout 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oats are tender, soft and creamy. Add more broth if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese and basil, and ladle into bowls. Serve with peppered bacon and a fried egg (sunny side up) on top.

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