Cooking For Others: A Tale of Two Brinners

EVENT: Token of Appreciation “Brinner”

VENUE: Phoebe’s Apartment, Flatiron
PARTY SIZE: 3
TYPE: Weeknight Comfort Food – i.e. Breakfast for Dinner
MENU: Asparagus, Scallion, and Fontina Frittata; Arugula Salad with Roasted Garlic and Honey Vinaigrette; Honey Walnut Sticky Buns (by Cara, recipe to come)

At the launch party, Cara’s friend Marc told us that his one complaint about the blog was that there wasn’t enough breakfast food. His concerns were understandable. The concept of brunch is very much a New York institution, but one that somehow jibes with BGSK’s cooking-at-home philosophy. Like the infamous Sex and the City foursome, brunch for me is the ritual of meeting old friends at a tried and true venue, preferably one that serves a mean huevos rancheros or egg and cheese. On weekend afternoons, I pull myself out of bed, barely even consider the fact that I have a kitchen and leftovers to reappropriate, and treat myself to a Bloody Mary and some rich, eggy concoction before aimlessly wandering the farmers’ market.

Despite the fact that I rarely eat it at home, and I never fix myself breakfast during the week, brunch fare accounts for some of my all-time favorite dishes—meals I would be happy to eat year round, and at any time of day. So it’s no surprise that many of the dishes I make for myself for dinner during the week involve eggs, savory pancakes, and, when I’m feeling really lazy and indulgent, cereal. Though I rarely feed these meals to company, I’ve discovered that others, Cara included, are more than happy to eat breakfast for dinner.

A few weeks ago, my friend Keenan made lots of us do just that, taking over the small kitchen of our friends, Jamie, Adam, and Dave, for a “Brinner” party of epic proportion. With the help of two fabulous sous-chefs, the girls boiled potatoes and sautéed French toast, bacon, and fruit compote stove-top, while the boys looked on (occasionally) from the adjacent living room where March Madness was under way. As the hours went by, plates full of different breakfast classics multiplied, and as dirty dishes began to layer the counter tops, I could see the boys’ eyes grow wider. By 10:30pm, the amazing spread was ready—French toast, bacon, hash browns, and a vegetable scramble—and every pot and pan in the cabinets had been piled up in the sink, but the boys were too hungry to be horrified by the clean-up that would inevitably be required.

round one: hash browns, French toast, fruit compote

Keenan’s breakfast feast was not only delicious but an incredible mid-week feat, and the fun we had made the clean-up that much more conceivable. Having found a fellow Brinner lover, Cara and I invited Keenan over a few weeks later for a second themed meal to thank her for helping us with a quarter-life cook photo shoot. For this occasion, I did things my way, simplifying the menu by serving a savory frittata which required only 30 minutes of prep work and cook time, and leaving the breakfast sweets to Cara, who brought honey-walnut sticky buns for dessert. The meal may not have been as full and fabulous as Keenan’s original ode to the theme, but in my small kitchen, well, it just seemed to fit.

From my kitchen, where brinner is served, to yours,

Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK

**Recipes**

Springy Frittata with Asparagus, Scallion, and Fontina
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

6 large eggs
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 scallions, green and white parts, chopped
½ cup grated fontina
¼ cup grated parmesan (optional)
1 tsp salt
garlic (see below)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

NOTE: if you are trying to save time while prepping the other ingredients, you can roast the asparagus whole on a sheet pan in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until they start to brown. Cut into 1 inch pieces, and add to the pan before the eggs.

In a large oven-proof skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. In a corner of the pan where the oil is collecting, gently fry a couple cloves of garlic (if you are making the dressing, use six) until golden brown and soft, about 5 minutes. Reserve garlic for another use, or add to the dressing below.

Return the heat to medium-high, and stir-fry the asparagus, adding any additional oil as necessary. Sautee until asparagus is tender and begins to brown, about 5-10 minutes. Add the scallions and cook for an additional few minutes.

In the meantime, beat the eggs together with the parmesan and salt in a medium bowl. Once asparagus and scallions have fully sautéed, add the egg to the pan. Let stand for a minute. Once the bottom has begun to set, gently lift one corner with a spatula and tilt the pan to distribute some of the raw top layer to the hot surface of the pan. Repeat on additional sides until most of the raw egg has been redistributed.

Transfer pan to the oven and cook for 7 or so minutes. During this time the frittata may puff up and double in size. It will deflate slightly and set once you serve. When frittata is nearly cooked through and is beginning to brown, turn the heat up to 500 degrees. Remove the pan from oven, sprinkle the top evenly with the fontina, and return for 2-3 minutes. There should be a nice brown cheesy crust on the top.

NOTE: do not be alarmed if your frittata balloons like the above. It will deflate once the egg is fully cooked, crispy, and ready to serve.

Cut frittata into four sections and top with a bed of simple salad. The peppery arugala and sweet honey-garlic mixture makes an excellent pairing.

Arugula Salad with Roasted Garlic Honey Vinaigrette
Makes 3-4 servings
Ingredients

5oz baby arugala
½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
6 cloves garlic, pan-roasted (see above)
½ tbsp honey
1 tbsp white vinegar
½ tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup olive oil
¼ tsp salt (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Toss together with the arugala and tomatoes. Serve atop a healthy slice of frittata.

Keenan, sippin’ a well deserved post-brinner cocktail
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