We started our Great Minds Eat Alike series this fall in order to mix up the usual BGSK offerings with interviews and submissions by cooks and eaters whose mentality towards cooking and eating meshes with ours. Today we bring you a fabulous menu from Adelaide Mueller, our recipe tester for In the Small Kitchen. Adelaide is a fellow quarter-life cook and blogger who believes that solid recipes make for delicious food. Meals that are garnished and presented with out of the ordinary embellishments can inspire and comfort both the tummy and spirit. Professionally, Adelaide works in a separate field, but she frequently fits cooking and easy entertaining into after-work hours and weekends. She is trained in French cuisine and tests recipes for blogs and cookbooks.
And today, just in time for that New Year’s Day brunch you’re probably hosting, her quarter-life entertaining tips on hosting brunch at home. –Cara and Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS
Brunch is an excellent meal for entertaining. Not only do you have the rest of the day ahead of you, but you’re not facing a sinkful of dirty dishes at 11:00 p.m. (or 2:00 a.m.), as you might be after a dinner party.
However, there are a couple of crucial tips to making a brunch at home a success. I tend to either spend the entire day cooking and am exhausted when the guests arrive or I’m racing around until the doorbell rings and answer flustered and unprepared. A little leeway is allowed – if you’re hosting at home, there should be some allowances. But as I’ve learned, there are steps to make preparing, cooking and serving the whole meal easier and more pleasant for yourself… and your guests!
Balance. When I go out for brunch, I always like to indulge. I’ll often order an omelet, but will substitute egg whites. Or alongside a runny, poached egg (with the requisite Hollandaise sauce), I’ll have whole-wheat toast. Or fruit salad with French toast. It’s all about the balance of finding something healthy to pair with a heavier dish that’s more of a treat. On the flip side, why go out to eat (or host a brunch) if you’re only going to serve or order nutritious faire? There should be something exciting available – a rarity that you don’t eat everyday. And of course, healthy options alongside to satisfy one’s conscience.
I like to serve Irish Hot Chocolate, which is over-the-top. Chopped white chocolate is sprinkled on top of the chocolate whipped cream. A generous splash of Bailey’s Irish Cream seasons the already-spiced hot chocolate. Irish Hot Chocolate is brunch’s bad boy.
I apply this same practice to my Raspberry Baked Oatmeal with Lemon Curd Cream. It sounds luxurious, but in reality, the dish is actually fairly healthy (and easy to prepare). Lemon curd gets folded into Greek Yogurt, resulting in a light and creamy texture, almost like crème fraiche. And the baked oatmeal, while it has the texture of a fruit crisp or even a custardy French toast, is still good-for-you and stick-to-your-ribs oatmeal – just dressed up for company.
Booze. Guests expect booze for brunch. It’s part of the fun. You can mix up an elaborate specialty cocktail or pitcher of Bloody Mary mix. But why not just use what’s on hand? Take the leftover just-squeezed grapefruit and orange juice from the Sunshine Citrus and Pomegranate Salad. Spike the juice with some sparkling wine or vodka – fresh and quick Bellini’s or Screwdrivers if the Irish Hot Chocolate isn’t enough.
Stay in bed longer! Or use the time before your guests arrive to tidy up your home and savor a much-needed cup of coffee. There’s no need to race around the kitchen in the morning or run to the store, completely unnerving yourself and consequentially your guests. Use the evening or afternoon before to fully prep the meal. Save yourself the stress of last minute cooking and spend some time on the meal in advance so that you’re relaxed for a stress-free brunch.
Hit the Bakery. There’s no need to go to all lengths – your guests be impressed that 1) you even offered to host brunch and 2) that you can make a delicious meal so effortlessly (remember, they won’t see you sweat). If you find the need to fill out the brunch menu a bit more, or you have more visitors than anticipated, head to a nearby bakery for quick influx of supplies. Fresh cinnamon rolls, bread for toast and muffins are ideal additions.
Bask. Bask in the afterglow of your successful brunch! Special, but not extraordinary, effort has been made. Going forward, try out some egg dishes – maybe a breakfast burrito bar or Egg McMuffins with Basil-Parsley Pesto. Just remember, you’re hosting your friends or family, people who will forgive you if mistakes are made and brunch is late getting to the table. The point is to relax, enjoy and most importantly, eat!
–Adelaide Mueller, BGSK CONTRIBUTOR
Prep Notes: The Raspberry Baked Oatmeal can be made in advance, cooled and then covered and placed in the fridge overnight. Simply reheat the dish in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes before your guests arrive. The Lemon Curd Cream can also be whisked together in advance. Just cover the bowl, place it in the fridge and bring it to room temperature the morning of the brunch.
The grapefruit and orange segments can be prepped beforehand and stored in the fridge overnight – just add the remaining ingredients right before serving. The Lime Syrup can also be made days in advance. Simply cool the syrup and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Mix the cocoa powder, sugar and spices in advance for the Irish Hot Chocolate. Cover the dry ingredients securely for use when needed. Make the Chocolate Whipped Cream the night before – and again, cover the bowl and place it in the fridge until use. Chop the white chocolate ahead of time too.
Raspberry Baked Oatmeal with Lemon Curd Cream
This recipe originally comes from my grandmother. I adore the nutty taste of the oats and the almost-sticky texture of the dish. It’s the perfect brunch item as it can be made ahead of time. To make this dish a bit more elegant, I add Lemon Curd Cream, but you can always substitute plain yogurt for the topping.
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
3 cups old-fashioned oats
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoons light brown sugar
10 oz. frozen raspberries
Lemon Curd Cream (recipe follows)
1 pint blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish (or any comparable sized baking dish).
Whisk together the oil, eggs and sugar until combined. In a separate bowl, combine the oats, baking powder and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until incorporated. Stir in the whole milk.
Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish. Sprinkle the surface evenly with the brown sugar and top with the frozen raspberries.
Bake for 45 minutes until the top is dry but the baked oatmeal is still moist.
Top each generous serving with a dollop of the Lemon Curd Cream and a handful of blueberries.
Lemon Curd Cream
12 oz. Greek yogurt
1/3 cup lemon curd
Whisk together the Greek yogurt and lemon curd – it will begin to resemble crème fraiche.
Irish Hot Chocolate
Makes 4 mugs
This a hot chocolate for chocoholics and those who like a little something extra in their hot drink… The chopped white chocolate adds a whole other level of goodness (or badness).
4 cups whole milk
¼ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Chocolate Whipped Cream (recipe follows)
2 ounces white chocolate bar, chopped (I prefer Toblerone)
In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk, Bailey’s and vanilla extract.
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl until combined. Whisk into the milk until there are no more visible lumps.
Allow the hot chocolate to simmer, but not boil, for 5 minutes.
Ladle hot chocolate into each mug, stopping when the hot chocolate has reached ¾ of the way up the sides of the mug. Generously spoon the Chocolate Whipped Cream into each mug. Top with the chopped white chocolate and serve immediately.
Chocolate Whipped Cream
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
Use a hand-held mixer (or a whisk) to whisk the heavy cream, cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar. Whisk until the cream has stiff peaks, about 2 – 3 minutes. Set aside until ready to use. This can be made in advance.
Sunshine Citrus and Pomegranate Salad with Lime Syrup
This salad is bright in both color and flavor. It is a satisfying pairing with a heavier brunch item. The combination of citrus, blackberries and pomegranate seeds is dramatic – this is not your average deli fruit salad. The toasted slivered almonds give this salad an extra crunch.
3 ruby red grapefruits
3 navel oranges
1 pint (6 oz) blackberries
2 oz pomegranate seeds
¼ cup fresh mint, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
Lime Syrup (recipe follows)
Slice off the top and bottom of each grapefruit and navel orange so that the pith and rind are removed and the flesh is showing. Take the first grapefruit and sit it vertically and flat on the cutting board. Use a knife to remove the rind and pith in pieces from top to bottom. Use a paring knife to trim off any extra pith. Repeat with each grapefruit and orange. Discard the peels and pith.
Hold the grapefruit in your hand over a large bowl. Use a paring knife to cut between each membrane (you’ll see the light white lines) and slice each segment so that piece of fruit falls into the bowl. Use a second bowl to hold the used grapefruit once you’ve finished removing the membranes. Repeat with each grapefruit and orange so that you have a bowl of colorful fruit.
Squeeze all of the remaining fruit into the second bowl. Reserve the juice for later use and discard the squeezed fruit. Drain any extra juice from the bowl of fruit segments to the juice bowl.
Gently fold in the blackberries, pomegranate seeds and fresh mint to the grapefruit and orange segments. Pour in the Lime Syrup and mix so that the fruit is evenly coated. There will be some extra juice in the bottom of the bowl.
Serve spoonfuls of the salad topped with extra mint and slivered almonds.
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
Zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon lime juice
While you’ve removed the membranes, heat a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Add the sugar, water, zest and lime juice. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has reduced, about 7 minutes. Agitate the pan several times throughout so that the sugar doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Once complete, remove the syrup from the heat and allow to cool.