Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Two Dozen Egg Brunch

With an excess of eggs in the refrigerator, my daughter coming home for the weekend to celebrate her birthday, and a new cookbook in the kitchen, I naturally thought of a brunch celebration. I love brunch because I'm not an early morning eater. Toast is usually how I ease my stomach in to the day. However, since I am not a three large meal a day person, a couple hours after toast I'm usually ready to take on some protein. 
This cookbook was recommended on one of the chicken blogs I read (Doesn't everyone have a backyard chicken blog or two in their bookmarks?) As well as recipes, it presents an informative, basic guide to raising your own chickens, and has some pertinent information on eggs - color, sizes, handling, storing, freezing (yes freezing!), the making of (curious now aren't you), and freshness. The majority of the book contains recipes though, from omelets, to souffles, to salads, to tarts, to breads and popovers. 

I wanted to come up with a simple yet elegant brunch that used as many eggs as possible. I think I succeeded. When all was said and done I used 24. (Ok, I dropped one. I added that one to the count anyway)

When I saw the french toast recipe with homemade Challah Bread, I knew that's what I wanted to start with. Challah bread is an egg based, sweet-ish, light delicious bread. And after this weekend, I can verify it makes excellent french toast. On a side note, it always baffles me when I come across a cookbook where part of the recipe is missing. I read through this recipe multiple times and a few of the ingredients, including eggs! that were listed in the ingredients were not listed in the instructions. I'm thinking a beginning baker would be pretty much set up for failure when they got to the instruction section and it didn't have the proper instructions to go with the ingredients. Don't books have to be edited before going to press? Especially recipe books?? Ah well.

Trying to think of something that would compliment the french toast, and would be light, savory and healthy, my brother offered this suggestion with picture and recipe, and I thought it would be perfect. Individual twice baked goat cheese souffles nestled in a bed of greens with apples and nuts topped with a light vinaigrette. I don't make a lot of souffles, but am notorious for testing out recipes at parties - whether family or friends (not always a wise thing to do). It took a bit of work. The only complaint I had was the ingredients were written with European measurements. As I have been measuring ingredients more and more lately on my kitchen scale (which has grams), it only added a bit more time to the process. I prepared the sauce first using butter, flour, milk, Parmesan, mustard, and fresh thyme. Then added egg yolks and goat cheese, and finally folded in beaten egg whites. The souffles were baked in individual ramekins in a bain marie (water bath), and then taken out of their molds, turned over, drizzled with Parmesan glaze and broiled until the tops turned golden. It got a bit tricky at crunch time trying to coordinate the french toast and souffles, and all the last minute details (my husband is an excellent sous chef and dishwasher though. Saves me.) At one point I had a flash back to a Thanksgiving where the sweet potato casserole with marshmallows was left under the broiler too long with disastrous results. Luckily, no seriously - luckily - my souffles did not succumb to the same fate. They ended up being satisfyingly light - in texture and flavor and were improved by the salad, french toast and champagne cocktails.

For dessert I made a chocolate tart from the cookbook with a creme anglaise (both full of eggs!), which I thought was just ok. Although over the next two days the tart tasted better and better. 

Setting a special table I think, is part of creating a special meal. It doesn't always have to be fancy, but I always try to come up with some sort of theme. My daughter's birthday being in April is always easy, because Spring is a fun theme to work with. 

Speaking of spring, here's a look back at last year when we bought our last clutch of baby chicks. As I carefully tended and raised them, I thought ahead to fresh eggs and spring brunches. I love it when dreams come true. Even baby ones.

p.s. Here are some songs I've been listening to lately, because, you know, music motivates and inspires me...these are light and spring-like - well, maybe not in message, but in sound....
I Lived   ....I have never broken a bone in my life. hmm.......
Wrong Direction...because you can't go wrong with a quirky British guy
I'll Try ...because I'm a sap. By the way, check out this version of Peter Pan if you're not privy because, it has Jason Issacs as Captain Hook, an adorable young Jeremy Sumpter as Peter, is a quality version, and c'mon, it's Disney, it's a classic tale of never growing up, being free, learning life lessons, and ...pixie dust. 

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