Archive for Summer Egg Dishes and Brunch

Brunch Baked Eggs

Here’s another do ahead brunch dish for a stress free host, you can be enjoying your  Blood Orange Mimosa while brunch is baking!  I don’t know about you, but around the holidays when entertaining can get crazy, we need all the do-aheads we can get our hands on. This can be made vegetarian by leaving out the ham.  You can either bake in a 13×9″ pan or make 8 individual servings using ramekins.

DSC_2334 nx2Makes 12 Servings

6 cups shredded cheese, divided in half (a mixture of Monterey Jack, Old Cheddar, Gruyere)
¾ lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
½ medium onion, chopped
¼ cup (approx.) red bell pepper, thinly sliced
¼ cup butter
8 oz. cooked ham, cut into julienne strips
8 beaten eggs
1 ¾ cups homogenized milk (do not use low fat)
1/8 tsp. Tabasco
½ cup unbleached flour
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh chives, basil, tarragon or thyme or a mixture of two herbs
1 Tbsp. finely chopped Italian parsley

Sprinkle 3 cups cheese in the bottom of a well greased or sprayed 13 x 9 x 2” baking dish. In a large frying pan, cook the mushrooms, onion and red pepper in the butter until the vegetables are tender but not brown; drain well. Cool a bit, then place vegetables on top of cheese.

Arrange ham strips on top of vegetables. Sprinkle with the remaining 3 cups of cheese. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

An hour before baking, remove from the fridge. Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, herbs & parsley. Pour the mixture over the ingredients in the baking dish. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Variations:  substitute 3 cups of aged Cheddar for 3 cups of Monterey Jack Cheese.

Blood Orange Mimosa:  freshly squeezed blood orange juice and bubbly wine!  So good!

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Cherry Tomato Tarts

These days at #5 we seem to be eating cherry tomatoes 24/7. I’ve been wanting to make these tarts all summer and finally did! And are we glad I did…they were so good! Whipped up a green salad…dinner! You can easily double the recipe to make 8 servings. The best time to make this is in the summer with outdoor grown cherry tomatoes…I used Sungolds (my desert island tomato) and Sweet 100’s.

Makes 4 (4”) Tarts

For the Tarts:

1 batch pie dough, Version 2,  using 2 cups unbleached flour & 1 cup whole-wheat flour.  Roll the leftover scraps into a ball & freeze to use later.

dsc_3054-nx2Generous 1 ½ cups of yellow & red cherry tomatoes
Scant 1 ½ Tbsp. Kosher salt
1 ½ cups diced onion
3 Tbsp. EVOO + extra for drizzling or brushing the tomatoes
1 ½ Tbsp. Dijon mustard
¾ cup grated Gruyere cheese, not packed down
Freshly ground black pepper

Garnish: 8 Pitted black olives (I used Italian sun-dried, which worked out very well), cut in half.
Fresh basil leaves, rolled up and sliced chiffonade fashion

Make the Tarts:

Roll out the dough approx. 1/8” thick. Using a small plate (like a bread & butter plate), that’s approximately 1” larger than the widest part of the tart pans, cut out circles, using a thin-bladed knife. Fit the pastry into lightly floured tart pans & fold over the excess so that the sides are thicker that the bottoms.  Trim off any excess by rolling the rolling pin across the top of each tart.

Place the pastry-lined tart pans onto a rimmed baking sheet. Prick all over with a fork & chill for at least 1 hour.   You could do this the day before you want to bake the tarts.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Remove the tart shells from the fridge. Cover each with a round of baking parchment & fill with either pie weights or dried beans. Place in the oven & bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until they are lightly coloured. Remove the pie weights & parchment, return to the oven & bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the sides & tops of the crusts are slightly golden. Remove from the oven, place on a cooling rack & cool to room temperature.

In the meantime, cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Place in a colander set over a bowl & sprinkle with the salt. Allow the tomatoes to drain for 1 hour, shaking slightly now and again.

In a frying pan over medium to medium-low heat, cook the onion in 3 Tbsp. EVOO until transparent & soft, stirring often, approximately 5 – 10 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Divide the Dijon mustard between the tart shells & spread on the bottoms with a brush; add the grated cheese & top with the onions. Place the drained tomatoes onto a double thickness of paper towels, to absorb a bit of the excess moisture, then arrange them on top of the onions. Either drizzle or brush the tops of the tomatoes with EVOO &  grind a bit of freshly ground pepper over top.

Place the tarts back onto the rimmed baking sheet & return them to the 400 F oven for 15 – 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden & the cheese is melted.

Remove tarts from the oven & allow them to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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Huevos Rancheros (Mexican Eggs)

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One of our favourite breakfast or brunch plates! For sure, it gets you going! Perhaps for a weekend brunch, with or without guests, maybe a Caesar to kick things off?

Makes Approximately 4 Servings

DSC_6743 nx2 ver 2For the Beans:

1/2 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight
4 Tbsp., approximately, EVOO
1 small onion, chopped fine
½ bay leaf
½ tsp. oregano (Mexican if you have it)
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. minced jalapeno pepper
1 small tomato, quartered
¼ tsp. ground cumin
Chicken broth & water to cover the beans

For the Huevos Rancheros:

1 large egg per person
2 small corn tortillas per person
1 250 gram container salsa, or homemade**
(opt.) 6 Tbsp. diced lightly fried smoked chorizo
6 – 8 Tbsp. Grated Monterey Jack cheese or cheddar
3 – 4 Tbsp. cilantro, coarsely chopped

Make the Beans:

Drain the soaked beans, rinse & drain; place the beans into a medium-sized deep pot, cover the beans with a mixture of chicken stock & water by 2”; add 1 Tbsp. EVOO, onion, bay leaf, oregano, garlic, jalapeno, tomato & cumin; bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer; cover & let the beans cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours, stirring them occasionally. After 1 hour test the beans to see if they are almost done, if so, add 1 to 1 ½ tsp. salt, then continue cooking until the beans are softened but not mushy. Remove from the heat, remove the lid & allow them to cool in their liquid. If you are doing the beans ahead of time, store them in their liquid until ready to use.

Finish the Beans:

Preheat oven to 180 F.

Heat a small frying pan over medium low heat; add 1 – 2 Tbsp. EVOO & heat until warm; add the drained beans & heat until hot; keep warm in the preheated oven. If you like you can mash the beans a bit, adding some of the bean cooking liquid to make re-fried beans.

Meanwhile, place 4 dinner plates in the oven to warm.

Make the Huevos Rancheros:

Have heating a large frying pan over medium-high heat; add some of the EVOO to coat the pan & when hot but not smoking, fry each tortilla for about 1 – 2 minutes per side, adding more oil as necessary. As tortillas are fried, place 2 on each of the plates & keep warm in the oven.  Note:  you can use 2 frying pans to speed things up.

Meanwhile, heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat; add some EVOO &  heat until hot; then fry the eggs the way you like them (yolk should still be runny).

Remove the plates from the oven; place an egg on top of the tortillas on each plate, scatter with the beans & chorizo; drizzle with some salsa & top with the grated cheese & cilantro, serve immediately.

Note:  You can use purchased cooked black beans or refried beans instead of cooking the beans from scratch.

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My Go To Quiche

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The very first time I made quiche was probably in the 1970’s! I had invited a bunch of my “girlfriends” over for Sunday brunch and wanted to make them something none of us had ever had before. I stumbled upon a recipe for “Quiche Lorraine” in one of my very first cookbooks. In my opinion, it had stood the test of time!  For a change, you can use 1/2 to 2/3 cup finely chopped ham instead of the bacon.

DSC_5834 nx2Makes 6 Servings

1 unbaked 9” pastry shell**
6 slices good quality bacon, thickly sliced, cut crosswise into ½” pieces
½ cup sliced onion
4 oz. (1/4 lb.) Vintage Gruyere cheese, cut into ¼” dice
4 large eggs
1 cup homogenized milk
1 cup whipping cream
½ tsp. salt (remembering that the bacon is salty)
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Prepare the pastry shell: roll out the dough to approximately 11” & fit into a glass pie plate, prick the shell all over with a fork. ( prefer to use glass as it gives a nice crisp crust). Place a piece of baking parchment into the pie shell & fill with pie weights if you have them. (I use dried beans that I save and reuse in case you don’t have pie weights). Bake the shell for 10 minutes; remove the pie weights & paper; if crust appears to be still wet, return to the oven for a few minutes to dry out. If the crust bubbles up, prick lightly with a fork. Remove to a cooling rack & cool completely.

Heat a skillet over medium heat & cook the bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate & set aside. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pan, then sauté the onions until just transparent & softened. Remove from heat. Put the diced cheese, bacon pieces & onion in the pre-baked pastry shell.

Whisk the eggs together; add the milk, cream, salt, pepper & nutmeg & pour over the ingredients in the pastry shell. Carefully place in the 450 F oven & bake for 15 minutes; reduce the heat to 350 F & continue to bake 15 minutes longer (it will probably be longer), or until a thin-bladed knife inserted halfway between the centre & edge comes out clean. Let the quiche rest for 15 – 20 minutes before cutting.

**If you would like to make your own pie crust, please go to “Making Pie Dough”.

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Zucchini Sun-Dried Tomato Tart

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This was a tart we made many times in the summer for corporate catering events, except that we made individual ones. They are vegetarian to boot! The beauty was that they could be served room temperature and were just as delicious as when served warm!  I have used the frozen puff pastry but I change it up and use my own tart pastry since I don’t always have the puff on hand.

DSC_4361 nx21 sheet of frozen puff pastry (1/2 of a 17 oz. package), or a tart crust**
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
6 Tbsp. + ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
½ cup drained & blotted on paper towels. oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
(Costco sells them already sliced, good old Costco!)
½ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
¼ cup chopped green onions
1 Tbsp.  chopped fresh oregano
1 small zucchini, cut into thin rounds
2 large eggs
1 cup creamo or half and half
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface to a 1/8” thick square. Trim pastry edges to form a 13” round. Transfer to an 11” tart pan with removable bottom. Fold in overhang to form double-thick sides. Pierce all over with a fork. Cover; chill 1 hour. If using pie dough, roll out the dough, place into a 9” pie plate, crimp the edges, chill for up to 1 hour. Fit a large piece of baking parchment or tin foil into the dough lined pie place ; fill with beans or pie weights. Bake until sides are set, about 10 minutes. Remove foil & beans. Bake crust until bottom is golden brown, pressing with back of fork if bubbles form, about 5 or 8 minutes.

Cool 5 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 400 F. Sprinkle mozzarella over bottom of crust. Top with 6 Tbsp. Parmigiano, tomatoes, basil, green onions & oregano. Arrange zucchini rounds in concentric circles to cover top of tart. Whisk eggs, creamo, salt & pepper in medium bowl. Pour mixture into tart. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup Parmigiano.

Bake tart until custard is set and crust is golden brown, about 35 minutes.

**If you wish to make your own tart crust, please go to Making Pie Dough.

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Tomato And Zucchini Fritatta

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I like to make frittata’s not only for brunch but also for a light summer dinner. One of the great things about summer is tomatoes and zucchini from the garden or farmer’s market or a wonderful neighbor who has too much for their own use. Gotta love those people!  Leftovers make a pretty good panino!

Makes 4 Servings

DSC_3763 nx21 Tbsp. EVO
1 small red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup unpeeled zucchini, diced
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
8 eggs
½ cup homogenized milk
1 tsp. fresh basil or a combination of basil, fresh oregano & Italian parsley
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated (you could use more cheese if you like, I usually do)

Method:

Preheat broiler. Heat EVO in a12” frying pan with an ovenproof handle, over medium heat; sauté onions & zucchini until onions soften; add garlic and continue sautéing for another minute. Add the tomatoes & continue to sauté for a few more minutes.

In medium bowl, beat the eggs until just blended. Stir in milk; basil, salt & pepper. Pour over the vegetables in the frying pan and cook over medium heat, lifting mixture with a spatula to allow uncooked egg to run to the bottom. Cook until just set but still moist (approximately 5 minutes). Sprinkle the top of the frittata with the Parmigiano Reggiano. Place under broiler for about 1 minute or until frittata is puffed and slightly browned. Cool for a few minutes, then cut into four wedges and serve immediately.

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Mushroom Crepes

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Crepes do make such a nice brunch. The beauty of crepes is that when you make a batch you use what you need and freeze the remainder between sheets of wax paper for another lovely meal.  The crepes can be made ahead and the filling can be made the day before too. So, all that is required is the assembly & baking. However, you may wish to purchase frozen crepes which is OK too! I think crepes make a nice light dinner too; all you need is a salad and for brunch a Mimosa! Although, I am kind of partial to those Bloody Mary’s too!

DSC_2339.jpg nx12Makes 4 Brunch Main Course Servings

For Crepes: (makes 16 crepes). You will need 8 crepes for this recipe

¾ cup unbleached flour
½ tsp. salt
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1 ¼ cups homogenized milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Sift together flour, salt, nutmeg & pepper to taste in a bowl. Whisk together milk, whole egg & egg yolk in a small bowl, then gradually whisk into flour mixture. Force batter through a fine sieve into a bowl.
Heat a dry 7 – 8” nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot, brush very lightly with some melted butter (or use a crumbled up piece of wax paper dipped in butter to grease pan). Place about 2 Tbsp. batter into the skillet, tilting skillet until coated with batter. If batter sets before skillet is coated, reduce heat slightly for next crepe). Cook until underside is lightly browned, 6 – 10 seconds, then loosen crepe with a spatula and flip over. (I usually lift the crepe up with a thin metal butter spreader until loosened, pick up with my fingers and turn over). Cook until cooked through, about 20 seconds, transfer to a plate. Placing pieces of paper towels between each crepe as they are cooked. Make the remaining crepes in the same manner.

Mushroom Filling:

4Tbsp. butter
2 lbs. assorted fresh wild mushrooms such as crimini, chanterelle, shitake (or use 1 lb. wild & 1 lb. brown mushrooms), sliced
4 Tbsp. dried Porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water 20 minutes, water squeezed out & chopped, soaking liquid strained through a small coffee filter & juice reserved
4 large shallots, minced
4 tsp. unbleached flour
1 1/3 cup homemade chicken stock or tinned no-salt chicken broth**
1 1/3 cup whipping cream
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
3 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary or winter savory
4 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots & sauté approximately 1 minute or until soft. Add the sliced mushrooms, sauté until softened, approximately 5 minutes. Add the chopped porcini & sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the flour & stir for 1 minute. Whisk in the stock & strained porcini liquid; reduce until most of the liquid evaporates, but not completely. Add the cream; simmer until thickened. Remove from the heat, stir in the Parmigiano & season to taste with salt & freshly ground black pepper.

Butter a 9 x 13” gratin dish or glass baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Place 1 crepe on work surface & put approximately ¼ cup filling in the middle of the crepe & roll up to enclose the filling. Place in the prepared baking dish & continue with filling & rolling the remaining crepes. (If you would like to use individual crepe baking/serving dishes, place 2 crepes in each buttered dish). Top with the remaining mushroom filling & sprinkle with the Gruyere cheese. Place in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until bubbly. Let cool for a 5 minutes, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

(opt.) You can substitute 2 cups cooked diced chicken for half the mushrooms or you could add blanched 1” pieces of asparagus to the mixture. Simply reduce the amounts of the chicken & mushrooms accordingly.

**If you would like to make your own stock, please go to Making Stock.

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Mushrooms On Toast

This dish makes a lovely, light supper dish served with a salad, or even a brunch dish. Although it may not leap off the page, it is very, very good & I cannot remember how many times I have made it. It’s a winner and it’s vegetarian too!  I prefer using the cheese instead of the butter but both are delicious!  Sometimes I rub the toast with a cut clove of garlic for a bit of zip.  A glass of white wine would not go amiss either!

Makes 4 – 6 Servings

1 cup thick Bechamel sauce**
2 ¼ cups brown mushrooms, chopped coarsely
8 slices French or Italian bread (not baguettes or ficelles), toasted
3 – 5 Tbsp. soft butter (I sometimes like to use the cheese instead)
¼ cup each finely grated Gruyere & Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, instead of the butter
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Make The Bechamel Sauce:

3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
Salt & freshly ground black or white pepper

In a large microwave safe bowl, melt the butter in the microware; add the flour; stir until blended. Whisk in the milk and microwave on medium-high heat until it boils & thickens.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Stir the chopped mushrooms into the béchamel sauce; season with salt & pepper to taste. Rub the toasted bread with garlic & place the toasted bread onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Divide the mushroom sauce between the slices. Sprinkle each with some of the Gruyere & Parmigiano Cheeses, or with the butter, if using. Place in the oven for approximately 15 minutes.

Serve piping hot.

Note:  If you wanted to, you could soak a small amount of dried Porcini mushrooms and add to the bechamel with the brown mushrooms for a more intense mushroomy flavour.

**The Easter eggs in this photo are not your everyday chocolate eggs.  They come from Beta 5 & they were amazing.  One had dark chocolate covered malt balls inside the hollow chocolate egg & the other had dark chocolate covered raisins, rolled in cocoa!  AWESOME!

Sausage Red Pepper Kebabs

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A much more attractive way to present sausages & the mustard baste adds a special note.  Great for brunch!  Best of all, they’re so easy!

Makes 8 Servings

1 sweet red bell pepper
8 links of sausages, (approx. ½ lb.)

Mustard Baste:

2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage or thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 Tbsp. water
1 ½ tsp. soy sauce
Dash of Tabasco

Make the Baste:

Combine mustard, herbs, water, soy sauce & tabasco.

Seed & cut the pepper into 1” squares. Cut each sausage link in half. Alternately thread pepper squares & sausages onto each of 8 short metal skewers; place on baking sheet. Brush half of the mustard baste onto the skewers. Broil for 6 minutes or until browned, turn kabobs & brush with remaining baste; broil for another 6 minutes until browned.

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Veggie And Cheese Strata

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An excellent way to feed a large-ish group brunch, with most of the work done the day before! Always a good thing in my opinion!  You could serve the strata with oven roasted potatoes** and/or sausage patties or sausages, for a hearty brunch; on the lighter side it would be nice to begin with some fruit, followed by the strata. Depends on how hungry your guests are!

_DSC1054.jpg nx2Makes 8 Servings

1 ½ cups finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped green onions
¾ lb. mushrooms, sliced thin
3 Tbsp. EVO
2 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
2 green bell peppers, cut into thin strips
Italian bread cut into 1” cubes to measure 9 cups (about 1 ½ loaves)**
2 ½ cups coarsely grated extra sharp Cheddar cheese**
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
12 large eggs
3 ½ cups milk (not low fat)
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Tabasco to taste

Heat the EVO in a large skillet over moderately low heat, & sauté the onion, green onions & mushrooms until the onion is softened, add the bell peppers & season with salt & pepper to taste. Cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring, for 10 – 15 minutes or until all the liquid the mushrooms have given off evaporates & the peppers are tender. Arrange half the bread cubes in a buttered large shallow (4 ½ quart) baking dish, spread half the vegetable mixture over top, then sprinkle with half the Cheddar & Parmigano.  Arrange half the bread cubes in a buttered large shallow (4 ½ quart) baking dish; spread half the vegetable mixture over top; sprinkle with half the cheddar & Parmigano. Arrange the remaining bread cubes over the top, top with the remaining veggies, then sprinkle the remaining cheeses over top.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, Dijon, Tabasco; season with salt & pepper to taste. Pour the mixture over the bread & vegetable layers & chill, covered, overnight. Preheat the oven t0 350F. Remove the strata from the fridge & let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Place in the oven & bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the strata is puffed & golden & cooked through. You can test to see if the strata is done by inserting a thin bladed knife into the centre. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Let the strata stand for  10 minutes before serving.

**If you would like to see my recipe for roasted potatoes, please go to Rosemary Roasted Potatoes.