Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pie or cake or both???

I love a brunch. I like Prosecco in a champagne flute with a splash of peach nectar and a fresh raspberry. The creme brulee French toast is wonderful. Real Maple syrup can be served or fresh strawberries sliced and mixed with a little sugar works as well. Prepare this the day before.

Crème Brulee French Toast
1 stick butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
8-9 inch round country style bread ( or baguette or challah)
5 large eggs
1 ½ cups half and half
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 big teaspoon Grand Marnier
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a small heavy saucepan, melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat stirring until smooth. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Cut 6 1-inch thick slices from center portion of the bread, reserving ends for another use. Arrange bread slices in one layer. Squeeze to fit if necessary.
In a bowl whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla, Grand Marnier, and salt and pour evenly over bread. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Before cooking bring to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake casserole uncovered in the middle of the oven until puffed and edges are pale golden for 35 to 40 minutes. This may take a bit longer because you want to make sure the center is cooked. Serve immediately.

Of course, Bloody Marys are good for a a brunch as well. Bagels with many toppings would be a good and easy combination with the bloodies. A neighbor in Chatham had a weekly Sunday brunch and this egg dish was a favorite.

Brunch Eggs

2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chili pepper
1 8 ounce package mild cheddar cheese, sliced
1 8 ounce package sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
12 eggs
1 pint sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons salt

Cover the bottom of 9 x 13 casserole with the cheeses. Sprinkle chili peppers on top. Beat eggs, sour cream and salt until light. Pour over cheeses. Bake at 350° about 35 to 45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Cut into squares.

As a young wife and mother, I was a fan of Tasha Tudor. I loved her illustrations and wanted to live in a Tasha Tudor world. Self-sufficient and so very creative. She illustrated the New England Butt'ry Shelf Almanac and New England Butt'ry Shelf Cookbook for Mary Mason Campbell. I must have taken those two books out of the Falmouth, Maine Library every other week. When we moved to Gorham, I was delighted to find a wonderful patch of strawberry rhubarb and of course there was a recipe for rhubarb pie in one of those cookbooks that intrigued me.

Rhubarb pie and potato salad lovers have very definite ideas about how these two dishes should be prepared. I know I do. No strawberries in my pie!

I couldn't make a pie crust to save my life in those days. In another cookbook that I received with my Cuisinart, there was a recipe for vinegar pie crust which is a wonderful partner to my rhubarb pie.

Vinegar Pie Crust

This pie crust is made in the food processor.
Using the steel blade in your processor bowl, combine 1 cup frozen butter (cut into small pieces before freezing) and 2 cups flour. Pulse until the butter is cut into the flour. Then add:
1 egg
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons very cold water (I put a few ice cubes and some water in measuring cup to get very cold water.)
Turn the processor on and off a few times, then just let it run until a ball of dough forms. Chill the dough in the freezer for ½ hour before using. This recipe makes enough for a 2 crust pie.

Fresh Rhubarb Pie
Roll out 1/2 pie crust and slide into a 9-inch pie plate. Cut about a dozen stems of red rhubarb into ½ inch pieces and put in the pie plate.
In a bowl beat two eggs lightly. Add 2/3 cup sugar, 2 Tablespoons flour, juice a half a lemon, pinch of salt and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Stir together well and pour over rhubarb. With second piece of pie crust, cut strips and weave in a diamond pattern across the top of the pie. Sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Bake in a preheated 450° oven for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° and bake until crust is browned and a knife point stuck into the rhubarb indicates that it is tender. The egg mixture will puff up between the lattice spaces.

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