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The Perfect Sunday Brunch

Apr 25, 2013 02:10AM ● By Erin Frisch


Sunday brunch is a relaxing and luxurious meal that can be enjoyed on Easter, Mother’s Day, or any special Sunday morning. Brunch need not be an excessive affair; you can prepare a few simple dishes that complement the occasion and the season. We have prepared a spring brunch menu that takes a minimal amount of time to prepare yet delivers delicious results.

Before you begin cooking, however, set your table and create a simple yet beautiful centerpiece to celebrate the joy of the occasion. Choose one color palette, perhaps blue and green, or orange and yellow, and then layer it up with different patterns and textures. Choose striped napkins, floral plates, or tinted stemware, all in a single color scheme. Center the table with a wide, low, potted green plant to add a touch of nature and neutrality to the layout. Or select a brightly colored tablecloth, like robin’s egg blue or fuchsia, and then opt for all white, cream, or crystal china. Then center the table with a creative arrangement of multicolored blooms, twigs, and leaves, and even faux birds or birds’ eggs. Remember, the table setting is temporary, so have a little fun with it.

Now you are ready to begin cooking. So you can fully enjoy the brunch morning with your family and guests, set the table the night before. In addition, prepare the baked French toast the night before (without adding the pecans) and refrigerate overnight. On the morning of the brunch, prepare the citrus salad, cover, and refrigerate for about an hour. While the salad is chilling, make your frittata, broil, and then leave at room temperature to cool (you can serve this at room temperature or reheat before serving). About 50 minutes before you plan to eat, sprinkle the French toast with the pecan mixture and bake. Wait to bake the French toast until right before eating so that it can be served hot with maple syrup. Finally, as your guests start to trickle in, brew some hot coffee and tea, and enjoy their company. Here is the menu:

• Asparagus Parmesan Frittata: Microwave one cup sliced, trimmed asparagus with a little water in the microwave to tenderize. In a large, ovenproof skillet, sauté 1 tsp. minced garlic and one small minced onion in a little olive oil. Add the asparagus and continue to sauté for about two minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together six eggs, a dash of milk, salt, and pepper. Pour this mixture into the pan over the asparagus. Cook until eggs are nearly set (about 5 minutes) and then remove from stovetop. Cover the top of the frittata generously with grated Parmesan, and then place the pan under the broiler and broil for 2 or 3 minutes, just until the eggs are set and the cheese melts. Serve hot or at room temperature.

• Cranberry Citrus Salad: This recipe is a riff off a Martha Stewart brunch recipe. Peel about three pounds mixed citrus, including navel oranges, blood oranges, pink grapefruit, clementines, or tangerines. Slice the fruit into rounds. In a skillet, simmer a scant ¼ cup sugar, ½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries, one cinnamon stick, and a few whole cloves in ½ cup water. Stir until sugar dissolves, then remove from heat and let cool. Layer sliced citrus in a serving dish, pour sugar/cranberry mixture on top, and then chill for about an hour.

• Baked Maple-Pecan French Toast: Arrange one loaf of ½-inch thick slices of French bread in a wide, buttered baking dish. In a separate bowl, whisk together 8 eggs, 3 cups half & half, ¾ cup light brown sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 3 tsp. vanilla, and a dash of salt. Pour this mixture over bread slices, cover, and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, preheat oven to 350˚ and remove baking dish from refrigerator. In a small bowl, soften 1 cup butter. Stir in ¾ cup light brown sugar, 2 tbsp. flour, and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Mix until the sugar is fully dissolved, and then stir in 1 cup chopped pecans. Sprinkle the pecan mix over the bread slices. Bake until top becomes puffy and golden, about 45 minutes. Serve with a pitcher of hot maple syrup.

Serve your meal with a large pot of hot coffee and another of English breakfast tea. To make the beverages special, let your guests serve themselves with a selection of your best teacups that you have laid out ahead of time. Provide a pitcher of cream, half & half, or milk and a sugar bowl in your best containers.

Brunch can be elegant without being a hassle. What is your favorite Sunday brunch tradition or memory?

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