Home Cooking: Make-ahead Christmas morning brunch (column)
Thinking about this Christmas food column, I initially thought a big Christmas dinner was in order. But when I asked my Facebook friends about their favorite Christmas meal, breakfast won by a mile. Not only did it win, but two friends sent along their favorite family recipes. I’ll toss in a few of my own, so you’ll have plenty to choose from. The beauty of all of these recipes is they can be made a day before so on Christmas morning you can spend time with your family, rather than spending time in the kitchen. Now, let’s get cooking!
Cheddar, Vegetable, and Sausage Strata
Recipe provided Pat Hoogheem
Most of the assembly for this layered bread and egg dish can be done one day ahead. Serve hot or warm.
Nine 1-inch-thick slices of day-old French bread or other rustic bread, Pantone or a rustic bread with nuts and berries would also be delicious
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups half and half
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ bell pepper cut into strips
15 cherry tomatoes halved
6 ounces smoke sausage (such as kielbasa) cut into ½ inch cubes (you can also use cooked breakfast sausage if you prefer)
2 tablespoons minced onion
Chopped fresh parsley
Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Fit 8 bread slices in bottom of buttered dish. Cut remaining bread slice into 1-inch cubes; fit cubes into any empty spaces. Whisk eggs, mustard, basil and salt in medium bowl to blend; whisk in half and half. Ladle custard over bread. Cover and chill at least two hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350F. Sprinkle mixture in dish with black pepper. Top with half of cheese, then bell pepper, tomatoes, sausage, onion and remaining cheese. Cover loosely with foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil. Bake until egg custard is set and springy to touch, about 20 minutes longer. Cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley.
Christmas Spice Waffles or Pancakes
1 ¼ all-purpose (or white whole wheat) flour
¼ cup oatmeal flakes
1 teaspoon apple pie spice (or use pumpkin spice or your own mixture of ground ginger, cloves, cinnamon)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 ¼ cup milk or buttermilk
Add all the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl, mix together with a whisk or fork. Add the wet ingredients and mix together until a thick batter is formed. At this point you can cover the bowl and save it for Christmas morning.
When you’re ready to make the waffles or pancakes, heat the cooking surface, brush lightly with butter or a neutral cooking oil. Pour ¼ cup of the batter onto the cooking surface and allow it to spread. Close the cover of the waffle maker. If making pancakes, let them cook until bubbles appear on the surface of the batter, then flip and continue for another minute. Serve with maple syrup, or an easy berry sauce made by heating together berries and sugar in a small saucepan.
Morning Sunshine Multi-Grain Porridge
A fun recipe to make with kids. These proportions make a big jar of mixed grains you can keep in the cupboard, ready for any cold winter morning.
Mix together 1 cup of each: barley flakes, rolled rye flakes, millet, cracked wheat, amaranth grain, wheat bran, quinoa, rolled oats. Add in ½ cup of any of these: unsweetened coconut flakes, dried fruit: cranberries, raisins, or dates; Nuts: raw cashews, sliced almonds, chopped walnuts or pecans. Store the mixture in a large glass jar, or plastic freezer bag. Store in a cupboard, fridge, or freezer.
Combine 1 cup of porridge mixture, 2 – 2 ¼ cups water or milk, pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon, in a saucepan and gently cook until the cereal is warm and softened to desired texture. Serves 4.
My Favorite Quiche Recipe
My neighbor Susan makes a vegetarian quiche that inspired this recipe. I hadn’t made quiche in ages and Susan’s delicious quiche, made with whatever bits of vegetables and cheese she had picked up for her weekend meals, gave me a new perspective on what a quiche could taste like.
During a recent visit, Susan described a tall quiche made at a bistro in her Denver neighborhood that was taller rather than the traditional pie-pan height. This reminded me of a recipe I’d seen in David Lebovitz’s “My Paris Kitchen.” Here’s my version:
For the quiche crust:
I use a store-bought pie crust (Susan’s inspiration and it’s honestly better than my homemade efforts) and then roll out the pie crust on a lightly floured surface. To bake the quiche, you can use either a spring-form cake pan, or as I did in these photos, a 3-quart soufflé dish with 3-inch sides. With either dish, butter the sides of the pan, and line with parchment paper if you’re using the spring-form pan. Roll out the pie crust to fit the pan. Pre-bake for 10 minutes in a pre-heated 375F oven.
For the custard filling:
I use David Lebovitz’ recipe for the custard:
Mix together in a bowl:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
4 large eggs
2 egg yolks
Fresh scraping of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste
For the filling:
1 1/2 cups of your favorite grated cheese. This is the perfect chance to try out cheeses you find on sale in the cheese section of your grocery store. Enjoy trying something different than the usual cheddar or Swiss cheese.
Sauté 1 1/2 cups of your favorite bits of vegetables you find in the fridge: mushrooms, zucchini, onions, grated carrots, spinach or other greens, shallots,
1 cup of cooked bacon or ham
In David’s recipe he used 1 diced pear, 1 cup of diced boiled ham, 1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese or Roquefort, 6 shallots sautéed, 2 Tablespoons of minced flat-leaf parsley
Bake at 375F for 45 to 50 minutes. Bake the quiche a day or two before, save and reheat on Christmas morning.
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