ORANGE COUNTY WEATHER
Let’s Do Brunch… at Home

Let’s Do Brunch… at Home

Sunshine has arrived! After what seemed like torrential floods of rain this winter, I am loving the gorge greens and vibrant colors that are popping up everywhere.  

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The change of seasons also offers some of my most favorite vegetables at their peak of freshness and taste - asparagus, English peas, Bloomsdale spinach, artichokes, and strawberries of course, so fresh and so delicious.  Also, the longer days and warm weather bring an undeniable desire for me to host or attend a brunch.  I love brunch.  I feel like it’s an excuse to drink mimosas and Bloody Mary’s before noon while indulging in three times the calories that you would typically consume in one meal.

I'm excited to share some of my brunch-y favorites with you all.  Wishing you a beautiful season filled with sunshine and mimosas ~ cheers!

 Classic Bloody

What's brunch without a proper bloody mary to begin?  Bloodies are like a vegetable juice cleanse with vodka, garnished with something fresh or pickled.  You could argue that they're good for you!  This classic recipe is easy and tasty.  

Ingredients:
1 lime wedge
2 ounces good quality vodka
4 ounces tomato juice
2 dashes Tobasco sauce
1 ½ teaspoons horseradish, preferably fresh
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Tajin seasoning
1 pinch of black pepper
1 pinch of smoked paprika

Perfect garnish options: Sliced cucumbers, celery, pickled green beans or asparagus, green olives, bacon

Instructions:
Pour tajin seasoning onto a small plate.  Rub pulp side of lime around the lip of your glass.  Roll the glass in the Tajin seasoning until coated well.  Fill glass with ice.  Squeeze lime wedges into a shaker and then drop them in.  Add vodka, tomato juice, Tobasco sauce, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and smoked paprika.  Fill with ice.  Shake vigorously for about a minute.  Pour over ice into a glass and garnish with your favorite goodies.  Then sit back and enjoy!

Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

Grapefruit and avocado are a match made in heaven.  I actually add a couple of citrus varieties to this recipe and they all pair perfectly with each other.  This brunch or lunch friendly salad will put a spring right in your step as well as have your guests asking for the recipe immediately.

Ingredients:
1 bag organic arugula (I like the peppery flavor of arugula…but if you’re not a fan, red leaf lettuce is delicious in this salad, as well) 
1 grapefruit, 2 blood oranges, 2 tangerines, all peeled and segmented, juice reserved
2 avocadoes, cubed
4 ounces goat cheese
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
3 tablespoons reserved citrus juice
¼ cup avocado oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

Instructions:
Combine with first four sets of ingredients.  I like to layer the salad with all elements so that you get some of the good stuff, even as you get towards the bottom of the salad bowl.  For the dressing combine citrus juice, avocado oil, and Dijon mustard.  Whisk vigorously to combine. Season with salt and pepper and dress/toss salad right before serving.

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Citrus-cured Salmon

Favorite breakfast/brunch item of all time: Everything bagel with citrus cured or smoked salmon, an abundance of cream cheese, tomatoes, sliced onion, and capers.  Give me one of those and a hot cup of coffee, and I'm in hog heaven.  Many years ago, I decided to give curing a go… let me tell you… not only is it super easy, it's absolutely the most delicious salmon you will ever taste.  I promise.  Takes a few days but it is SO worth it.

Ingredients:
¼ pound wild or sustainable salmon belly (never commercially farmed salmon)
Sea or kosher salt
1 tablespoon coconut or regular sugar

Zest of one of each of the following:
Lemon
Orange
Grapefruit
Lime

Instructions:
Rinse salmon and pat dry with a paper towel.  Place a large piece of plastic wrap on top of a larger piece of tin foil and place the salmon in the middle.  Sprinkle citrus zest on top salmon and cover with salt and coconut sugar.  Wrap salmon tightly in plastic wrap, followed by foil.  Place in the fridge for 48 hours.  After 48 hours, remove from refrigerator and rinse gently with cold water.  Some of the zest will stick to the salmon, and that's what you want.  Pat dry and place, uncovered, on a cookie rack, back in the fridge for an additional 24 hours.  Voila!  Slice salmon super thin and you're ready to rock.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Brioche Strata

Strata: A casserole comprised of any combination of bread, eggs, and cheese.  I mean.  Also known as one of the best things to eat, ever.  I love the buttery and mild sweetness the brioche offers.  I make my own, but there are wonderful store-bought options available, too.  That, combined with creamy eggs, milk, and cheese, is the perfect canvas for sausage, bacon, herbs, roasted vegetables and anything else you may want to include in your creation.  

Ingredients:
1 loaf of fresh brioche bread, cut into large cubes
8 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups whole milk or half-and-half
½ pound sausage, cooked (I like to use ground spicy Italian sausage in this recipe)
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated fontina cheese
½ cup roasted bell peppers (sun-dried tomatoes are great in this recipe, as well)
1 bunch fresh basil for garnish

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 375°

Spread half of the brioche on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Top with half of the sausage and half of both kinds of cheese.  Repeat all layers again.  Combine eggs and milk and whisk together.  Pour the egg/milk mixture over the strata covering all surface area.  The bread will soak most of the liquid up, but you should still see some of it around the bread.  At this point, you can cover and refrigerate overnight if you're prepping ahead of time. Otherwise, you can pop it right into the oven for 45 minutes, uncovered.  If the top starts to brown too much or burn, place a loose piece of aluminum foil on top while the center finishes cooking.  Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Crumb Cake

Oh, crumb cake… how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  No, there are too many to count.  I just love you.  Add this to your brunch spread and everyone will love, love, love it, too!

Ingredients:

Filling:

1 8-ounce block of cream cheese, softened.
½ cup organic sugar
1 large egg
2 cups fresh raspberries


Cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup organic sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
¾ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon almond extract

 
Crumble:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon

 

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease an 8” springform pan. 
Make the filling: In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar, then add egg until combined.

Make the cake: In another large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  In another smaller bowl, using hand mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, then beat in egg.  Add sour cream and almond extract.  Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Pour 2/3 of the batter into springform pan then pour cream cheese filling over.  Sprinkle evenly with raspberries and add remaining batter.

Make the crumb topping: In a small bowl, mix together butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon until the mixture resembles wet sand.

Sprinkle crumb mixture over cake and bake until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Let cool before serving.

Cinnamon Rolls

These need no introduction.  They're epic, and they deserve a spot on every brunch menu.

Ingredients:

Rolls:

2 packages active dry yeast (4 ½ teaspoons)
1 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar, to proof the yeast
6 tablespoons Crisco (yes, you read that correctly…there is no substitution)
1 cup sugar
8 cups all-purpose flour (plus more if the dough is too sticky initially)
2 cups hot water
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons cinnamon

 Frosting:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 Add yeast to 1 cup of lukewarm water and add the sugar.  Set aside to proof for about five minutes.

Instructions:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add shortening, sugar and salt t0 the 2 cups of hot water and beat for 30 seconds using the whisk attachment. Allow to cool to room temperature.  Stir in 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth.  Add yeast mixture and mix until well combined.  Mix in beaten eggs.

Switch to the dough hook attachment.  Gradually stir in the remaining flour and mix.  Remove dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface.  Knead by hand until dough feels smooth and satiny, adding small amounts of flour if it feels too sticky.

Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.  After the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the bowl and divide it in half.  With a rolling pin, roll one half of the dough into a rectangular shape, about 22 x 13 inches.  Spread mixture evenly with half of the softened butter.  Sprinkle dough with half of the brown sugar, raisins, and cinnamon.

Roll dough into one long roll.  Cut individual rolls into 2-inch-thick pieces.  Place rolls into greases 9 x 13 baking pans.  Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until rolls are golden brown on top and cooked in the middle; mine are usually in the 28-minute timeframe. While the rolls are cooking, make the frosting by combining butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Party Like a Yogi

Party Like a Yogi