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A bountiful brunch

Brunch, like macaroni and cheese or peanut butter and jelly, is one of the best combinations around. Where else do you have a choice of a scoopful of scrambled eggs along with a chicken wing paired with a waffle.

Sources say you can thank the British for inventing brunch, a meal that includes both breakfast and lunch items. Brunches can be casual gatherings or events for special occasions.

Spring, a popular time for brunch, is a season of rebirth and renewal when we look forward to and welcome seasonal favorites. Combining breakfast and lunch items with spring ingredients like asparagus and fresh greens gives you more flavor varieties.

We love brunch, and we have you covered with a selection of appealing and crowd-pleasing recipes.

When hosting a brunch, or any event, having a plan and menu is crucial. Take stock of your china, linens and silverware and consider which beverages you will be serving.

Brunch should be beautiful, and it shouldn’t break the bank or stress you out. Our recipes have plenty of make-ahead options so you can spend some time enjoying guests instead of working in the kitchen.

From casserole dishes to savory tarts to a stunning coconut cake, today’s recipes are meant to inspire. And don’t forget a cocktail. Every good brunch needs a cocktail be it a fruity mimosa or spicy Bloody Mary.

ASPARAGUS WITH MUSTARDY VINAIGRETTE

Serves: 8

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

4 pounds asparagus (thick spears if possible), trimmed and bottoms peeled

1 carrot, peeled, cut into thin strips

Kathleen Galligan/TNS The mustard vinaigrette gives spring-fresh asparagus a bit of a bite.

Kathleen Galligan/TNS
The mustard vinaigrette gives spring-fresh asparagus a bit of a bite.

¼ cup champagne or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

¾ cup olive oil

Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus; blanch until tender, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to ice bath. Let cool, then drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Add the carrot strips to the water and blanch 1-2 minutes to soften. Drain and place in ice water.

Whisk together vinegar and mustards; season with salt and pepper. Whisking continuously, add oil in a slow, steady stream.

Transfer asparagus to platter. Garnish with carrot strips. Serve with vinaigrette on the side.

– Adapted from www.marthastewart.com

BACON AND CHEDDAR TWISTS

Makes: 12

Nonstick cooking spray

2 large eggs

1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

For a new take on bacon, wrap it in cheese and pastry.

For a new take on bacon, wrap it in cheese and pastry.

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed but chilled

All-purpose flour

½ cup grated sharp white cheddar

12 strips bacon

Sesame seeds or poppy seeds, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray lightly with nonstick spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, mustard and a splash of water until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Dust a work surface with flour and roll out the puff pastry to a 10-by-14-inch rectangle with the shorter side facing you. Spread the cheese over the top half of the dough, then fold the bottom half over the cheese half and roll lightly to seal. Cut the dough vertically into 12 even strips; each strip will be slightly thinner than 1 inch.

Place a bacon strip (folding it in half if need be) on each pastry strip and twist the pastry and bacon together. Place the twists on the prepared baking sheet, pressing down the ends. Brush the tops generously with the egg wash and sprinkle with salt and sesame seeds or poppy seeds, or both.

Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the bacon is crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes before removing. Place on a serving tray or serve with soft-cooked eggs.

– Adapted from the Food Network’s Brunch at Bobby’s.

TOMATO AND CAMEMBERT TART

Serves: 12

TART DOUGH:

1½ cups all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

To save time, you can use a refrigerated pie crust in the tomato and Camembert tart.

To save time, you can use a refrigerated pie crust in the tomato and Camembert tart.

2½ tablespoons olive oil

2-4 tablespoons water

TART:

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ cup grated Gruyère cheese

4 plum tomatoes, cut into thirds lengthwise

6-8 ounces Camembert cheese

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup fresh minced parsley

¼ cup fresh chopped basil

1 teaspoon fresh minced rosemary

1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme leaves

1 clove garlic, peeled, minced

To make the tart dough: In a food processor, pulse the flour, butter, salt and pepper until mixture resembles coarse meal. Alternatively, mix with a pastry blender or fork.

Mix in the oil and 2 tablespoons of water just until the bottom of the mixture begins to cling together. If necessary, add more water. The mixture should easily gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

To make the tart: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the chilled dough into a 14-inch circle and place it into a tart pan; set aside.

Spread the mustard over the bottom of the tart shell. Sprinkle the Gruyère evenly over the mustard and alternately arrange the tomato and Camembert in a circle over the Gruyère.

In a small bowl, mix the ½ cup of olive oil, all of the herbs and the garlic together. Brush about two-thirds of the mixture over the tart. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 35 minutes.

Remove the tart and brush it with the remaining oil. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

– Adapted from www.countryliving.com

MUFFIN TIN EGGS BENEDICT CASSEROLES

Serves: 8

1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for greasing pan

6 English muffins, split and cut into cubes

1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, washed well, diced

12 ounces thick Canadian bacon, diced

Don’t worry about poaching eggs for these individual eggs Benedict casseroles.

Don’t worry about poaching eggs for these individual eggs Benedict casseroles.

6 large eggs

2½ cups whole milk

1½ teaspoons dry mustard

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided

¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

8 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly brush two 12-cup muffin tins or a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with oil.

Place the English muffin pieces on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until lightly golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leek and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes until it’s softened. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until the pieces are just beginning to brown, 4-5 minutes more.

Evenly divide the baked English muffin cubes into the muffin cups (you may not fill all of them) or scatter in the baking dish. Spoon the bacon mixture over the English muffin pieces.

In a large bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, milk, dry mustard, chives, 1½ cups heavy whipping cream and ½ teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the leek-bacon mixture in the muffin cups. Bake until casseroles are puffed, golden brown and just set, about 35 minutes if using the muffin tins or 45-50 minutes for a baking dish.

Meanwhile, make a hollandaise sauce. Melt the butter in the microwave. In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, remaining ½ cup heavy whipping cream, ¼ teaspoon cayenne and ½ teaspoon salt. Place the bowl over (but not in) a saucepan of simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Still whisking constantly, gradually add the melted butter. The mixture should emulsify. Keep warm over very low heat. If the sauce looks separated, whisking in an ice cube will bring it back together. Sprinkle the casserole with additional chives, if desired, and serve with the hollandaise sauce.

 

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