01 June 2012

Monster Brunch

This is not a role model for brunch.

I recently had a lovely day off with friends, and we decided to live it up and pig out in the middle of the day.  After all, what is more decadent than heavy brunch food and booze at noon?  New Orleanians know what I'm talking about (though I can live just fine without the "Drive-Thru Daiquiri" shops).

I decided to serve the following menu:

Mimosas with orange, grapefruit, or cranberry juice
Steamed asparagus with creamy mushroom sauce (recipe below)
Red eye beans and rice
Shakshuka (I'm convinced that if there'd been a Jewish community in early New Orleans history, this would be de rigueur on their brunch menus) (recipe below)
[Eric made a decadent scalloped potato casserole, but you'll have to ask him for that recipe...]

Rhubarb syrup-and-gin cocktails 
Chocolate-oat-rhubarb muffins
Rhubarb cobbler

For the steamed asparagus, I just seasoned it lightly with salt and poured this over it:

Easiest Mushroom Sauce

2 teaspoons olive oil
8 oz. mixed mushrooms, cleaned and diced
2 medium shallots
1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
½  teaspoon herbs de provence or dried thyme
¼ c. chardonnay
1-2 teaspoons flour, depending on how thick you want it
4 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil and sauté the shallots until fragrant and soft, about 4 minutes.  Add mushrooms and salt and continue cooking until fragrant and the mushrooms have released their liquid, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the dried herbs and chardonnay, then sprinkle with flour and combine thoroughly.   Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream, season to taste with more salt and freshly ground pepper.  If the sauce gets too thick, just water it down with some milk.

This works well as a crepe filling (use 2 teaspoons flour for a thicker sauce, and stir in shredded cooked chicken if you prefer), on multigrain toast, over steamed asparagus or green beans, over pasta, or as a pizza sauce with spinach and thinly sliced potatoes, etc. etc.

I also used this opportunity to finally make Shakshuka, recipes for which I have been seeing in cooking magazines and Yotam Ottolenghi's beautiful cookbook for months now.  People of Israel, I know now that you are the chosen ones, because you came up with this perfectly simple and delicious way to enjoy eggs.  Bravo.

All the recipes I read were kind of one-note in the sauce department, so I decided to vary the vegetables a bit.  Here's my version:

Fully Loaded Shakshuka

Serves 4 with some leftover sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 eggs
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used dill, cilantro, parsley, and chives)

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  When it shimmers, add the onion, zucchini, and carrot and cook until the onion is translucent and the carrot begins to soften, about 8 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin, stir, and lower to low heat.  Cover and allow to cook about 15 minutes, or until tomatoes start to break down a bit.

Make four hollows in the sauce, and one at a time, crack an egg into a small bowl, then pour into the indentation in the sauce.  Sprinkle a little salt over the eggs, cover, and continue to cook 8 minutes or until eggs are done to your liking. Remove from heat, sprinkle the entire dish with the fresh herbs, and serve.

Thanks, Tiffini, for the pic!