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Easy on the cook, an all-in-the-oven brunch.

Easy on the cook, an all-in-the-oven brunch

The enticing aromas of warm ham andfreshly baked apples linger in the air, soon joined by the fragrance of sizzling potatoes and the tantalizing smell of an egg-rich Dutch baby turning golden brown. These scents all come from the oven, and they're a calculated part of the welcome, as friends arrive for brunch.

Apples join the ham as it finishes roasting;they bake at the same temperature. Both can be in the last stages of cooking as guests arrive (or prepare them the day before). Then you shoot up the oven temperature and slip in the potatoes to brown--while guests temper hunger pangs with warm muffins and a frothy milk punch. When the potato cake is half-done, the Dutch baby goes in to bake alongside it at the same temperature.

Mary Lou and Robert Block have a large,well-equippel kitchen that's often the center of activity in their Seattle house; the couple's philanthropical projects frequently focus on parties at home. Their popular party menu can expand to serve a large group: they just order a larger ham and use more than one oven. But you only need one oven to adapt their brunch for an intimate party of six.

You could bake muffins earlier on, usinga favorite recipe, and reheat them. Or, like the Blocks, you might pick them up at a good muffin shop or bakery.

Block baked brunch

Milk Punch

Bran Muffins Butter

Herb-Crusted Ham

Tender Dutch Baby

Oven-crisp Potato Cake

Crunch-top Baked ApplesChampagne

To get started, whirl up milk punch, abatch at a time, to sip as you nibble warm bran muffins. Whether you make muffins ahead or buy them (allow 2 per person), set them slightly apart on 1 or 2 baking sheets and heat in a 350| oven until hot, about 10 minutes. Serve muffins with the meal, too. Consider champagne as a second beverage.

Recipes for the milk punch, ham, bakedapples, and the clarified butter option for the potato cake are on page 195.

You could also buy baked ham and serveit cold and thinly sliced. Allow about 3 ounces of cooked meat for a serving.

Garnish plates liberally with sprays ofwatercress: with its fresh, peppery bite, it adds flavor as well as color. You might also like to offer a sweet-hot mustard or a sweet-tart chutney.

Tender Dutch Baby

3 large eggs

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

6 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons butter or margarinePowdered sugar

1 lemon, cut into wedges

In a blender or food processor, whirl eggswith flour, granulated sugar, and milk until smoothly mixed, scraping down sides of container several times. If made ahead, mixture can be covered and chilled overnight; stir before baking.

Put butter into a 10- to 12-inch frying panthat can go into the oven. Set pan in a 425| oven on a rack placed slightly above center. Let butter melt; it takes about 4 minutes. Tilt pan to coat bottom with butter, then quickly pour in the batter. Bake until pancake puffs at edges (it may also puff irregularly in the center) and is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Working quickly, cut into 6 wedges andtransfer to dinner plates, using a wide spatula; the wedges may deflate somewhat after cutting. Sprinkle wedges liberally with powdered sugar and squeeze on lemon juice to taste. Makes 6 servings.

Oven-crisp Potato Cake

3 large (about 1 1/2 lb. total) russetpotatoes

4 tablespoons clarified butter(directions on page 195) or melted margarine (or use 2 tablespoons each melted butter and salad oil, mixed together)

Salt and pepper

Peel potatoes and carefully cut into slicesabout 1/8 inch thick (use a manual slicer or food processor slicing blade, applying even pressure to get desired thickness). Coat the inside of a 10- to 12-inch oven-proof nonstick frying pan with some of the butter. Neatly overlap potato slices in an even layer in the pan. Evenly drizzle remaining butter over potatoes; brush lightly with your fingertips to coat slices without disturbing them.

Bake on the bottom rack of a 425| ovenuntil potatoes on bottom are well browned (lift with a spatula to check), about 45 minutes. Remove from oven. Invert a rimmed pan that's larger than the frying pan (such as a 12- to 14-in. pizza pan) over the frying pan. Using potholders to protect your hands, quickly flip potatoes onto the rimmed pan; be careful not to drip hot fat on yourself. With spatula, push cake back in shape, if necessary. (If made ahead, cover potatoes and let stand up to 4 hours.)

Return potatoes to oven and bake untilthe cake is browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes (potatoes partially cooked ahead take the same amount of time).

Invert potato cake onto a small platter.Use a spoon to break cake into portions, or cut in wedges. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6 servings.

Photo: Brunch host Bob Blocktakes "Dutch baby' pancake from oven as guests wait to serve themselves. Full spread includes, clockwise from top, bran muffins and butter, sugar-dusted dutch baby, baked ham, crisp potato cake, and baked apple

Photo: Icy froth of whizzed milk punchgets a dash of nutmeg; flavor with sugar and vanilla--or more potent liquid
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Date:Apr 1, 1987
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