EGGSEPTIONAL AND EGGSTRAVAGENT SUMMER BRUNCH
Brunch is an affair that always brings to mind extravagant egg dishes, Belgian waffles, out of the ordinary sandwiches and fun drinks, either alcohol or non alcohol. This is a relaxing time where it is either a moment for lovers or for large groups. Happiness is the theme, and anytime there is good food and close friends then joy is surely expressed. Some of my fondest brunch memories are of dim sum restaurants, Southern fare and of coveted long afternoons on the Mendocino Coast watching the whales and tourists flow along with the fog.
We will be making one egg dish and several liquors and drink bases. The brunch table is a place of flowers, fresh cut fruits, rich muffins and biscuits, it is where you want to shine your best, but to also give airs of relaxation. Setting the table with carafes of drink bases, sparkling water, chilled espresso and teas adds to the sense of celebration. Any day with your beloved friends is a day to celebrate, actually.
Georgia just gets too hot too soon now so our egg is a baked dish, also called shirred eggs. I have been making various baked/shirred eggs for over 20 years. There are as many variations are imaginable. Shirred eggs tend to be British Isles, French and Scandinavian inspired dishes. The one today is Scandinavian and uses the last of the root vegetables of the season along with sausage style ground turkey. It is parsnips, carrots, onions, turnip, sweet potato, turkey sausage and farm eggs baked in an iron skillet with chicken stock, truffles and rosemary.
Do not be daunted by the prospect of making your own liquors, ginger ale and chai. We are making Kahlua, Irish cream, Beautiful and Green tea liquors. The recipes are for a quart of each. They keep indefinitely and nothing is wasted.
BRUNCH COFFEE AND ICED LIQUORS
For many people brunch means Bloody Mary and mimosa style drinks. They are mainstays for very good reasons of being both delicious and recognizable the world over as drinks that define a weekend brunch. Everyone has their own best Bloody Mary recipe. How about if we build our own liquor recipes?
Ginger ale syrup is an excellent addition to the grand old Sazerac and various bourbon cocktails. Peach bitters should have a place next to classic Angostura bitters on your bar shelf.
1lb ginger, unpeeled, cut into dice
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and roughly chopped
2 small fresh chilies, stems removed
1.5 cups sugar
1 quart water
Combine ginger, lemongrass, and chilies in processor and mince, stop and scrape down as necessary.
Place puree in saucepan with the sugar and one quart of water, bring to boil, reduce to medium and simmer about 15 minutes. turn off heat, cool, strain, chill. This can be kept for several weeks refrigerated.
To serve, place about 1/4 cup syrup in glass full of ice. Top with soda water. Makes about 8-10 glasses. This is good with the green tea or beautiful liquors as well as an amazing ingredient to Sazerac.
A Sazerac is basically rye whiskey, and bitters. Peach Bitters works best. Muddle a sugar cube and the bitters with crushed ice. Pour the whiskey over the bitters and ice. Pour a dash of anise flavored liquor and a dash of ginger ale base into an Old Fashioned glass and roll it around the glass so that the inside is coated. Pour out the excess liquor. Strain the muddled whiskey into the glass.
The word ‘chai’ translates as black tea.
1 cup Milk
2 cups Black tea, strong
1 Cinnamon bark
¼ teaspoon Ginger
1/6 teaspoon Cardamom
1 tablespoon Sugar or brown sugar
Combine and keep warm. Strain. Pour the liquid into cups or reserve in a sealed container in your refrigerator. You can make as much as you will drink within a couple of days.
If you are drinking it right away then steep and strain. In a separate container froth 4 ounces of milk or cream. Milk frothers are cheap and well worth owning. Add coffee liquor or Irish liquor to chai, spoon froth on top and sprinkle with fresh grated cinnamon.
Makes 1 quart
1 1/2 cups espresso, cold
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4th cup molasses
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 quart vodka
Combine espresso, sugars, molasses and vanilla in a large sauce pot and bring to a boil. When it hits a boil turn heat down to a simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes. Refrigerate 12 hours. Add vodka. Cover and let stand again overnight in refrigerator. That’s it, easy kahlua and half the price. You can vary the flavors with different coffees and with alternate extracts such as a touch of almond extract. And we all know what we get when we start mixing vanilla and almond…. Irish Cream!
This is one of the most delicious and rich liquors around. You can make it as thick as you like with the condensed milk and chocolate.
1 cup heavy cream
1 pint sweetened condensed milk
1 quart Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey
1 1/2 cups espresso, cold
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon dark vanilla extract
Mix it all together and then mix again in bar blender at high speed for about a minute so that it is completely blended. This will keep forever and a day in the refrigerator.
And you know what happens when you have your own homemade Irish Cream in the house? Chocolate martinis. Blend with vodka and a touch of orange liquor and swirl chocolate sauce around the top of the drink. Irish cream liquor is extremely versatile so be adventurous and see what you do with it in cocktails, cooking and as a topping for ice cream and cake desserts.
This is called Beautiful for the reason that it seems to make people feel that way, beautiful. This a strong liquor so use sparingly until you are used to the intensity.
1/2 cup Cointreau
1 cup Grand Marnier or Napoleon Mandarin Liquor
1 pint Brandy
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup cran-raspberry juice
1 cup orange juice
Make a syrup by heating the orange and cranberry-raspberry juices and sugar together just below a boil for 20 minutes, simmer. Remove from heat and add alcohols. You can substitute pomegranate juice and it will still be delicious. This also a great place to use the berry-vinegar drink base we made here a few months ago. Cover and refrigerate for several days before serving. This is best in a cordial glass or over ice. For fun you can serve it warm and float a tablespoon of cognac on the top and light it, when the flame dies, drink. Beautiful has many variations.
GREEN TEA LIQUOR
24 ounces strong green tea, brewed
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups water
1 pint sake, good grade
1 cup vodka
1/2 cup orange blossom honey
1/2 cup chopped peaches
Make the tea and set aside. Combine sugar and water. Make simple syrup by bringing it to a boil and then simmering for 15 minutes. Pour into the tea and honey. Chill. After it is cold add peaches and sake, blend in drink blender. Strain into glass or plastic container and cover. Set aside in a glass or plastic sealed container in a dark, cool place for at least a week.
Green tea liquor is good with sparkling water over ice, as a martini base, with sushi, as a summer sipping liquor or with fruit juice and soda water for a brunch cocktail.
For a rich European or Northern California style brunch egg there is nothing better than shirred eggs. Oven baked eggs also reduce the amount heat distributed in your kitchen during our hot months here in the South. Be careful not to over cook them, and believe me, this is easy to do. Check your dish five minutes into cooking to see if the eggs are cooking at a good pace.
You can use individual small iron skillets person or cook it all in one big iron skillet for this particular dish. Many shirred egg dishes are cooked in ramekins and even as a brunch pizza with spinach, fresh mozzarella and garlic.
3 ounces parsnips, peeled and diced
3 ounces carrots, peeled and diced
3 ounces turnips, peeled and diced
2 ounces onion, diced
3 ounces sweet potato, peeled and diced
3/4 cup chicken stock
¼ teaspoon ground thyme
¼ teaspoon basil leaves
1 teaspoon rosemary, minced
1/3 teaspoon paprika
1/3 teaspoon Indian red pepper, ground
1 teaspoon ground sea salt (sea salt because it is not bleached)
6 ounces ground turkey
2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
1 ounce butter
1 shaving of truffle for each egg. If no truffles then use rehydrated dried Chinese mushrooms or cepes.
Sauté the turkey and spices in olive oil and butter on low heat. When it is cooked add the vegetables one group at a time, pour off excess oils and then put in 375 degree oven. Cook for 15 minutes. Add chicken stock. Gently crack 4 to 6 eggs, depending how hungry you are, at compass points in the skillet. Keep the yolk and white as close together as you can by forming a well in the vegetables when you add them.
Bake for 10 minutes. Put one truffle shaving on top of each egg. If you must have cheese just grate Swiss or mozzarella over the pan and let it melt from the heat of the vegetables. Serve your friends and beloved with happiness and open conversations. The best things begin around a lively table.
In an afternoon drive
Here and there
Trees are blooming
Roses reach out
Towards every passer by
They seem to shout
“Look at me, won’t you please?”
And in the kitchens
The cooking smells cry
“It’s time to gather here”,
And so we do,
We gather and we love,
We see all things in Spring
Are in and of God,
So we turn and say Hello,
Shake hands and smile,
Knowing all the while
This life is as good
As we make it,
We do as we should
As we would wish
Were done for us,
What is common
And never simply
When done with heart
With purity and peace.