Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Making it Special

This Sunday is Mother's Day; OK, so you were surprised, too!  As a mom, my preference for these type holidays would be everyone in the same room and I had that at Easter.  Since our kids don't live here, I can't expect them to pick up and come for a weekend (although that would be nice)  But if your mom lives in your town and you want to make the day special, why not cook her a beautiful brunch?  I've got all the tools for you, and we can start with the perfect cocktail to start the day off.  I'll give you a few recipes this week for making a great do-ahead brunch that you will all enjoy.

No, you don't need a mint muddler; this recipe is super simple, and I use the mint simple syrup for all kinds of homemade drinks, like lemonade, and ice tea.  

2 cups water
2 cups superfine sugar
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves, plus 1 bunch for garnish
Ice cubes
2 1/2 cups light rum
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 liter Club soda  or sparkling water
Sprigs fresh mint for garnish
  1.  In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the mint leaves and let steep for 1 hour. 
  2. Strain the syrup and discard the mint leaves.
  3. Do-Ahead: At this point, you can let cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  4. When ready to serve, fill each glass with ice, and add 1/4 cup of rum, 1/4 cup of mint syrup, 2 teaspoons of lime juice, and enough club soda to fill the glass. Garnish with mint sprigs and serve. 
  5. Mojitos by the Pitcher: If you would like to make these to have ready in a pitcher, fill a pitcher with the simple syrup, rum, and lime juice. Fill glasses with ice cubes, fill halfway with mojito mixture, then fill the rest of the way with club soda and garnish.   
A word to the wise; don't ever plant mint in your garden...if you want to grow your own, plant it in a pot, otherwise it will take over the garden.  

The Main  Course for this Brunch are spectacular stuffed puffed pastry with savory egg fillings.  I did these as an Easter brunch and they are a hit!  You can even make them ahead of time, and that just makes everything so much simpler!

Baked Easter Baskets

 Serves 6 to 8

Spinach and Bacon Filling

 4 strips bacon, cooked crisp, drained, cooled and crumbled
One 10-ounce package baby spinach
Salt and pepper
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
One 5.2-ounce package Boursin Cheese
¼ cup finely shredded Gruyere or Jarlsberg cheese

1.                  Drain all the fat from the pan used to fry the bacon, and sauté the spinach in the same pan, until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and remove the spinach to a bowl to cool.
2.                  In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, mustard, and Boursin beating until the Boursin is broken up. Add the shredded cheese, and the cooled spinach and bacon. 
3.                  Ladle 1/3 to ¼ cup of the mixture into the puff pastry cups. Bake as directed.

Artichoke Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Filling

 2 tablespoons butter
One small shallot (about 2 tablespoons) finely chopped
5 slices prosciutto, finely diced
One 10-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted, drained and coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
One 5-ounce package goat cheese
¼ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1.                  In a sauté pan, melt the butter, and add the shallot and prosciutto, sautéing until the shallot is softened, about 3 minutes. Add the artichoke hearts, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the liquid in the pan has evaporated. Transfer to a bowl, and cool.
2.                  In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, mustard, goat cheese, cooled artichoke mixture and the cheese. 
3.                  Ladle 1/3 cup into the puff pastry cups. Bake as directed.


One 17-ounce package Puff Pastry
Filling (above)
Finely grated cheese (see note)

For Muffins:
  1. Roll the puff pastry out into a 16-inch square. 
  2. Cut the square into 4-inch squares. 
  3. Coat the inside of muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  4. Lay the puff pastry into the muffin tins, pulling the points of the square outside the cup. 
  5. Ladle in the filling and bake for 17 to 25 minutes, until the filling is set and the puff pastry is golden brown. 
  6. Allow the pastries to rest for 5 minutes, and serve warm or at room temperature. 

For individual 4-ounce (1 cup) ramekins

  1. Roll the puff pastry into an 18-inch square, and cut the pastry into 6-inch squares. 
  2. Coat the inside of the ramekins with non-stick cooking spray and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  3. Lay the pastry into the ramekins, pulling the point outside the cup. 
  4. Ladle in the filling (about ½-cup) and bake for 35 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set and the pastry is golden brown. 
  5. Allow the pastries to rest for 5 minutes, and serve warm or at room temperature. 

Rolling out the dough: 

To Make These ahead:

  • The filling can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days; the puff pastry can be rolled and patted into the tins the night before, so that all you have to do is fill and bake. 
  • If you want to freeze these, you will have to bake them first, but don’t bake them for the entire time.   
  • Back off and bake them until they begin to firm (usually about 5 minutes less with the muffins and 10 minutes less for the ramekins) 
  • Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool completely.   
  • Store in airtight containers in the freezer for up to 4 weeks, defrost overnight in the refrigerator and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, until heated through.  (by initially baking for less time, the eggs will still be cooked, but you are leaving some moisture in the egg mixture so that when they are reheated, they won’t be dry)  Most egg dishes can be handled this way for freezing. 
I'll be back tomorrow with a great menu for Cinco de Mayo, until then enjoy your day. 

Mother’s Day in the United States is said to have originated when Julia Ward Howe who wrote the lyrics to The Battle Hymn of the Republic suggested an International Mother’s day to celebrate motherhood and peace in 1872. Most celebrations were religious gatherings to celebrate mothers, but in the late 1800’s a mother in West Virginia urged her Methodist congregation to celebrate Mother’s day and her daughter Anna Jarvis made it her mission in life to have Mother’s Day declared a national holiday.  President Woodrow Wilson signed the declaration in 1914. 

1 comment:

  1. YUM!! Thanks Diane - I can't wait to try these recipes - although if I start with the Mojitos, I'm not sure how far I'll get with the rest of the meal! =O