Brunch for TEN!?

My lovely friend Jen emailed me the following question today:

If Ginnie was serving brunch for 10 this Sunday, what would she make? :)

And being me, I over-replied. But I realized this might be a heck of a useful post!

For TEN!? What have you gotten yourself roped into?

1) Meat: I’d do ham steak/s instead of bacon or sausage because it’s easier to cook (just sear in pan & voilà) and doesn’t make the house stink like meat for vegetarians. Make ’em look fancy by doing grill marks if you have the requisite apparatus and time and sanity. I don’t like putting much of any kind of sauce or glaze on ham, but something orangey would be nice if you felt like dressing them up. Another plus is that since ham is pre-cooked/cured, you’re not likely to accidentally undercook meat or give anybody a food-borne illness.

2) Sweet: I’d make the Blueberry Pecan French toast recipe from Epicurious since you can prep most of it the night before. Throw in a bit of cinnamon too and use real vanilla bean if you can. Also make sure you use full fat milk or even half and half — nobody eats French toast to be healthy & it’ll taste better. :) I like making it with strawberries instead of blueberries too, but definitely shell out for fresh fruit, not frozen. You could probably sauté apple or banana if berries are too scarce. Use Grade B maple syrup for maple-ier flavor — Trader Joe’s has good prices. You could whip up some cream for a festive addition to this.

3) Egg: Then you can do a big easy vegetable omelet (arugula & fancy mushrooms like oyster or chanterelle?) or scramble, and fancy it up with drizzlings of truffle oil — but keep that part optional on the side if you have kids or other picky eaters to feed. Maybe truffle half of it and stick a little shroom on top to distinguish the truffled half. Go very easy w/ that stuff!

4) Drink: Do a big pitcher of mimosa on ice; more people like those than Bloody Marys or other AM cocktails, and people can always wander into your kitchen to tweak the ratio. (Maybe leave out some decent brandy on the counter if they feel like spiking their version.) Cristalino cava is usually $7-9 per bottle and works great; the normal kind is best but Extra Brut works too. Don’t get the pink. Fresh squeeze the oranges and have extra pre-squeezed from the night before so the fun keeps flowing. I like to use blood oranges if available for a fun look — but don’t fret over orange selection because the reddish peel coloration rarely corresponds to the color of the flesh. Just grab & go and know that any oranges will be delish. :) If you have an opaque pitcher use that instead of clear, because the pulp residue makes clear pitchers look unnecessarily dirty/icky after just one pour.

GOOD LUCK!!! Oh, and this may also be of service.

The ducks are laying again

I started trying out duck eggs a couple years ago, since my favorite farmers’ market stand would always sell out of chicken eggs by 8:30 AM. At first I was freaked out (largely because I can’t stand goats’ milk, so I’ve been paranoid to switch animals all willy-nilly!) but I soon discovered that duck eggs are delicious. And they’re also more nutritious in many ways, and they hold up better in baked goods.

So I was extra-thrilled to find out that Madison Market sells duck eggs — I thought I had to get myself to the farmers’ market to enjoy them. Sure, they’re kinda misshapen and weirdly colored, and they don’t even come close to fitting in those cardboard egg trays. But that’s part of their charm!

I think hard-boiled duck eggs are much more flavorful than chicken eggs. (Initially I was worried because the lying, mean Internet made me think they would change color. But, as you’ll note from my photo, hard-boiled duck eggs are just as white and yellow as ever.) And for some reason, chicken egg yolks sometimes gross me out, but duck egg yolks are creamy and rich and wonderful. I also think duck eggs work better in dishes like potato salad.

I’m thrilled that the ducks are back in action — I can finally start incorporating duck eggs into my cooking again! I just enjoyed a lovely snack of a hard-boiled duck egg with Barrique Chardonnay finishing salt — delish!

The Georgian for brunch — perfect eggs

Grant and I recently subscribed to Seattle Metropolitan, just in time for the “Hot Breakfast Spots” issue. While I was frustrated that a bunch of things were reported wrong (like hours of operation and menu items), we were still thrilled to have a good breakfast/brunch guide, since it’s our favorite going-out meal.

We decided to give The Georgian at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel a whirl, since it was caucus day and it was right around the corner. Figuring it’d be swamped with other people who had the same idea, we called ahead to make a reservation. There were all of three tables in the giant English tearoom-styled dining hall, so I guess everyone else caucused hungry? Their loss!

I expected the Georgian to be a bit stuffy and awkward, given that it’s a snooty hotel whose restaurant is usually frequented by top-dollar execs on business travel. But while the atmosphere was a bit stiff, the food more than made up for it — they had a very natural and local menu with lots of organic items, and there were several interesting combos like a lobster chipotle Benedict and some killer omelet additions.

Over Medium, as it should be.But what really wooed me were the eggs. I ordered them “over medium”, which usually means “still totally runny yolks” at most joints. But the Georgian hit the PERFECT balance of egg yolks that are neither runny nor hard and opaque. Plus, I ordered the breakfast flat-iron steak medium rare, and it wasn’t totally cooked to a brown unrecognizable jerky like most breakfast steaks tend to be.

And lastly, the treat. I usually have to avoid sweeter breakfast delights like French toast and waffles, because the carb-tastic options do a number on my blood sugar. Opting for protein-rich selections is the only way I can guarantee the meal will last me more than an hour, sustenance-wise. So I was thrilled, after ordering my steak-eggs-and-hash-browns combo, to spot a little white pot of something baked. It turned out to be a tiny spiced pumpkin bread type coffee cake — just enough sweet treat to let me know I didn’t have to miss out on the fun, without screwing up my protein-heavy intentions.

All in all, this was one of the best brunches I’ve had in a long time. And we go out to brunch a LOT, and we’ve been checking out more and more spots since Seattle Met tipped us off to our options. Best of all, there didn’t seem to be a single error in the magazine’s reporting on this spot — there was a fresh-made juice of the day, there was a great selection, and there were no major surprises or disappointments when it came to hours of operation or menu offerings. And the eggs “over medium” really were over medium. I couldn’t ask for more!

Sam I am

I actually had Green Eggs and Ham for breakfast today.  It was delicious (they were delicious?).  Good stuff.  And the eggs had cilantro and poblano chiles and tomatos, and it was a flavor combo that reminded me of Mexico, in a good way – which was wonderful, because I feel sort of oddly guilty that I don’t have more positive memories of Mexico; like perhaps I owed the country more than I gave it or something – anyway, things that give me happy Mexico memories make me particularly pleased, because I guess the good stood out that much more profoundly because it was against such a bleary backdrop for me.  In summary: yum.