Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter Brunch...in Finger Food Form!

Good afternoon!  I am so happy to finally be writing this…..I have been on the phone with Dell, in India, for 3 hours today, and 2 hours yesterday.  Major computer issues.  On the bright side, I do have an open invitation to stay with my new friend, Jenny, in New Delhi any time I want.  And a great recipe for Naan.  I am pretty sure her name isn’t really Jenny, but I wasn’t going to mess with our 3 hour old friendship by calling her on it.  Anyhoo, I am using Addy’s computer, which is my old laptop.  Please excuse any typos….she has gotten quite a bit of goo in the keyboard.  Gross.

We all know Easter is right around the corner….in about a week, in fact.  Everybody loves a good Easter brunch, right?  I do.  This year, I decided to combine Easter brunch with….wait for it….Finger Foods!  Yes, I have managed to combine my love of all things finger food with brunch!  I have reached the pinnacle of my career, people.  I can retire now because I will never do anything this cool again.  Seriously.

I decided to do this combination because I think it will make things a lot easier for people.  You have already gotten up early, perhaps gone to church, searched for eggs, etc.  Do you really want to sit down to a long, heavy meal after that?  No!  With this menu, you can put together a little plate, and you don’t even have to sit down if you don’t want too.  It is finger food!  And on the plus side, if you are hosting and make this menu….you don’t have to make a ton of fancy courses or find a place for everyone to sit.  It’s like a cocktail party, but it’s Easter morning.  Can’t beat that.

I will start with a picture of my beverage bar…
I just did coffee, juice and champagne.  Ok, sparkling cider…you caught me.  It was what I had….sue me.  I only had 4 adults and 4 kids, so my brunch was on the small side.  You will need to adjust accordingly.
I set out cream and sugar and some spoons.  Coffee doesn’t take much.
I also set out 2 different fruit purees for the champagne….sort of a Bellini bar.  I used strawberry and blueberry pomegranate purees.  The purees would also be great in the OJ.

Here is a picture of my buffet set-up…
I served scrambled egg crostini, individual caramelized onion potato gratins, ham wrapped broiled asparagus, mini muffins and fruit salad.  I also had some yummy Madeline cookies that I dipped in different flavors and colors.  So yes, this is a small brunch, but remember…I was only serving 4 adults and 4 kids.  You could also add in bacon, sausage, bagels, croissants, etc.  There are plenty of ways to round out this buffet.  Just remember to keep it all in the finger food family.  Something that you could eat while still holding your Bellini or Mimosa in one hand.
Do you like the ribbon on the table?  I poached that idea right from http://www.celebrationideasonline.com/.  Way easier them putting out a table cloth!

Some of this menu can be made the night before to save time.  The onions can be caramelized in advance, the asparagus can be washed and trimmed so they are ready to go, the cookies can be dipped, the fruit chopped and diced and the bread sliced for the crostini….all the night before.  Nobody wants to get up at 5am on Easter to cook.  If I get up that early it is because I am eating chocolate bunnies out of my kid’s baskets.

I will start with the potato gratins….
To make 8 individual gratins, I used 4 potatoes, one whole onion (diced), butter, cream, and lots of salt and pepper.  I peeled the potatoes and sliced them thinly with the food processor.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this by hand.
I put a little bit of butter in the bottom of 8 ramekins.  This whole recipe will use about 3/4th a stick of butter.  I had cut my butter into little pieces to make it easier for myself.  Once the butter was in each dish, I put down a layer of potatoes.  I salt and peppered each layer.
The night before, I had caramelized a chopped onion.  This is the easiest thing to do.  You put your chopped onion in a pan with about 2 tablespoons of butter.  You cook the onions for almost an hour, over low heat.  The natural sugars will come out and make the onions super sweet.  I also salt and pepper the onions, then put them in the fridge till I need them.
I top each original layer of potatoes with a spoonful of caramelized onions, then another layer of potatoes.  I add a bit more butter to each dish, and then about 1 & ½ tablespoons of heavy cream right over the top of each. I salt and pepper again, and pop them in a pre-heated oven.  These babies will cook for about 55 minutes at 375 degrees.  The tops will be bubbling and golden, just like this…..
These were my favorite part of this brunch.  So good!  Aren’t they cute?

For the scrambled egg crostini, I sliced a baguette into slices about 1/3 an inch thick.  I laid them on a sheet pan and cooked them at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes, until they were just starting to brown.
Once the baguette slices came out of the oven, I spread them with goat cheese.  I left a few cheese-less because my kiddos don’t like goat cheese.  Weirdos.
Have you ever scrambled eggs the way it is really supposed to be done?  Like over low heat for 20 minutes?  Yep, it takes an insane amount of patience, but it is so worth it.  I also use cream in my scrambled eggs, which makes them crazy good.  And lots of salt and pepper!!
I top the crostini with the scrambled eggs and then some green onions.  Do you like the shadow at the bottom?  My photographer was busy;)  I was on my own…..

For the broiled asparagus, I laid the asparagus on a baking sheet after I had washed it and trimmed the ends.  I drizzled it with olive oil, and sprinkled on garlic powder, salt and pepper.  I cooked it in a 400 degree oven for 12 minutes.  Once the asparagus cooled, I wrapped each stalk with a piece of thinly sliced ham.  Prosciutto would be great here, but not as reasonable for a crowd.

The sauce I served with the asparagus was just mayonnaise mixed with lemon juice, about 2 tablespoons lemon to 1 cup mayo.  I like to be fancy and call it “Lemon Aioli”.  I am such a fancy-pants.

We are going through a Madeline obsession at our house right now.  You know….the sponge cake-ish cookies that you always see at coffee places?  Shaped like seashells?  I took plain ones and dipped them!  You can buy them already dipped in chocolate, but I wanted to try something different.  I melted white chocolate and flavored it with lemon extract, orange extract and strawberry extract.  I colored the melted chocolate according to flavor.
They turned out super cute and they tasted great!  So cute and Easter-esque!!
I also set out mini muffins that I had baked the night before......the kids loved the mini muffins.  You can’t see it in this picture, but I put out a big bowl of fruit to round out the buffet.  Something for everyone, right?

We had a great time with this buffet and the food was great!  I hope you take some of these ideas and use them for your Easter brunch.  Take some pictures….I would love to see them!

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