Posts Tagged ‘brunch’

Pining for an Easter brunch

9 April 2014

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Once again we will be away for Easter. It’s the second time and I thought I’d resolved it wouldn’t happen again.

No, I am not so undeserving as to regret last year’s magical vacation in Boston and Martha’s Vineyard. Today we are going to Greece and for months I’ve been skipping-in-the-street excited about our upcoming trip! It’s just the timing. Ages ago in January when we booked the flights it all seemed so far away. But Easter is approaching and I feel a pinch. These trips have come in the way of a much older custom, started I think when Leo was one, and the Easter Egg hunt followed by a massive brunch is my favorite tradition. I blame all of this untimely travel on the school holiday schedule…

Were we coming home a few days sooner, here are some of the things I would likely prepare.

Chicken liver terrine

Cheat’s potted crab

Mackerel rillettes

Mimosa deviled eggs

Lentil and fennel salad with lemon and parsley

Dandelion, fennel, and pumpkin seed salad

Poppy seed and almond cake

Quick lemon and lime tart

Emboldened by Holly‘s success, I might finally attempt a panettone. I’ve been dying to try.

And crucially we would, as every year but last, dye the eggs with leaf and flower motifs.

Happy Easter, happy spring!

 

Savory oat, leek, and pecorino scones with za’atar

17 December 2012

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English purists wouldn’t accept these as ‘scones.’ Scones are plain, eaten at tea time, with strawwwberry jam and clotted cream. I’ll worry about that in a few months. I’m still firmly implanted stateside and not above studding scones with currants (ha!), dried cranberries and apricots, almonds, gruyère, walnuts, or even caraway.

I could have named these differently, of course, but they are scones because I made them using a scone recipe. From England. It’s a recipe I copied when I lived there many years ago, when I was ten or so. It’s the second oldest recipe I collected, just after that of the banana cake.

These scones were a happy accident. Leo had a performance at school last week, which was to be followed by a potluck breakfast. As often — or always — happens, at first I wasn’t sure what to bring, then decided I’d pick up something easy like juice since Thomas was in London and I alone with the children all week; later I realized too many parents were already planning to bring juice. So for once, just this once, I wouldn’t bring anything. It’s OK to do that once. Of course the night before, filled with guilt, I felt I absolutely had to bake something, and must make do with whatever was in the house.

So these scones happened. I tasted one just a few minutes out of the oven, with butter melting from the warmth. It was really good. And better still with a little citrus jam — er, ‘marmalade.’ Cold, the next morning, the scones were not quite the hit. It seems people prefer sweets in the morning.

I would insist that these scones, which are very quick to prepare, should be made just before breakfast (or brunch) and eaten immediately, warm, or, if later, toasted.

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Makes about 16 scones

I used za’atar to add zest and depth of flavor, but I realize it’s not necessarily a house staple (I just happened to have some) and could be substituted with chopped fresh thyme (lemon thyme even better! — is that not helpful?).

1 1/2 cups butter
3 cups flour
1 cup rolled oats
6 tsps baking powder
2 tsps za’atar
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup coarsely grated pecorino
1 long or 2 small leeks
Zest from 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and butter generously.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oats, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and za’atar.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and add the milk and melted butter. Combine this with the oat/flour mixture until all the flour is absorbed.

To clean the leek remove the coarse outer leaves, rinse thoroughly under running water, opening up the inner leaves slightly to make sure no sand remains. Slice the leek very thinly.

Add the leek, ground pecorino, and lemon zest to the dough. Stir to combine well.

With a large soup spoon, scoop out balls of dough and place them on the baking sheet.

Bake for 22 minutes. The outside should be starting to turn golden and feel slightly resistant to the touch but not firm (it will become harder as it cools).

Serve quickly, while still warm, with delicious butter and orange marmalade…

(These scones are really very delicious when warm, so they should be eaten immediately, or toasted or reheated in the oven later.)

Breakfast in Montréal | Le Cartet and Olive + Gourmando

17 July 2011

In my fantasy life I keep clearly organized folders of clippings, weblinks, and friends’ recommendations, collected over the years, about noteworthy restaurants and singular out-of-the-way hotels all over the world. That way, when one day I go to Sicily, Copenhagen, Singapore, or Atlanta, I will know just where to stay and what to eat.

In my real life I have no folders, I don’t always buy a guidebook in advance, and we rarely book a hotel before we leave. It’s charming and spontaneous, as vacations should be, and sometimes leads to unexpected, memorable moments like sleeping in a thousand-year-old manor house nestled on Dartmoor in the South of England. But not always.

So our family of five drove up to Québec over Fourth of July weekend in what may well be the last trip of our aging VW Beetle. The only room we were likely to find in Montréal during a weekend that turned out to be not only the height of the jazz festival but also Canada Day, was in a large nondescript hotel. And, despite the fact that since I acquired the cookbook five years ago the legendary restaurant “Au Pied de Cochon” alone seemed worth the trip up to Québec, I hadn’t booked a table.

We saw a lot of Montréal in a day and a half. We walked more than was reasonable with three young children, from the old port up past the recent Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec toward Parc La Fontaine and finally to Parc du Mont-Royal before heading to the jazz festival.

In the end we barely stopped for lunch, and didn’t plan for a civilized dinner; but we did eat two exceptional breakfasts. I would have stayed weeks longer just for the granola, the scones, and the apple cinnamon bun.

Le Cartet

Le Cartet has a store in the front with a large relaxed restaurant in the back. Everything on the breakfast menu seemed tempting and it was hard to choose. It’s the type of breakfast I like. You don’t have to decide for just eggs or just granola (though you can certainly opt to simply eat two soft-boiled eggs with toast).

The brunch plate I ordered included ginger granola with cashew nuts, yogurt, and blueberries; poached eggs on mesclun salad and whole wheat toast; cheddar; figs; and fresh fruit. And a very good cafe latte.

Le Cartet

106 McGill St
Montréal, QC H2Y 2E5
Canada

+1 514-871-8887

www.lecartet.com

Open Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat-Sun 9am-4pm

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Olive+Gourmando

Olive+Gourmando was crowded on Saturday morning, as it apparently often is, so we decided not to wait and rather take our breakfast out to a small park around the corner: coffee, croissants, scones, and an apple cinnamon bun to put all apple cinnamon buns to shame.

The blueberry scones, too, were probably the best I have eaten, perhaps thanks to a generous amount of lemon zest and, I would guess, a respectable quantity of butter.

Olive+Gourmando

351 Rue Saint Paul Ouest
Montréal, QC
Canada

+1 514-350-1083

www.oliveetgourmando.com

Open Tues-Sat 8am-6pm

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Eating out | Up a cobbled street to Vinegar Hill House

19 May 2011

Vinegar Hill House lives on a narrow street that slants up from the East river, an unexpected cobbled block of low brick houses tucked between old factories at one end and uninspired housing towers at the other. It takes its name from the neighborhood, a small anachronistic sliver wedged between Dumbo and the Brooklyn Navy Yards.

From the outside it’s hard to guess which of the houses is a restaurant; inside it’s very much the kind of place you’d hope to walk into. It’s busy but not crowded, friendly without being overbearing, and thoughtful but not overly contrived. The food is simple, seasonal, and mostly very good.

We had no trouble getting a table when we arrived for brunch at 11.30. I ate good scrambled eggs with ramps and a side of completely addictive maple-glazed bacon. Thomas liked the special, a thick corn pancake with pieces of chorizo topped with cream and jalapeno. Balthasar polished off the quiche, though I would have quibbled that it was a bit eggy with too few pieces of asparagus. Leo found the breakfast sandwich with country ham, fried egg, and pepper jelly a bit too sweet, and I was forced to agree (though he did have to finish it). Louise scavenged bits and pieces from everyone.

Then came one large sourdough pancake with pecan bourbon sauce and ricotta, and it would barely have survived a minute under our four-sided fork assault had not the creamy yogurt with homemade preserves accompanied by a granola bar arrived as a propitious diversion. It was a family brunch. It was lovely.

Vinegar Hill House

72 Hudson Avenue (nr. Water Street)
Brooklyn, NY 11201

718-522-1018

Open Mon-Thu 6-11pm, Fri-Sat 6pm-11.30, Sun 5.30-11pm
Brunch Sat-Sun 11am-3.30pm

www.vinegarhillhouse.com

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Eating out | Brunch at Blaue Gans

 

Eating out | Brunch at Blaue Gans

22 February 2011

I have a soft spot for Kurt Gutenbrunner’s restaurants. Gutenbrunner is the Austrian chef/owner of Blaue Gans, Wallsé, and Café Sabarsky in New York (as well as Upholstery Winebar and Café Kristall, which I have yet to visit). An essential part of the draw is the excellent food, which is largely Austrian with a number of nods across the German border, but the spirit is clearly more that of a Viennese Café than a Bavarian beer garden. The other thing I like so much about these restaurants is the ambience. Each has a unique atmosphere but with similar qualities: at once elegant and ever so slightly old-fashioned – a touch European in the best sense; but also laid-back and congenial.

Blaue Gans, the most casual of the lot, is great for an easy dinner with friends, a simple lunch, and particularly for brunch. It’s spacious and relaxed – exactly the kind of place you hope to stumble into on a lazy weekend morning – and the menu options span a large spectrum, so everyone is likely to find something that suits their mood, from simple pastries to a Wiener Schnitzel – why not?

There is excellent weisswurst with pretzel, and bratwurst with sauerkraut. But it’s not just the sausages. I am infatuated with the Bibb salad with radishes, pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin-seed oil (in the evening the soups are tough competition). There are perfectly soft-boiled eggs in a glass and delicious Matjes herring “Hausfrauenart” – with apples. And then there is the creamed spinach, which can now be ordered as a side, so I get it every time, regardless of what else I’ve decided to order.

Incidentally, Blaue Gans is a good place to go with young children. Ours are always excited to go and invariably very welcome. They love the weisswurst (including Louise, who is already 11 months) and won’t leave without some Kaiserschmarren, the irresistible thick Austrian pancake cut into slivers and served with seasonal fruit compotes.

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Blaue Gans

139 Duane Street (between West Broadway and Church)
New York, NY 10013

212-571-8880

Open daily, 11am-midnight (bar until 2am)


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