September and October have always been hectic months for me. Ever since I was a little girl, Momma R would tell me that I was busy as a bee during these months and would end up sick at some point during or towards the end of it. Well, true to form, I am sitting in a hotel room in Whitehorse and, instead of breaking bread with friends tonight, I am drinking neo citran and watching pixelated food network. At least, it gives me the opportunity to take a break, process some photos and give wannafoodie some overdue attention.
Our new plan for breaking bread and sharing time with friends is to host them for brunch. Brunch has always been one of my most favourite meals... it has the best of everything - sweet, savoury, boozy and a civilized hour! hahah. I enjoy dinner parties but Doug and I have a newfound appreciation for brunch parties - prepping in advance, hosting our friends, then still having our whole day to fuss and muss and reset for the week.
In the midst of our chaotic fall and just prior to leaving on our Mexican adventure and wedding celebration of our friends, Cary and Des, we took a welcome reprieve and invited the soon-to-be newlyweds to kick off our Brunch with Friends series.
Brunch with Friends - Menu One
Baked Eggs with Toast Fingers
Nigella's Arabian Mornings
Peter Reinhardt's Cinnamon/Sticky Buns
Brie with Spiced Golden Plum Jam
All of these components came together so flawlessly and required little fuss and stress in the kitchen prior to Cary and Des's arrival. On Saturday evening, we prepped the buns... mixed the dough, went to a movie, came home and rolled the dough with cinnamon sugar, then left them to rise overnight while we slipped away to bed.
Almost obscenely puffed buns after a night of warm rising...
After waking up and letting the dog out in the morning, I heated the oven and let the buns bake away to a beautiful golden brown. When it comes to serving the buns, put a plate or platter on top of the baking dish then flip the buns out so that the bottom is now your top and all of that glistening sticky caramel taunts your guests until someone bravely pulls one away from its friends and devours it.
I've really been enjoying the recipes in Peter Reinhardt's Artisan Breads Every Day... it has taken some of the fear out of bread making for me and made so many beautiful breads so very accessible. Here is his cinnamon/sticky bun recipe... may it be the gateway dough for you to embark on your own bread making attempts.
Nigella's Arabian Mornings (from her cookbook Feast) just looked too good to not try out at this brunch. She dubbed this an "enthusiastic suggestion" as opposed to a recipe, which I really loved. Her suggestion was to mix chunked watermelon with mint and a scant tablespoon of rose water. You don't need much of this essence or you'll feel as though you are eating a bar of soap but in a sparse quantity, it adds such a unique, slightly floral tone to the sweetness of the watermelon and freshness of the mint. (I had picked up the bottle of rose water in the ethnic foods aisle at the grocery store for only a few dollars.)
So, while the buns baked, I chopped the watermelon into little triangles. Tore some mint. Sprinkled the rose water. Mix. We topped our salad with a small squeeze of lemon and its zest for an additional layer of flavour. Your proportions may vary slightly to your own taste but I used half of one of those small seedless watermelons, about ten large mint leaves, one tablespoon of rose water, zest of one lemon and juice of one half. Taste and tweak!
Last, I prepped the baked eggs (a past wannafoodie "suggestion"). Into buttered ramekins (another excuse to show off my beautiful Le Creuset cast iron ramekins) crack one egg, accessorize accordingly (we used sweet red peppers, green onions, herbs and fresh grated parmesan), top with cream, then bake for ~10-15 minutes at 350F. Serve with toasted bread cut into spears for easy dipping and spreading.
The buns were cooked. The salad was chopped. The table was set. When our guests arrived, the eggs were tossed in the oven while we snacked on brie with spiced golden plum jam (a beautiful preserve from our weekend of preserving/canning in September), sipped mimosas, and laughed together.
A stolen moment between the soon-to-be (and now) newlyweds!