Sunday, November 13, 2011

Brunch with Friends: Menu Two

Well, I think it is safe to say that Brunch with Friends is going to become a regular feature here on wannafoodie. I spend hours dreaming up these menus and thinking about how to build levels of flavours into such warm, comforting, start-your-day food. How will each component connect with the other once it is on the plate? How do I make each component stand out while complimenting the others? How do I elevate the more simple components into something truly memorable? It has really been an energizing and inspiring experience... and hopefully one that you will get on board with.

This time, we were hosting Doug's sister Kate, her husband Alan and their daughter Emma (for shame! I didn't nab a photo of the family... next time!). Oh, and I can't possibly forget Boo, their pup, who came for a play-date with Charlie, our eleven month old black Lab. It was such a nice excuse to catch-up with Kate and Alan but also to see the ever-changing Emma, who two short weeks ago was barely walking and now is charging around without a care in the world. (How fast they grow!) 

The flavours that I played with today are ones that warm me as the weather cools... cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin and citrus. They have been woven throughout all...

Brunch with Friends: Menu Two
Pumpkin Bread Pancakes with Citrus Spiced Butter and Maple Syrup
Honey Greek Yogurt with Homemade Granola
Orange, Berry and Pomegranate Salad
(And bacon!)

All of my advance effort in this case went into dreaming up the menu... nearly everything for this Brunch with Friends was made that morning (well, with the exception of the sangria, which was made the night before)! I could have made the granola and flavoured butter in advance but -for no real reason- didn't... you can definitely knock that off your list sooner though, if you're so inclined.

1 bottle Tempranillo
2 ounces Cointreau (or other orange flavoured liquor)
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1/2 orange, sliced
1 pomegranate, half for the seeds and half for the juice
2 tablespoons agave sweetener
And, when it comes to serving, sparkling water or Pellegrino

Seeding a pomegranate doesn't have to end in red-stained hands
and seed-splatter everywhere. 

In a large pitcher or container (I used a large canister that we had previously stored flour in), combine all of the ingredients - liquids, fruit and sweetener. Stir to get everything mingling, then set mixture into the fridge. An overnight rest is ideal because it allows all of the flavours to really come together. You could get away with less but I certainly wouldn't rush this... it just gets better with a bit of time.

For serving, fill your wine glass half full with sangria, then top with sparkling water (a little or a lot depending on how committed you are to vino in the morning.. hahaha).

**Insert: SLEEP**

First thing that I sorted out in the morning was coffee. hahah. Priorities, friends! Grind, sprinkle with cinnamon, brew, pour...... happy.

Then, to work...

Homemade Granola
3 cups oats
1 cup cashews, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons wheat germ
1/4 cup coconut
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Orange zest (I grated about half of an orange's worth of zest)
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup maple syrup
Then, after baking, 1 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Heat your oven to 325F and prep a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.

Mix together your dry ingredients (I included the orange zest here). You can mix and match the flavours and ingredients to suit your pantry supplies or culinary creativity... nuts, seeds, spices, whatever works!

Melt your butter, then mix in your maple syrup. Then drizzle your wet ingredients over the dry and stir to combine well.

Spread your mixture on the parchment lined baking sheet and place in the oven. The mixture needs to bake for approximately 35-40 minutes but I set my timer in increments of 10-15 minutes and stirred at each buzz. Taste test the granola at the 30-35 minute mark to assess its crunch (be careful though, it can be quite hot!). If it is still too chewy for your taste, then continue to bake and test in 5 minute intervals.

When you're happy with the crunch, remove the sheet from the oven and set aside to cool. Once the mixture has cooled, you can mix in dried fruits or chocolate. Store in an airtight container and enjoy on yogurt or as your breakfast cereal.

Pumpkin Bread Pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup spelt (or whole wheat) flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Pinch of allspice
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
Orange zest (roughly the zest of half an orange)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Same as with the granola... you need to combine your dry ingredients, then combine your wet ingredients separately, before mixing both together. So, mix your flours and spices together, then all of the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to your spiced flour mixture and stir to combine.

Since I didn't want to be standing over the stove cooking pancakes while everyone socialized and enjoyed themselves, I heated the oven to ~200F and readied a parchment lined baking sheet to keep the pancakes warm. (On a second tray below that one, we set our par-cooked bacon to warm.) I started cooking about 20 minutes before our guests were slated to arrive and just tossed the cooked pancakes into the oven.

These pancakes are quite dense and much thicker than that runny pancake batter. As such, low and slow is the best for the pan-fry, so you don't burn the outside before the insides are cooked. If you have a nice non-stick pan, then no butter or oil is required but you know your cookware and do what you need to do! Cook a test pancake to gauge your pan temperature and timing. That said, the nice part about keeping the pancakes warm in the oven is that any doughy-ness can be cooked away while perfuming your house.

Citrus Spiced Butter
1 cup butter
Orange zest (one orange worth)
Lemon zest (half of a lemon)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of cloves

Make sure that your butter is room temperature or close to, as ice cold butter will be a pain for your processor to mince... or your arm if you are making this by hand. Combine (either by food processor or hand) your butter and seasonings.

Once combined, you can mould the butter or shape it into discs. I mounded the butter onto a piece of plastic wrap, then moulded it into a small bowl. Place your moulded butter into the fridge to set. Once set or closer to your service time, you can un-mould your butter and place it on a plate. I set it out about an hour before our guests arrived, so that it could warm up and spread nicely on the pancakes.

Last, we segmented oranges (after ridding them of their zest) on top of blackberries, raspberries and pomegranate seeds. This became our fruit salad but also a lovely addition to the Greek yogurt and granola.

Emma LOVED brunch. She was like a chipmunk with these pancakes... 
Kate even had to move them out of reach, so that Emma would chew
as opposed to stuff them into her mouth!

Happy bellies and soon-to-be-emptied plates.

Emma and Uncle Doug! 

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