March 2018 Class
I love a good brunch. It’s feels so luxurious to take the time to enjoy a meal on a (hopefully) sunny afternoon with family and friends. Whether you are celebrating Easter, or just want to celebrate a wonderful spring weekend, this is menu is sure to be a hit. One of the challenges with entertaining is to get everything to the table hot. This menu is ideal for entertaining because all the dishes can be prepared ahead of time and are actually best served warm or room temperature, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the day.
So what are we cooking?
No brunch would be complete without a festive bubbly cocktail! Bellinis were created at Harry’s Bar in Venice. It is a combination of peach purée and Prosecco. But, I honestly prefer to serve it with a dry, brut sparkling wine. Whichever bubbles you choose, either way, this cocktail is delicious.
Artichokes, Asparagus and Hazelnuts
Nothing says the arrival of spring like beautiful bunches of asparagus and fresh artichokes at the market. In the past, I have made this dish with fresh baby artichokes that I have to peel and clean. But, there were none at the market, so I'm using frozen artichoke hearts. The frozen artichokes paired very well with the fresh asparagus. They taste quite nice and are absolutely no work at all. We perfectly steam the asparagus and artichoke hearts, than toss them with a tangy vinaigrette and top with some roasted hazelnuts. Serve as a lovely first course or along side the main dish. I'll be making this recipe all season since it goes so well with so many different meats and fish dishes.
Torta Pasqualina. “Torta” means cake in Italian, but this is really a savory Italian pie traditionally served for Easter brunch. It's so wonderfully satisfying that I bet that you will want to make it so much more often than just one time a year. This savory dish is positively addictive and so easy to cut and serve, making it portable and an ideal lunch, picnic, or snack dish. I've been known to take it directly out of the fridge and eat it on the go. The satisfying filling of sautéed leeks, Swiss chard, and spinach are combined with two cheeses and topped with five raw, whole eggs and baked in a puffed pastry crust. The outside is a beautiful golden brown and when you slice it, the inside reveals the cooked eggs which symbolize the rebirth of spring and Christ. I love the combination of veggies and cheese….who doesn't? For this Easter brunch, I will be serving the torta alongside a platter of roasted Italian link sausage to make the meat lovers in my group happy, but you could instead add cooked, crumbled sausage, bacon, or chopped ham into your torta if you wish.
Very Berry Coffee Cake
In this day and age, coffee cakes are often overlooked as an addition to a brunch menu. Upstaged by bars, muffins and donuts. That is too bad, because to me this is the very best coffee cake. Kinda old school, something you would find at a good diner bakery case. It has a moist cake, a crumbly topping, and isn't too sweet. When cut into squares, it reveals all the berry goodness in the center. It is perfect for serving with your brunch, with a cup of coffee, or maybe with another Bellini!
Wishing you and your family a Buona Pasquau, Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring and, most of all, a Happy Brunch!