First things first, I must apologize for my absence last week. Shawn and I got our loan pre-approval (yay!) and have been hitting the “we’re-buying-a-house” work pretty hard. It’s been almost 2 years since we moved in with my parents to begin saving for a home; WE ARE READY. So, I apologize for the neglect last week, and also any future neglect that may happen in the coming weeks/months while I try to balance this work/blog/home buying/life thing.
Last Sunday, we had a brunch. My cousin Mike and his family were up from Bakersfield visiting his wife Jen’s grandparents, and they stopped by on their way back down Sunday morning. I love brunch (doubt that I’m alone in the sentiment). There is so much bread and cheese and powdered sugar involved in brunch, am I right? I generally don’t really like breakfast too much (typical breakfast food is much to heavy for me first thing in the morning), and yet I love brunch. Go figure.
My mom and dad decided that the best course of action would be for everyone to make a different dish. My dad made strata, a baked casserole-like dish consisting of egg, pancetta, cheese and crusty French bread. Insane. So, so good, especially the crunchy, toasted bread on top. Yum. My brother Ryan made a dish of potatoes and peppers; incredibly flavorful and just a little spicy. Really great savory dish considering the amount of sweet we had going on.
My mom made Dutch pancakes. These are, and I cannot understate this enough, THE GREATEST BRUNCH FOOD YOU WILL EVER EAT. A spongy, very eggy baked pancake filled with fruit and eaten in slices. So insanely delicious, like a bite of pure happiness. She made one with fresh strawberries (my favorite) and one with apple compote for the filling. Mike and Jen’s 2 little kids, upon seeing the Dutch pancakes, both proclaimed “breakfast pie!” and immediately dove in. Super cute kids.
I decided to go with a brunch classic: cinnamon rolls. Who doesn’t like cinnamon rolls?
I had made a batch of these the day before as well. Emily and I decided to have a Scarlett O’Hara marathon by watching Gone With The Wind and the first half of the mini-series Scarlett. We both went through simultaneous Scarlett O’Hara obsessions recently, with me reading the original book and Emily seeing GWTW for the first time and reading the sequel. Such an iconic and classic story, though we both agreed that the mini-series sequel was laughably bad. Timothy Dalton as Rhett Butler? Clark Gable you are not, my friend.
So, I made a batch on Saturday and then made two batches on Sunday. Yes. 3 batches. It’s amazing I’m not currently in a bread and sugar coma right now.
I based the recipe on the Neely’s. I decided to forgo the nuts and instead I added orange zest and orange juice to the rolls and the glaze. Orange-cinnamon rolls are such a great combination, with the heavy spice of the cinnamon and that little zip of freshness and tartness from the orange. Yummers.
What’s your favorite brunch food? And, more importantly, Clark Gable or Timothy Dalton? THG
Mike’s Cheese and Pancetta Strata (adapted from this recipe)
6 oz. pancetta, cubed
1 loaf crusty sourdough French bread
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
3 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 pinch pepper
Butter a 9×13 inch glass or ceramic baking dish. In a frying pan set over medium-high heat, fry pancetta until brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool to room temperature.
Cube bread into 1” pieces and put into prepared baking dish. Add pancetta and cheeses, mixing with hands to distribute evenly. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, milk, Tabasco, Dijon mustard and pepper. Pour mixture evenly through baking dish. Cover and refrigerate at least 12 hours, or overnight.
Bake at 350ºF for 1 hour until strata is set and crispy on top, golden-brown. Serve immediately.
Laura’s Dutch Pancakes (from the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
3 cups strawberries, sliced
powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs. Sift in flour and salt together in a small mixing bowl. Add flour mixture to eggs, alternating with milk, until a smooth batter has formed. Butter the bottom and sides of a cast iron skillet. Pour batter into skillet. Bake in the middle of oven for 20-25 minutes, gradually reducing heat to 350ºF. The pancake should puff up along the sides and be crisp and golden-brown all around. Remove from skillet. Fill with sliced strawberries and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into slices and serve.
Orange-Cinnamon Rolls (adapted from this recipe)
1/2 oz. (2 packages) dry active yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
zest of 1 large orange
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine yeast and warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften yeast. In a small mixing bowl, whisk eggs, sugar and salt until well combined. Whisk egg mixture into bowl of yeast until well combined. Whisk in 1 cup of flour, then melted butter until smooth. With the mixture set on low, add remaining flour 1 cup at a time, waiting until each cup is completely combined. Mix well until strong dough is formed and springs back when tapped. Place in a greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size in a warm place, about 1 hour.
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest. Punch down raised dough and dump out on a floured surface. Roll into a 12×15” rectangle. Brush dough with melted butter. Pour sugar mixture evenly over dough. Working on the longer end, roll somewhat tightly into a log. Cut off the ends. Cut log into 8 even pieces. Place slices in a greased 9” round baking pan. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size again, about 1 hour. Bake at 400ºF about 30 minutes, until rolls are puffed up and golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract. Whisk in orange juice until smooth and at a good, thick consistency. Pour over cinnamon rolls. Serve at room temperature.
Makes 8 rolls