Easy Easter Brunch

If you're looking for an easy and inexpensive brunch to make this Easter, or for any occasion, the folks at Bon Appetit magazine have just the menu for you.

Contributing Editor Dede Wilson, The Saturday Early Show's latest Chef on a Shoestring, prepared a meal for six on the regular "shoestring" budget of $40.

The beauty of brunch is that you can stretch your dollar much further than you can with other meals.

Wilson's menu included Poached Eggs w/ Asparagus & Prosciutto, Cornbread Muffins w/ Maple Butter, Cherry Tomato & Mint Salad, Strawberry Sorbet & Shortbread Cookies, prosecco, orange juice, and coffee.

The brunch embraces Spring's freshest ingredients.

What's more, several items can be made ahead, making it a great menu for entertaining.

Plus, if you want to cheat, some of the elements can be store-bought.

FOOD FACTS

Poach: This technique calls for cooking food gently in liquid just below the boiling point. Poached eggs make an appearance in Eggs Benedict. You could buy special egg poachers, but it's just as easy to make the eggs in a saucepan.

Sorbet: This is different from sherbet and ice cream in that it never contains milk. Although you can buy sorbet, it's surprisingly easy to make if you have an ice cream maker. It contains only four ingredients: water, sugar, fresh strawberries and lime juice.

RECIPES

POACHED EGGS WITH ROASTED ASPARAGUS, PROSCIUTTO, AND CHIVE OIL


(6 servings)

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
6 tablespoons white wine vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar
6 to 12 large eggs
2 pounds medium asparagus spears, trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

METHOD: Blend extra-virgin olive oil, chives and lemon juice in a blender or processor until smooth. Stir in grated lemon peel. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Do Ahead: Chive oil can be made 3 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Return to room temperature before using.

Fill 2 large bowls with ice water and ice; set aside. Pour enough water into each of 2 large skillets to reach a depth of 1 inch. Bring water to slow simmer over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons vinegar to each skillet. Carefully crack each egg into individual ramekins. Gently slide 1 egg at a time into simmering water, working in batches of 3 eggs for each skillet. Cook until whites are just set, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, very gently transfer eggs to bowls with ice water, being careful not to break eggs. Do Ahead: Can be made one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate eggs in bowls of ice water.

Preheat broiler. Spread asparagus in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil; turn asparagus to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil asparagus 6 minutes. Turn asparagus over and continue to broil until crisp-tender and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes longer. Divide asparagus among 6 plates and drape prosciutto slices over.

Pour enough water into each of 2 large skillets to reach a depth of 1 inch; bring to simmer. Using slotted spoon, transfer eggs to skillet; cook 1 minute for soft yolks. Using slotted spoon, place 1 or 2 eggs atop each serving or asparagus and prosciutto. Drizzle chive olive oil over and around each serving. Pass remaining chive oil separately.

CORNBREAD MUFFINS WITH MAPLE BUTTER

(makes 12)

INGREDIENTS:

Maple Butter:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (preferably grade B)

Muffins:
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly

METHOD:
For Maple Butter: Using electric mixer, beat butter in medium bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in maple syrup until well blended and smooth. Do Ahead: Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

For Muffins: Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 12 regular (1/3 cup) muffin cups. Sift cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk and egg in another medium bowl; whisk in melted butter. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients; stir just until incorporated (do not overmix). Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups. Bake muffins until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes (muffins will be pale). Cool on rack 10 minutes. Serve with maple butter.

FRESH STRAWBERRY SORBET WITH SHORTBREAD COOKIES

(6 servings)

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 cups quartered hulled fresh strawberries (about 18 ounces) plus additional whole strawberries for garnish)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
shortbread cookies

METHOD: Combine 1 cup water and sugar in medium saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and chill until cold.

Puree quartered strawberries in processor until smooth. Add lime juice and sugar syrup; process until blended. Chill mixture until cold, about 1 hour.

Transfer strawberry mixture to ice cream maker and process according to manufacturers instructions. Spoon sorbet into container; cover and freeze until firm, about 4 hours. Do Ahead: Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep frozen.

Scoop sorbet into individual glasses or bowls; garnish with strawberries. Serve shortbread cookies alongside.

SHORTBREAD COOKIES

(makes 6)

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

METHOD: Preheat oven to 300°F. Lightly butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Whisk flour, sugar and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add 1/2 cup butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gather dough together and form into ball; flatten into disk. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/2-inch-thick round. Transfer round to prepared pan. Using fingers, press dough evenly over bottom of edges of pan. Using tip of small sharp knife, score dough into 8 equal triangles, then pierce all over with fork. Bake until shortbread is cooked through and pale golden, about 45 minutes.

Using tip of sharp knife, cut warm shortbread into triangles along scored lines. Run knife around shortbread to loosen. Cool in pan at least 30 minutes. Release springform pan sides. Using spatula, carefully remove shortbread from pan (shortbread will be fragile). Do Ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store shortbread airtight in single layer at room temperature.

CHERRY TOMATO AND MINT SALAD

6 Servings

INGREDIENTS:
1 large shallot, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cups cherry tomatoes (about 2 pounds), halved
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced (from about 1 large bunch)

METHOD
Whisk first 3 ingredients in a small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature and re-whisk before using.

Combine tomatoes and mint in large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Brian Dakss

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