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Brunch For Four, For $40

When Chef Marc Meyer opened his "Five Points" restaurant in New York more than six years ago, he had no interest in serving brunch.

But Meyer eventually relented — and now weekend brunch is the restaurant's most popular meal.

Meyer has recently written a book, appropriately called "Brunch," that features 100 recipes from Five Points.

On The Saturday Early Show, he prepares a brunch for four on a budget of $40. The recipes come from his new cookbook.

Meyer is known for cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients.

His Saturday Early Show menu includes Morning Refresher Citrus Cocktail, Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Asparagus and Blue Cheese Frittatas and Homemade Churros.

FOOD FACTS

  • Frittata: A traditional frittata is an Italian omelet that has the ingredients mixed into the eggs. It's fairly thick and is cut into wedges. A frittata is firm, like a slice of egg pie, because it's cooked slowly over low heat and then popped under the broiler to finish cooking the eggs on top. Meyer's frittata is a bit thinner than the traditional version; he likens it to an egg crepe.
  • Slab Bacon: Although you are welcome to use pre-sliced and packaged bacon in the frittata, Meyer prefers slab bacon, which comes in a large chunk and must be sliced. He likes to cook chunks of bacon instead of thin slices. Another bonus to using slab bacon: It's usually cheaper than pre-sliced bacon.
  • Maytag Blue Cheese: Yes, this blue cheese was discovered by the same family that sells washing machines and other appliances. The cheese is moist and crumbly. It tastes a bit sharp, spicy, and rather salty.
  • Churro: Similar to a cruller, this Spanish and Mexican specialty is a sweet-dough spiral that is deep-fried and eaten like a doughnut. Churros are usually coated with a mixture of cinnamon and granulated sugar.
  • RECIPES

    ASPARAGUS & BLUE CHEESE FRITTATA

    Ingredients:

    5 large eggs
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    A few teaspoons of olive oil
    1 bunch of asparagus spears
    8 pieces of slab bacon
    1/4 pound Maytag blue cheese

    Method:

    1. Preheat the broiler and set your broiler pan (or the shelf in an electric oven) about 3 to 4 inches away from the broiling element.
    2. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Blanch 1 bunch of asparagus spears (stems peeled if thick) for 2 minutes in the boiling water, then drain. Cook the 8 pieces of bacon and crumble or coarsely chop. Crumble the 1/4 pound of Maytag blue cheese.
    3. Beat the eggs with salt and pepper to taste. Heat the oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over high heat. When it slides easily from side to side, add the eggs. Immediately turn the heat down to low. (If you are using an electric stove, you may want to start the frittata on one burner set to high and transfer the skillet to another burner turned on to low.) Let the eggs cook undisturbed until set on the bottom, then use a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to pull the eggs away from the rim of the pan and let the loose eggs run underneath.
    4. Sprinkle or arrange the toppings over the frittata, then flash the frittata under the broiler to set its surface — 1 minute at the most. Serve hot or warm.

    LEMON RICOTTA PANCACKES

    Light, airy, and perfumed with lemon and vanilla, our lemon ricotta pancakes are popular because they're the polar opposite of the leaden, bready Frisbees that pass for pancakes most of the time.

    Ingredients:

    2 cups ricotta cheese (about 1 pound)
    4 large eggs, separated
    Grated zest of 1 lemon
    Pinch of salt
    Dash of pure vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus additional butter as necessary to cook the pancakes
    Maple syrup, warmed

    Method:

    1. Set an ovenproof platter or baking sheet with a cooling rack on top of it into the oven, and turn the oven to 200 degrees.
    2. Beat the ricotta and egg yolks together in a large mixing bowl with the lemon zest, salt, vanilla, and sugar. Stir in the flour and 7 tablespoons of the melted butter, working the batter just until it's homogenous and smooth.
    3. Whip the egg whites with a whisk or handheld mixer until they hold a stiff peak. With a rubber spatula, gingerly fold half of the whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining half. Don't worry if the resulting batter is lightly stripped with whipped whites — they keep the pancakes light and airy.
    4. Heat a large cast-iron or non-stick skillet or griddle over the medium-low heat for a minute or two, then grease the pan with a teaspoon or more of the remaining butter. When the butter starts to sizzle, turn the heat up a touch and ladle in 3½-to-4 inch pancakes.
    5. After a couple of minutes, when the bottoms of the pancakes are somewhere between mottled and uniformly brown, flip them and cook another 2 minutes on the other side. Transfer the finished pancakes to the platter in the oven and repeat with the remaining batter. Put your serving plates in the oven to warm before adding the last of the batter to the pan.
    6. Serve the pancakes on the warmed plates, with warmed maple syrup on the side.

    NOTE: You can substitute orange zest for lemon zest (and add a splash of orange-flower water if you have it on hand) to make Orange Ricotta Pancakes.


    CHURROS

    MAKES APPROXIMATELY TEN 5- TO 7-INCH CHURROS.

    There are, in my mind, two kinds of churros: those leathery, dark-brown, greasy specimens you come across in the subway and at ballparks and then these, the churros we serve at Five Points. They are crispy outside, almost creamy inside, with their fluted ribs sparking with sugar crystals. Am I prejudiced? Yes. I've had South American friends turn up their noses at them. Issues of authenticity aside, I think this is the best way to make churros and, judging by the volume we serve every Sunday, I'm not alone.

    Ingredients:

    1/2 cup turbinado sugar
    1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
    1 cup water
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 cup all-purpose flour 3 large eggs
    Grapeseed, corn, canola, or other neutral oil, as needed

    Method:

    1. Mix the turbinado and the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar together in a wide, shallow dish and set aside.
    2. Combine the remaining 1½ teaspoons of sugar, the water, salt, and butter in a heavy-bottomed 2- to 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. As soon as the mixture starts to bubble around edge of pan, dump in all the flour and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon. Keep turning the dough over, stirring as fast as you can — it will get very stiff — until it comes together into a viscous, smooth, deep ivory-colored paste.
    3. Scrape the dough into the bowl of a standing mixer outfitted with the paddle attachment. Incorporate the eggs into the dough on high speed, adding them one at a time. Once the dough is an even color and consistency, scrape it into a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch fluted tip. (You can complete this step as far as 4 to 6 hours in advance and keep the dough in the refrigerator.)
    4. Line a sheet pan with paper towels and place it in the oven. Turn the oven to 200 degrees. Bring 2 inches of oil to 325 to 350 degrees in a wok, skillet, or countertop deep fryer. Add 5- to 7- inch-long snakes of dough to the oil, working in batches as necessary to avoid crowding the pan. Fry for 4 to 6 minutes, until golden brown, flipping the churros once mid-fry.
    5. Remove the churros to the sheet pan to drain briefly while you finish the remaining batches. When all churros are fried, roll them in the mixed sugars while still warm. Shake off any excess sugar, arrange the churros on a warmed serving platter, and serve at once.

    MORNING REFRESHER

    MAKES 1 DRINK

    This blend of fruit juices is our most popular brunch beverage (after coffee, of course). Pitchers of the blushed-orange juice cocktail adorn many, if not most, tables on Sunday mornings. You can turn our Morning Refresher into what we call a Morning Punch with the addition of silver (blanco) tequila or vodka.

    Ingredients:

    1/4 cup orange juice
    1/4 cup grapefruit juice
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
    Splash of cranberry juice
    Splash of club soda or seltzer water

    Method:

    1. Combine the orange, grapefruit, lemon, and lime juices in a tall glass filled with ice. Stir the drink well, add a splash or cranberry, and top it off with club soda.

    NOTE: This drink is also a great way to dress up store-bought orange and grapefruit juice; just make sure to use freshly squeezed lemon and lime juices.

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