Monday, May 04, 2009

Read It and Weep

Read it and weep. That may seem like a harsh title, because it is. I say this because you might be tempted to weep after realizing that you didn't get to be a part of this meal. Around the Table really did it up yesterday. We were like the Cows of Bashan, rolling in the grass under a bright, encouraging sun, and happily grazing on golden grass. It was that good. I hope this post and all of these pictures inspire you to create a lovely, decadent brunch of your own!

We have a very sweet and talented new addition to the group, Miss Laurel, she is a co-worker and friend of mine and is a damn fine cook. She brought champagne and a base for mimosas. But don't think for one little second that she went with the standard old orange juice concoction. Nope. She squeezed about a dozen lemons, two mineolas, and one grapefruit. A simple syrup was added to the mix to sweeten it up a bit and let me just tell you, these Mimosas were so exquisite that we all had three. Three. They were tart with lots of citrus complexities. The greatness didn't stop there, Laurel also candied orange peels resulting in about the cutest little spiral mimosa garnish around. When I think classic brunch, because I always think classic, I think of a punch with slight retro flair. I also think Bellini. And I definitely think Mimosa. Refreshing, tangy, sparkling... perfect.

I hosted the affair and finally found a reason to use my trifle bowl. Being the obsessive compulsive gal I am, I had to pick a color palette for my fruit salad. So I went with oranges, yellows, and green. From the bottom: green grapes, kiwi, oranges, bananas, pineapple, and star fruit. I really like the way it turned out. If I had had more time, I would have spent even more time to layer the fruit perfectly.

I'm just kicking myself that I didn't get a better picture here. Oh well, can't cry over spilled milk, right? To accompany my layered fruit salad, I made a lime-mint sugar topping and vanilla bean syrup for drizzling. To make the mint sugar, you mortar and pestle equal parts mint and sugar, about a quarter cup of each. Once completely ground and mixed, pour onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and let it spend about twenty minutes in a 165' oven. Take out and break up the chunks to make a smoother mixture, fold in a bit of lime zest and voila. It really kicks up fruit salad to another level and makes it special. The dried sugar provides a bit of crunchy texture and the vanilla bean syrup is homey and comforting.

I have a new friend, Potatoes Anna. Or Pommes Anna if you want to get technical. Laura brought a potato dish that I could bathe in. Regularly. Pommes Anna is a classic french dish that calls for potatoes to be very thinly sliced and then prepared with an insane amount of butter, baked, and then inverted from its baking vessel. The result is a lovely textured potato slice with a mouthwatering amount of rich butteriness. Laura whipped a version of her own and added a layer of sweet potatoes, lots of goat butter which made it even tastier I believe, and then served the treat with a lemon-chive creme fraiche sauce.

I couldn't have this again soon enough. I found the dish to be so warming and wonderful. It was understated yet incredibly elegant. It tasted like times of old. Brilliant.

Alexis was very inspired by our local farmer's market here in Bellingham. She attributed the vegetable portion of the meal and chose broiled asparagus. She dressed it up in a springy lemon-thyme vinaigrette.

Then for fun, she fried up some dandelions. I've never had dandelions in any form and was quite thrilled to learn they are edible. I think they could be used in some interesting ways. I just loved the dandelion and lavender garnish choices, so colorful... Quite nice indeed.

Ever since I've joined the group I have heard Mallory talk about her Savory Belgian Waffle Eggs Benedict. I knew that brunch-time would be when she finally pulled it from her repertoire. She started the whole thing off with beautiful farm eggs.

This beautiful-in-every-way dish started with a belgian waffle foundation with pecorino cheese and green onions, then came several ripe slices of avacado, a perfectly poached egg, and cradled under a sheet of silky, lemony Hollandaise sauce. A sprinkle of Hungarian paprika and parsley were the finishing touches on this heavenly dish. What a treat!

For 'dessert' I made fruit-filled scones that are just delicious. I stumbled onto the recipe a couple of years ago at Olive Juice & Co. and made them for my bridal shower. At that time, I filled them with peaches and lemon zest. I find this recipe a bit unusual because it calls for cake flour and half-n-half, two things you don't often see in scone recipes. I also like the icing glaze element, this is definitely a sweet scone. The only thing I would change would be to increase the fruit amount by almost half. It would be hard to overdo the fruit. I used strawberries and lemon zest for these and we were all itching for more strawberries!

adapted from Olive Juice & Co
makes 24


4 cups flour
4 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 lb. cold butter

Choice of fruits:
2-4 cups blueberries + zest of 2 lemons (4 C. = fruit doubled...)
2-4 cups blackberries + zest of 2 lemons ( " " )
2-4 cups chopped strawberries + zest of 2 oranges ( " " )

1/2 - 1 quart half & half (depending how juicy the fruits are that you're using)

In a bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and then cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter. Add the fruits. Stir in enough half & half to just make a moist dough. It should be moistened, but not sticky. With an ice cream scoop, scoop out dough 2" (or shape dough into four even disks and cut each disk into six yielding 24 scones) apart on parchment lined baking pans. Bake in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Top with glaze.

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk or half & half
a bit of vanilla & almond extract

Combine until the consistency of heavy cream. Drizzle over scones while hot.

These are literally the BEST things in the world! They're not for the calorie conscious, with a POUND of butter and a quart of half &half....but they are worth every single teensy tiny calorie. This recipe makes about 2 dozen scones. And the good news is, you can make the dry mix with butter cut in, separate it into freezer bags in batches, and then add the fruit and Half & Half as needed when ready to bake. You can make as little or as many as you want! (They are best eaten fresh from the oven.)

We've also made cinnamon scones using this recipe instead of the fruit. Mix together 4T. melted butter mixed with 2 tsp. cinnamon, 2 T. sugar, and 3/4 cup brown sugar...and add this AFTER you add the liquid. Enjoy...


missmallory said...

I don't think this group has had a more satisfying meal in it's history. I would do it all over again, once a month, if possible. It by far exceeded my wildest dreams of brunch. And the touches the girls put into their dishes were unexpected but simply lovely. Alexis' lavender/dandelion garnish, Laurels incredible candied peels. . . just wow! What a group!! I am so looking forward to the future!

missmallory said...

and I've been craving a strawberry scone all day!

RachelleLouise said...

Thanks for the comments lady! We all know how tough they are to come by! ; ) I know! I just can't get over how incredible that meal was. I LOVED it! I also loved how long it took. There is something incredibly satisfying about just sitting for a few hours and slowly savoring a delightful meal like that. I think it all flowed so well and the dishes really worked after one another. I'm also glad we did it in courses. I think because we all put such thought into each dish it's just nice to enjoy them each without competition from others! It was a day and meal I'll not forget! I think your club has hit its stride, my dear.... : )

tina said...

I want to be in your club :( move to boise - NOW! ;) love you. And again, with the drool! seriously - please package some up and send it my way - I would be in heaven.

Rachelle said...

Oh Tina friend, if only you could be in our group! I know you'd be a fabulous addition and the ladies would just love you! Wasn't this a fun one? We all REALLY enjoyed it. I'd say it was right up there in my favorite list. Sushi night is coming up next in about a month. You're not big on sushi, are you? xoxo

Anonymous said...

Yep. I am weeping! I love your blog! Can't wait to read more :)

RachelleLouise said...

Thank you for your comment, Rebekka! I'm curious how you found me... I don't have many readers yet!

I checked out your blog and LOVE it! I will definitely stay tuned from now on!

I'll be posting a lot here really soon. Thanks again!
: )