A Brunch Fit for Queens

DSC02140It was a brunch fit for queens. Or a bunch of cycling chicks anyway. My friend Meredith hosted a brunch at her house on Saturday for several cycling friends. We planned the spread all week and it most certainly did not disappoint. The meal consisted of buckwheat Belgian waffles with toppings galore (including whipped coconut cream and blackberries), blueberry scones, an egg and vegetable bake, fruit salad, green salad, coffee, mimosas and bloody marys. Everything was fantastic. And it was really nice to enjoy a leisurely brunch together before the cycling season really gears up before too long. We had full bellies and lots of good laughs.DSC02139

I realized after 30 some years that I actually like bloody marys. I’d always avoided the quintessential brunch drink because of an aversion to the taste of tomato juice. But they’re delicious, and now I’m hooked. Below are the recipes for the dishes I contributed to brunch—Hellfire Club Bloody Marys and Winter Fruit Salad. The Bloody Marys have a great kick from the tobasco and serrano peppers, and the minced dill provides fresh flavor. My friend Claire brought garnishes for the drinks—farmers’ market pickles and radishes, cheese curds and olives. The sliced pears and apples in the winter fruit salad have a unique flavor from marinating in a bath spiked with star anise and a vanilla bean. The addition of dried figs and apricots in the salad is also a nice touch.

Hellfire Club Bloody Marys (from Food & Wine, Dec. 2012; makes 8 drinks)

3 1/2 cups tomato juice
1 1/4 cups vodka
1/2 cup olive juice
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon Tabasco
2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons minced dill
1 Peppadew pepper, minced (I couldn’t fine these so I omitted)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Ice cubes
Celery ribs and green olives, for garnish

In a pitcher, combine all of the ingredients except the ice cubes and garnishes and stir well. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. Serve the cocktails in ice-filled Collins glasses, garnished with celery ribs, green olives and black pepper.

DSC02129Winter Fruit Salad (from Smitten Kitchen; serves 10)

3/4 cup sugar
3 star anise
1/2 of plump vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
8 dried Turkish apricots, cut in half
4 dried figs, quartered
4 2-inch long pieces lemon zest (peeled with a vegetable peeler) from a Meyer lemon if you can find one
Juice of the zest lemon
3 firm Bosc pears
1 firm tart apple
Seeds from half a pomegranate (I did not use pomegranate since they’re now out of season and unavailable at stores. The recipe was fine without it.)

1. Fill a medium saucepan with 4 cups water. Add the sugar, star anise, vanilla bean and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, and cook until all the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool for just a few minutes (it should still be hot) and then stir in the dried figs and apricots. Let it cool completely.

2. Meanwhile, peel and core pears and apple. Slice thinly lengthwise and place in a large bowl, and toss with the lemon juice.

3. Once the syrup with dried fruit has cooled, pour it over the apples and pears. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill it overnight in the refrigerator.

4. The next morning, using a slotted spoon, ladle the fruit into a serving bowl, sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds (if using) and serve. Remove the vanilla beans (you can rinse and save what is left of them for another use) and lemon peels if you wish, or leave them in for decoration.

Category: Kristin's Kitchen 2 comments »

2 Responses to “A Brunch Fit for Queens”

  1. alupardushanson

    Love a good Bloody. The recipe I use is Ina Garten’s – its a bit simpler and has fewer ingedients than the one here but still packs a punch. I add a tablespoon or so of red wine vinegar as well to the pitcher…seems strange but I like when my bloody tastes like gazpacho with vodka. Yum!

  2. kristin

    Thanks Anne! I will have to try Ina’s recipe – thanks for the recommendation. Now that I’m suddenly a Bloody fan, I have a lot of catching up to do!

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