2013-12-27 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Have a very merry brunch
By Connie Wendell
Special contributor

Brunch is a wonderful meal. It’s part breakfast foods and part lunch foods and usually includes some decadent goodies.

Brunch can fit perfectly into your holiday plans due to the fact that not only are the food items flexible, but the time is also. As you are planning for the holidays, whether Christmas or New Year’s, think about adding a brunch for family and friends. They will love it.

Blueberry cream pastries

1 (8 ounce package) cream cheese, softened; 1/3 cup sugar; 1 teaspoon lemon juice; 1 teaspoon vanilla; 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries; ½ cup blueberry preserves; 1 (17.3 ounce package) frozen puff pastry sheets (2 sheets), thawed; 1 egg; and 1 tablespoon water.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Beat until well mixed; set aside. In a small bowl stir together blueberries and blueberry preserves; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each sheet of the thawed puff pastry in a 10-inch square. Cut each square into six rectangles (eachabout5x3½inches).Transfer rectangles to prepared baking sheets. Using a fork, prick the center of each rectangle, leaving a ½ inch unpricked border around all the edges.

In a small bowl beat egg and the water together with a fork. Brush rectangles with egg mixture. Spread a well-rounded tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture onto the center of each rectangle, leaving a ½ inch border.

Top each with 2 rounded tablespoons of the blueberry mixture, spreading evenly over cream cheese mixture.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

Makes 12 pastries.

Eggs Benedict bake

1 teaspoon vinegar; 8 eggs; 4 English muffins, split; 1/3 cup semi-soft cheese (pepper, garlic and herb, garden vegetable or onion); 8 thin slices, cooked ham (12 ounces); 16 large fresh basil, spinach or arugula leaves; 8 thin slices of tomato; 1 recipe Mock Hollandaise Sauce; paprika (optional); and fresh snipped basil (optional).

Preheat broiler. Lightly grease a large skillet. Add enough water to the skillet to fill half full.

Add vinegar. Bring mixture to a boil; reducing heat to simmering. Break one of the eggs into a measuring cup. Holding the lip of the cup as close to the water as possible, carefully slip egg into simmering water.

Repeat with remaining eggs, allowing each egg an equal amount of space.

Simmer eggs, uncovered for 3 minutes or until the whites are completely set and yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Using a slotted spoon, remove eggs to plate.

Meanwhile, place muffin halves, cut side up on a baking sheet. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat about 2 minutes or until they are toasted, cool.

Grease a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Spread the cut side of each muffin half with about 2 teaspoons of the semi-soft cheese. Place muffin halves, cheese sides up, in prepared dish. Top each with a slice of ham, folding or cutting it to fit. Top each ham slice with two basil leaves and one tomato slice.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Top each tomato slice with one cooked egg. Spoon mock hollandaise sauce over eggs. Bake, covered, about 25 minutes or until heated through.

If desired sprinkle with paprika and/or snipped basil.

Makes 8 servings.

Mock hollandaise sauce

¾ cup sour cream; ¾ cup mayonnaise; 2 tablespoons lemon juice; and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard.

In a small bowl stir together sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice and mustard. If desired, add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency.

Makes 1 ½ cups.

Apple cinnamon rolls

4 ½ - 5 cups flour; 1 package active dry yeast; 1 cup milk; 1/3 cup butter; 1/3 cup granulated sugar; ½ teaspoon salt; 3 eggs; ¾ cup packed brown sugar; ¼ cup flour; 1 tablespoon cinnamon or apple pie spice; ½ cup butter, cut up; 1 ¼ cups finely chopped peeled apples; and vanilla frosting.

In a large mixing bowl combine 2 ¼ cups of the flour and the yeast; set aside. In a small saucepan heat and stir milk, 1/3 cup butter, granulated sugar and salt just until warm (120 degrees to 130 degrees) and butter is almost melted. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; add eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size (1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours).

Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.

For filling: in a medium bowl stir together brown sugar, ¼ cup flour and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in ½ cup butter until crumbly.

Roll dough into an 18x12-inch rectangle. Sprinkle with filling, leaving about 1 inch unfilled along one of the long sides. Top with apples.

Roll up rectangle, starting from the filled long side; pinch dough to seal seam. Cut into 12 slices. Arrange in the prepared baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (about 45 minutes).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake about 30 minutes or until golden, covering with foil for the last 10 minutes of baking. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Invert onto another wire rack; cool slightly. Invert again onto serving platter. Spread or drizzle with vanilla frosting. Serve warm.

Makes 12 servings.

Vanilla frosting

3 cups powdered sugar; 2 tablespoons butter, softened; 2 tablespoons milk; and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

In a medium bowl beat 1 cup powdered sugar, butter, milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in 2 more cups powdered sugar.

Makes 1 cup.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour; 1 tablespoon baking powder; ½ teaspoon salt; 1 tablespoon light brown sugar; 1 egg; ¾ cup milk; ½ cup pumpkin; 1 tablespoon canola oil; and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.

In large sifter place flour, baking powder, salt and sugar; sift into large bowl. In a separate bowl beat together egg, milk, pumpkin, and oil. Add to dry ingredients, stirring with rubber spatula to combine. Do not over mix.

Drop by spoonfuls onto preheated nonstick griddle or skillet. Cook over medium high heat until bubbles appear on surface. Turn once, cook on other side. Serve immediately. Makes 10, 5-inch pancakes.

Merry Christmas and until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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