This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Special Celebration Weekend Brunch!

Our daughter, Kate, recently got engaged while on a recent trip home from England. She and Nick invited a couple of friends over for brunch and we wanted it to be special. So, my wife and I came up with what turned out to be a delicious brunch menu.

The Menu--

Mimosas--Our guests were greeted with a Mimosa, a combination of champagne and orange juice. Easy to make and a great alternative to just O.J. for those special occasion breakfasts.

Blackberry Walnut French Toast--Our recipe originally called for blueberries and pecans. But we were out of blueberry season and our frozen supply of hand-picked blueberries from last summer was all gone. We still had some blackberries and the experiment paid off. Our recipe also calls for pecans. Pecans are absolutely amazing in this recipe, but are much more expensive than walnuts, so again we experimented and the result was fantastic!
Chicken and Apple Sausage in a Calvados Reduction--I used Aidell's brand sausage in this recipe. Just about everyone loves sausage but calories and fat scare some folks away. I found this delicious product is a fantastic alternative for those who want great taste but without those fat calories. Aidell's sausage is made with chicken and comes in lots of great taste combinations.

Coconut Fruit Salad--Made with available fresh fruit, honey and coconut, this simple refreshing salad is a colorful side to the rest of the meal. Make it with whatever fruits are available in your area in season. Fresh only please! Be creative with your slicing and dicing, slather a bit of locally made honey over the top along with some fresh coconut and you are off to the islands!

Fresh Ground Coffee--Here in the northwest we are, admittedly, a population of coffee snobs. We like it fresh brewed, made from freshly roasted coffee beans, freshly ground in our own grinder and brewed just the way we like it. We use a french press coffee maker which captures more of the coffee's flavor and essential oils. French pressed coffee is usually stronger and thicker and has more sediment than drip-brewed coffee.
The Recipes


1- bottle fine champagne or sparkling wine

1-quart of fresh squeezed orange juice

champagne flutes

Pour the champagne flute half full of orange juice and top off with the cold champagne. Raise your glasses in a toast!

Blackberry-Walnut French Toast

1-24-inch baguette

6 large eggs

3 cups of whole milk

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup walnuts

1/2 stick, plus

1 teaspoon unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups blackberies

Butter a 9 X 13-inch baking dish. Cut 20 1-inch slices from the baguette and arrange in a single layer in the dish. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, milk, nutmeg, vanilla, and 3/4 cup brown sugar. Pour evenly over bread. Chill mixture covered overnight until all liquid is absorbed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a shallow baking sheet spread walnuts evenly with 1 teaspoon of melted butter and salt. Toast in the oven for about 8 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Sprinkle walnuts and blackberries evenly over the bread mixture. Cut 1/2 stick of butter into pieces adding with remaining brown sugar and in a small sauce pan heat until butter is melted. Drizzle butter mixture over bread and bake mixture for 40 minutes or until liquid from berries is bubbling.

Serve French Toast with real maple syrup or syrup infused with blackberries. A little whipping cream is delicious as well.

Serves 6 generously.

Chicken and Apple Sausage with a Calvados Reduction

1 pound of Aidell's brand Chicken and Apple Sausage, sliced 1/2 inch on the bias

1 pound of thinly sliced Granny Smith apple

1/2 of a red bell pepper sliced thinly

1 clove of garlic, diced

1/2 t cinnamon

2 T olive oil

1/2 cup calvados apple brandy

In a large saute pan, saute the sausage until browned. Remove from pan and set aside to drain. In the remaining oil, saute the garlic adding in the cinnamon, bell pepper, apple slices and return the sausage to the pan. Cook just until the apples begin to soften. Remove food from the pan leaving pan juices and fond in the bottom of the pan.

Pour the Calvados into the pan quickly being careful as it is highly flammable. If it does not light immediately tilt the pan slightly near the burner flame and it should flame up. Allow the alcohol in the Calvados to burn itself out and reduce the sauce while de-glazing the pan.

Pour the Calvados reduction over the sausage and around the serving platter.

Serves 6


Coconut Fruit Salad

2 crisp apples, sliced thinly

1 banana, sliced

1 cup sliced chunks of pineapple

other fruit in season, kiwi, papaya, melon, etc.

2-4 T honey

1/2 cup of fresh grated coconut

Mix fruit together with coconut and honey folding carefully with a spoon. Serve immediately.