21 January 2009

A snowy sunday brunch

Over MLK weekend, my best friend Sabrina from my childhood joined me in Boston for a girls weekend. I hadn't seen her since I was in her wedding this past April, so we planned for the ultimate relaxation weekend, full of wine, silly movies, and good food.

As part of this, we co-hosted a Sunday brunch here in my Back Bay apartment, inviting over some of my closest friends here for good food and an array of brunch related cocktails. The menu included some of my favorite items, some part of my family's Christmas day tradition.

On the docket was my family's sausage and ham strata, Sabrina's monkey bread, fresh fruit, cranberry mimosas and my Great Grandpa Max's whiskey sours. Recipes follow. We amply fed 10 with the following portions, with some to spare. These recipes are simple, can be made ahead, and make for very happy brunch guests. Just ask my friends :)

Breakfast Strata
-- serves 12
(you can put anything in this strata, which is basically a take on a breakfast souffle. we always opt for half sausage / half ham, but I have made this vegetarian or made a dinner dish by substituting in hot italian sausage and peppers. have fun.)
10 eggs
13 pieces of bread
3 cups of milk
1/3 cup half and half / heavy cream (can eyeball it)
1 lb velveeta cheese, cubed
1 lb breakfast sausage (if you buy the ones with their casings still on, you'll need to remove them)
1/2 lb ham steak, already cooked, cubed.
salt + pepper

- Cook up the sausage and put on a paper towel to drain.
- Spray a casserole dish with a non-stick coating.
- Rip up about 9 slices of the bread, mix in a casserole dish with meat and cheese.
- In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and half and half.
- Pour the egg mixture over the bread, cheese and meat in the pan.
- Crack some fresh pepper and a small bit of salt over the dish (more liberally on the pepper, since the meat itself is very salty.)
- Tear up the remaining 4 slices of bread and toss over the dish.
- Cover with foil and let sit in the fridge for 12-24 hours before cooking.
- Cook uncovered in a 350 degree oven for an hour and a half, or until a knife comes out clean. It should be lightly browned on the outside and gooey. Delicious.

Sab's Monkey Bread -- Serves 12
3 cans of pillsbury flaky rolls
3 cups of sugar
6 TBSP cinnamon
1 stick of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1 container of whipped vanilla frosting
bundt pan

To make:
Grease bundt pan liberally. Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Open cans of rolls, and divide each roll into 4 pieces (I just cut them into an x). Roll each into a ball, and roll in the sugar/cinnamon mix, and place into the bundt pan. Continue until bundt pan is 3/4 full. In a small sauce pan, melt stick of butter and brown sugar together, and then pour the mixture over the rolls in the bundt pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. It'll puff up like this:

Let cool for about 10 minutes before flipping onto a dish. Add the frosting into the center of the bread and serve.

And as for the whisky sours, Great Grandpa Max style, they may need their own post ;)

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