Wednesday, May 28, 2008

All is Full of Brunch

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. Mine was great. I spent most of it cooking, then had a nice brunch picnic with my friends for Memorial Day.

SPOILER WARNING: The following post contains pictures and descriptions of testing recipes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's upcoming vegan brunch book, Crack of Noon. If you want to be surprised by the book, don't click!

(all outdoor photos below this point were taken by my friend Adrienne)

For me, the most important part of brunch is potatoes. I was tempted to bring three different types, but behaved myself and stuck with two:

First was Red Flannel Hash: a nice, smoky mix of potatoes and beets, sauteed, then baked. I still don't know if I like beets (I have trouble getting past the garden smell), but I've liked them whenever I've used them in one of Isa's recipes and that's good enough for me.

We also had Samosa Mashed Potato Pancakes, which are basically just flat, doughless samosas. All the goodness of the filling, none of the hassle of making dough. Win! They're one of those recipes that I have trouble believing came out of my kitchen because it tastes so professionally restauranty. Technically, the pancakes are fried, but don't let that put you off; look how dry my pan is:

The oil is pretty much a non-issue.

No brunch would be complete without pancakes, so we had Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancakes:

They're thick and hearty and kind of healthy. Lovely topped with agave nectar and fresh berries. As you can see at the link above, you need four different kinds of flour to make them, but don't let it put you off. They're worth it and you never know when you're going to need quinoa flour (seriously).

For protein, we had Spicy Pinto Sausages and Beer Battered Tofu.

The sausages are an adaptation of the Spicy Italian Vegetarian Sausage recipe from Everyday Dish. It's super cool. You make a seitany dough, divide it up, wrap it up in tinfoil so it looks like a bunch of Tootsie Rolls, throw it in a steamer for a while, and viola! Sausages. It couldn't be any easier. And it's even forgiving of the occasional cock up (I was short one half cup vital wheat gluten). The texture is great, and the spices are serious.

The Beer Battered Tofu is a vegan twist on the fish part of fish and chips. Yup, deep frying for brunch. These were great with a bit of malt vinegar (and even without).

For something a bit more like a "normal" breakfast, we had a Mexicana Scramble. It's great, but very vegetabley. I usually think of scrambles as having more tofu than vegetables, but this is so tasty, we'll let it go.*

I felt like we should have one straight vegetable dish, so I made Poblanos Stuffed With Coriander Seed Mushrooms. If you like spicy, you'll like this. Personally, I can only eat them cold, when some of the spice is held at bay.

I also grilled up some tortillas, in case people wanted to make breakfast burritos.

For dessert, we had Pain Au Chocolat and Orange Pecan Crumb Cake.

I'm an idiot and forgot to photograph the Pain Au Chocolat. It's the easiest thing in the world to make, and it's amazingly tasty and elegant looking. It's one of those desserts that's bound to impress if you don't tell people how you did it. I filled ours with berries and I think my face died and went to heaven when I ate it.

I don't like citrusy cakes much, but the pecans and nutmeg in this one balance it out nicely. It's pretty light, so most people were able to eat a piece, even after all that brunch. Now that I'm writing about it, I'm really looking forward to the leftovers when I get home.

I used the wrong sized pan, so the shape is messed up, but you get the idea.

I had some leftover beer batter and vegetables, so I fried up some shiitake mushrooms, cauliflower and broccoli. Yum!

* After eating the Mexicana Scramble and Beer Battered Tofu, people commented that I got the texture of the tofu really firm and nice. Slimy tofu is the worst feeling in the world. The secret: if a recipe calls for either firm or extra firm tofu, go with extra firm. And if it tells you to press the tofu, press the crap out of it. Seriously. For at least an hour. If you don't have to press it, just shake it out lightly and squeeze it between your hands a bit to get out as much of the moisture as you can.


Liz² said...

I want to dive into each and every one of those containers SO BADLY YOU HAVE NO IDEA !!

Seriously, you can cook for me anytime! :D

Erin said...

Holy Moses, I have a stomach ache just from looking at this spread. In a good way. An amazing assortment of food. I'm gonna have to pre-order Crack of Noon just for the beer battered tofu.