February 4, 2016
At Home with Friends

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New Year’s Day Brunch

Welcome to 2016!

My friends and I started the New Year with a glorious feast at my house. The invitation was for Brunch and Bloody Marys. We started at 12:30 and were still eating at 5:00 in the afternoon.

Some people make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t believe in resolutions.

I believe in setting intent for the New Year. What I intend and desire for 2016 is a year filled with surprises, sweetness, spice, abundance, warmth, comfort, love and good friends. I thought about all of these things as I tested and tasted the recipes. These thoughts were present as I arranged the orchids, chose the dishes, designed the table settings and created the menu.

Last year’s brunch was a traditional nod to the New Year’s Day parties of my childhood. This year’s menu reflects my travels, my exposure to different cultures, different cuisines and my own culinary adventures from the prior year.

One of my own culinary adventures last year was making a ham for Thanksgiving. I used the same recipe on a different type of ham for New Year’s Day and once again it was a huge success. Some of my friends who never eat ham, tried it at Brunch and flipped. When you look at the photos of the size of the ham when the party started and later in the day you’ll see how it disappeared. It was a different type of ham but again it was from Costco and again it was a hit.

Another idea I incorporated came directly from my foreign travels. In many parts of the world, breakfast always includes lots of savory items, not just bacon or sausage, but spicy potatoes, richly flavored vegetables and legumes. In my menu, this showed up as Indian Spiced Potatoes, Saag Paneer (spinach and cheese), Chana Masala (spicy garbanzo beans) and savory Roasted Mushrooms.

The Pumpkin Waffles are directly from Sarabeth’s Kitchen in New York, but the addition of ginger syrup is strictly my innovation. I love the mixture of pumpkin pie spiced waffles with the intense heat and sweetness of the ginger syrup with just a dollop of rich Greek yoghurt.

Since last year, when I made Shakshuka, I look for new ways of serving baked eggs. This year, they were in a spicy Roasted Pepper Saffron Sauce.

Of course, brunch would not be complete without something sweet. The Chocolate Chip, Banana, Cherry Cake is something I’ve been making with different variations for years. The Bourbon Banana Fruitcake is another long time favorite. These are tried and true recipes that I know freeze well.

I toyed with the idea of making blueberry muffins but opted for a Blueberry Muffin Cake. It’s even easier than individual muffins and again it freezes beautifully.

The Ricotta, Almond, Raspberry Cake is a totally gluten free pastry that’s not too sweet and enjoyed by everyone. I don’t know if it freezes because every time I’ve made it, someone stops by and it doesn’t make it to the freezer.

There were so many more things on the menu from Turkey Hash, to Smoked Salmon, to Homemade Granola Parfaits, that the only complaint my friends had was that it was almost impossible to try everything. A problem of abundance is always welcome!

People went back to the buffet for seconds and even thirds and then requested doggy bags.

And the biggest compliment I got was to have my friends ask if I was doing New Year’s Day Brunch in 2017. They wanted to be sure they were invited and wanted know if it was too early to RSVP.

I wonder is it too early to start thinking about the menu?

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