While the Blueberries Bryan I made earlier this week makes an excellent breakfast or brunch, the other three brunch recipes I made from the Junior League of Las Vegas‘s Glitter to Gourmet are perhaps too savory – or too boozy – to be suitable for breakfast. Happily, they are just fine any other time of day, as long as it’s after noon (or as long as it’s noon somewhere).
This batch of recipes could have been better, had I not been thwarted at the grocery store. For each recipe, I was denied one crucial ingredient or utensil that would have made all the difference (or so I tell myself).
Italian Corn Muffins
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano or basil
1 cup milk
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
12 (3/4-inch) cubes mozzarella cheese
Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes and oregano and toss to mix. Mix the milk, olive oil and egg in a medium bowl. Add to the flour mixture stirring just until moistened.
Spoon half the batter into nonstick muffin cups. Top each with 1 cheese cube. Cover with the remaining batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until the muffins test done. Let stand for 5 minutes. Serve warm.
Yield: 1 dozen
When I came upon this recipe in Glitter to Gourmet, I thought, “What a brilliant idea!” and was surprised that I hadn’t seen it anywhere else before. What’s not to like about a tomato and herb corn muffin stuffed with cheese? And no, it’s not as heavy as it sounds. I would suggest adding a tad more salt than the recipe calls for, but otherwise, I wouldn’t change a thing. I made this batch with fresh basil because the grocery store was out of fresh oregano, but I suspect the latter would have a more intense flavor. Oh well, next time… and there will be a next time.
You’ll know what’s missing from this next recipe the second you see the picture. And no, it’s not the asparagus (it’s hiding under the egg and cheese).
1 tablespoon flour
1 unbaked (10-inch) pie pastry
14 ounces asparagus, cut into 3-inch spears
Salt to taste
2/3 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
Rub the flour over 1 side of the pie pastry. Arrange the pastry floured side down in a 9-inch tart pan. Press the dough into the pan. Fold the excess dough at the top over 2 times to form a thick edge. Prick the bottom and side with a fork. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water in a saucepan for 4 minutes or until tender-crisp. Drain and pat dry. Arrange the spears in spoke-fashion on the bottom of the baked crust, with the tips at the outside.
Beat the half-and-half, eggs, Parmesan cheese, tarragon, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour over the asparagus. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Place on a wire rack to cool slightly and set. Serve warm.
Yield: 4 servings
Yeah, that’s a pretty awful-looking crust. And no, I do not have a tart pan. I tried to improvise by folding the pie crust down to about 2/3 of the way up the side of a pie pan. This might be an acceptable fix, but I folded over too much excess dough, and would up with an edge that was just way too thick.
Now, aside from the edge of the crust, the rest of the asparagus tart tasted quite good. The egg and Parmesan mixture is fluffy and creamy, the asparagus firm and tender, and the tarragon adds a nice anise-y note. But since I can usually crank out a good pie crust in a few minutes (and am perhaps a little excessively proud of it), I was appropriately shamed by my tart’s clumsy appearance.
And for a light summer dessert with a little kick (kick optional), I made this. Because, as it’s well known, brunch comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end.
Melon in Rum Lime Sauce
1 small honeydew melon
1/8 of a small watermelon
1 cup fresh blueberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon grated lime peel
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup light rum (optional)
Shape all the melons into balls using a melon ball scoop. Place in a bowl and add the blueberries. Cover and chill. Mix the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Stir in the lime peel, lime juice and rum. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
Pour the rum mixture over the chilled fruit and stir gently to mix. Cover and chill for several hours. Spoon into sherbet glasses and garnish with mint sprigs. Add a splash of rum.
Note: This makes a refreshing, light dessert or first course.
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
Remember in college when somebody would get the brilliant idea to shove a bottle of vodka into a watermelon and bring it to a picnic? This is a far more refined, grown-up approach to that general idea, using, you know, an appropriate amount of alcohol.
It’s yummy, refreshing, and would have been even better had my grocery store not failed me yet again by being out of blueberries. I was annoyed, as they’d had them stocked not two days before. But alas, I made do with red grapes.
And there ends this week’s salute to brunch with the Junior League of Las Vegas. Next week, I’ll be cooking a meal from the Junior League of Phoenix’s lovely Pomegranates and Prickly Pears, but until then, I leave you with this strange relic from Vegas history. The city’s marketing campaign used to be, well… different.