Help yourself brunch for a crowd

With Christmas holidays looming, you may well find yourself with lots of family and friends around and having to be prepared not only for dinners and lunches, but breakfasts too. Personally, I’m quite happy with any excuse for a brunch! These recipes are perfect for a no-fuss brunch were everyone can just help themselves to breakfast. It can be quite ‘stress-free’ too as you can prepare most of the dishes the evening before and just put in the oven for the final step on the day.

We have three recipes today:

  • Mini Omelette Cups;
  • Breakfast Sliders;
  • Bacon wrapped asparagus.

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As I mentioned, you can prepare everything the night before and leave covered in the fridge. I have highlighted in each recipe where you should do this if you are planning to prepare stuff in advance. Click below for each recipe or do them all for a perfect breakfast menu. The only thing that’s missing as a Bloody Mary…

More menus to try: Christmas Eve, the Bulgarian WayNew Year’s Eve Potluck | Entertaining: Spring Menu for 10 – Poached salmon with Dauphinose potatoes and more

Click through for each recipe below:

[expand title=”Healthy Egg Omelette Cups”]

Healthy Egg Omelette Cups

Makes 12 | Prep 10 mins | Cook 35 mins
Easy | Vegetarian | Gluten & dairy free

You’ll need:

  • sunflower or vegetable oil cooking spray;
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil;
  • 1 red pepper, chopped;
  • 1 green pepper, chopped;
  • 1 onion, chopped;
  • 2 cups baby spinach, chopped;
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped;
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped;
  • salt to taste
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • Optional: hot sauce for serving.

Heat oven to 180C | 160C fan |gas mark 4. (If making ahead, preheat oven about 15 mins on the day of cooking).

Grease a standard non stick 12-slot muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large non stick pan over medium heat. Once hot, add in the chopped peppers and onion and saute for 5-7 minutes, or until peppers are tender. Add in the spinach and mushrooms and cook for an additional 2 minutes. In the last 30 seconds, add in the garlic. Season with salt and remove from heat.

Whisk the eggs and egg whites. Once the veggies have cooled slightly, whisk them in the egg mixture. Pour the egg/veggie mixture evenly into the prepared muffin pan.

At this point you can cover and leave them in the fridge over night, until ready to cook the following day.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are firm to the touch and eggs are cooked. Cool slightly and serve immediately. You can use a knife to help you carefully take the egg cups from the muffin tin.

Tip: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about 4 days. These may also be frozen. To reheat, pop them in the microwave until warm.

Original recipe from Show Me The Yummy, available online here.[/expand]

[expand title=”Breakfast Sliders”]

Breakfast Sliders

Makes 12-16 | Prep 10 mins | Cook 20 mins
Easy

You’ll need

  • 12 eggs;
  • 2 tablespoon butter + 1/4 cup butter for the topping;
  • 12-16 slider rolls or mini burger buns
  • 1 packet pre-sliced Gouda or Cheddar cheese (or so) or 12-16 slices of cheese;
  • 12-16 slices deli ham (or so);
  • 1 1/5 tbsp brown sugar;
  • 1 tbsp prepared yellow mustard.

Whisk the eggs with salt and pepper together in a bowl until frothy. Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a large pan over medium-low heat. Pour eggs into the pan and scramble them: cook and stir with spatula until set, 3 to 6 minutes . Remove from heat.

Cut rolls in half horizontally. Lay bottoms in a single layer in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Add a layer of cheese, then scrambled eggs, then a layer of ham, then provolone cheese, then ham, then provolone cheese again. Cover with roll tops. Cut through ham and provolone cheese layers to make individual sandwiches.

You can cover and put in the fridge at this point for up to 1 day. Proceed with the final steps on the day.

Melt 1/4 cup butter, brown sugar, and mustard together in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Spread mixture over roll tops. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and let stand, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Remove aluminum foil from baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven until tops are golden brown and cheese has melted, 15 to 20 minutes.

Original recipe from All Recipes, available online here. [/expand]

[expand title=”Bacon wrapped asparagus”]

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Makes 12-16 | Prep 10 mins + soaking | Cook 10 mins
Easy | Dairy and Gluten free

You’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil;
  • 150g asparagus;
  • 150g streaky bacon;
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges.

First prepare the skewers. Soak 4-5 wooden skewers in cold water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus and bacon. Cut the asparagus in two or three pieces, depending on their size, you want them a little bigger than bite size. Take bacon pieces and halve them horizontally. Wrap a slice of bacon around each asparagus bite and set aside.

When the skewers have finished soaking, skewer around 5 bacon wrapped asparagus per skewer. At this point you can cover and leave them to chill in the fridge until needed – up to 1 day.

When ready to cook, heat the olive oil in griddle pan. When hot, carefully place the skewers in the pan. You might have to cut the skewer if they are too large – I usually cut down the unnecessary wooden bits in the bottom if needed. Cook until the bacon and asparagus have cooked through – about 10 minutes, rotating regularly. Serve with the lemon wedges on the side. [/expand]

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Bon Apetit!

~Em

Bloody Mary Prawn Shots

Who says that the days where you served shots to your friends instead of canapes at a party have to be over? These delicious Bloody Mary Prawn shots will add just the right amount of sophistication and fun for your next dinner party! We served these delicious shots as a welcome drink/appetiser at our NYE party and we made a few extra without the prawns for our veggie friends. I found this recipe in December’s Foodies magazine, but the original is actually from Good Housekeeping.

Bloody Mary Prawn Shots

Bloody Mary Shot 3

Makes 16 | Prep 15 mins | No Cooking
Easy | Gluten and Dairy Free | Can be made vegan

Tip: If you want to get ahead you can mix the Bloody Mary mix and assemble the skewers up to 24 hrs in advance, cover and chill.

To make vegan: Make a few (or all) shots without a prawn and maybe have two olives onto a skewer instead!

You’ll need:

  • 500 ml good-quality tomato juice, chilled
  • 150 ml vodka
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, zest and juice , plus a little extra for the glasses
  • 2-3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Tabasco
TO SERVE
  • 1 tsp celery salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp crushed sea salt
  • lemon, sliced and cut into 16 small pieces
  • 16 pitted green olives
  • 16 large cooked tail-on prawns

Mix the tomato juice, vodka, lemon zest and juice into a large non-metallic jug. Add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and a pinch of salt. Stir well and add more to taste. Cover and chill for at least 1hr or until ready to serve.

To serve, mix the celery salt, pepper and sea salt together on a small plate. Dip the rims of 16 shot glasses into a little lemon juice or water to wet, then dip into the salt and pepper mix to coat the edge. Set aside.

When ready to serve, thread a lemon slice, green olive and prawn on to 16 cocktail sticks. Carefully pour the Bloody Mary into the shot glasses, and place a cocktail stick on the side of each glass.

Original recipe from Foodies Magazine issue Dec 2018/Good Housekeeping, available online here.

 

Mozzarella Penguins

My other half found this fantastic idea for canapés or appetisers when you have friends over. We just had to make them at our Christmas party this year! These super cute penguins definitely caught the eye of our friends and everyone absolutely loved them. They aren’t too faffy to make and are worth the effort in the end. You can make them vegetarian by not adding the pancetta scarfs. You’ll have a lot of fun making them (I believe they will be a hit with children in the kitchen too!) and you’ll definitely have fun eating them.

Mozzarella Penguins

Makes 20  (or as many as you need!) | Prep 30 minutes | No cooking
A little effort | Gluten-free

Penguins 3

 You’ll need (adjust the amount of ingredients depending on how many you need. Ingredients below are for 20 little penguins):

  • 1 medium carrot;
  • 40 black olives, pitted;
  • 20 mini mozzarella balls;
  • 20 toothpicks;
  • 2 slices smoked pancetta.

Full instructions below, or just watch this video for a quick demo.

Prepare all the ingredients before you start assembling. Slice 20 medium disks (just over the thickness of a pound coin) from the carrot.

Use 20 of the olives to make the penguin wings. Carefully cut the olive through the middle lengthways without separating at the top – you need the olive halves to open up but to still be attached at the top.

Halve the pancetta slices, then cut 5 strips from each halve. These will be used for the scarves.

To assemble, take a mini mozzarella ball and slide it into a ‘halved’ olive to form the ‘body’. Using a toothpick, attach a whole olive to the ‘body’ with the olive whole towards you. Cut out a triangle from a carrot disk, roughly a quarter from the disk and set aside. Attach the disk at the other end of the body, then take the little quarter you cut out and half it. Carefully place this in the olive whole which makes the head to complete it. Finally, wrap a slice of pancetta as a scarf around the penguin.

Penguins 1


I hope you enjoy making and eating those penguins. Credit to this video by Recipe Videos for the idea.

 

 

 

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Caramelised Onion Crostini

Fairly recently I discovered Yotam Ottolenghi‘s cooking and I’ve become a fan instantly. His recipes showcases the best of Middle Eastern flavours and ingredients, and are a total pleasure to cook. I found this Ottolenghi recipe in an old myWaitrose magazine and have been waiting for an occasion to make it. This is not a quick dish to cook as caramelising onions takes time and patience, but it is worth it in the end. I have used red onion instead of Ottolenghi’s white onions in the recipe below, but needless to say, the result will be delicious either way. These crostini made for a delicious starter but can also be served as canapés.

Caramelised Onion Crostini

Serves 4 | Prepare 15 minutes | Cook 1hr 5 minutes | A little effort | Vegetarian

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You’ll need
  • 30g unsalted butter;
  • 4 tbsp olive oil;
  • 3 large red onions (about 800g), thinly sliced;
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced;
  • 5 thyme sprigs;
  • 1/2 tsp salt;
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds;
  • 6 pitted black wrinkly olives, quartered;
  • 4-8 slices sourdough;
  • 50g soft rindless goat’s cheese;
  • 2 tsp flat leaf parsley.

For the caramelised onion, heat the butter and 2 tbsp olive oil in a large, lidded sauté pan. Add the onions, garlic, thyme and salt. Cover and cook on a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for 50-60 minutes. The onion should become soft and sweet, golden and translucent.

Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan over a medium heat. Toast the coriander seeds for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Crush lightly in a pestle and mortar. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs from the onion mixture (most of the leaves will have collapsed into the onions), then fold through the coriander seeds and olives. Set aside.

For the sourdough toasts, heat the oven to 150C/130C fan/gas mark 2. Brush the sourdough with the remaining olive oil on one side and bake for 10-15 minutes., until crisp. Remove from the oven.

To serve, increase the oven temperature to 170C/150C fan/gas mark 3. Pile the onion mixture on top of the crispy sourdough, dot with the goat’s cheese and return to the oven for 5 minutes to warm through. Sprinkle over the parsley and olives, and serve immediately.

Original recipe from myWaitrose magazine, issue July 2013, unfortunately no longer available online. However, more Ottolenghi are available on his website, and of course, his books.

Entertaining: Spring Menu for 10 – Poached salmon with Dauphinose potatoes and more

This Easter was all about celebrating with friends and showcasing some Bulgarian traditions alongside the British ones. It was lovely to be able to host some of our good friends this time around. All together we were 11 people and that’s the most I’ve had for a ‘sit-down’ lunch so far. We’ve had bigger groups for other occasions but it’s always been buffet-style food and people helping themselves. I put together the following menu and I’m sharing some of the recipes from it here on the blog. I’ve picked out the more notable dishes which will give you a good basis of a meal for a slightly bigger group.   At the end of the post, I will also add some tips of what you can do in advance and rough timings to help you with planning. At the bottom of each recipe, I have included details of where I got the recipe from and a link to the original one where possible.  This menu made for a lovely late lunch which wasn’t too heavy. In big lunches like this, we are often too full by the time we get to dessert but in this case, everything felt just right.

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Poached Salmon, served with dauphinoise potatoes and pancetta peas and beans.

My Spring Menu for 10 includes:

  • Canapes: Borscht blinis with smoked salmon and lime Crème fraîche;
  • Starter: Lime, chilli and coriander crab with avocado and rocket;
  • Main: Poached salmon with dauphinoise potatoes and peas with pancetta.

Canapes: Borscht Blinis with Smoked Salmon and Lime Crème fraîche

Makes 26-30 | Prep 60 mins| Cook 30 minsSome effort

I got this recipe from the recently published charity book “A Taste of Glasgow“. It’s a fantastic cookbook which features a large number of recipes from Glasgow based restaurants and chefs. The book is no longer on sale but if you plan on using the recipe below, I would like to ask you to make a donation to Children’s 1st – the Charity that the book donated all its proceeds to. No donation is too small and you can donate here.

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Photo by Sarah Ahmad from The Floating Designer
You’ll need:
  1. For the Beetroot Pancakes:
    • 120g self-raising flour;
    • 1 large egg;
    • 1 cup (250ml) semi-skimmed milk;
    • 1 small beetroot, cooked;
    • Olive oil
    • Sea salt;
  2. Lime Crème fraîche:
    • 100ml Crème fraîche;
    • 1 lime zest and juice;
  3. Garnish:
    • 200g smoked salmon;
    • Samphire, blanched for 10 seconds then refreshed in ice cold water;
    • 1 small raw beetroot, sliced wafer thin into discs – halved if necessary.

For the beetroot pancakes. Firstly, incorporate all of the beetroot pancake ingredients (except the olive oil) into a blender and blitz until a smooth, consistent, lump-free texture is reached. Leave the batter to rest for 15 minutes. Add a little olive oil to a pan and place on a medium heat. Using a teaspoon, take a spoonful of batter and drop into the pan to cook – the pancakes should be about 3-4cm wide. When bubbles begin to appear on the top of the pancakes, turn them over and cook for 1 more minute. Cool on a cooling rack.

For the lime Crème fraîche, mix well the Crème fraîche and lime zest and juice. Chill until you need it.

To assemble and serve – start with placing the blinis on a serving plate. Add a little of the lime Crème fraîche, a small rosette of smoked salmon. Place a disk of raw beetroot and a small piece of blanched samphire.

This is a recipe by Campbell Mickel, one of Scotland’s best private chefs. I don’t have a link to the original recipe but do please donate to Children’s first when using this fantastic recipe from A Taste of Glasgow.

Starter: Lime, Chilli and Coriander Crab with Avocado & Rocket

Serves 10 | Prep 15 minutes | Quick and Easy | Gluten-Free

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Chilli, lime and coriander crab with avocado & rocket salad.
You’ll need:
  • 300g crab meat (I used 50-50 brown and white);
  • 3 tbsp coriander, chopped;
  • 1&1/2 red chilli, chopped;
  • 1&1/2 lime juice and juice of 1 lime for the mayo
  • 3 handfuls of rocket;
  • 3 sliced avocados;
  • 150ml mayo.

For the crab, mix the crab meat with the coriander, red chilli and 1+1/2 lime juice. Leave to chill until you are ready to serve. Make the zingy mayo by mixing the mayo and remaining lime juice and zest. Leave to chill until you are ready to serve. To serve, divide the rocket and avocados between 10 plates or small glasses. Top with the crab mix and serve with the mayo on the side.

Original recipe from Olive magazine, issue April 2011, available here.

Main: Foil-Poached Salmon

Serves 10 | Prep 20 minutes | Cook 1hr 30 mins plus coolingSome effort | Gluten-free

I bought this beautiful whole salmon to use in this recipe from my local fishmongers, The Fish Plaice, who are just fantastic. They have two locations in Glasgow and an online store. You can find more information about them on their website.

Tip: There is a helpful step by step guide in the original recipe on BBC Good Food website.

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Photo by Sarah Ahmad from The Floating Designer.
You’ll need:
  • Olive oil;
  • 3kg whole gutted and scaled salmon with the head removed;
  • bunch of dill;
  • 1 shallot, halved and very thinly sliced;
  • 5 tbsp dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc;
  • 1/2 cucumber thinly sliced (optional).

Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Place a large piece of double-width foil on top of a large baking sheet an and brush it with oil, then put the salmon in the centre. Tuck a few generous sprigs of dill and the shallots in the body cavity, then season. Carefully bring up the sides of the foil to surround the fish, season well inside and out, then pour over the wine. Seal the foil all the way around, but not too tightly on the fish – you need to give it a bit of space within the parcel. Bake for 1hr 30 mins.

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All ready to go in the oven!

Once the salmon has cooked, carefully unwrap the foil parcel and pull the dorsal fin on the spine of the fish. If the salmon is ready, it should come away very easily. Reseal the parcel and leave to cool – it will carry on cooking a little more as it cools. If you are not sure that the salmon is cooked sufficiently, return it to the oven for 10 mins more.

When the fish is slightly cooled (or cold if you are serving it cold), carefully peel away the skin from one side of the salmon. You may need to use a knife to get you started, but it should peel away easily after that. Leave the dill and shallot in place, as you may damage the flesh of the salmon if you try to remove them. Carefully turn the salmon over onto a plater and remove the skin flesh from the other side.

To serve, carefully remove the fillets from one side of the fish, leaving behind the bones. You will see that the fish has a natural divide of 2 long fillets on each side. Insert your knife along the centre and carefully ease off each fillet. Transfer the fillets to a platter, bone side up. Lift up the central bone from the remaining whole fish – it should come away in one piece – and remove the dill and shallot. Ease the 2 remaining fillets apart and remove any pin bones. Serve the 2 fillets decorated with the cucumber slices and with lemon wedges.

Original recipe from BBC Good Food magazine, issue May 2013, available here.

Side dish: Potatoes Dauphinoise

Serves 8-10 | Prepare 15 minutes | Cook 1hr 15 mins | Easy | Gluten-free
You’ll need:
  • 15g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing;
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced,
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed,
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves,
  • 170 ml single cream;
  • 170 ml double cream;
  • 100 ml whole milk;
  • 1kg king edward potatoes, peeled and finely sliced.

While the salmon is cooking, start prepping the potatoes. Grease a 1.5 litre baking dish. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat, until foaming. Stir in the onion and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and thyme, cook for another 3 minutes. Add the creams and milk to the pan and bring to a gentle simmer and season.

Tip the potatoes into the pan and simmer for 6-7 minutes. Transfer everything to the baking dish. Place in the oven with the salmon about half way through it’s cooking time on a shelf below. When the fish is out, place in the middle of the oven and increase the heat to 170C fan, and cook for another 30-40 minutes until browned and cooked through, while the fish is resting and you are preparing it for serving.

Adapted from a recipe from myWaitrose Magazine, issue May 2016. 

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The sides: Dauphinoise potatoes and pancetta peas & beans. Photo by Sarah Ahmad from The Floating Designer.

Side dish: Peas & beans with pancetta & mint

Serves 8-10 | Prep 5 mins | Cook 15 minsEasy | Gluten-free Vegetarian
You’ll need:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil;
  • 100g wafer thin smoked pancetta rashers;
  • 480g pack frozen soya beans;
  • 200g broccoli;
  • 500g frozen petits pois;
  • juice of 1 lemon;
  • food handful mint leaves, roughly chopped.

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the pancetta until it turns golden, taking care not to burn it. Lift from the pan, then tip the soya beans into the pan juices and arrange the broccoli on top. Add 6 tbsp water; cover tightly and steam for 10 mins, or until the broccoli is tender. Meanwhile, strip the pancetta into pieces with scissors.

Stir the petits pois into the pan and cook for 2 mins more, then remove from the heat and toss in the lemon juice, mint and crispy pancetta pieces.

Original recipe from BBC Good Food magazine, issue April 2011, available here.

Tips

If you’d like to get ahead, you can prep quite a few of the elements the day before or get them started first so you free up more time for the salmon. The day before, you can prep the following:

  • Canapes: You can make the beetroot blinis for the canapes the day before and seal them in an airtight container. Alternatively, you can make the pancake mix the day before and let it sit in your fridge until the following day. You can also make the zesty Crème fraîche in advance.
  • Starter: You can make the crab mix and the mayo for the starter the day before and let them sit in your fridge. Your crab will be flavoured even more that way so that’s a bonus too! Just make sure you bring to room temperature before you plate up.
  • Main: You can make the potatoes dauphinoise up to the point before they go in the oven. Just bring to room temperature about 20 minutes before you put in the oven.

Tip 1 – Quicker & Simpler Main: For a speedy and slightly simpler solution, you can use 2 boneless, skinless salmon sides, then stack them on top of each other with some finely chopped dill and basil and the sliced shallot. Wrap in foil with the wine and seasoning and cook for 10 minutes less time. Then you can serve straight away without having to peel the skin and prep the fish after cooking.

Tip 2 – make a stock of the fish remains – head, bones, skin: I cut the head and tail from the fish at home and used them to make homemade fish stock. All you need to do is put them in the pan, add 150 ml white wine, 2 peeled and quartered onions, a couple of carrots very roughly chopped, a handful of parsley with the stalks and cover with water. Season really well. Boil for about 30 minutes, then remove the fish and veg, and reduce further. Place in an ice cube trays and transfer to a ziplock bag once frozen.

I hope you enjoy this fantastic fish based menu for 10. Let me know in the comments if you make this or elements of it and what you’d do differently!