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

Rhubarb & gingernut cheesecake

This cheesecake was a delight when served at a family get together a couple of weeks ago. Really easy to put together too makes this a super fuss free delicious dessert for a crowd. On a side note, I thought this is a really good example of food styling in food magazines vs how food actually turns out. Those of you who go ahead and check the original recipe by BBC Good Food, will notice that the seemingly stewed rhubarb topping the cheesecake is in perfect condition. My experience with stewing rhubarb is that unless you stew it for 2 minutes only (which will leave it uncooked) there is no way it will keep it’s integrity as per the photo! Nonetheless, the cheesecake was still super tasty so it doesn’t really matter…

More in desserts: Salted Caramel Cheesecake; Eastern Mess

Rhubarb & gingernut cheesecake

Rhubarb-Cheesecake-1

Serves 8 – 10 | Prep 20 mins | Cook 25 mins | Requires a few hrs of chilling
Easy | Vegetarian*

You’ll need:

  • 500g forced rhubarb, chopped into 4cm lengths;
  • 150g caster sugar;
  • 1 blood orange, zested and juiced;
  • 1 vanilla pod;
  • 100g butter, melted, plus extra for the tin;
  • 200g gingernut biscuits;
  • 500g mascarpone* or soft cheese;
  • 100g thick natural yogurt;
  • 1 tbsp pistachios, chopped.

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment and fill with the rhubarb. Scatter over the sugar and orange zest and pour over the juice. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod in there too, throwing the spent pod on top. Cover with foil and roast for 20 mins. Remove from the oven. Purée a third of the rhubarb, reserving the rest for the top.

Butter a 20cm springform cake tin and line it with baking parchment. To make the base, put the biscuits in a bag and smash them with a rolling pin, or put them in a food processor and grind to crumbs. Tip into a mixing bowl, and stir in a pinch of sea salt. Pour the butter over the crumbs. Mix it together with a fork and tip it into the tin. Tap the side of the tin with your hand to even the crumbs out, and gently compress it with the back of a large spoon until it’s packed in and level. You want it fairly well packed so that it holds together. Put in the fridge to chill.

To make the filling, put the cheese and yogurt into a mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat it together. Mix until combined and thickened, then fold through the rhubarb purée. Pile the mixture on top of the biscuit base and smooth it down. Cover with cling film and chill for 6 hrs or up to overnight until set.

Remove the rhubarb from its syrup with a slotted spoon, tip the syrup into a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce for about 3-5 mins until the syrup is more concentrated. Allow to cool.

When ready to serve, carefully remove the cheesecake from its tin. Pile the rhubarb on top and drizzle over some syrup (you can save the rest for drizzling over porridge), then scatter with the pistachios to serve.

*Mascarpone, is a vegetarian cheese, however, always check the label to ensure that it is produced the standard way.

Original recipe by BBC Good Food, available online here.


Previously posted on 13th of May on Food Notes:

== 2018 ==
* Large, Fluffy Pancakes with Pancetta & Maple: https://foodnotesdotblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/13/large-fluffy-pancakes-with-pancetta-maple/

Salted caramel cheesecake

I’m not a big fan of Christmas pudding or Trifles, so I always go a bit ‘untraditional’ when it comes to Christmas dinner dessert. It’s actually often a cheesecake because you can make them in advance, they aren’t fussy to do and are usually delicious. This Salted Caramel Cheesecake from Delicious Magazine was particularly lush! It’s a perfect dessert for any occasion and though I find baked cheesecakes, to be particularly comforting at winter time.

Salted caramel cheesecake

Serves 10 – 12 | Prep 40 minutes | Cook 1.5 hrs | Requires overnight resting
A little effort

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Photo by Sarah Ahmad

You’ll need:

  • Oil for greasing

For the base:

  • 250g dark chocolate digestive biscuits;
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder;
  • 60g unsalted butter, melted.

For the filling:

  • 600g full-fat cream cheese;
  • 300ml soured cream;
  • 397g tin Carnation Caramel;
  • flaked sea salt, to taste;
  • 2 medium eggs;
  • 3 egg yolks.

For the Caramel Glaze:

  • 100g caster sugar;
  • 75ml double cream;
  • 25g salted butter;
  • flaked sea salt, to taste.

Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan140°C/gas 3. Lightly oil a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Whizz the biscuits and cocoa to fine crumbs in a food processor. Add the butter and whizz until the mixture has the texture of wet sand, then press into the bottom of the cake tin. Chill the base while you make the filling.

For the filling, whip the cream cheese, soured cream and caramel in a large bowl. Add sea salt to taste. Lightly beat in the eggs and yolks until smooth, then pour on top of the biscuit base. Smooth the top, then bake for 1¼-1½ hours until the cheesecake is cooked but still has a good wobble in the middle. Don’t worry if it puffs up and cracks a bit – it will sink back down as it cools.

When cooked, take the cheesecake out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 45 minutes, then remove from the tin and chill overnight.

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Photo by Sarah Ahmad

Just before serving, make the glaze. Put the sugar in a heavy-based frying pan over a low heat and melt, without stirring, until it turns a rich red caramel colour. Add the cream and butter, stirring constantly (be careful in case it spits) until combined. Leave to cool for a few minutes, stirring often. Add a little salt to taste if you like.

To serve, drizzle the caramel over the top, then cut into wedges.

oznor
Photo by Sarah Ahmad

Original recipe from Delicious magazine, issue Christmas 2013, available online here.

Honey-roast parsnips and carrots

Honey glazed parsnips and carrots went perfectly with our Christmas turkey this year. I can promise you, they will go well with any roast, though, and your guests will definitely love them.

Honey-roast parsnips and carrots

Serves 8 | Prep 10 minutes | Cook 30 minutes
Easy | Dairy and Gluten free | Vegetarian

oznor
Photo by Sarah Ahmad

You’ll need:

  • 500g carrots;
  • 500g parsnips;
  • 2 tbsp olive oil;
  • 4 tbsp honey;
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard.

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7. Place a roasting tray in the oven to heat up. Meanwhile, slice the carrots and parsnips lengthways into halves or quarters so that they are evenly sized.

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey and mustard. Add the vegetables to the bowl and toss thoroughly to coat in the glaze. Place on the hot tray and roast for 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender and caramelised.

Original recipe from Waitrose Christmas Harvest 2015, available online here.

Get ahead: Prepare and coat the vegetables in the glaze a few hours ahead of cooking time.

Sprout & nigella seed stir-fry

I’m not a big sprout fan. I’d usually always give them a miss in my Christmas dinner (or any other time really). However, even I must admit that cooking them as per this Waitrose magazine recipe worked rather well. Stir-frying them in lemon juice, garlic, onions and nigella seeds gave them lots and lots of flavours. The original recipe uses caraway seeds, but I swapped this for nigella seeds as I prefer the flavour. You can give it a try with either.

Sprout & nigella seed stir-fry

Serves 8-10 | Prep 15 mins | Cook 15 mins
Easy | Gluten-free | Vegetarian

oznor

You’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil;
  • 2 onions, halved and thinly sliced;
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced;
  • 2 tsp nigella seeds;
  • 50g butter;
  • 800g Brussels Sprouts, halved;
  • Grated zest and juice 2 lemons.

Heat the oil in a large pan or wok. Add the onion and stir-fry for a few minutes until golden, being careful not to let it burn. Add the garlic, Nigella seeds and butter and toss together for a minute until the butter has melted. Add the sprouts and cook for about 5 minutes, tossing together continuously.

Add the lemon zest and juice and cook for a further 5-7 minutes until tender and juicy but still with some bite. Serve straightaway.

Get ahead: You can pre-prepare the ingredients a few hours ahead of cooking and set aside so that they are ready to be stir-fried just before serving.

Original recipe from Waitrose Christmas Harvest 2015, available online here.