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At Your Leisure: Simple, Sophisticated Brunch Recipes

April 26, 2014

At Your Leisure: Simple, Sophisticated Brunch Recipes

April 26, 2014

Our weekend mantra: Easy does it — especially when entertaining. This inspired menu allows most of the prep work to be done in advance, leaving you free to tell the long version of that funny thing that happened the other day.

The Menu

Because the main dish is both sweet and savory, all you’ll need to round out the meal is a crisp salad and a light yet festive dessert. (And maybe a cocktail, too.)

  • Baked Stuffed French Toast
  • Frisee Salad with Pistachios and Dijon Vinaigrette
  • Cucumber-Infused Gin-and-Grapefruit Fizz
  • Whipped Yogurt with Pineapple and Dried Fruit

Set up a coffee station with the brunch buffet. Your guests can have their java just the way they like it — and you’ll have one fewer task on your to-do list.

Related:14 New, Lighter Comfort Food Ideas

The Make-Ahead Plan

One Week Before

Shop for nonperishables and specialty items. (Give our favorite brunch boosters a try.)

Three Days Before

Shop for remaining ingredients. Make vinaigrette. Toast coconut (see below). Infuse gin; freeze large ice cubes.

One Day Before

Whisk yogurt. Chop pistachios and fruit. Stuff and soak French toast.

Just Before Guests Arrive

Bake French toast. Prepare salad. Make cocktails.

Related:Delicious Desserts in 15 Minutes or Less

The Perfect Cut

It doesn’t matter whether the loaf you choose is Italian or French, as long as it’s wide and properly sliced. With a serrated bread knife, trim the ends, then cut the loaf into eight slices, each 1 1/2 inches thick.

Baked Stuffed French Toast

Unsalted butter, room temperature, for baking dish
1 14-inch loaf rustic bread, such as pane Pugliese, cut into 8 slices
8 thin slices ham, plus more for topping (optional)
8 ounces Gruyere, thinly sliced, plus more for topping (optional)
8 large eggs
2/3 cup whole milk
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Pure maple syrup, such as Noble

1. Butter bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Make a deep slit in each bread slice to create a pocket. Stuff each with 1 slice of ham, then divide cheese evenly among pockets.

2. Whisk together eggs and milk in a bowl until combined, and season with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into prepared baking dish. Add bread slices in a single layer, gently pressing into egg mixture, and let soak 15 minutes. Flip bread You can soak the bread in the egg mixture for just 30 minutes, but the French toast will be even more delicious if you let it sit overnight. and gently press again into egg mixture. Let soak 15 minutes. (If preparing the day before, refrigerate up to 12 hours, loosely covered, then let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.)

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Top bread with remaining ham and cheese. Bake until egg mixture is set and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes.

4. Turn oven to broil, with rack 4 to 6 inches from heat source. Broil until bread is toasted and golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve hot with maple syrup.

Related:47 Ways to Maximize Space in Your Kitchen

Fizz Fix

A single large ice cube — made with a special ice cube tray — works best for fizzy cocktails. Smaller cubes melt faster and make the drink go flat quicker.

Cucumber-Infused Gin-and-Grapefruit Fizz

2 Persian cucumbers (or 1/2 English cucumber), thinly sliced into rounds, plus more slices for serving
12 ounces gin, such as Hendrick’s
8 large ice cubes, or regular ice cubes
3 12-ounce bottles grapefruit soda, such as Spindrift

1. Place cucumbers in a small pitcher. Mash with a muddling tool or a wooden spoon until cucumbers release juices and break down into small pieces. Add gin, cover, and refrigerate at least 12 hours and up to 3 days.

2. Place ice in each serving glass. Pour 1 1/2 ounces cucumber-infused gin into each and top with soda. Stir once, garnish with cucumber slices, and serve immediately.

Related:22 Chicken Dinner Recipes in Less Than 30 Minutes

Ambrosia Update

To toast the shaved coconut, spread it on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 350 degrees until golden, about five minutes. Keep a watchful eye on it, as coconut burns easily.

Whipped Yogurt with Pineapple and Dried Fruit

2 cups plain low-fat Greek yogurt
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh pineapple
Sliced dried fruits, such as papayas, plums, and strawberries, for serving
Shaved coconut or unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted, for serving
Freshly grated nutmeg, for serving (optional)

Cook’s Note
To toast the shaved coconut, spread it on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 350 degrees until golden, about 5 minutes. Keep a watchful eye on it, as coconut burns easily.

1. Whisk together yogurt, cream, honey, and zest in a bowl until mixture thickens and holds soft peaks.

2. Divide half of pineapple evenly among 8 serving bowls. Top with yogurt mixture, then remaining pineapple, dividing evenly. Sprinkle with dried fruits, coconut, and nutmeg and serve.

Frisee Salad with Pistachios and Dijon Vinaigrette

12 ounces frisee (1 to 2 bunches), stems trimmed, leaves torn into 3-inch pieces (about 15 cups)
1/2 small head radicchio, preferably Treviso, cored and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, plus tarragon flowers (optional)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup shelled raw pistachios

1. Combine frisee, radicchio, and tarragon leaves in a serving bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, lemon juice, and sugar. Slowly whisk in oil; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over salad, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with pistachios and tarragon flowers and serve.

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