shaun and erin’s brunch

i’m never conservative about the amount of photos i post, but generally try to keep it to a few really important ones to keep things looking simple on this blog. this was a special occasion, though, and it deserved to be well documented. group gatherings and numerous food contributions demand lots of photos.

our friends, steve and brea, offered to have brunch for our leaving friends, shaun and erin. i’ve known shaun since i was 15! he was always like my brother. i think i met erin just 3 months or so before they got married, when i was 21 or so. her and shaun are a great couple, and i’m glad to have had them both around for so much of my life. anyhow, they will be missed greatly, but they have a new life awaiting them in wyoming. hooray for shaun and erin!!

sunny yolk pokes out of the asparagus and bread

the brunch, as usual, was great. sweet and savory dishes decked the table. usually there is too much of one of them (usually sweet) at any given brunch. this was a great spread. i made baked eggs over asparagus and savory bread pudding, which was the best experiment i’ve ever made. i prepped everything the night before, then threw it together the morning of. i knew exactly how i wanted it to turn out, and it delivered. too easy. the soft and moist texture of the bread held in the milk and egg mixture perfectly, and became just a little toasted on the bottom and around the edges. sauteing the asparagus in a touch of olive oil, torn basil, salt, and pepper, was the only way to go. i didn’t want a soggy taste that steaming could have done to it. i cut the baguette the night before, and made up the milk and egg mixture to mellow in herbs and spices over night. i did not soak the bread in the mixture because the bread i used was so soft on it’s own. the finished resulted in a perfectly moist and savory dish, filling and satisfying, not to mention healthy. i kept the eggs in tact in order to provide a “sunny side up” style dish. the yolks were mostly cooked through, though a little yolk liquid remained. basil was a perfect herb to use, though i imagine rosemary or sage would be nice, too. i sliced the baguette in even slices and lined the 9×9 dish with them nestled very tightly together to hold in the egg mixture. i did not use a freestyle torn bread approach because i wanted everything to lay flat to keep the eggs on top from sliding around. i recommend using a small amount of cheese. you don’t want to overpower this dish or make it greasy with too much.

dark cherries and almonds in a sweet, nutty biscotti

dark cherries and almonds in a sweet, nutty biscotti

as a back up, i made biscotti the night before. i’m kind of chicken when it comes to experiments, especially for groups of friends. the biscotti were also amazing. i hadn’t made this specific biscotti recipe before, either… but they were from elana’s pantry, and i know that her recipes are foolproof. seriously. it’s rare that i’ll make a new recipe into a backup recipe, but she’s just so reliable! please click here to follow her recipe. i can’t speak highly enough of her site. the only change i made: no lemon, added anise to taste and vanilla to taste, and chopped dried cherries. i’m sure the lemon version is awesome, but i knew this crowd would want cherries. these were super easy to make, and delightfully nutty. the addition of cherries were a tart and refreshing contrast to the crunchy sweet almonds.

how cute!

brandon contributed his special OJ, which i didn’t picture (sorry brandon), and dan contributed a cheesecake, which i also forgot to picture (sorry dan). usually i get everything, but i must have forgotten in all of the confusion. kate made beautiful sweet rolls. they were so soft and just a the perfect amount of sweet. i’m not sure if she used honey butter on top, but they were shiny and sweet, but not at all sticky. they were still warm

angry unicorn, happy muffins

angry unicorn, happy muffins

when they arrived! making dough that early in the morning is a lot of work. props kate, they were beautiful and so so tasty! kat brought a colorful fruit salad and her special bran muffins. she is famous for these muffins, and i’m sure she makes them often. the beauty of it is that they don’t get boring. they get better every time she makes them. she has perfected the recipe at this point. always moist and tender, perfect for breakfast, and super healthy. these were also warm from the oven when they arrived. there was a violent battle on said muffins, between a self riteous business man and a unicorn.

steve and brea made a really savory tempeh and potato hash. it was so so satisfying. i think brea is finally warming up to tempeh, and thank goodness. this was an amazing breakfast hash, and i’ve had a lot of breakfast hash. also healthy, it was filling but not

colorful veggies in potato and tempeh hash

colorful veggies in potato and tempeh hash

oily or greasy, which is often what you get with morning potatoes. i’m not sure if steve or brea is responsible for the dish, maybe both. i know brea was responsible for banana bread (that i forgot to picture… i know i know!) that was really yummy. shaun and erin brought lots of bottles of booze. guess they thought they wouldn’t be needing it for the ride across the country! from the sounds of it, they did just fine without. brea and steve, thanks for yet another great brunch. erin and shaun, good luck in wyoming! we love you guys!

baked eggs over asparagus and bread pudding

ingredients:

1 soft baguette, about 2 feet long (i bought one, and recommend french bread or a soft white)

slippery eggs sliding around the bread

slippery eggs sliding around the bread

2 cups milk (i used soy)

1/2 cup egg whites or 4 eggs

a dozen more eggs for cracking over the top

1 lb asparagus

a few tbsp of a good quality parmesan cheese

large handful of fresh basil, chopped

sprinkles of dried basil

salt

pepper

instructions:

preheat oven to 425f. place racks to lowest position in oven. prep a 9×9 casserole dish by lightly oiling it.

snap asparagus at ends, then cut into 2″ chunks. coat lightly in olive oil and saute with a little salt and pepper. cook until just tender. remember that it will cook a little in the oven, and you don’t want it getting soggy. place in refrigerator to cool.

mix together egg whites, milk, half of the basil, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper. if you are prepping a day ahead of time, put in air tight container and put in refrigerator. if you are prepping for now, set aside in a bowl.

slice bread into equal 1″ slices. line bottom of dish with half of the slices. it is important to be sure to tuck them tightly together. this will keep the egg and milk mixture soaking in the bread slices instead of just sitting on the bottom and burning.

pour half of the egg and milk mixture over the bread.

layer the cooled asparagus over the bread and liquid.

layer the other half of bread slices over asparagus, again tightly packing slices closely together to hold in liquid mixture, and to keep eggs on top.

pour other half of liquid over bread. sprinkle remaining fresh and dried basil over this.

carefully break 1 egg at a time over bread slices, until all 12 are on top of casserole. sprinkle on cheese, salt and pepper. you can add any other dry spices to this, but be careful so you don’t overpower the flavor of the eggs or asparagus.

bake for 20-40 minutes. or until the whites are set and bread is browned around the edges. i know this looks like a pretty big variation, but sometimes eggs aren’t predictable. i baked mine for 40, but i wish i had done 30. the yolks could have been a little more runny, if you ask me. i like ’em dippy! the eggs will set up a little after you remove from oven. if the center seems soggy or too squishy, stick back in the oven for a few minutes.

let cool for 10 minutes or so before serving. it will firm up a little in this time.

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