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brunch

Chasing the Sun.... Eggs Benedict

Late evening


Yesterday, I caught a bit of magic in the park...

I wanted to capture the beauty of the cherry blossoms that line the reservoir track in the soft glow of the evening sun. But, I did not manage to get to the park until 15 minutes before sunset. Yet, it was perfect timing.

As I walked around the reservoir track, I was able chase the setting sun and capture her various moods as reflected against the sky and over the water. It was nature at her best.


SunsetSunset by the railing - Midtown West to UWS skyline in the distance

Dusk Refracted hues of Dusk

Twilight Lights on twilight


Which one is your favorite?

Eggs Benedict


Also, this week I have the honor of guest posting on Prerna's blog, Indiansimmer. Prerna is a dear friend and I was so happy to share a piece of typical New York while she is away spending quality time in India. So, please head over to her blog to see my recipe for spending Sunday lazily perfect with Eggs Benedict at home made from scratch!

Eggs Benedict
(Homemade Thyme Biscuit, Asparagus, Poached Egg and Hollandaise Sauce)

For each sandwich:
1 thyme biscuit
1 egg, poached
2 spears of asparagus
3 T Julia Child's Hollandaise sauce
salt as needed
1 tsp butter, softened
Cut each biscuit in half horizontally. Spread butter on the bottom half. You can toast if you like. I just prefer fresh out of the oven biscuit as is. Place the asparagus spears on the biscuit. Gently

Thyme Biscuits

200 g flour
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking powder
2 tsp thyme, finely minced
60 g cold butter, cubed
140 g buttermilk
1 yolk + 1 T cream for egg wash
Sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder together. Cut into the mixture the cold butter until they are no more than the size of peas. Stir in the thyme and mix well. Add the buttermilk and mix for form a dough. On a floured surface knead just a bit to make into a non-sticky dough ball.
Pat the dough out with your palms to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut out scones and place on a greased baking sheet. Brush egg wash over the scones. Bake at 425F for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on rack.

Sunday Brunch: Baked Eggs with Vegetable & Ham Hash, Sweet Potato Scones with Blood Orange - Maple Sauce

Baked Eggs + Hash close up

We are the typical lazy, Sunday brunch couple; late Saturday nights spent in company of friends or just each other, waking up close to noon on Sundays, just in time for early lunch or as is common in these parts - Brunch.. The only difference between us and scores of other NY-ers is that we don't drink and we don't do the long brunch lines (unless ofcourse we plan to do just that with friends). So, our typical first meal of Sunday is not eggs benedict with a side of OJ and strong coffee; more like a leisurely chai with many many glucose biscuits and then regular lunch.

Last night, I had a sudden craving for a typical NY style brunch with the eggs, muffins et all. But, all my craving did not overpower my abhorrence of standing in line in the freezing cold and smiling about it! So, it was to be Brunch at home, cozily warm and leisurely lazy.. no need to wake up early to beat the rush at 11:30! YAY!

Sweet Potato Scones with blood orange maple sauce

My menu - Eggs with hash, breakfast scones and fruit. Rummaging around the net and in my pantry and fridge, I found inspiration, sweet potato, ham and half a head of cauliflower. Passing by Chocolate Shavings, I found this lovely recipe for baked eggs. From there, it was simple stretch of imagination to incorporate what I had on hand (Early morning shopping is a strict no-no!)..

Now, cauliflower ranks rather amongst my least favorite vegetables. Mr. FSK knows that. Yet, for some reason, whenever I send him out to the grocery store, he comes back with a head of it (:OO!!), leaving me with a frown on my face (so not good for my looks!) and having to come up with ideas to consume it before it gets wrapped in deathly fungal hallows.. sighh.. I do like cauliflower with cheese (lot of it), so I figured, it would work well in a hash where it's flavors are not dominant.. So, that's one down...

Baked eggs over hash

There isn't a good wholesome hash without potato. So that went in too. Then, the ham just fit in right along! To go with that, I wanted a cheese that would melt, become gooey and perfectly satisfying. I had provolone and fresh mozzarella on hand. I chose the latter because.. well, because I just felt like it! :-)

There! I had my first item - Potato and Cauliflower Hash with Mozzarella topped with Baked Eggs.

Sweet Potato Scones

My perfect brunch has to have a little sweet element to it. Usually I order french toast and nibble on hub's eggs. Today, I decided to go with scones. After my first success with the British breakfast item, Orange Yogurt Scones, I have just been hooked to them in general.

Sweet Potato is the chosen ingredient for this month's Beet 'n Squash You, hosted by Melody and Leela. Drawing inspiration from pumpkin spice scones, I chose to accompany my egg dish with Sweet Potato and Cinnamon Scones topped with a Blood Orange & Maple Sauce.

I had to plan the brunch a bit and manage time and all that. But, hey, it was well worth the effort. Sitting down with a full plate of baked eggs and hash, fresh warm scones and sauce and a some refreshing fruit was just the perfect way to start the Sunday! :))

Have a great week everyone! :)

Brunch Plate


Baked Eggs with Potato, Cauliflower and Mozarella Hash
(serves 2)

2 eggs
1/2 medium red onion, julienned
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 lb cured ham (any kind you like)
1 small russet potato, boiled
1/4 cup cauliflower, flowerlets
3 T fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp italian seasoning
1 tsp paprika
3 T light cream
2 mozzarella rounds, 1/4 inch thickness, width to fit your ramekins
salt, pepper, olive oil as needed

Garnish:
sprig of parsley
2-3 cherry tomatoes, sliced thin

Toss the cauliflower in a little oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 350F oven for 15 minutes until crisp and cooked. Meanwhile, in a skillet and lightly saute the ham in a little oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute till soft. Season with salt, pepper and other seasoning. Add diced, cooked potato and toss for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Toss in the roasted cauliflower and set aside to cool until ready to assemble.

Just before assembling, add the cream and parsley to the hash mixture and stir to incorporate. Brush the inside of two 10 oz ramekins with butter. Divide half of the hash mixture equally between the two ramekins. Layer the mozzarella over this. Top with the remaining hash mixture.

Break the eggs one at a time in a small bowl and gently transfer to the top of the ramekins. Sprinkle a pinch of salt to season the egg. Cover with foil (to ensure that the yolk doesn't cook faster than the whites). Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes until the egg is set and whites are cooked.

Garnish ramekins with the tomato slices, parsley and tiny sprinkle of paprika. Serve immediately.


Sweet Potato Scones with Blood Orange and Maple Sauce

1 cup cake flour
2/3 T baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 T brown sugar
3-1/2 T very cold butter, diced
3 T heavy cream
1/4 cup sweet potato puree
butter and sugar for brushing and sprinkling

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon. Using a pastry cutter or two knifes, cut in the cold butter so the mixture resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl whisk together cream, potato puree and brown sugar.

Add the wet mixture to the dry and bring together to a form a crumbly dough. Scrape the dough to a lightly floured surface and bring together to form a dough ball. Pat to form a circle of about 1 inch thickness. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for atleast 30 minutes.

When ready to bake, remove dough and thaw for 5 minutes. Then roll it out on a floured surface to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter of your choice, cut out scone shapes. Place on parchment paper. Brush the tops with butter and sprinkle sugar.

Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Cool for a few minutes on the rack. Serve warm topped with Orange-Maple sauce


Blood Orange and Maple sauce

1 blood orange, juiced
1 T maple syrup
1 T sugar
1/8 tsp corn starch

Over medium heat, bring the above ingredients to a boil. Whisk in the corn starch. Lower heat and let simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to warm. Pour over scones and serve.

Leek and Prosciutto Tart with Warm Apple Cider for Fall Brunch


Yay! I made it! You wondering what? Well, I have been planning this brunch for the past three weekends and something or other just kept pushing it on to the back burner. This weekend, I finally decided to tell my Google calender whoz boss! I put my foot down, cleaned out all the scribbles in my schedule and got down to the baking....

Now, you wonder, why all this fuss to get this done. After all, brunch is my favorite meal of the weekend especially because it has such a leisurely note to it! Well... the thing is, Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey is hosting a Brunch today and I don't want to be late for it. It isn't polite, is it?; to RSVP yes and then show up after the party! Very very not acceptable in my hostessing and guesting book....


Anyway, I do get like that when I have to host or cook something by a deadline. I frazzle about and worry till the table is all set and ready. Even then, I can think of just a few more garnishes and little stuff that would make it better and more so... The never ending quest for perfection, ain't it?! :)

Anyway, I have made the typical brunches / breakfasts at home; pancakes and bacon, over easy eggs with Mornay Sauce, Eggs on Toast with Fruit Sauce and more. I love brunching at home. It is my favorite meal, as I said, but I do not particularly relish standing in a line for hours to get it (as inevitably happens at any decent brunch place in the city on a weekend.. New Yorkers' discretionary patience just amazes me sometimes :)))..


This time, I wanted to make something different but still brunch-y. I wanted to play with eggs, cheese, ham and fresh fruit, all typical brunch items for me.

So I thought, why not bake? And, ofcourse, quiche immediately popped into my head. That's a bit more lunch-like for me and quite heavy. So I went with a lighter tart and to bring in that bacon/ham angle, I chose the delicate and flavorful prosciutto paired with mild leeks and goat cheese. And the fruit; well, it's Fall and you guessed it.. Apples!! I made fresh warm spiced apple cider with a hint of citrus...

So, that is the lovely brunch I plan to take to Meeta's - Leek & Prosciutto Tart with Arugula Salad and Warm Apple Cider....


Let's toast!


Leek & Prosciutto Tart
(makes 2 six inch individual tarts or 1 9inch tart)

1 butter crust (Recipe here)
4 oz goat cheese, room temperature
2 T sour cream
2 eggs, room temperature
1 small leeks, sliced fine
1/4 lb prosciutto
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp pimento sauce or other hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the prosciutto into squares, reserving a slice or two for garnish. Cream goat cheese and sour cream together to get a smooth, creamy mixture (this is why, it is important to bring the cheese to room temperature). Add the eggs one at the time and whisk to incorporate fully. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

If you are making individual tarts, cut the tart crust accordingly. Blind bake for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees. Cool the tarts a little, so the eggs don't scramble. Fill and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until cooked and the center is set.

Rest for a few minutes till cool enough to handle. Serve the tarts, garnished with the reserved prosciutto and a few leek rings..

For the salad, I dressed the arugula simply with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and topped with toasted pignolis.

Fresh Spiced Apple Cider

4 Macintosh apples, cored, peeled, diced
1 tsp lemon juice
2 slices of lemon
1 tsp sugar
2 cups water
1 stick cinnamon
5 cloves
1 star anise
2 cloves cardamom

Puree the apples with the lemon juice to as fine a consistency as you can. Add a little water if needed to get the blades working. In a sauce pan, add the apple puree with the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes with lid on. Cool for a few minutes and let the flavors steep. To serve, strain the cider through a fine sieve. Garnish with a slice of lemon or some mint.
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