Brunches or Lunches for Friends and Family

Originally publish for 406 Woman Magazine.
By Kristen Ledyard Owner/Executive Chef of John’s Angels Catering LLC

Beginner Pantry

Spring is, finally, in the air and Holiday brunches are on their way. I think the greatest gift you can give someone you love, is your personal time. I know my Mom is so pleased when I take the time to bring back some family recipes modernized with my personal twists. I think that a family brunch would be a wonderful place to say thank you and review a little family history. No, I am not talking about the green bean casserole. Think of great grandma’s recipe for apple pie or granddad’s favorite grilled item and bring them back with your new ideas using your new pantry items. Let’s create a family brunch!

Brunch Menu

Filet of wild salmon baked with honey
teriyaki and pineapple
(instead of the traditional ham)
Local greens salad with citrus vinaigrette
(instead of the jello salad casserole)
“Kicked up” mashed sweet potatoes
(instead of the marshmallow sweet potatoes)
Fresh green beans with slivered almonds in
a white wine butter glaze
(instead of green bean casserole)
Fresh berries with reduced rum
(a family favorite–some things you just can’t change)

Let’s get started…

First, make sure you buy a big enough filet for the amount of people and not bigger than your largest baking sheet (approximately 6-8oz. per person). Put aluminum foil over your baking sheet, with sides, and spray with nonstick spray. In a bowl, pour 2 cups teriyaki sauce, from your pantry, 1 1/2 tbsp honey, and a twist of black pepper. Whisk well and put on the stove top to reduce for about 30 min., on medium low heat. Just watch until it thickens enough to gently coat a spoon. Let cool. In the mean time, slice a pineapple into thin circles, discarding the core. Pour only enough liquid to lightly coat your salmon filet. Then, place pineapple circles on top with a couple of pats of butter and bake at 375 degrees for 12-18 minutes, depending on the size of the filet. A knife should slide easily in the thickest part of the salmon. Do not overcook. You still have the wonderful roasted pineapple, just with a different and healthy twist.

While your fish is cooking, prepare your greens. I like to tear my clean greens for a more rustic look, but that is a personal preference. This is a great place to bring in a family heirloom bowl. Place your greens in the bowl with your favorite fruit — raspberries, strawberries, or orange segments, along with a healthy nut that the whole family enjoys. I like to use nuts for crunch instead of croutons. Blue cheese, feta, or goat cheese on the top is a tasty final touch; however, it is optional. In a bowl, squeeze the juice of your segmented orange, ½ a lemon, and one lime. Add 1 tbsp honey, salt, pepper, and stream about ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil in as you are whisking. Set aside for a toss before serving or just on the side. This is a healthy option and a chance to visit your local farmer’s market for super fresh ingredients.

For your sweet potatoes, use the orange ones. (Yes, there is a great debate as to what a sweet potato really is, but for today, we will use those). Peel and boil until fork tender. Make sure to cut your potato into equal size chunks so everything cooks at the same speed. In a separate sauce pan warm some orange juice and butter. Pour a little of your juice mixture in your semi-mashed sweet potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste along with a little nutmeg and cayenne for the kick. Only add as much liquid and spice as desired and cover to keep warm. O.K., we did get rid of the marshmallows, but we added a little kick to the menu that your family won’t expect and will enjoy.

If fresh green beans are available, they will taste the best; however, frozen will be fine with this simple recipe. Take a bottle of your favorite sweeter white wine that you would drink, and cover the bottom of a sauté pan. Add salt and pepper along with a tbsp of butter. Turn to medium high and reduce by ½. Put your green beans in and toss. Frozen will take less time if you have thawed them out. Cook until still slightly crispy and add slivered almonds. Again, here is a place to use a conversation plating peace that your family and friends can learn the history on. Maybe, the casserole does have its place, but for this menu, we have created a new option that still has a crunch.

Serve family style and enjoy. Remember to happily answer questions about your ideas of the menu and old favorites that the family would like to bring back. Just check your pantry for ingredients and inventory if you add new items. With conversation going and eating slowing down, it is time for dessert.
Simply pick your favorite berries, melon, or any fruit from the grocery store. Put some dark rum in a sauce pan, add tbsp butter, and reduce. Make sure you keep an eye on it because of the alcohol. Then simply pour nice and warm over your fruit bowls and enjoy. If you have small children, a little touch of honey warmed up is a wonderful option.

Brunch is a together time and a chance to slow down in this busy world. Take advantage of sharing family memories and recipes. Food is a great way to create conversation and enjoy new ideas. Happy Spring time!

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