This and That: Easter Brunch Menu

© 2017-Templeton Life

Spring was official on March 20 and what a beautiful season we are experiencing. My daffodils are still standing tall, although some of the early bloomers are showing signs of fading. Non-the-less, they have given us quite a show this year.

This week I gathered a bouquet and brought it in the house to display with my Easter decorations. I continue to marvel at the radiance those blossoms bring to any location where they are present.

I tend to think “brunch” when I plan an Easter menu, so I’ve been doing my research. I came up with several recipes to choose from. I’m sharing them here, hoping that one or two of them will be on your menu, too.

I like “make-ahead” dishes and these next recipes meet the criteria.

Amaretto Brioche Bake
Ingredients:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
¼ cup amaretto
2 tablespoons light-color corn syrup
1 (12-ounce) loaf brioche or other sweet bread, cut into 8 slices
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups half-and-half, light cream, or milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg or cardamom
Fresh blackberries (optional)
Powdered sugar (optional)

Directions:
Lightly grease a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. In a saucepan combine brown sugar, butter, amaretto, and corn syrup. Cook and stir until boiling. Boil uncovered, for 1 minute. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Arrange bread slices over brown sugar mixture. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg. Pour evenly over bread slices. Using the back of a wide spatula press bread down lightly to soak with egg mixture. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean and the top is lightly browned. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. If desired top with blackberries and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 8 servings.

Breakfast Pie
Ingredients:
8 slices bacon
½ cup panko bread crumbs
5 eggs
2 ½ cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (4 ounces)
½ cup cottage cheese
1/3 cup milk
¼ cup chopped green onions (2)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 drops bottled hot pepper sauce
Sliced green onions (optional)

Directions:
In a large skillet cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon; set aside. Stir bread crumbs into the reserved drippings. Transfer bread crumb mixture to a small bowl; cover and chill until needed. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate; set aside. In a medium bowl, beat eggs with a fork until foamy. Stir in crumbled bacon, potatoes, Swiss cheese, cottage cheese, milk, the chopped green onions, salt, black pepper, and hot pepper sauce. Pour mixture into prepared pie plate. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sprinkle pie with bread crumb mixture. Bake uncovered about 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. If desired, garnish with sliced green onions. Cut into wedges to serve.

Cheesy Potato Bake with Eggs
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup finely chopped onion (1 medium)
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
1½ cups milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ½ cups chopped fresh or frozen broccoli
8 eggs
2 tablespoons water
6 slices crumbled crisp-cooked bacon
1 large tomato, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. For cheese sauce, in a saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook about 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in flour, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and ½ teaspoon of the pepper. Stir in milk; cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Add cheese, stirring until melted. In a 3-quart rectangular baking dish, layer potatoes and cheese sauce. Bake covered, about 55 minutes or until potatoes are tender. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add broccoli; cook about 5 minutes or until nearly tender, stirring frequently. In a large bowl beat together eggs, the water, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Pour over broccoli in skillet. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until mixture begins to set on the bottom and around the edges. Using a spatula lift and fold the egg mixture, so the uncooked portion flows underneath. Continue cooking about 2 minutes more or until egg mixture is cooked but still glossy and moist. Spoon eggs over potatoes. Top with bacon and chopped tomato. Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

Hungry yet? This next recipe is a wonderful way to use leftover ham or a single ham steak. You will need 8 ounces of ham.

Ham-Asparagus Strata
Ingredients:
8 ounces fresh asparagus spears, timed and cut into 2-inch long pieces
5 cups French bread cubes
2 cups shredded Gruyere or white cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
½ cup chopped onion (1 medium)
¼ cup snipped chives or chopped green onions
8 ounces cooked ham, diced
10 eggs
1 ½ cups milk
Cracked black pepper (optional)

Directions:
In a Dutch oven cook asparagus in boiling salted water about 5 minutes or until bright green. Drain well; set aside. Grease a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Spread half of the bread cubes in the prepared baking dish. Top bread cubes with cheese, onion and chives; top with half of the ham and half of the asparagus. Top with remaining bread cubes. In a bowl whisk together four of the eggs and the milk. Pour egg mixture evenly over layers in baking dish. Using the back of a wide spatula press bread down lightly to soak with egg mixture. Top with the remaining ham and the remaining asparagus. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill 8 to 24 hours. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Using the back of a wooden spoon make six indentations in the top of the strata. Pour one of the remaining eggs into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes more or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of strata registers 170 degrees and eggs are set. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Cut into squares to serve. If desired, sprinkle with cracked black pepper. Makes 6 servings.