If you are a cook anything like me, you’re always on the lookout for something new for brunch–that lazy, laughingly-slow, boozy late morning meal reserved for special occasions or holidays. Even my husband, visiting his folks a few weeks back, texted me to say, “Anything new on the brunch front?” I guess he or his parents were a little tired of their go-tos and that’s a bit on the odd side because most people in the world are very attached to their breakfasts, if not their brunches.
Americans, in particular, are stuck on the way their breakfast is fixed and that’s the way they want it, right? “I like my eggs sunny side up.” “Make that bacon extra-crispy.” “She eats oatmeal every day of the week.” “My smoothie makes my morning.” “Really hot coffee with extra almond milk, please.”
But breakfast isn’t brunch. Here’s why. Breakfast is that thing you have to have before you run out that door, even if it’s just to go to the gym. It’s the base of your day, the most important meal in your life! Everyone has always told you so. That first early morning meal is also the tasty emotional link to the bowl of cereal you threw down every morning before school and is maybe the first meal you ever fixed for yourself. Memorable, huh? What mom didn’t rejoice when their kid could get that box of Cheerios out of the cabinet, dump some into a bowl, and almost get the milk poured into it? And what child didn’t celebrate that accomplishment? One last thought…breakfast is the meal you most often eat alone. Naturally you get to have it exactly as you please; you make it and you eat it. Ta-da! Someone else may be prowling around the kitchen getting their coffee (or fixing THEIR breakfast), but you’re the one that has to get your food fixed and down the gullet, so that you can get on to work or whatever…even if it’s just reading the paper.
Brunch, unlike breakfast, we’ll remember, is usually –though not always– for a group of adults. Think mimosas and Bloody Marys. Kids get bored with that long meal deal and they usually had their cereal, right? They’ll pick at strawberries, grab a sausage, and be gone. Brunch, in opposition to breakfast, is really and totally unnecessary–maybe even decadent. It can also be whenever–not only at 6:30am like your granola and yogurt. Try 11? Maybe 1? Could even be 2 if you slept really late. What else? Brunch food includes a whole range of culinary possibilities. (No smoothies allowed.) Yes, eggs might figure in omelets or quiches, but there’s a chance of fancy-pants casseroles, trays of marinated vegetables, rounds of imported cheeses, pans of greasy fried potatoes, big bowls of juicy fruit, fluffy croissants and jam, golden muffins with tons of butter, creamed crab on toast, coffee cakes galore, desserts a plenty, or, if you’ve gone out to a big hotel, even gargantuan roast beefs and hams some guy with wondrous knife skills is slicing right before your eyes. Breakfast is a base hit of coffee or orange juice. Brunch slides into home plate with Irish Coffees, Sparkling Wine, or Fruity Sangrias. Breakfast congratulates itself on how fast it’s made and eaten; brunch sits back and takes it easy until someone turns off the music and mimosas. If you eat breakfast, like as not you’ll eat the other two meals of the day. Brunch? That’s probably all she wrote, right?
So if you’re making brunch for Mother’s Day or any special day, really, you’ll be needing something new to read about right here because unlike Dave, most of you can’t text me to say, “Anything new on the brunch front?” There’s no creamed crab on toast today, but you’ll just need to make this easy crustless quiche that makes use of stellar southwest ingredients — goat cheese and green chiles — and gilds the lily with a layer of shrimp topped with sautéed onions, peppers, asparagus, and garlic. In other words, this is nearly a whole meal. By the way, tightly-covered leftovers (not left out more than two hours after baking) store for up to three days in the fridge and are yummy cold or at room temperature. I wouldn’t freeze this particular dish.
My quiche will go a few different ways to suit your tastes, too. Don’t like red peppers? Sub chopped, seeded fresh tomatoes. No asparagus? It’ll cook without it. Couldn’t find goat cheese? Use a little more of the grated Swiss instead. Gluten-free? Simply skip the breadcrumbs in the bottom of the baking dish or use some that are gluten-free.
If you need more to eat, scroll down for a few ideas or ask someone else to bring a favorite dish or two and make it easy on yourself. Do try this:
crustless shrimp + green chile quiche
- 3 tablespoons salted softened butter divided
- 1 ½ tablespoons dried plain bread crumbs, optional
- ½ cup each: diced onion and sweet red bell pepper
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- ½ pound asparagus, trimmed, and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¾ lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, with tails off (12 ounces)
- 4- ounce can mild green chiles, drained
- 2 ounces soft, crumbled goat cheese (1/3 cup)
- 2 ounces grated Swiss cheese (1/3 cup)
- 1 cup whole milk, half and half, or cream
- 2 large eggs
- 3 drops hot sauce or to taste I like Tabasco
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place rack at center. Using one tablespoon of the butter, grease the quiche dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs, if using. Set aside.
- Heat a 10-inch skillet with the other two tablespoons of butter over medium flame. Add onion and bell pepper along with a pinch each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 8 minutes or until softened; add asparagus and garlic. Cook another two minutes or until asparagus is nearly tender. Remove from heat.
- Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and layer them into the buttered quiche dish. Spoon the cooked vegetables on the shrimp and scatter the green chiles evenly. Next, layer the crumbled goat cheese (it won’t cover everything) and then scatter the grated Swiss cheese on top.
- In a large measuring cup, whisk together the milk and eggs with ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, and the hot sauce. Pour custard evenly over the filling so that dish is no more than ¾ full, drizzling in a little more milk if needed. (See notes.) Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake 35-40 minutes or until barely set and just becoming golden on top. A knife stuck into center should come out nearly clean. Remove to a rack and let rest 10 minutes before cutting into wedges for serving. Leftovers are good cold or at room temperature.
Recipe for Blueberry Muffins (below)
EASY FRUIT BOWL:
Stir together fresh berries with minced fresh mint for the simplest bowl of sweetness. You’ll need about a cup of berries and 1/2 teaspoon minced mint per person. For a less expensive version, use half diced melon and half berries.
MAYBE SOME SALAD?
HOW ABOUT A DRINK?
3 cups Syrah or Côtes du Rhône or other big-bodied red wine
1/3 cup each: port and simple syrup at room temperature*
1/2 cup orange juice, optional
2 cups strawberries and any other spring fruit, sliced
6 sprigs fresh mint
12-16 oz club soda, sparkling water, or sparkling wine
Early in the day or the night before, mix wine, port, cooled simple syrup, oj (if using), and berries in a big pitcher. Taste and add more port and/or simple syrup if too light, dull, or sour. Refrigerate, well covered, until very cold. To serve, pour into large wine glasses over ice, garnish with a sprig of mint, and top off with a big splash of sparkling wine or water.
Optional: Since many people like citrus in their sangria, you could also add some sliced lemon and orange to the wine mixture before refrigerating.
Our world suffered a loss this week…
I didn’t know well-known American writer Rachel Held Evans personally, but rather was one of 167K who happily followed her on twitter or read her blog...which sometimes made me feel as if I knew her. I’d call her a growing faithful writer –who knows what she might have done had she lived a longer life. Rachel tragically and unexpectedly died on May 4 after being put in a medically induced coma following a severe allergic reaction to medication. At 37, she had much of her life –both professional and personal–ahead. The Christian world of writing and joining lovingly together is certainly diminished, but can remain grateful that at such a young age, Rachel had already published several books. I think of her two very young children growing up without their mother (and missing her this Sunday), but am thankful for the legacy of words and care she leaves behind. They, nor we, will never doubt much about who she was. In a tweet from April 11, 2019, she left us this:
Like, how freaked out are they going to be when (if all this is true), they enter the full presence of God at resurrection and are suddenly hit with the reality that God’s not a dude?
Cook for someone soon–why not brunch?