The last couple of weeks, my friends and I unexpectedly turned a really enjoyable morning brunch meet-up into a habit. We decided to host brunch unsystematically through the upcoming weeks: rotating houses, weekends, and, of course, menus.
I decided to take up the next round and fulfill an opportunity to impress myself — one I’ve been desperately waiting for. I have cooked and baked before, but never hosted, cooked, and baked before. That would be a first.
I gave it some thought and then decided to go with recipes that were old (like Julia Child’s French bread recipe), recipes that were borrowed (like the Turkish Sesame Bagel recipe, and the Home-made Potato recipe), and recipes that were new (like the Cheddar and Chives Scones recipe). I managed my time well, wrote my menu down, organized my ingredients, timed my recipes, and dedicated a full day to table set-up and a full day to baked good, leaving the savoury foods to be cooked fresh the very same morning. Ambitious, yes, but it worked.
I have decided to include all my recipes from my brunch into one blog post as I have done to theme cooks of mine in the past. It makes replicating them easier, and archivable. I will also list everything that was on the cheese and meat board, along with all other items that decorated the table (found under).
I will start with Julia Child’s White bread recipe. When I began this blog, I cooked and baked a lot of Julia Child’s recipes because I was seemingly impressed with both the idea of the movie (Julie and Julia) and with the introduction of Julia Child in my life. I found her personality to be equally charming and surprisingly amusing. This was also the period where I was reading her autobiographical book titled: ‘My Life in France’– a refreshing break from my grad school reading material at that time.
Since I have yet to own ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ (savouring the buy) – I was utterly confused when I went back to my blogged recipe and realized that the flour ratio was not as I had written it down. The thing is, it was referenced from a third recipe source and yet all the current recipes (3 years later) have changed the flour ratio from 7 cups to 6 or 6 1/2 cups. This, in baking, makes a slight difference (however with flour, it follows the ‘you give a penny, you take a penny’ rule). I couldn’t find a reason to the shift in change, so I will wait it out until I find out. I would love to know Julia’s exact measurements. However, the baguette turned out great, so…
The recipe turned out great! I love making this recipe in a baguette form because ..well I don’t know why but the idea of French bread that takes 1/4 cup of butter is seemingly and systematically in accordance to all shapes baguettes .. no?
Julia Child’s White Bread Recipe (Baguette form)
Total time: about 3 hours (includes resting, proofing, cook time)
Serving size: 4 medium-size baguettes
- 2 1/2 cups warm water, divided
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- Pour 1/2 cup of the water into the bowl of a standmixer affixed with a dough hook and stir in the yeast and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes, until foamy and slightly creamy in texture.
- Add the rest of the water and 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture. With the mixer on low, mix until well blended.
- Add the remaining flour, salt, and allow the mixer to continue on low until it’s well combined.
- After it’s combined, add in the butter a tablespoon at a time until thoroughly blended.
- Turn the mixer up to medium speed and let it knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic (you can pick it up and it doesn’t stick to your hands), about 8 minutes or so.*If desired, knead for a few turns on a clean counter, form back into a ball and return to the bowl.
- Transfer it to a buttered bowl and cover with a clean towel and let rise until it’s doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Butter two 4-inch x 8-inch loaf pans. Or, a baguette pan if you have one. If you don’t, you can create the shape of a baguette and place the dough on a cookie sheet (but first use parchment paper).
- Once dough has doubled in size, punch the dough down and divide it in two. Pat each piece into a rectangle a little bit bigger than a regular piece of paper — about 9 inches by 12 inches. Fold it in thirds, using the shorter side of the dough, like a letter. Place in the prepared pans, seam side down and kind of tucking under the ends. Cover again and let them rise until they’re, well, shaped like loaves of bread, about an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375F and set the rack in the centre of the oven. When the loaves have risen, bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, until they are a nice golden brown.
- Remove from their pans and let cool on a rack. Allow the bread to completely cool down before slicing it.Lessons Learned: There’s nothing more to add here. This recipe yielded a lot of baguettes (I guess it’s different if you’re making a load of bread with it- yields 2). This recipe gave me 4 descent sized baguettes. It made sharing with friends so much more easier (I don’t like sharing my bread).
Lessons Learned: None here but the flour conundrum.
Recipe taken from: http://www.dinnerwithjulie.com/2012/03/04/julia-childs-white-sandwich-bread/
This Turkish bagel recipe was borrowed. My friend gave this Turkish bagel recipe a try and all her guests loved them so much that she had to pass the descriptive food measurements around- and then on to me. I knew it would be the right occasion to finally test out the recipe: ‘bagels’ would fit my brunch theme very well, so I decided to give them a try.
Unfortunately, and quite honestly, I barely got to taste them properly. I had sampled a little bit of everything that by the end of the day everything was a little bit too much. However, I did give them a try the next day and I was pleased with the taste (read lessons learned at the bottom first, though).
Turkish Bagel Recipe (Or as it is known as: Simit Bagel)
Total time: 2.5 hours
Serving size: 6 big bagels (see picture)
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbs dry yeast
- 3 tbs vegetable oil
- 2 tbs molasses
- 1 cup water
- Make a pit in the middle of the flour and pour the yeast in.
- Then, add the salt and vegetable oil and mix it all well.
- Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour.
- Prepare a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place on the side.
- Add 4 tbs of water to the molasses. Mix it well, then transfer the mixture into a large bowl for dipping.
- Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces.
- Shape the dough into bagels (on how: watch the youtube video below).
- Dip the bagels into the molasses mixture, and then into sesame.
- Transfer the bagels into a cookie sheet and let rise for another hour.
- Bake for 25 minutes on 220C (440F) pre-heated oven until golden brown.
- Let cool.
Lessons Learned: If you notice from the youtube video, I changed the ratio of the molasses. I found the molasses taste to overpower the bagels. Therefore, I cut it in half. The bagels were delicious nonetheless.
Recipe taken from:
This cheddar and chives scone recipe has to be the winner of my brunch set-up! Everybody loved this recipe so much that I believe I made a few promises of circulating it around (but never yet gotten to it). I can’t but post and rave about it.
It was traditionally a sweet scone recipe that I alternatively turned into a savoury one. Instead of the raisins, I added cheddar and chives (a great combo).
Just add a sunny-side up and you’ll see.
Cheddar and Chives Scones Recipe
Total time: 35 min
Serving Size: 6-8 *depending on size
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup Chopped Fresh Chives
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large bowl.
- Cut in butter using a pastry blender or rubbing between your fingers.
- Stir in the cheddar and chives.
- Mix together 1/2 cup milk and sour cream in a measuring cup. Pour all at once into the dry ingredients, and stir gently until well blended. Don’t overwork the dough or you will achieve a very dry scone.
- With floured hands, pat scone dough into balls 2 to 3 inches across, depending on what size you want. I used the middle part of a cookie cutter to make perfect, equal circular shapes.
- Place scones onto a greased baking sheet, and flatten lightly. Let the scones barely touch each other.
- Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon of milk. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash. Let them rest for about 10 minutes.
- Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the tops are golden brown, not deep brown.
- Let cool.
Lessons Learned: I loved adding the cheddar and chives and making it part of a brunch menu. My inspiration was a local restaurant I visited a week prior that served me an egg Benedict on a scone (and I thought: Clever). I was worried my scones would be too sweet given that I did not temper with the sugar measurement..however, I asked my friends, and they disagreed. They said the contrast between the salty flavour from the cheese, the taste of the herbs, and the sweetness from the sugar collaborated evenly well. I have a feeling a couple of different variations of this scone could be made in the future. Nonetheless, It’s definitely one to keep.
Recipe taken from: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/85629/worlds-best-scones-from-scotland-to-the-savoy-to-the-us/
Home-made Fried Potato Recipe
Total time: 1 day to marinade, 30 min to cook
Serving size: as desired
- 1 cup of Red and white potato
- 1/2 cup of Sweet potato
- 1 tsp. + Garlic powder
- 1 tsp. +Thyme powder
- 1 tsp. + dried Oregano
- Fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup chopped onion (measurement will depend on potato ratio)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- oil to cook the potato
- 1/4 cup or less of water
- Chop the potato with sweet potato into medium-sized cubes. Do not make them too small or they will become mushy in texture once cooked. You want them medium.
- Mix in all the spices, along with the fresh herb and chopped onion.
- Pour the olive oil in.
- Mix very well, then refrigerate (you can skip this part if you’d like).
- Cook potatoes on high heat for the first 2 minutes in a skillet, then reduce heat, while continuing to stir from time to time. Do not burn them.
- If pan gets too hot, add the water in. Do not add too much water. It should cover just the base of the skillet or pan.
- Reduce heat to medium, medium-low and let them cook for about 20 minutes covered. Occasionally checking, and stirring.
- Once the potato have reached a complete cook, transfer them to plate and serve.
Lessons Learned: Add more or less of the spices as desired. I added more than 1 tsp of each, but that’s also because I had more potatoes to cook. Once you master the taste, the ratio becomes evidently easy. However, this recipe is so delicious that I had to blog it.
Do I have a proper picture of it? Unfortunately I don’t. Maybe if you squint you can see the bowl of potatoes beside my turkish bagels.
Cheese and Meat Board Inspiration
The idea for this cheese board, as all ideas, often hail from Pinterest. I loved this when I saw it, and I think I replicated it with a distinctive eye (if I do say so myself).
- Walnuts (whole, some half cracked for the visual effect)
- Sesame bread sticks (both thick and thin)
- Dried Apricots
- Dried Cranberries
- Cheddar diced cheese
- Swiss cheese
- Pickled hot peppers (centre, in bowl)
- Cubed Haloumi cheese
- Brie Cheese
- Soft cheese slices
- Chicken Bologne slices
- Black olives
- A fig and dates jam (in jar)
- Turkey slices
- Beef slices
- Hot pepper white cheese circles (creamy)
- Creamy cheese spread (jar)
Other items that were on the table:
- Boiled eggs
- Apricot jam
- Peanut butter
- Maple Syrup
- Kale, goat cheese, nuts salad
- Salad dressing
- Home-made Waffles
- Fruit plate
- Tea sandwiches (cucumber, dill, butter: corn beef and olives: feta cream cheese, smoked salmon, fresh dill)
- Three different types of cream cheese (bought from Montreal Bagels)
- Local bakery items (croissant, pecan pie, egg and spinach quiches, apple turnover, and chocolate croissant)
- Orange juice
- Turkey Bacon
- Herb and Garlic Butter
- Aioli Butter
- Home-made potatoes
It was a successful and enjoyable brunch- or I certainly hope it was. I have to say, it’s a funny thing when one is determined to impress oneself. I enjoyed every moment of making my friends happy with this set-up.
Apparently a lunch menu, but this time rotating back to my friends place.