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Brunch Bonanza

February 2, 2011

Brunch: a meal usually taken late in the morning that combines a late breakfast and an early lunch; (breakfast +lunch) First Known Use: 1896

~ Merriam – Webster, 2011 http://www.m-w.org

It is Grill Boy’s firm belief that brunch should hold true as close the this definition as possible.  Brunch is breakfast and lunch NOT breakfast late.  This is of course the center of constant frustration for Grill Boy as a Student Affairs administrator, especially one with some oversight of campus dining.  On a whole college dining centers enjoy being incredibly lazy on the weekends by serving a version of brunch in the form breakfast late.  There by they are combining two meals to serve students and at the price of the cheapest meal of the day.  Some schools actually charge a higher price for this scam. Now with these feelings and statements from behind the academic kitchens out of the way all Grill Boy is really asking is a combination of the two meals.  Eggs and enchiladas, bacon and burgers, scones and sandwiches this is all that Grill Boy requires.  While Grill Boy at this point has dinned at many institutions the best and truest form of brunch was at St. Lawrence University, so if you are ever in the North Country of New York State, yes it is farther north than upstate, you should check out Dana Dining Hall’s brunch.

So a few weeks ago Grill Boy decided that it was high time to bring back a tradition that he had a few years ago with some college friends, that of Sunday Brunch, and what better than to host the first one and have the chance to use the new cast iron skillet, recently acquired at Cousin’s Christmas.

Brunch Menu

Appetizer: Grilled Cheese Dippers w/ Tomato Soup

Entree: Tomato, Arugula & Goat Cheese Frittata

Side: Bacon

Drinks: Cape Codder

Supplemental Sides Brought by Wonderful Guests: Fruit Salad, Spinach & Sun Dried Tomato Scones, and Muffins

Now the all important part to any meal with which you wish to entertain your guests will always be judge based on the quality of your choice of drinks to begin with.  Grill Boy was prepared with coffee, tea, juice, milk but all of these are boring ways to start your Sunday.  The real fun is in morning Vodka! While he was prepared to make Bloody Mary’s Grill Boy’s friends are all true New Englanders and gravitated to the Cape Codder choice.

Cape Codder
1.5 oz Vodka
3 oz Cranberry Juice
1 wedge of Lime
Pour juice and vodka over ice, stir well poor into glass and add the wedge of lime and serve.  (Taken from The Webtender)

Now for those of you who have ever supped with Grill Boy, or rather enjoyed libations created by Grill Boy, this is no way to make a drink the measuring of ingredients is a pesky thing.  For a true experience toss in a few glugs of vodka into a shaker over ice then toss in four glugs of juice.  Shake it up and toss it into a glass.  Then without fail, “touch the lips, pass the gums, look out liver here it comes.”

———–

Now to tease the appetite, and where the lunch part of this brunch takes place.  Who doesn’t love grilled cheese and tomato soup? A fun trick is to combine them and serve them as an appetizer.

Grilled Cheese Dippers w/ Tomato Soup
Sliced Cheese
Bread
Butter
Milk
Tomato Soup
– If Grill Boy needs to explain how to make a grilled cheese sandwich and canned Campbell’s Tomato Soup, your cooking needs are rather rudimentary.  But in short put cheese in between two slices of bread, spread butter on the slices and then grill in a fire pan.
To make the soup toss a can into a pot and then ad a can’s worth of milk and heat.  Then take the grilled cheese sandwich and cut into strips.  Place on a plate around a small cup or bowl placed in the center of the plate.  Pour the soup into the bowl.  With this you now have created an easy and wonderful brunch appetizers. 

———–

There is perhaps nothing more succulent delicious then nice crispy bacon.  “Bacon is the most beautiful thing on earth…even the frying of bacon sounds like applause.” ~ Jim Gaffigan Bacon is so elemental and so wonderful that there are even calendars filled with bacon facts for every day, of which Baker Girl so wonderfully gave to Grill Boy for Christmas.  If you would like to purchase one you should check out amazon.com.

Bacon
Bacon – (get yourself as many packages as you can afford, though to be honest Grill Boy finds that the average person will eat about a third of a standard package of bacon for breakfast if given the chance)
Take the bacon and place on your skillet or frying pan and turn the heat on to medium.  Allow the bacon to sizzle and fry in its own delicious grease.  Yes its own grease, you are cooking bacon for heaven’s sake it is not tofu healthy side bacon is not, NOR SHOULD IT BE. Cook until a nice light crispy red/brown color.  Place on a plate with a paper towel, and serve.  You will not have left overs, you just won’t, it’s bacon.  There are no pictures of the finished product because everyone ate the bacon.

———–

Cast Iron Cooking

Cooking with cast iron is a lost art, one that Grill Boy is trying to bring back.  Cast iron does take some extra work to cook with and take care of.

Rule # 1 – NEVER USE SOAP

Rule # 2- You will have to season your cast iron from time to time even if it comes pre-seasoned.  This means you will need to create the stick-resistant cooking surface of the cast iron by coating it with oil and heating it up.

Now with those cautions out of the way, Grill Boy happens to own a WONDERFUL collection of skillets, griddles, frying pans and a dutch oven.  Thanks go out to Grill Boy Mother, Grill Boy Grandmother and Baker Girl Cousin’s Christmas.

You might be wondering why cast iron is so amazing.  The simple answer is heat distribution, few other metals provide such equal dispersion of heat throughout the whole pan. It is also great because you can use it both on top of the stove and then toss it right into the oven at high temperatures.  It is also amazing for outdoor cooking, you can burrow it in hot coals and let it sit and simmer and cook you a delectable treat. Cast iron is also incredibly durable, as exampled by the baby from the TV show Dinosaurs.

I could go on and on about how great it is but I would really suggest you pick up this book from Williams-Sonoma

Now Grill Boy picked up a wonderful new cast iron skillet, as mentioned before and this is what he used on the bacon.  It was wonderful and an absolutely perfect size for cooking bacon.  However, during cooking there was an obvious warm spot in the pan, which makes almost no sense for cast iron.  After thinking on this for some time and doing some reading on the joys of cooking with cast-ed metal  Grill Boy figured out that he did not pre-heat the pan long enough to get a nice uniform temperature and then cooking on it with grease and bacon, a relatively fast cooking dish did not help or leave time for adequate heating.  So the advice is, pre-heat your cast iron.

Now the creation of the frying pan came from Grill Boy’s Mother after it was handed down from her mother.  The story goes that it was purchased for family camping in the 1960’s.  Which means that the frying pan is amazing and has 40 – 50 years of delicious meals absorbed into the porous material adding to the fantastic cooking abilities of the pan.  It also shows off one of the noted abilities of cast iron, being able to cook a dish on the stove and the oven, which is exactly what the frittata called for.

———–

Tomato, Arugula & Goat Cheese Frittata
6 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper
4 oz soft goat cheese – crumbled
1/4 cup olive oil
1 glove garlic finely chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
4 cups arugula, roughly chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
(Makes 4-6 servings)
Preheat the oven to 375 F
In a bowl, crack 6 eggs with one hand.  Trust Grill Boy on this one, it is a cooking skill you should master, because it is fun, it makes you look classy and a better cook then you are and it picks up the ladies.  It also makes the eggs taste better.
With the eggs successfully cracked whisk together the eggs, cream, and milk until smooth.
Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Add the cheese and stir slightly.

In a 10″ frying pan (with high sides) warm the 1/4 cup olive oil.  Add the garlic and saute until light gold in color, this takes about 1 minute.

NOTE: If you burn the garlic, even a little, you just screwed up the whole dish.  Do not try and salvage burnt   garlic, EVER, toss it in the trash, wipe out the oil that was in with the burnt garlic and start over.  Garlic is a wonderful and strong ingredient and because of that if it is burnt it will be tasted throughout the dish and the meal.
Once the garlic is a nice golden color Add the tomatoes and saute until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.

Then add the arugula and stir it all together.

Pour in the egg mixture over the veggies and cook it all until it begins to set, which is about 5 minutes.

Place in the oven and bake until the frittata is completely set and is golden brown on top.  The recipe says about 15 minutes but Grill Boy disagrees it was more like 20 – 25 minutes.  You should cook based on appearance as opposed to time.

Let sit for 5 minutes then drizzle with oil and serve right away and enjoy the ‘Egg Pie’ has Grill Boy’s friends kept on referring to it.

Sorry that after all of this there is no plated pictures of everything it is difficult to remember to take those sort of pictures when entertaining friends.  No go forth and have Brunch (NOT BREAKFAST LATE)

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