I’ve been feeling contemplative recently—a sentiment brought about by the rain, a few recent funerals, and my birthday. I’m a year older and wiser, and feeling introspective… at least for the next week or so. A good recipe for fading introspection: a day off, a nap in my new birthday hammock (well done, Mateo) and a “touch” of Flor de Caña.
Another way to beat the doldrums is by cooking and serving a tasty and generous meal to enjoy with friends over a few laughs. And hopefully, someone I serve may be inspired to do the same for their loved ones, and so on, and so forth! I know, it sounds cheesy, but that’s how it’s going to be this week. So let’s get to it.
No meal says love and affection like brunch. I love brunch—especially one involving champagne, a Bloody Mary, or some other socially acceptable late-morning cocktail where you don’t have to worry about where the sun is in relation to the yardarm.
There’s no word for brunch in Spanish, at least none that I know of (desayumuerzo?, which, by the way, you can’t spell without “yum”).
In my recent rumination, I decided to make brunch for Mateo and four other friends. Brunch lends itself well to big groups and large portions. It also lends itself well to dipping cured fish pieces in hollandaise and eating them over the sink. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
I’ve included a few brunch recipes below. But first, some general brunching advice:
Don’t try to do it all. Focus on either the eggs, or pastries, but not both. If you want to try to make cinnamon buns with this brunch, recruit a friend to bake them at home, on their own time and dime, and bring them to the brunch. Instead of destroying your kitchen and sanity with elaborate sweet and savory aspects of the meal, focus on the eggs and have a nice fruit platter! For my brunch, I cut up a watermelon and had it ready on the side. Done.
Things guests can bring: Champagne! Provide your own O.J. or nectar of choice to ensure that it shows up and is fresh. Pitahaya mimosas? Ooh lala! Pitahaya, or dragonfruit, is in season now, and would be really delicious as long as you don’t mind staining your entire kitchen pink to make a round of drinks.
The point is, you want freshly squeezed juice. Nothing (stress NOTHING) ruins a beverage like weird locally bottled product that passes for “orange juice.” It may technically be “orange juice” (in that it is orange colored and has some vague properties of a juice-like substance), but that’s where the similarity ends. Soda, purple stuff, Sunny D, Tang—none of that stuff should be used as a substitute for orange juice.
Now on to the grub.
Eggs Benedict over Salt Cured Mahi Mahi with Roasted Vegetables
1 cup white sugar
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped dill
1 Tablespoon lime zest
1 Tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
Stir the cure together and pack over one pound of boneless fish on a plate with a rim. Depending on the thickness, you may have to leave the fish curing the refrigerator for 5 hours or overnight. Feel free to leave the skin on (no scales), or, use portioned pieces for easy slicing. When the fish is denatured all the way through (no longer raw), the salt will have absorbed into the meat and the juices will have seeped onto the plate. Brush off remaining cure and slice thin.
Use about 4 pounds total, varied potatoes, squash, onions and garlic.
Wash and cut in equally thick slices, tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper (this can be done one day in advance)
Roast in the oven on a cookie sheet with a rim or a glass baking dish
Easy Blender Hollandaise
6 egg yolks
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup melted butter, cooled somewhat
In a blender, mix egg yolks, lime, salt and cayenne. Blend for about 10 seconds, until frothy. Slowly stream in butter until it is all incorporated. Serve immediately, or keep entire blender mug in a warm water bath until serving (about 15 minutes).
There are a few ways to do this; I think you can even make these in the microwave. Here’s how I do it:
Bring a 4 quart sauteuse of water to a simmer. Crack each egg in a small teacup with 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar and let sit for one minute. Gently pour into water and poach for about 4 minutes, until the white is firm. Remove with slotted spoon and serve.
To compile all items you can either serve the meal family-style for 6 people, or, serve individually. Pile roasted veggies on the bottom of each plate and layer cured fish over the vegetables. Place 2 poached eggs gently on top and smother with hollandaise. Serve warm!
You may have leftovers. Eat them right away. Yep, that’s an order. Hollandaise doesn’t keep very well, and it’s easier to indulge now than try your hand at a cured fish and caper pâté later in the week.
Calley Prezzano was classically trained in San Francisco, California. She has cooked in Michelin Star Restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area and was the founding Executive Chef of Jicaro Ecolodge in Granada, Nicaragua. She is the founding Executive Chef of La Finca y El Mar Restaurant in Rancho Santana in Tola, Nicaragua. (www.lafincayelmar.blogspot.com, www.ranchosantana.com,www.probablycooking.blogspot.com