A Beautiful Brunch

Five of our favorite recipes for a leisurely weekend meal.

Crab, Roasted Pepper, Bacon and Scallion Bread Pudding

4 cups heavy cream
10 eggs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 cups French bread, cut into ½-inch dice (about one 1 pound loaf)
1 ½ pound jumbo lump crab, shell pieces removed
½ cup roasted peppers, finely diced
6 strips applewood smoked bacon, cooked and diced
¼ cup scallion (about 1 bunch), green parts sliced thin 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cream, eggs, and salt in a large bowl with a whisk or immersion blender. Add diced bread and soak for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until custard is absorbed. Mix in crab, peppers, bacon and scallion.

Grease and flour eight 1 ¼-cup soufflé dishes or large ramekins. Spoon mix into soufflé dishes and fill to the top. Place dishes in a large roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with hot water about a third of the way up the soufflé dishes. Cover roasting pan with foil and bake for about 45 minutes, until bread puddings are springy.

When cool enough to handle, gently remove from dishes. If serving later, they can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator at this point. To reheat, place on parchment-lined sheet pan and bake at 350 until hot and puffy, about 20 minutes. 

Serves 12

Fresh Fig Tart

For almond crust:
2 cups almond flour
1 cup pastry flour
½ cup cold butter, cut in pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients in food processor until it forms a ball. Chill for an hour. Using a rolling pin, roll dough on a floured surface to 1/3-inch thickness. Place dough in pie pan and cover with parchment. Weight parchment using rice or pie weights. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden. Cool.

For filling:
1 cup crème fraîche
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla (not extract)
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
enough Black Mission figs to cover crust standing up

Mix all ingredients, and cream well using a hand-mixer or mixing bowl. Pour filling into cooled crust.  Quarter figs and arrange standing up in filling. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Gambas al Ajillo

For the Brava sauce:
4 large ripe tomatoes, sliced in half
2 tablespoons Spanish extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon pimentón or Spanish sweet paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
salt to taste

Grate the flesh of the tomatoes over a mixing bowl, discarding skins. Pour grated flesh through a fine mesh strainer to make about 1½ cups of purée. Heat olive oil in a small pan over low heat. Add the purée, sugar, bay leaf, pimentón and cayenne. Increase heat to medium. Cook about 10 minutes until mixture reduces by ¼. Remove from heat, add vinegar and season with salt.

For the shrimp:
¼ cup Spanish extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 guindilla chile pepper
1 teaspoon brandy
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup Brava sauce
1 teaspoon chopped chives
salt to taste

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté about 2 minutes until browned. Add shrimp and chile pepper. Sauté until shrimp are pink. Add brandy and lemon juice. Cook 1 minute. Spoon ¼ cup Brava sauce into the center of 4 plates and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with chives and salt to taste.

Serves 4

Quail Eggs on Toast

8 slices cocktail-sized bread
1 pound spinach
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
8 quail eggs

Lightly toast bread in toaster oven. Melt butter in a sauté pan. Add spinach and stir lightly until wilted. Cook eggs 2-3 minutes in a lightly greased, non-stick pan, until whites are cooked and yolks are still runny. Divide spinach evenly and place on toast. Top with eggs.

Serves 4

Lillet Blanc Mimosas

1 bottle (750 ml) dry sparkling wine, chilled
3 cups orange juice, chilled
1⁄2 cup Lillet Blanc
orange slices

Fill a large pitcher halfway with sparkling wine. Add orange juice and Lillet blanc. Garnish with orange slices, and serve in champagne utes, or for a less dainty approach, stemless wine glasses.

Serves 6-8

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