{recipes} Make-Ahead Brunch for Mother’s Day

May 7, 2010

Happy Mother’s Day weekend, all you Hungry Mamas!

Wish I had a new recipe for you all, but I haven’t planned anything new or big for Sunday. Nuh uh. My plan is to take it easy. But, if you plan on cooking, for yourself or the other mamas in your life, this make-ahead brunch from a couple of months ago is perfect. You can prep the entire meal ahead of time: Spinach & Cheese Strata, Escarole Salad with Roasted Squash & Cheddar, and Lemon Blueberry Crumb Bundt Cake. Sound elaborate? Perhaps. But I promise that, come Sunday, you’ll barely have to do a thing. Perfect!

This Spinach & Cheese Strata is a snap to put together: throw the ingredients in a baking dish the night before your brunch, store in the fridge overnight, begin the cooking process about an hour and a half before you plan on serving.

Making this Escarole Salad with Roasted Squash & Cheddar ahead is also super easy. Just roast the squash and make the dressing the night before you plan on serving the salad. Store both in (separate) air tight containers in the fridge. The day of your brunch, allow the squash to return to room temperature while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Then toss and serve.

Lastly, make this Lemon Blueberry Crumb Bundt Cake—sans the glaze—the night before your guests arrive. Cover it well and store on the counter overnight. Make the glaze, which takes all of 5 minutes, and pour it over the cake immediately before serving.

Spinach and Cheese Strata,
from Gourmet
(can be served to kids 12+ mos)*

1 10-oz package organic frozen spinach, thawed
1 1/2 cups finely chopped organic onion (1 large)
3 tbsp unsalted organic butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
8 c cubed (1 inch) French or Italian bread (1/2 lb)
6 oz coarsely grated Gruyère (2 cups)
2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup)
2 3/4 c organic milk
9 large organic eggs
2 tbsp organic Dijon mustard

1. Squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible, then finely chop.

2. In a large pan over medium heat, cook onion in butter until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and nutmeg, and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in spinach, then remove from heat.

3. Spread one third of bread cubes in a buttered 3-quart gratin dish or other shallow ceramic baking dish and top evenly with one third of spinach mixture. Sprinkle with one third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice (ending with cheeses).

4. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, mustard and remaining 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and pour evenly over strata. Chill strata, covered with plastic wrap, at least 8 hours (for bread to absorb custard).

5. The next day, preheat oven to 350°F. Let strata stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

*Note: Egg whites are a high allergen food usually not recommended until 12+ mos (plain egg yolks can be served to children 8+ mos), but the recommendations are changing. If your child does not have food allergies and there is no history of food allergies in the family, you may consider talking to your pediatrician about introducing eggs (a great source of protein!) much earlier.

Escarole Salad with Roasted Squash & Cheddar
from Martha Stewart
(can be adapted—or deconstructed!—for kids 6+ mos)*

1 small organic butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
1 tbsp organic olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 organic granny smith apple, quartered, cored & thinly sliced
1 head organic escarole, torn into 2″ pieces
2 1/2 ounces organic sharp cheddar, thinly sliced or shaved into ribbons

For the dressing
2 tbsp organic white wine vinegar*
2 tsp organic Dijon mustard
1 tsp packed organic light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
3 tbsp organic olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss squash with oil, salt and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender and caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

2. Make the dressing: Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified.

3. Gently toss squash, apple, escarole and half of the cheese in a large serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with dressing and toss again. Top with remaining cheese.

*Note: Set aside and mash some roasted squash for eaters as young as 6 months. Older kids who can eat all of the ingredients, but haven’t yet taken to leafy greens can have their own escarole-free version (yummy squash, apples and cheese!). Consider using a minimal amount of dressing on portions for younger eaters and substituting apple cider vinegar for kids under 12 months.

Lemon Blueberry Crumb Bundt Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart
(can be adapted for kids 8+ mos)*

2 1/2 c organic flour, plus 1 tsp for blueberries and zest
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c (2 sticks) organic unsalted butter, room temp
1 c packed organic light brown sugar
1 c organic granulated sugar
4 large organic eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c organic sour cream
2 c organic blueberries
2 tbsp grated lemon zest
nonstick cooking spray, for pan

For the crumble:
5 tbsp cold organic butter, cubed
3/4 c organic flour
1 c organic light brown sugar
2 tsp organic cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

For the glaze:
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 c freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk 2 1/2 cups flour with baking powder and salt; set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of sour cream.

3. In a bowl, toss blueberries and zest with remaining teaspoon flour; gently fold into batter. Coat a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan with cooking spray. Spread batter in prepared pan and set aside.

4. Prep the crumb topping: pulse brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and cold butter in a food processor until crumbly. Spread topping evenly over the batter, gently pressing down. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes before inverting onto a rack.

5. While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze: in a small saucepan, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice over very low heat until smooth and warmed through.

6. Using a toothpick, poke holes over the top of your bundt cake and pour warm glaze evenly over it. Serve!

*Note: Some recommend that children under 12-months not eat citrus (though citrus zest in small amounts is fine). If you strictly adhere to the citrus recommendation, you may want to hold off on feeding this cake until 12 mos. Otherwise, simply skip the glaze on portions for kids 8+ mos. And always make sure to serve age appropriate bite sizes.

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