Sunday, May 20, 2007
Buen Viaje-Take a Condiment Brunch
It was finally time to get rid of my condiments. I sent out a big email to my friends--come say goodbye before I leave for Oaxaca and "Take a Condiment" brunch. I had a few people say, "What? Take a what?", but in the end, I had two friends fighting over the walnut oil and another hiding the ginger spread in case someone else took it. I even had a friend call and say he couldn't make it, but could I reserve the horseradish for him?
As always, what I thought would be an easy, laid-back menu ended up taking more time than I expected and causing me some last-minute stress as I sliced oranges and pineapple furiously for the fruit salad, but there's a part me that enjoys this kind of stress, the same part of me that gleefully makes hour-by-hour schedules for parties, counting backwards from the time my guests are to arrive.
The night before, I prepped the two casseroles: a Paula Deen heart-attack-in-a-pan French toast casserole and a strata I found on an old entry of a SF food blogger. Together, with Candy's chocolate pound cake, I needed 26 eggs!
I decided on three salads: the shockingly good salad of fennel, avocado, and sun-dried tomatoes in a nutty, lemon-caper dressing; a fruit salad of pineapple, strawberries, and sliced valencia oranges with a mint sugar garnish; and a simple green salad with sugar-sweet grape tomatoes.
My sister was enamored of the French toast casserole, which was baked with a praline topping that called for two sticks of butter, a cup of brown sugar, a cup of chopped walnuts, two tablespoons of maple syrup, 1/2 a teaspoon of cinammon and 1/2 a teaspoon of ground nutmeg. I got scared of what Paula Deen would consider sweet, and I didn't use all the topping I made, which was a good thing. (It's unbelievable that she even tells you to serve it with additional maple syrup.)
Others, Louisa in particular, loved the strata with its prosciutto, chard, spinach, and gruyere-parmesan filling. I personally have decided I am not a fan of soggy bread unless it's bread pudding, but I was glad the experiment was successful to my guests. It was definitely impressive when it came out of my oven, all puffed, golden, and glistening.
Leslie and Richard couldn't get enough of the fennel-avocado salad. It really is amazingly good, possibly the best salad I've ever had, maybe because the surprise of seeing something so novel makes it taste even better.
And everyone loved the chocolate pound cake, as I knew they would.
And of my once mighty collection of condiments, I have only red-wine vinegar, white-wine vinegar, the blood orange jam I couldn't give up, some Korean jammy teas, and a couple baking staples. I might have to make another cake before I leave.