Bring on Brunch

Brighten the buffet with springtime dishes
–by Jennifer Ruple

As the landscape becomes a bit greener each day and tiny crocuses make their seasonal debut, we can look forward to Easter celebrations and springtime entertaining. Liz Donaldson, assistant chef at Walt Churchill’s Market in Maumee, created four fabulous dishes that will brighten up the brunch buffet for your family gatherings and help you welcome the new season.

Citrus Breakfast Salad
Servings: 6

2 ruby red grapefruits, segmented
2 pink or white grapefruits, segmented
2 navel oranges, segmented
2 Cara Cara navel oranges, segmented
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup honey
Fresh mint, chopped
1 piece fresh ginger
1 pint blueberries, rinsed
Toasted almonds, if desired

In a saucepan, heat the orange juice, honey, mint and ginger. Bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove the piece of ginger.

Place the segmented fruit in serving cups. Once the juice has cooled, pour it over the fruit and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Before serving, add the blueberries and garnish with nuts, if desired.

Breakfast Strata with Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta and Gruyere
Servings: 12

1 loaf ciabatta bread
1 pound Brussels sprouts, cleaned and quartered
2 shallots, minced
6 ounces pancetta, diced
6 ounces Gruyere, shredded
8 large eggs
1 cup half-and-half
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

In a skillet, sauté the pancetta, sprouts and shallots over medium heat and cook until pancetta begins to brown. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix the eggs and the half-and-half. Season with salt and pepper.

Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. 

Cut the ciabatta into 1-inch thick slices. Line the pan with the ciabatta. Top the ciabatta with the Brussels sprouts and the pancetta. Sprinkle Gruyere over the top. Pour the egg mixture over the top.

Bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes or until the center of the strata is set.

Bananas Foster Stuffed French Toast
Servings: 12

4 tablespoons butter
3 ripe bananas
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup dark rum
6 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup sugar
4 large croissants, sliced in half
Powdered sugar for serving

In a skillet, melt the butter. Add the bananas, brown sugar and rum. Sauté mixture until the bananas are tender. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and sugar.

Coat a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Lay the slices of croissants in a single layer. Top with half of the banana mixture. Repeat layers with remaining croissant slices and bananas. Pour the egg mixture over the croissants and bananas. Bake at 350 F for 35-45 minutes or until set. Dust with powdered sugar when serving.

Living Large Breakfast Sandwiches
Servings: 6

6 crumpets or English muffins, sliced
8-ounce package French Brie, sliced
8.5 ounces Dalmatia Fig Spread (orange or original flavor)
½ pound Applewood smoked ham, thinly sliced

Layer slices of ham and Brie over the bottom halves of crumpets. Brush a nice layer of the fig jam on the top halves of crumpets. Place both halves on a baking sheet. Broil 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted.