Friday, January 2, 2009

new years eve/new years brunch!

hello and happy 2009! that was the first time i got to write out "2009". for the month of january, and all januaries past, i have a hard time reconciling the new year in writing. january always still feels like 2008. i'm usually in 2009 by february.

anyway, two recent fun cooking adventures:
*on new year's eve, i made my own tiramisu to add to the dessert table at the party!
*on new year's day, we had friends sleep over on our pull-out couch and had a last minute new year's brunch blowout!

both adventures were successful. here are photos and recipes!

(courtesy of the latest Italian-American issue of Gourmet Magazine.

-serves 8 to 10-
2 cups boiling-hot water
3 tbsp instant-espresso powder *(you can substitute 2 cups freshly brewed espresson for the water and instant-espresso powder)
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar (divided)
3 tbsp tia maria (coffee liqueur) *i used kahlua
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup dry marsala
1 lb mascarpone (2 1/2 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
36 italian ladyfingers
unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

1. stir together water, espresso powder, 1 tbsp sugar, and tia maria in a shallow bowl until sugar has dissolved, then cool.
2. beat egg yolks, marsala, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water using a whisk or handheld electric mixer until tripled in volume, 5-8 minutes. remove from heat. beat in mascarpone until just combined.
3. beat cream in a large bowl until it holds stiff peaks.
4. fold mascarpone mixture into whipped cream gently but thoroughly.
5. dipping both sides of each ladyfinger into coffee mixture, line bottom of 13x9x3 baking pan with 18 ladyfingers in 3 rows, trimming edges to fit if necessary. spread half of mascarpone filling on top. dip remaining 18 ladyfingers in coffee and arrange of filling in pan.
6. spread remaining mascarpone filling on top and dust with cocoa. chill, covered, at least 6 hours.
7. let tiramisu stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving, then dust with more cocoa.
*tiramisu can be chilled up to 2 days.


Aside from the fruit salad and frozen chicken apple sausages that supplemented our brunch, I made (with the help of a few friends) Bourbon Vanilla French Toast and my favorite scramble that I came up with at MUD Cafe.

Bourbon Vanilla French Toast (courtesy of Serious Eats)

- serves 4-

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream (or 1 percent milk)
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cinammon
Butter or canola oil as necessary
8 to 12 slices thick slices brioche, challah, or thick-sliced pullman white bread
Maple syrup, warmed
1/4 cup Bourbon

1. Set an ovenproof platter or or a baking sheet with a cooling rack on top of it into the oven, and turn on the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Combine the milk, cream, eggs, vanilla extract, pod, and seeds, the cinammon, and bourbon in a wide, shallow dish (a pie plate works great)

3. Heat a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet or griddle over medium-low heat for a minute or 2, then grease the pan with a teaspoon or more of butter, or, ir you prefer, oil. When the butter starts to sizzle (or, if you're substituting oil, when it slides easily from side to side) turn the heat up a touch.

4. Dip the bread into the batter, lightly coating each side, then gently shake off any excess batter and put the battered bread directly into the preheated pan. Cook the French toast 5 to 6 minutes in total, flipping once or twice, until golden brown. Transfer finished batches of toast to the platter in the oven. Repeat with remaining bread slices, adding more butter or more oil to the pan as necessary. Put your serving plates in the oven to warm before adding the last of the batter to the pan.

5. You can serve the French toast immediately, or hold it up to 30 minutes without any major degradation in quality. Serve with warmed maple syrup.

- serves 6-

1 dozen eggs
1 onion, sliced
1 pack of bacon, chopped into approx. 1 inch pieces
1 ball of fresh mozzarella, cubed in approx. 1 inch pieces
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Mix a bit of butter and olive oil in a pan on medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook the down for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent from burning.
2. In a large skillet, cook your bacon until just crisp but not overdone. Set aside in a large bowl and remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the skillet.
3. In a bowl, scramble the 12 eggs and season liberally with salt and pepper. Set skillet at medium heat and add eggs and mozzarella. Once the bottom of the eggs have set, begin to scramble with a spatula. Add onions and bacon. Scramble until the eggs are no longer runny and immediately remove from skillet to prevent overcooking. Season as you please.

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