Back to the Kitchen: Recipes for a Garden Brunch

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Today is the first day of spring and although we are having some showers,  the winter chill will soon dissolve into the sweetness of the season. I find that a garden brunch is a fantastic way to celebrate the re-birth and the warmth with friends and family. The splendor of the newly budding flowers makes a perfect backdrop for the abundant fruits and vegetables. Orange juice mimosas (3/4 glass champagne to ¼ glass juice) are still popular and there are some delicious variations. Try substituting pomegranate juice, cranberry juice or blueberry-mango juice. These recipes are really nice as preparation is can be done ahead of time and that allows the host and guests to relax and enjoy each other.

Carrot Ginger Soup

1-tablespoon olive oil

2 medium red onions, sliced

1 (4 inch) piece fresh ginger

8 cups vegetable stock

2 pounds carrots cut into 2-inch pieces

Pinch of kosher salt

1/2-teaspoon white pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over low heat and sauté onions until they are translucent. Roughly chop the peeled ginger and add to the onions and sauté’ together for about 3 minutes. Increase heat and add the stock and carrots. Simmer over medium heat until the carrots are tender let cool a bit and then puree. Return to the pot to re-heat just before serving. Season with salt and pepper.

Cured Salmon

Get a side of salmon, pack it in chopped dill, wrap it in rock salt, sprinkle a bit of aquavit – just to make it moist – wrap in plastic or big zip lock – all air has to be out – weigh it down with bottles or bricks – 24 hours later (no more or it gets hard) thoroughly wash the salt off – display with skin side at bottom – with your best knife shave the salmon into paper thin slices and serve with the following dressing.

Whisk together:

1-cup olive oil

1/4-cup honey

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

3-tablespoon fresh dill

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata

1-pound asparagus

1 dozen eggs

1-cup milk

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 chopped red bell pepper

2 tablespoons butter

1-teaspoon thyme

1-teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon pepper

2 cups goat cheese

Butter a 9-12 inch Pyrex rectangular pan. Set aside. In a large Sauté pan, melt butter and sauté asparagus, onion, and bell pepper. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, milk and seasonings. Add the asparagus mixture and mix well. Crumble and add the goat cheese. Pour into baking dish. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 oven about 35 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Spinach and Cheese Frittata

1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and thoroughly squeezed

1 large onion, chopped

3 Tablespoons butter

1-teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

8 cups cubed French bread (about ½ lb)

2 cups grated Gruyere cheese

1-cup Parmesan cheese

2-¾ cup milk

9 large eggs

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Sauté onion in butter until soft, 4-5 minutes. Add half of the salt and pepper and nutmeg, cook another minute. Stir in spinach and remove from heat. Spread 1/3 of bread cubes and top with the spinach mixture. Repeat twice. Whisk together eggs, milk and mustard with the rest of the salt and pepper and pour over the top. Refrigerate for 8 hours. When ready to bake let strata stand at room temp for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.

Blueberry and Mango Salad

Juice of 4 limes

Zest of one lime

2 large mangos, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 cups blueberries

10 mint leaves, sliced

1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Gently toss together let stand for an hour or overnight and serve.

Shrimp and Berry Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

1 basket black berries

1-basket raspberries

1/4-cup pine nuts

2 firm-ripe avocados

1-teaspoon fresh limejuice

1 lb large shrimp, shelled and deveined

4 cups baby mixed greens

Quarter avocados lengthwise, then pit and peel. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Drizzle with limejuice and season with salt and pepper. Prepare barbeque or stovetop grill (medium-high heat). Pour 1/4 cup dressing (recipe below) into small bowl. Reserve remainder for salad. Brush shrimp with dressing from small bowl and grill until opaque in center, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. In a large serving toss together mix greens, berries and pine nuts and dress lightly. Arrange avocados and shrimp on top of salad and serve.

Citrus Vinaigrette

1/4-cup fresh orange juice

Juice of one lime

1/4 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped

6 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 tablespoon jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

3/4-cup canola oil

Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients with salt and pepper to taste.

Zucchini-Nut Bread

1-cup vegetable oil

1-cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1-tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups grated zucchini

3 cups flour

1-teaspoon cinnamon

1teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon baking powder

1/2-teaspoon baking soda

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1-cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 325Oil 2 5 x 9 loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine the oil and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after every addition. Stir in the vanilla and zucchini. In a smaller bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and soda. Stir the dry ingredients into the oil and the egg mixture until just moistened. Fold in the raisins and walnuts. Spoon batter into the prepared loaf pans.

Bake for about one hour, until a knife in the center comes out clean.

Ginger Scones

2 1/4 cups flour

1/3-cup sugar

1-tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest (about 1/2 lemon)

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, grated and frozen for 15 minutes

1 cup candied ginger, finely chopped

1-cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones

In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder and mix on low. Add the lemon zest and butter, and pulse until the mixture is pale yellow and the consistency of fine meal.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the ginger. Make a well in the center and pour in the cream. Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead a few times to gather it into a ball. Pat the dough into a circle about 3/4 inches thick. Using a three-inch cookie cutter (or smaller if doing minis) cut out rounds. Gather the scraps, pat and press the pieces back together, and cut out the remaining dough. Place the scones 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with the remaining cream. Bake in a pre heated 400-degree oven for 12 to 16 minutes, until they are pale browned. Let cool on a rack


Replace the ginger and the lemon zest with:

Cranberry orange scones- juice of one small orange, 2 teaspoons orange zest and one cup dried cranberries.

Rosemary garlic scones- Five cloves garlic chopped fine and sauté until golden. Add with the flour with three tablespoons finely chopped rosemary.

Chocolate chip scones-add with the flour one and a half cups mini chocolate chips.

Lemon Rosemary Pound Cake

1-cup butter

2 teaspoons rosemary, finely chopped

3 teaspoons lemon zest

4 eggs

1-cup sugar

1-teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup lemon juice

1-teaspoon baking powder

1/4-teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with bakers joy. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat butter, zest, and rosemary and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time then add vanilla. On low speed add flour baking powder and salt until just blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes until a wooden pick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes then remove from pan and cool completely.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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