gourmet dinner club: brunch

19 Nov

I had the privilege of hosting the most recent gathering of the Gourmet Dinner Club. I have been wanting to do a brunch theme for quite some time so as soon as I realized it was my turn, brunch was announced! It turned out to be a perfect day for brunch. This is what it was like outside….

Weather like this screams to me to curl up with comforting food and good coffee. So we did.

Whomever is hosting can decide how they want to distribute the work and if there are any rules. I decided that this time around I would assign courses by picking names out of a hat. In addition to the main course that I would provide, my clubmates would bring the following courses: beverage (with nutrients and without), fruit, vegetable, meat and pastry. This was not a ‘light’ brunch.

Again this group amazes me. I love how we all take the theme and go all out with our dishes. This was one fantastic brunch!

My main course was inspired by a dish our friends, BK and Carin, made for a dinner party that had a corn theme (can you tell I love themed dinner parties?).

I made a savory corn waffle topped with a poached egg and chiptole hollandaise.

Going into it, I was not worried about the waffle or the egg. I got the waffle recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and since Deborah Madison is pretty full proof, I knew it would be spot on. The poached eggs were another no-brainer for me. They are my egg of choice and I’ve been poaching eggs since I could boil water.

The hollandaise on the other hand….well, that’s a different story. See, I’ve been convinced my whole life that I don’t like hollandaise but when it comes down to it, I’ve really never tried it. So, not only was I not sure what it was supposed to taste like, after reading various recips, the process of making it was daunting. I found some blender recipes, but it felt like cheating. With the GDC, the point is not short-cuts. It’s really quite the opposite. I decided if I was going to make a true hollandaise, I would let a French Master chef lead the way.

That’s right. I turned to Julia. The instructions were complete and it didn’t seem all that difficult. I just felt there was so much that could go wrong! The basic premise of a hollandaise is to whisk some egg yolks until light and creamy and then you slowly add in melted butter  (a lot of it) while whisking like a mad woman and all the time monitoring the heat. You also add lemon juice, salt and in my case, chipotle puree, but the key is the egg and the butter…and the heat. There was a lot of whisking that took place. In fact, to keep it in a nice thick form, you pretty much couldn’t stop whisking until you were ready to serve. Thank god for Liza who took over babying my sauce while I tended to my other components. She was a great whisker!

The result?

The waffle was tasty. It had chunks of corn kernels which I loved. The poached egg was perfect and runny. In my opinion, you could put a runny egg on anything and it would taste great. And the hollandaise? Well, those that like hollandaise and know what it should taste like, said it was great and I’ll take their word for it. I thought it was good, but I did decide that hollandaise just isn’t my thing. I’ll just stick with the egg.

Onto the other courses.

Beverage

Lee was in charge of the beverages and unfortunately she couldn’t be there. However, she made sure her drinks were!

The one (or two) that I had was amazing. It was a ginger syrup/sparkling apple cider/proseco mix with a piece of crystallized ginger fizzing at the bottom. Holy hannah was it tasty. There was also a traditional mimosa and a non-alcoholic pomegranate/orange/cider number that also looked good, but to be fair, I was pretty focused on my ginger drink.

Pastry

Liza debated a long time over which pastry to make and I’m so happy that she decided on cheese danish. It was so good! The recipe was from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook and it was quite a time commitment….a 4-day time commitment to be exact. It also involved a lot of butter. Between her danish and my hollandaise, butter became it’s own food group.

Back to the danish. They were beautiful and so tasty. You could see the layers of pastry and I personally thought they were prettier than the photo in book. Way to go Liza!

Vegetable

Amanda was in charge of this course and not only was it appropriate for brunch, it was also seasonal! She made made stuffed acorn squash. What was it stuffed with? A mix of root vegetables spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg (?). It had sweetness from the squash and great warmth from the spices. I may have gnawed on the skin to get all the bits and pieces.

Meat

When I assigned the meat course, I of course was thinking of something in the pork family. I mean, who doesn’t like a good piece of bacon or sausage? Kari put her own interruptation on it and went down the “meat is protein and so is seafood” path. She opted for marinated seared scallops and shrimp. Those were tasty enough on their own, but the presentation made them even more amazing. Look at this platter she made for the background.

The red leaves are banana flowers and the green stalks are lemongrass. Isn’t it gorgeous?  And then there were these beauties…

The shrimp and scallops were delicious and the presentation made them even better.

Fruit

So this was Michael’s second GDC. He made a huge splash at his first one with his tomato tarte tatin. The bar had been set high. Wouldn’t you know, he leaped over the bar?

This is a Prosecco and fruit terrine that he adapted from this recipe. To me, it was an updated and very swanky jello mold.  I have never been successful with gelatin of any kind (remember this?), so I was so impressed with this. It might give me the courage to try again. The prosecco gelatin was amazing and the layers of beautiful fruit tasted like they had been freshly picked. Check out these layers!

It was a great ending for the meal and I figure all that fruit will balance out all the butter. :)

I loved our brunch theme and was so impressed with what everyone came up with. It all managed to work well together and as usual, no one left hungry.

This group is pretty amazing and I’m so grateful that I have friends who can also spend hours talking about food. Thanks guys!

Do you have any favorite brunch dishes?

One year ago: cookbook discussion on reference books

Other Gourmet Dinner Club Recaps:

Amuse-Bouche

Tapas

Chinese New Year

Pizza on the Farm

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2 Responses to “gourmet dinner club: brunch”

  1. Ann November 19, 2010 at 8:20 am #

    Wow…that’s all I got..okay way to rock the brunch..very cool.

  2. Kate November 19, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    Just beautiful. What a fun way to spend time with friends!

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