Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Build a brunch for spring with savories, sweets

- By Susan Selasky

Detroit Free Press

Brunch, like macaroni and cheese or peanut butter and jelly, is one of the best combinatio­ns around. Where else do you have a choice of a scoopful of scrambled eggs along with a chicken wing paired with a waffle.

Sources say you can thank the British for inventing brunch, a meal that includes both breakfast and lunch items. Brunches can be casual gatherings or events for special occasions.

Spring, a popular time for brunch, is a season of rebirth and renewal when we look forward to and welcome seasonal favorites. Combining breakfast and lunch items with spring ingredient­s such as asparagus and fresh greens gives you more flavor varieties.

When we were thinking of a new take on bacon, along came Bacon and Cheddar Twists. Bacon is wrapped in puff pastry that’s embedded with white cheddar cheese. It’s amazing. Love eggs Benedict but don’t have the knack for poaching eggs? Individual eggs Benedict casseroles made in a muffin tin are the answer.

When hosting a brunch, having a plan and menu is crucial. Take stock of your china, linens and silverware and consider which beverages you will be serving.

And don’t forget a cocktail. Every good brunch needs a cocktail be it a fruity mimosa or spicy bloody mary.

1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for greasing pan

6 English muffins, and cut into cubes

1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, washed well, diced

12 ounces thick Canadian bacon, diced 6 large eggs 2½ cups whole milk 1½ teaspoons dry mustard

2 tablespoon­s chopped fresh chives

2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided

¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste ½ cup unsalted butter 8 large egg yolks 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly brush two 12cup muffin tins or a 9-by-13inch baking dish with oil. split

Place English muffin pieces on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperatur­e to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leek and cook, stirring occasional­ly, for 4 minutes until it’s softened. Increase the heat to mediumhigh, add the bacon and cook, stirring occasional­ly, until the pieces are just beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes more.

Evenly divide the baked English muffin cubes into the muffin cups (you may not fill all of them) or scatter in the bottom of the baking dish. Spoon the bacon mixture over the English muffin pieces.

In a large bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, milk, dry mustard, chives, 1½ cups heavy whipping cream and ½ teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the leekbacon mixture in the muffin cups. Bake until casseroles are puffed, golden brown and just set, about 35 minutes if using the muffin tins or 45 to 50 minutes for a baking dish.

Meanwhile, make a hollandais­e sauce. Melt the butter in the microwave. In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, remaining ½ cup heavy whipping cream, ¼ teaspoon cayenne and ½ teaspoon salt.

Place the bowl over (but not in) a saucepan of simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2 to 3 minutes.

Reduce heat to low. Still whisking constantly, gradually add the melted butter. The mixture should emulsify. Keep warm over very low heat. If the sauce looks separated, whisking in an ice cube will bring it back together. Sprinkle the casserole with additional chives, if desired, and serve with the hollandais­e sauce.

Serves 8.

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