Since this is the Thanksgiving long weekend and we were supposed to have had Mark’s sister and her fiancée staying with us until today (some bitterness here; I won’t explain), we invited them and Mark’s parents over for brunch.  I’ve been thinking of this all week and finally settled on a menu:

  • croissants (prosciutto and gruyère, plain, and dark chocolate)
  • crepes in a blueberry and honey sauce
  • choux à la crème
  • tomato and basil salad in pâte à choux bowls
  • baked french toast 
  • baked eggs with herbed focaccia
  • potato and greyere galette

I made the focaccia yesterday, which saved a lot of time.  I also had the croissants mostly made yesterday, so I just had to shape, proof, chill, and bake them today.  Everything else was made with Mark’s help this morning.

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The croissants were excellent.  The time spent in the fridge overnight firmed the butter and lead to the flakiest pastry I’d made.  Croissants (well, layered pastry in general) is one of my favourite things to make so I was thrilled to have an excuse to make them.  The prosciutto and cheese variety were the definite favourite (for which I need to thank Lisa and Maria, a friend of mine from Dartmouth and her girlfriend, who strongly encouraged us to go to Dartmouth when we were in Nova Scotia to visit Two If By Sea, a coffee shop which makes the best croissants.  One of their staples is a prosciutto and cheese variety.  After trying theirs and, assuming that they likely wouldn’t ship croissants this far west, I decided to try to make my own.  Mine were very good, but I still think that going back to Nova Scotia soon would be a very good idea.)

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For the crepes, I alternated layers of crepes with the sauce.  I should have made the sauce thicker to maintain a distinction between the crepes and the sauce (as it was, the crepes soaked up all of the sauce), but they formed together well.   The combination of a hot non-stick pan over medium heat and a 1/4c measuring spoon created very nicely formed crepes.  I was forgetting about them by the end, leading to some crispier crepes, but the sauce rehydrated them nicely.

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The eggs were a little overdone, but I’ll know for next time.  It was difficult to tell,with the cream, if they were done or not.  We’d been trying to rush them a bit at the end, so the ramekins were not as hot as they should have been, so they took a little longer to cook and, by the time that I checked them for a nth time, they were overdone.  Also, Mark’s sister is a food scientist, so I though she would appreciate fully cooked eggs.  We didn’t put the herbs in, which let the flavour of the eggs, cream, and focaccia shine.

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The pâte à choux bowls got a little soggy from the tomatoes — I was hoping for the dough to soak up the flavour of the  home-grown tomatoes and basil, and the Petite Maison Merlot Vinegar and Moresca Olive Oil dressing, but I put it all in the bowls too soon.  Oh well.  I added a orange tomato that I found at the store to give it some colour and, all in all, they were quite good.  Mark had some difficulties understanding that the pâte à choux dough used for the choux à la crème was not sweetened (and the whipped cream filling was not overly sweet).  Despite the lack of sweetness, it was still very nice.

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The galette was a failure, though.  I forgot that we didn’t have onions, the potatoes were not sliced thin enough, and Mark played with the pastry dough too much for it to have been flaky.  I added way too much water (forgetting to scale it back like I did the flour and butter), which also made it tough.  In addition, its cooking was not given the highest priority (unlike, say, the croissants), so the dough ended up being dry and almost impossible to cut, while the potatoes were undercooked.  Fortunately, it was done cooking and served when the brunch was mostly finished and we had lots of other food.

The baked french toast was also not cooked as well as I was hoping.  It was difficult to tell if it was done and, like the galette, I ignored it more than I should have.  It was fine, except for a corner which became quite black.  Despite that section, it was eaten fairly quickly, so I have no pictures of it.  It was very easy, so I will likely make it again.

All-in-all, I’m happy with the way brunch turned out.  I was also happy to have an excuse to make so much and still have people eat most of it.  If I would have made nearly this much food on a normal day, Mark would have complained about me trying to hurt his “girlish figure” and would likely have gone out for a 20km run to compensate for the amount of butter he ingested.  however, with 6 people eating, there isn’t much left.

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