New Year’s Day Brunch

I love New Year’s Eve; it is my favorite holiday. I love the idea of reflecting on the past year and contemplating the year to come. When I was a mere adolescent, I would stay up until 4:00 in the morning building puzzles in my bedroom while I listened to Ryan Seacrest countdown the top songs of the year. As an adult, I have loved spending the night with my friends and cooking up some delicious treats.

As much as I enjoy New Year’s Eve food, I really look forward to New Year’s Day brunch. This is the perfect meal for New Year’s morning whether you are nursing a hangover, super hungry from being up late, or just in the mood to start your year with a bang.

Anyone who knows me or has been reading my blog, I love brunch…a lot! I love cooking brunch, going out for brunch, and just eating brunch in general. Some of my favorite food memories surround brunch. I especially grew my love for brunch living in DC where the brunch culture is strong.

After our New Year’s Eve party, Chris and Andrew had a few overnight guests. I was already staying there for the week, plus three of our college friends from out of town joined for the night. My friend Desireé and I had been dreaming of making brunch together. I saw an opportunity to grant our wish and feed the overnight guests. Desireé had been tagging me almost daily on NYT Food’s Instagram with ideas for this brunch. Of course I couldn’t make them all, but it did give me some great inspiration.

I started with a simple citrus salad dressed with prosecco. Bubbly and brunch go together like peanut butter and jelly. Plus, it is a great way to say cheers to the New Year. I only needed a little prosecco for the salad, so that left us plenty for mimosas. I actually took some of the juice at the bottom of the bowl and made a citrus mimosa for myself. I wanted a colorful salad, so I searched for as many types of citrus as I could find at Whole Foods. That included: naval oranges, blood oranges, cava cava oranges, white grapefruit, pink grapefruit, and ruby red grapefruit. What a colorful and delicious salad!

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Then, I made two breakfast casseroles based on an English muffin breakfast casserole recipe from NYT Food. I spit them into two smaller casseroles, one using the breakfast sausage and cheddar the recipe called for, and the other using mushrooms and leftover gruyere cheese from my NYE cooking.

I dumped all the sausage in the casserole, because I didn’t want to deal with the leftovers. This made the casserole incredibly rich. While it tasted good, it was almost too much. The mushroom one was much more balanced. I am going to keep experimenting with my idea for mushroom and gruyere breakfast casserole and should be posting it to the recipe index soon, because I am still dreaming of that cheesy, eggy goodness.

Next, I took a recipe from class and spun it to use up some sweet potatoes that Andrew brought home from Christmas at his parents’. On breakfast day, we made potatoes O’Brien which is like home fries with diced onion and bell pepper. I had some onion and bell pepper already, so I decided to make this into Sweet Potatoes O’Brien. Sweet potatoes take longer to crisp up than regular potatoes, but I liked the sweetness of this dish. This is a great example of what to do when you are trying to use up ingredients.

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Finally, I attempted to recreate the Kouign Amann that we made in class on laminated doughs day. Kouign Amann are these delectable French pastries, which are made from a yeasted laminated dough. They did not turn out remotely close to what we made in class, but they were quite good. They ended up being more muffin-like than bread-like. I think I ended up incorporating too much sugar into the dough. The sugar is supposed to caramelize in the dough while it produces these flakes in the oven, but all the sugar made the dough too rich. My friends didn’t get to taste the amazing pastries we made in class, so they did not feel my disappointment. They thought they were really good. I did agree they were good and had no problem eating two of them. However, I couldn’t help but compare them to how I know they should be. I guess I will have to keep practicing.

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I was so happy to spend these few days inside a familiar kitchen with familiar faces. The kitchen was the same, but I felt different. I am a happier, healthier, and more polished cook. I loved getting to show that to my friends and enjoy a delicious brunch to kick off the new year.

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