Monday, April 22, 2013

A Sweet & Savory Brunch

I've always felt there is no better way to start off a weekend than with a delicious brunch, complete with sweet and savory options.  And that's precisely the kind of brunch I prepared last Saturday!

For the first brunch of the day, I drew inspiration from a cooking challenge and a Bobby Flay recipe.  The cooking challenge had me make a wonderfully flavorful sage-almond pesto.  Pesto made, I spread a generous amount on a slice of toasted multigrain bread, then topped with some wild arugula, a fried egg, and slices of pan-fried chorizo.  The earthy undertones of the sage and almonds softened the peppery, sharp taste of the arugula; the egg was perfectly fried, with crispy edges and a warm, runny yolk; and the spicy chorizo had a satisfying bite.  

For the sweet portion of my brunch I made a baked apple topped with oatmeal and Greek yogurt, courtesy of Bobby Flay.  A "bowl" (including the core) is cut out of the apple, and then the insides are brushed with a sugar-cinnamon-butter mixture.  The apple is baked until soft (yet not too soft that it doesn't retain its structure), and then filled with some steel-cut oatmeal (sweetened also with some brown sugar), and then topped with a dollop of yogurt.  The results: a wonderfully spoonable, sweet delight.  

The two dishes made for a delightful combination. 

Sage Pesto
Recipe from GE Monogram 

(The rules of the cooking challenge were as follows: Make a pesto according to the recipe given and serve as an accompaniment to a dish of your choice.)

1 -1/2 cup fresh sage leaves, blanched then shocked, drained well
1/2 cup Marcona Almonds
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup garlic
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1/2 lemon, zest

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor then pulse several times until and paste forms.  The texture should be similar to natural peanut butter.

Baked Apples with Oatmeal and Yogurt 
Recipe courtsey of Bobby Flay.  Serves 6.

6 apples, bottoms sliced so apples stand
1 fresh lemon, halved
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground black pepper
1 cup apple cider
1 cup whole milk, heated
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1-1/2 cups cooked steel-cut oatmeal, prepared according to package directions
Greek yogurt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  
Cut off the top third of each apple.  With a small knife, and working from the top of each apple, carefully carve out a large "bowl," including the core, about 2 inches in diameter.  Rub the cut part with lemon and put the apples into a 9-inch square baking dish.  Dice the carved-out parts of the apples, without the seeds, and set aside.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, and then whisk in 4 tablespoons of the sugar, the cinnamon, and pepper and cook until smooth  Brush the inside of the apples with the butter mixture. Pour the apple cider into the bottom of the baking dish.  Cover the dish with foil and bake until the apples are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5 minutes longer.

Transfer the apples to a platter.  Carefully strain the cooking liquid into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Cook until it is reduced and thickened, about 5 minutes.  While the apples are baking, stir the hot milk, remaining sugar, reserved chopped apples and orange zest into the warm oatmeal and cook for a few minutes. Divide the oatmeal among the baked apples. Top each apple with a dollop of yogurt.

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