Tidewater Kitchen: January 2006

A New Year, A New Brunch

A New Year’s Day Brunch can be a wonderful way to reconnect with friends and family after a harried holiday season. But hosting a brunch often meets with two unintended consequences: a frantic morning of cooking, and one more excuse for holiday excess.
Solving these problems is a matter of planning and mind-set. When I hosted a recent brunch for friends and family, I developed recipes that can be prepared ahead of time, leaving just a few simple preparations for the morning of the party. I knew that the menu should include comfort foods, but I chose ingredients that would awaken the palate, giving my guests a way to satisfy their mid-morning cravings without overdoing it.

CARROT-ORANGE FIZZ
For the non-alcoholic version of this drink, omit the liqueur and substitute orange-flavored seltzer for the wine.
Ice cubes and cracked ice
12 ounces carrot-orange juice
3 ounces orange liqueur
3 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice (the juice of 1 lime)
36 ounces of slightly sweet, effervescent white wine
Lime wedges for garnish

Fill eight wine glasses halfway each with cracked ice. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and add carrot-orange juice, liqueur and lime juice. Shake well. Divide evenly among wine glasses. Top each glass with 4 ounces of wine. Garnish with lime wedges.

BLOODY MARYS
Serves 16-18 6-oz. servings
2 46-oz. cans tomato juice
1 pint vodka
4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
6 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
Dash of celery salt

Pour all the ingredients into a 1-gallon jug. Shake well and refrigerate several hours. Serve with celery stalks or dill pickle spears, if desired.

PICKLED SHRIMP
Serves 16
2 Tablespoons salad oil
1 pint tarragon vinegar or your favorite clear vinegar
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon pickling spice
1½ teaspoons celery seed
few drops of Tabasco
½ teaspoon dry mustard
3 medium Bermuda onions, sliced
6 bay leaves
2½ pounds shrimp, cooked and peeled

Combine the salad oil, vinegar and spice. Mix well. Layer the shrimp, onions and bay leaves in a 2-quart container. Pour the salad oil mixture over the shrimp. Chill at least 24 hours. Remove bay leaves before serving. This will keep for a week.

ORANGE and AVOCADO SALAD
Serves 12
2 11-oz. cans Mandarin oranges, drained, or 1½ cups fresh orange sections
1 6-oz. can sliced black olives, drained
1 cup Italian dressing
2 avocados, peeled and sliced
1 13¾-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
4-5 cups salad greens of your choice, washed and drained

In a large bowl, combine the orange sections and olives with Italian dressing; marinate overnight. When ready to serve, add sliced avocados and artichoke hearts to marinade. Add salad greens and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

FRESH HAM
Serves 12 or more
1 12-pound fresh ham or pork loin
1 cup water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon seasoned black pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Remove the skin from the fresh ham and place in a roasting pan, fat side up. Place on the bottom rack in oven at 250 degrees. Combine the remaining ingredients and baste frequently, at least every 30 minutes. Cook covered; remove cover for the last hour. Ham should be well done; cook at least 30 minutes per pound, or until the meat thermometer reaches 170 degrees. Pour any remaining sauce on ham before serving.
Serve this with your favorite rolls. I like to get the small potato rolls and put condiments beside the ham and rolls so guests can make mini sandwiches.

GOOD LUCK SALAD
Serves 6-8 people
½ pound black-eyed peas, rinsed
1 quart water
1 small onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup raw rice, rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the peas overnight in water. Remove and discard the peas that float to the top. Drain.
In a 2½-quart saucepan, cover peas with 1 quart water. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered one hour or until peas are tender. Be sure to check the water level frequently.
Remove from the heat and drain, saving the liquid. Place rice in the rice cooker or pan; cover the rice with the pea liquid, adding more water if necessary. Add onions and celery. Steam rice for about 25 minutes. Flake with a fork; add the peas and crumbled bacon and steam until rice is cooked; about 30 minutes.

BAKED APPLES
Serves 8
8 apples
Juice of 1 lemon
4 Tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup raisins
¾ cup Amaretto or apple juice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash the apples with soap and water and core within ½ inch of the bottom. Peel top half of apples. Blend together butter and brown sugar; stir in raisins. Fill the apples with raisin mixture. Place apples in a 9 x 12-inch baking dish. Pour the Amaretto over apples. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until they are tender, but not mushy.

OLD-FASHIONED MOLASSES COOKIES
Makes 48 cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1¼ cups sugar, divided
¼ cup molasses
1 egg
2½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the baking sheets. Cream the butter, 1 cup sugar, molasses and egg in large bowl using the electric mixer. Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in medium bowl. Add to butter mixture and mix until dough forms.
Roll dough into walnut-sized pieces; drop balls into a bowl containing remaining sugar. Roll balls in sugar and place on baking sheets; press flat with spatula. Bake until crisp and golden, about 10-12 minutes. These are really yummy served warm.

COFFEE CAKE with
CHOCOLATE CHERRY CRUMB

Serves 8-10
Crumb:
4 Tablespoons butter
½ cup light brown sugar
4 Tablespoons cocoa

Cake:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
2 eggs plus one yolk
1 cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dried tart cherries, chopped
1/3 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with butter. Line bottom with parchment paper or waxed paper. Butter paper and dust pan with flour; shake off excess.
Make the crumb using your fingers to combine butter, brown sugar and cocoa in a small bowl. Set aside.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine oil, sugar and brown sugar on low. Beat in eggs and yolk, one at a time. Add half the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat on low until combined.
In a small bowl, combine sour cream, almond and vanilla extracts; mix, then add remaining flour mixture, beating until just combined.
Spread half of the batter (it will be very thick) over bottom of pan. Cover with half the crumb mixture and all of the cherries. Carefully spread remaining batter, then cover with remaining crumb and top with almonds.
Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cake may be made one day ahead. If so, cool thoroughly, wrap in plastic, and store at room temperature.