~~ now that I have your attention ~~
Yes, the recipe for this deliciousness awaits you when you open the beautifully illustrated, latest addition to The Forest Feast series of cookbooks by Erin Gleeson: The Forest Feast Gatherings. I hesitate to even call it a cookbook, for it is more like a book of art, and it is a pleasure just to flip through the pages, which include original watercolors, hand-lettered recipes, and photographs of the ingredients, the tablesettings, and the author’s own home and yard in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. This book should be called Delightful. Food, photos, illustrations, text, all by Erin Gleeson herself.
From her introduction: “For me, the whole process of preparing the meal and the ambience is a creative outlet — I think of it as one big art project, which I enjoy making and curating.” She states that the focus in this book is “to make entertaining approachable and fun.” It’s like this book was written just for me! 🙂 While I don’t put Cooking up near the top of my list of pleasurable pastimes, I LOVE to entertain and fill my big old house with company. Especially weekend guests, where I can pamper and decorate the guest rooms and plan activities.
The real trouble begins for me with the food. Erin suggests pouring a glass of wine and to have fun cooking, but I have a huge Le Creuset pot which once spent an entire winter buried under the five feet of snow that fell the night I had to put it on the deck because I was, um, having fun cooking, and I forgot about it and burned the lamb stew to a solid slab and filled the house with black smoke. And then there was the time I was “testing” the vino and poured the garlic butter sauce meant for the glazed carrots onto the flounder (which already had orange peel). So I’ve learned to carefully plan every little detail if I’m entertaining and not to sip that relaxing first glass until the dinner is under control.
Now, when you have weekend guests, and the dinner and cocktails have been served, and the party is over and all have tumbled into bed, suddenly the sun rises and all those guests are still there, expecting to be fed. Again. I must admit to more than once, for large gatherings, waiting by the front door for the delivery of a brunch spread from a local shop, or sending Mr. Fun to the bakery for the tray of bagels and muffins and toppings and fruits. But sometimes, if I haven’t cooked the dinner, I get ambitious. (Or maybe a little guilty.) And very often in the winter months our driveway is impassable. Imagine being stuck in on New Year’s Day with no access to the real world and lots of hungry people.
To the rescue:
I always start my day with a glass of citrus, and grapefruits and Prosecco are truly a match made in heaven.
The Forest Feast Gatherings includes a menu for brunch, with recipes for Ruby Mimosa Punch and Zucchini Frittata Loaf.
It would really be impossible for anyone to go wrong with one of these recipes, with clear instructions as to what ingredients look like and even how to cut the fruit! I love it and this recipe is scrumptious. I used only one bottle of Prosecco to 3 cups of ruby red grapefruit juice, so try that first and open more bottles as the spirit moves you. And remember, the Vitamin C and fiber in the grapefruit juice make this a very nice way to start your day! 🙂
Grapefruit wedges standing by.
Erin says that anything can serve as a punch bowl, and as mine is so huge I used my glass compote and it worked very well. Be sure to have a ladle handy.
ooooh soooooo gooood
While some of your guests may decide to live on this punch alone, most will be looking for food, especially something with protein to help them recover from the previous evening’s festivities. This Zucchini Frittata Loaf is an excellent variation on the usual frying pan version.
I omitted the scallions because their flavor is so powerful and because I’m the cook and it’s my kitchen.
And since, to me, the ideal frittata contains cheese and cream in addition to the eggs, and as Erin encourages “creativity and substitution,” I added a half cup of heavy cream (1/2 cup to a dozen eggs, according to Bon Appétit), and sprinkled freshly grated parmesan cheese on the top for the last 10 minutes.
One hour was the perfect time for it to bake, with no need to be watching the frying pan or flipping omelets.
Protein, Vitamin C and fiber all accounted for, so let’s add some carbs.
Orzo and black beans, with corn, red bell pepper, chili powder and lime.
I eliminated the red onion because it’s never good to have the hostess lying on the floor wishing to be put out of her misery and I am extremely allergic, and instead added an orange pepper. I also changed the cilantro into basil. Although I love cilantro myself, I know too many people who can’t stand the taste. Did you know that scientists have discovered the gene that actually determines whether we love it or loathe it? Really!! An excellent article from the NY Times is here.
These Cucumber Caprese Bites (p. 124) were perfect for rounding out the brunch menu with a little bit of satisfying crunch! Cherry tomato, basil leaf, cuke slice, and tiny mozzarella ball. Don’t be tempted to forget the cuke! For a basically tasteless vegetable it added an entirely new feeling to this common appetizer! I sprinkled with sea salt, and you can put out a bit of olive oil for those who like drizzling. We loved this!
Most of this menu can be prepared ahead (a huge bonus in my opinion!) and then the fun begins. Setting the table! 🙂
Buffet style works perfectly for those morning-after brunches when you want flexibility. I placed a stack of my Juliska Forest Walk dishes at one end of my sideboard …
… and a basket of napkins, the punch ladle and a tray of utensils at the other end (I don’t wrap the utensils in napkins for this type of affair because people will pick and choose what they need) …
… and the food in the middle.
A bit of shine to wake people up (adjust according to the occasion and the season) …
… then point your guests in the direction of the food, and they will be delighted.
Did you see anything to tempt you? I hope you did! Be sure to visit the other Novel Bakers for more tempting delights!
And since no meal is really complete without dessert, come back Wednesday for a yummy dessert idea from
The Forest Feast Gatherings
~~ enjoy ~~
I’m joining the fun at