recipes, Tables, Uncategorized

The Novel Bakers Present: A Forest Feast — Gatherings

NB brunch

~~ 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:

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I always start my day with a glass of citrus, and grapefruits and Prosecco are truly a match made in heaven.

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The Forest Feast Gatherings includes a menu for brunch, with recipes for Ruby Mimosa Punch and Zucchini Frittata Loaf.

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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! 🙂

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Grapefruit wedges standing by.

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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.

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ooooh soooooo gooood

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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.

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I omitted the scallions because their flavor is so powerful and because I’m the cook and it’s my kitchen.

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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.

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One hour was the perfect time for it to bake, with no need to be watching the frying pan or flipping omelets.

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Protein, Vitamin C and fiber all accounted for, so let’s add some carbs.

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Orzo and black beans, with corn, red bell pepper, chili powder and lime.

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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.


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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!

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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 …

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… 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) …

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… and the food in the middle.

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A bit of shine to wake people up (adjust according to the occasion and the season) …

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… then point your guests in the direction of the food, and they will be delighted.

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Did you see anything to tempt you?  I hope you did!  Be sure to visit the other Novel Bakers for more tempting delights!

jain / a quiet life

    michael lee / rattlebridge farm

   mary / home is where the boat is

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And since no meal is really complete without dessert, come back Wednesday for a yummy dessert idea from

The Forest Feast Gatherings

~~ enjoy ~~

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Linda 🙂

I’m joining the fun at

Full Plate Thursday

Tablescape Thursday

Foodie Friday and Everything Else

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19 thoughts on “The Novel Bakers Present: A Forest Feast — Gatherings

  1. Linda, I’m awake and hungry now and ready to join you in a bowl, (ok glass, I suppose I should share 🙂 of Ruby Mimosa Punch! Your brunch looks delicious and yes, easy too! Your Zucchini Frittata Loaf looks SO good…I loved the idea of using a loaf pan and your addition of the heavy cream and cheese makes it even more appetizing! I love your glass compote as a punch bowl and your sparkling addition of the twinkle lights in the background! The bokeh is beautifully captured and sets the mood perfectly for a holiday brunch! I can’t wait for dessert 🙂

  2. good morning and i see we are off to great start with cocktails before dawn! i am cracking up with you cocktail confessions 😉 i am also jealous i didn’t think about this recipe, i have grapefruit trees at home, i went more the pirate route with rum later 🙂

    your frittata looks fabulous, what a wonderful brunch you shared! i never even thought of feasting in the morning! it all looks so pretty together, i do love her cookbook, she makes things look so easy and fresh, even if you tend to imbibe you managed to pull off a fabulous feast 😉

    i love the little dog too!

    that was great fun and unexpected, can’t wait to see what you serve up on wed! thanks so much for playing, i know we all have a great time doing this, it gets us out of routines and opens our eyes to sharing the pages live with the added benefit of FUN!

    and maybe a hangover…

  3. Linda, my taste buds are dancing seeing this breakfast buffet! I love a good frittata and to use a loaf pan is genius and easy! The black bean orzo looks amazing and of course, the ruby mimosa punch! Since I love desserts, I will be looking forward to Wednesday! Have a beauty-filled Monday! Pam @ Everyday Living

  4. OMG…Linda!!! All I can say is that you had some very lucky guests. Your photos belong in a magazine. This cookbook looks like so much fun. And that fabulously gorgeous drink looks right up my alley! Have a wonderful week, dear Linda. Great post.

  5. Wow, Linda! I just had breakfast, but I am certainly ready for 2nd breakfast now! You and I must be cut from the same cloth insofar as your choice of substitutions are concerned. I’m not a fan of cilantro either. This looks like a feast to me. Best meal of the day right there……all day.
    Had to laugh at your stories of having fun while cooking – the lamb stew especially.
    Have a great week. This was a great start.

  6. Linda! Oh, my goodness! What a way to greet Monday! I love everything about the menu, and your tablescape, down to the little bird wooden picks for the grapefruit! I also love those twinkle lights. It’s giving me ideas for my own Christmas celebration. I, too, like to have guests staying at our house, and I’m always confronted with the dilemma of what to feed them that doesn’t require my messing up the kitchen a whole lot. Sometimes, even preparing for the visits can be challenging with my crazy work schedule, but I’m getting better at it. I’ve developed a couple tried and true recipes that can be prepared quickly and always look fancy, like my Spanish omelette with potatoes and onions. Although for you, I’ll skip the onion and add some Spanish chorizo instead. I can hardly wait for Wednesday to see what you are feeding us for dessert.

  7. What a beautiful post Linda! Yes, you had me at mimosa, and yum a grapefruit one at that! Your cooking tales are hilarious, but hey, as long as everyone is imbibing with you, they probably didn’t even care 🙂 I think the reason I like cooking so much is because it is like art, a kitchen is a studio where you can create wonderful things! This book is on my list to Santa, it looks like a treasure to have and peruse- the recipes you chose are sure to cause your houseguests to linger for an extra day or 2! Thank you for the delicious fun!

  8. Wow, this is truly a feast for the eyes! I’m so happy to see the Novel Bakers at it again. You girls are totally AMAZING! How perfect the Juliska dishes are for your woodland brunch. I’ve admired those dishes, and would love to add them to the cupboards. Alas, there is little room and less and less entertaining here of late. Love that cute little chocolate doggie atop the stack. 😉
    Thanks for sharing. I’m going to order the book. It sounds like my kind of recipe book. 😉

  9. I love everything about this lovely brunch that you created. Vero Beach is in Indian River County and it famous for its grapefruits and I’ve seen that groves are already starting to pick fruit. I can definitely see myself serving the Ruby Mimosa Punch.

  10. Linda, you are a hoot! Your adventures reminded me of a few I’ve had over the years. We could be wicked partners in culinary crimes. LOL I wish I could reach through the screen and take a sip of the grapefruit mimosa (because, somewhere in the world, it’s 5 pm, right? Right!). It’s so cheery and alluring in it’s warm, ruby/peach hues. Your zucchini loaf looks divine, too, along with the cucumber bites and orzo salad–what a feast! I adored the dog figurine, so sweet and tender to my eyes, and your Juliska is a beauty. I’ve started collecting a few pieces, and I’m hooked. I loved playing with you today, my dear, and look forward to our next adventure. I lift my glass in a toast to you!

  11. Delightful post. I love the Novel Bakers! You entertain and inspire. I do plan to make the frittata loaf. I love things that can be made ahead and it’s nutritious too.
    Look forward to Wednesday1

  12. I loved reading your adventures of cooking while having some vino! You’re too funny, Linda! The frittata zucchini loaf looks amazing, and so does the orzo salad and the caprese bites. Cheers to you with a glass of your grapefruit prosecco punch!! I’ll be back for dessert.

  13. Hi Linda! So nice that Erin left you a comment too! I have Erin’s first book, Forest Feast, and it is one of my favorite books when I need ideas for using the veggies from my CSA when I entertain. I loved reading your adventures of cooking and the frittata zucchini loaf would be welcome for my lunch today 🙂 I’m looking forward to dessert!

  14. Forest Feast is my new favorite cookbook both because it is so beautiful and because the recipes are so simple to prepare. The real plus is that they are always so good.

  15. I start most of my parties by offering a Mimosa, so the Ruby Mimosa Punch for breakfast is right up my alley. I’m still pretty much giggling about the burnt lamb stew under five feet of snow….you have a great story for the rest of your life! Erin’s books have been the focus of a number of blog posts this week. Yours is the one that made me decide to go out and buy it. Such fun! Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for inviting us for a peek at all the fun. Cherry Kay

  16. Thanks so much for linking up with Full Plate Thursday! We will have an early Thanksgiving Edition on 11-22 -16, hope to see you there!
    Wishing you a bountiful Thanksgiving!
    Miz Helen

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