Brunch Menu: Spicy Baked Eggs, Almond Cake, Rose and Mint Scented Fruit

I love brunch. Love it. Here are a couple guidelines to brunch by: for a little of everything, in general I make 1. an egg dish (for what is a brunch without eggs? Unless it’s a vegan brunch…) 2. something baked (muffins, coffee cake) and 3. something fresh and fruity. The other guideline is that dishes should be either easy or make-ahead, because you want to be relaxed, not running around at the last minute. And who knows when someone is going to give themselves a hummus facial and bodywrap right before people get there. (See imp on right).

So here’s what I did for Zoeya’s play group (which turned out to be small, so it lived again the next morning for brunch with a girlfriend):

1. Egg Dish

I am still on a major Pakistani food kick, so I made these spicy baked eggs that I saw on a blog I like, The Spice Spoon which features Pakistani and Afghan recipes. This isn’t make-ahead, but it’s quick assembly to cook the onions/tomatoes, crack the eggs, and pop it in the oven. Just make sure to check on your 2-year-old while you’re doing this to make sure she’s not up to no good. I over-baked them on purpose (I was thinking the kids would not like the runny yokes) but that turned out to be a mistake as they were a little rubbery. They still looked beautiful and the tomato mixture was really tasty. I will definitely make this again, just shortening the oven-time. Eat with warm naan.

Baked Eggs

2. Baked Goodie

So instead of doing coffee cake or muffins, I just went for all-out cake. I do not mind eating cake for breakfast one bit, it goes great with coffee so what’s the problem? This is the almond cake from Amanda Hesser’s Cooking for Mr. Latte, and it has became one of my standby’s. It’s always delicious and it makes a lovely dessert for all kinds of food. You can find the recipe for this awesome almond cake here. (Note: I used a 9″ spring form pan, and baked it at 350° for a total of 55 minutes – at around 45 min I covered it with foil to keep it from browning too quickly). As you can see, my husband could not wait to sneak a piece:

Almond Cake

3. Fresh and Fruity

Though it’s hard to beat simple, fresh fruit, I love to dress up a fruit salad with a little something unexpected. For this, I just tossed 4 chopped white nectarines with a pint of blueberries and some chopped mint leaves. I made a light simple syrup from 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp water boiled with a few mint leaves. I strained the mint , added a splash of rose water (I love this delicate, floral touch), and poured it over the fruit.

Fruit Salad

With coffee and orange juice, this was an easy, tasty brunch!

Espresso Chocolate Almond Banana Bread

I never set out to make banana bread; the only time I make it is when I’m trying to rescue bananas from the banana graveyard. I was greeted from a weekend out of town with these two blackened specimens hanging out on the counter and feeding the fruit flies.

So you know what time it is: banana bread o’ clock. I usually bake banana bread straight from The Joy of Cooking, but today I sassed up the basic loaf with some espresso and chocolate chunks.

Espresso Chocolate Almond Banana Bread

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
5 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened (plus more for buttering loaf pan)
2/3 cup sugar
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs, room temp
1 1/2 tbsp strong espresso, cooled (I took a cup of coffee made with Bustelo and boiled it down)
1 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
scant 1/3 cup almonds, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Beat the bananas into the butter/sugar mixture, then the eggs, then the espresso.Mix the flour mixture with the banana mixture until just combined, then fold in the chocolate and almonds.

Pour into a buttered loaf pan, and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the loaf comes out clean. Mine took 55 minutes, and at 45 I put some foil over the top so it wouldn’t brown too much. Just kind of check when it gets close to the end.

This turned out scrumptious, perfect for Sunday breakfast or a tea-time treat!

The Secret Ingredient in my Goat Curry is Love

Life is going really beautifully lately. I feel peaceful and happy and completely in love with my little family.

Lately I am one of those obnoxious people who is just floating on a cloud, enjoying my life. I think it’s doing good things for my cooking, because we all know home cooking comes out a lot better if you are cooking with a heart full of love and sweetness (versus evil salty bitterness!). Because of Ramadan, every evening we are partaking in a lovely family dinner. My husband Shan owns a Quiznos, and the nights he closes I just cook the meal at home and pack it up to eat there. I think it’s funny to be eating things like Goat Curry at Quiznos.

If you’ve never cooked goat before, try it! It is not gross, as we tried to convince one Quiznos employee. It is the most widely used meat in the world, it tastes a lot like beef (only leaner), and it is available at your local halal butcher. If you want a recipe that is a little more cold, stormy American night, you can try my Goat Stew. However, if you’re in the mood for a delicious spicy curry, this will hit the spot.

Goat Curry

It’s based on this recipe for Pakistani Goat Curry at a blog called What You Having For Your Tea?, which features the food I most love to cook, South Asian and Spanish. It’s written by a British bloke who moved to Australia, so this American chick has to do a little temp and measurement conversion, but it’s worth it since the recipes look absolutely sumptuous. I changed this up just a little; I cooked the whole thing stovetop instead of in the oven, and since I love the nutty flavor of coconut milk in curries, I used this instead of the yogurt. If that makes it more Indian than Pakistani I don’t know, but tastewise either is fine. I also used tomato paste instead of fresh tomatoes, as had no fresh tomatoes, and changed the spices up a little; curries give you some room to adjust to your tastes and pantry.

Goat Curry

1 pound bone-in goat meat, cut in 2 inch chunks
salt and pepper
1 tbsp (or so) olive oil
1 onion (roughly chopped)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 inch piece of fresh ginger (peeled and chopped)
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
1 tsp red pepper
1 tsp tumeric
2 tsp coriander powder (I say “coriander powder,” and yet “fresh cilantro”)
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water plus you’ll probably need some more later
1 tbsp tomato paste
juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat the olive oil on high heat. Salt and pepper your chunks of goat meat, and brown both sides.While that’s browning, in a blender or food processor, puree your onion, garlic, and ginger. When the meat is browned, remove it to a plate and pour the onion mixture into the pan, along with the cinnamon stick and cloves. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns golden.

Add the meat and everything else to the pan. Stir it all up, turn the heat to medium, cover and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, adding water as needed, until the meat is nice and tender. At the end you can uncover the pan and thicken the sauce to your desired consistency. There should be a good bit of gravy for mopping up with warm naan.