Thursday, July 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Lady Liberty

Happy 4th of July... a few days late! To celebrate and honor our Lady Liberty, I hosted a ladies’ brunch over the holiday weekend! Some of my gal pals- V, Tasha, Amanda, and Brit…(and Biscuit, the lady of the house, though she dined on Fancy Feast) joined me at my apartment for a lovely little brunch, before we all went forth to enjoy the weekend festivities and fireworks.

A few weekends ago I attended the engagement brunch party of two good friends, Becky and Deric (everyone is getting hitched! Becky & Deric, Brit & Art...)The hostess, Sam, served up a delicious ham and asparagus frittata that gave me just the inspiration I needed for my brunch. I diced asparagus, green onions, and a thick slab of ham from the deli, and mixed it with grated swiss, salt and pepper, and eggs beaten with half &half. After baking, I topped the frittata with fresh basil from my ever-growing basil plant. While I made one 8 inch dish too much, my first frittata was delish, and we all had seconds. I even ate some later, cold from the fridge… which was my first EVER left over egg eatery (as you know, I've only recently become fond of eggs)…

To accompany the frittata, I made a wonderful summertime treat- Mel’s huckleberry muffins (which is actually Fannie’s muffin recipe, with the addition of huckleberries, and a few special tweaks). Unlike your average muffin, these are hearty and bread-like in texture, less crumbly than most. I used my new mini muffin pan, and served the tiny, warm, delicious, little muffin bites with homemade lemon curd...which is so good it's hard not eat it from the jar with a spoon (which I did when I got home from work last night...)

Frittata and muffins with lemon curd, served alongside a fruit salad, raspberry sun-tea, coffee, and juice is all one needs for a fabulous brunch, right? That is… unless the one in question has her own ice cream maker…! That’s right, for ladies’ brunch I made batch 3 with my new toy! This time, to fit in with a brunch (because who eats ice cream for breakfast….other than that one time at the Rusty Pelican when my old roommate Kristy ordered a waffle with ice-cream on top…) I made sorbet! Kiwi Sorbet! Sort of following a recipe in Gourmet’s July edition (at the store, I didn’t realize that the recipe measured the kiwis in pounds, and I bought 10 kiwis without weighing them) I blended peeled-and-sliced fresh kiwis (the fruit, not the bird!) with superfine sugar. Since I didn’t know if my 10 kiwis were close to 2 lbs, I just added the sugar to taste, and decided to make it a little tart. Into my ice cream freezer the fresh fruit & sugar went for a short 25 minutes!

I served the tart and fruity bright-green (and black speckled) sorbet in the kiwi shell halves. The gals loved them, and I have more for later!

With our bellies full, we headed out in separate directions to celebrate the holiday. Amanda, Brit, Evan, and I went to Brit's family beach house, where we followed the delicious brunch with fresh caught crab, tons of clam dip, way too many cookies, and an amazing fireworks show. Brunch and girl talk with some of my favorite gals, a sunny day at the beach, and watching fireworks with my sweetie... now that's a fourth to be reckoned with!

Mel's Huckleberry Muffins
(Adapted from Fannie Farmer)
2 cups white flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/4th cup melted butter
1 cup huckleberries (I use frozen, and just thaw them overnight, draining juice & mixing with a tablespoon of flour before adding)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter muffin pans (makes 12 full sized or about 16 minis). mix flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, and butter, stirring only enough to dampen flour (batter should be a little lumpy). Spoon into muffin pans and bake for about 20-25 minutes. As family tradition goes, I like to serve them wrapped in a kitchen towel, and eat them hot with butter in the middle, or homemade lemon curd! They're great cold or reheated for up to two days.

Luscious Lemon Curd
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (I like to use a little more...)
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons butter- room temp

Beat butter and sugar for about 2 minutes, until smooth. Slowly add eggs and beat for another minute. Mix in lemon juice and zest. Note- at this point it will look a little lumpy and almost curdled, don't fear, that's normal. Pour into heavy bottomed sauce pan, and cook over medium low heat whisking continuously until the curd is thick enough to hold a ripple when the whisk is lifted from the curd and first bubbles appear on the surface (generally between 5-8 minutes).
Transfer to bowl or jar, and place plastic wrap on top of curd (to prevent skin from forming). Last one week.

Enjoy on muffins, scones, or toast with butter, as a tart or cake filling... or straight from the jar on a spoon!

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