Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Springtime Brunch Glory

I'm not totally sure why my family celebrates Easter, since not one of us is religious -- but someone a few generations back must have been? Anyhow, it's made its way down through the generations to the present day in the form of "an excuse to get together" -- which is certainly good enough for us. Plus, it gives me a chance to cook up yummy brunch food (my favorite!) and draw doodles of bunnies. This year we had such a wonderful morning together - perfectly low-key, full of happy chatter and conversation, zero fuss, lots of warmth. Then everyone left and Mr. VE&T konked out on the sofa and all the pets fell asleep and I did all the dishes and cleaned up the after-party. Very peaceful. 

 Fresh Fava & Dill Mini Quiches

One of my favorite things about a proper brunch gathering is the joy of having both savory and sweetie options. For years, I've had my eye on a Fava Bean & Dill Crostata recipe in "Silk Road: A Vegetarian Journey," so this year I saw fava beans at the farmers market and I seized the moment and veganized it. I used the Mini Muffin Omletes recipe from "Isa Does It" as a base, added in a dab of yellow miso, a dash of umeboshi vinegar, and a bit of "leftover" cashew chevre. From there, I prepared a big batch of fresh favas (about two pounds still in the husks), about a cup of fresh dill, and a bunch of caramelized leeks. The recipe calls for using lavash bread as the crust, so I cut up a piece into little squares and had a perfect excuse to use my fancy and frivolous square shaped muffin tin.

Boy, these were AMAZING. First of all, the fresh favas are just so special and spring-timey. They're quite a bit of work, so that makes it feel extra special when I actually do commit to cooking them. These little quiches were super rich and flavorful, and I also loved the lavash crusts for mini quiches. I'll definitely use that trick again.

 Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

I've made the apple baked oatmeal from the "Oh She Glows Cookbook" a handful of times, but I've been looking for a reason to make the Carrot Cake oatmeal from her website for a while. Carrots and Easter go hand-in-hand, right?! This was SO good, and luckily there was lots left over, so I got to enjoy it for leftovers for days. It's really good reheated with a dollop of homemade yogurt. Mmmm. I plan on making more soon for a week's worth of tasty breakfasts.

 Fresh Strawberries & Fresh-Squeezed OJ

Around these parts, no brunch-time gala is complete without an abundance of freshly-picked local organic strawberries. Miracle gems of yumminess. Also, I'm delighted to report that the oranges on our very own orange trees are finally beginning to sweeten and are actually quite good nowadays - they make especially good OJ. So, the night before Easter, I spent a good 45 minutes or so twist-twist-twisting and juicing a ginormous box of oranges to make some OJ. After that I borrowed my aunt's electric juicer to give that a go. My wrist was tired!

 Roasted Potato & Asparagus Salad

This recipe is from the Oh She Glows Cookbook and it is SO GOOD (you can find the recipe online here). As you know, during asparagus season, it is mandatory to eat as many asparagi as possible. Also, you must make this amazing salad at least once per asparagus season. The potatoes and asparagi are chopped up and roasted and then tossed with a totally fantastic creamy avocado dressing, and then a big mess of scallions. Just thinking about this recipe makes me want to make it again. I really recommend it.

Hot Cross Bunnies

For the last several years, I've had a pretty reliable hot cross buns recipe, but as I am unable to leave well-enough alone, I wanted to try a new recipe. Specifically, I wanted to make hot cross buns that kinda stick together as they rise and bake, and then you have to pull them apart. I like that phenomena, and the way it leads to golden tops and soft doughy sides. So, after much web-surfing, I settled on this recipe from King Arthur Flour. It was easy to veganize. Following the Hot New Thing in Veganism*, I used the liquid from my can of chickpeas as egg replacer. (I used 7.5 Tbsp of the goo, to equal 2 1/2 eggs).

(*If you are unaware of the chickpea liquid egg replacer phenomena, check out this Facebook page and be prepared to have your mind blown!!)

 All the comments on the recipe page said that the dough would be very sticky, but that the end result would still be good. Indeed, my dough was SO wet and sticky that I couldn't even "knead" it as much as "stir" it, and even after one hour, I couldn't perceive any visible rise. I forged ahead with trepidation. I had to put some coconut oil on my hands just to shape the "rolls." I had prepared the dough and the first rise the night before, and when I took them out of the fridge in the morning, you could barely tell one roll from the next, because the wet dough was so smooshy. I was not optimistic. I was doubting my decision to try a fancy new recipe and a fancy new egg replacer technique all at once. 

Hot Cross Muffins

So...fearing an imminent HCB disaster, I kinda freaked out and about 20 minutes before everyone was about to show up, I busted out a batch of emergency Hot Cross Muffins (using this recipe). These weren't yeasted, so they were quick to bake, but the flavors and spices were very similar to proper Hot Cross Buns. These muffins were still in the oven when everyone arrived, and as soon as they cooled off a bit, I used my leftover icing to X-up these guys too.

As you can see, though -- the final result of my Hot Cross Buns was actually quite lovely. I used dark raisins, golden raisins, chopped dried apricots, orange zest, and a little bit of candied lime peel for the dried fruit. The dough was just barely sweet, but the thick icing X gave just enough sugar blast to satisfy. Actually, after all my fretting and fussing, these were really really great and were exactly what I had hoped they would be. Success!

I make Hot Cross Buns every year for Easter because I really love them. But the real reason is because I know my mom and dad really love them too, and (of course) I love my mom and dad. So, once my mom took a bite and declared her HCB to be delicious, I felt a sigh of Easter relief. But when my dad went back for seconds, I knew for sure that Easter brunch was saved after all. Of course I sent a couple extras home with them, and now I've got a bunch of not-necessary-after-all hot cross muffins in my freezer waiting for a special breakfast moment.


  1. Yay for HCB! I usually make them every year for the Spring Equinox, but for some reason, I didn't this year. And now I'm a little sad about that. But next year, I'll have to try this recipe! Also the little quiches look so yummy! And I envy your orange tree!

    1. I know what you mean. Even thought HCBs are so delicious, I only make them once a year. This year I was feeling a bit lazy, but I'm so glad I made them. I a few left in my freezer still!

  2. Those quiches look amazing! Easter has never been a big deal in my family, which is fine. For those in Australia who do get together it certainly seems to be more of a lunch rather than a brunch, and normally with a giant meat centerpiece (poor lambs get it again). It is Autumn here rather than Spring as well, though this year it felt more like Summer. ;)

    1. Everything is just so topsy turvy in Australia!!! It seems so crazy to have Easter in the autumn. I also noticed that lots of families here have Easter Dinner, with ham and stuff... but we've always been a brunch crew. Viva los brunches!

  3. Anonymous9:32 AM

    The quiches look delicious! I really need to get on board with the chickpea juice phenomenon. I'm sceptical!

  4. I don't celebrate Easter, but can I come over next year and join your feast? :D

    Those tiny quiches are so cute! And your hot cross buns look perfect. No need for backup muffins!

    PS: Bunny doodle! <3


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