Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter brunch menu

Spinach and sausage strata
Mixed berries with sweetened creme friache
Ina gartens coconut cupcakes

Spinach and sausage strata
(10-oz) package frozen spinach, thawed
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed (1 inch) French or Italian bread (I usually use a 1-lb loaf, as I’ve found this yields 8 cups)
1 lb. sweet Italian chicken or turkey sausage (optional)
6 oz coarsely grated Gruyère (2 cups)
2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (sometimes I use whole-grain mustard for a variation)
Wash and finely chop the greens (if you’re using frozen spinach, squeeze handfuls of it dry and then finely chop.)
Cook the onion in the butter in a large saucepan until it begins to soften.
Add the sausage, if using, and cook until the sausage is no longer pink. Add 1/2 tsp salt,1/4 tsp pepper and the ground nutmeg, and cook 1 minute. Add the greens and cook until they’re wilted and tender (if you’re using frozen spinach, this will only take about 1 minute; if you’re using another kind of dark leafy green, it will take a little longer.) Remove from the heat.
Butter a 3-qt gratin dish or other large ceramic baking dish. Spread 1/3 of the bread cubes in the bottom of the dish, top with 1/3 of the spinach mixture, then with 1/3 of both of the cheeses. Repeat the layering 2 more times, ending with the cheeses.
Ina's Coconut cupcakes (the best!)
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut
For the frosting:
1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.
Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter.
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.
Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut
Happy Easter!!!
xoxo CC

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