Going for brunch over the holidays
(NC)—Hosting a large family celebration over the holidays can be stressful. Along with the effort required to prepare a full sit-down turkey dinner, timing everything so it’s delivered hot from the oven and cooked to perfection can make even the most experienced host nervous. Make life a little easier this year by hosting a tasty and stylish brunch – the latest trend in holiday gatherings.
According to food expert and culinary trend spotter Amy Snider-Whitson of The Test Kitchen, “hosting brunch is a relaxed way to bring friends and family together during this very busy season and is an easier alternative to the traditional holiday feast.”
Amy recommends following these simple steps to preparing the perfect mid-morning fete:
Plan Ahead – The beauty of brunch food is that it can be made ahead. Instead of spending all your time in the kitchen (and missing out on the fun), Amy recommends easy recipes that can be prepped the day before, like a vegetarian quiche or a healthy strata. These dishes can be cooked or reheated in a microwave with Inverter technology to ensure no burnt edges or rubbery texture. Quick and easy, microwaves can be used as a second oven – perfect for those times when you have more than one dish on the go.
Set the Mood – For a daytime affair, pull back the drapes to let in as much natural winter light as possible, and create a fresh, festive look by adding votive candles or a few strings of white lights. Forgo those expected holiday tunes and choose jazz melodies, always a perfect background for a morning of mingling.
Daytime Décor – Go for a colourful centerpiece featuring pomegranates, cranberries and holly greens in a clear cylindrical vase, or dust gold leaf onto pinecones for a bit of tabletop shimmer. Instead of the expected holiday patterns, choose accent plates, serving dishes and linens with rich jewel tones like aubergine or emerald green. Set the table the night before to save time and last minute stress.
Keep Warm and Carry On – Modern microwaves offer a variety of new functions like Inverter technology for even cooking, convection for that second oven option, and “Keep Warm” feature to replace the traditional warming drawer. To maximize time and ensure food is served hot, Amy depends on her Panasonic Genius Prestige Inverter Microwave, a new addition to her culinary arsenal, to cook everything from Eggs Florentine to Steak Diane. This is not your grandmother’s countertop cooker.
Welcome guests with fresh coffee and mimosas by the fire, and don’t forget the warm croissants. Once they’ve settled in, just press a button and serve.
To simplify your holiday brunch menu, Canadian chef Snider-Whitson suggests delicious pepper cups, cooked evenly and quickly using Inverter technology available in Panasonic microwaves. By replacing high-fat pastry with colourful peppers, this quiche-style recipe is as nutritious as it is eye-catching. Serve the peppers with glazed peameal bacon, fresh fruit and warm, whole-grain breads, for an easy, elegant brunch.
4 red peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
3 cups (750 mL) lightly packed baby arugula leaves
1 cup (250 mL) shredded Asiago cheese, divided
6 large eggs
2/3 cup (150 mL) milk
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup (50 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
2 each green onions and garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp (4 mL) each salt and pepper, divided
Pinch ground nutmeg (optional)
2 tbsp (30 mL) toasted pine nuts (optional)
1. Place the peppers in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add 1/4 cup (50 mL) of water; cover with a heat-proof plate. Microwave, on P10 (High) for 8 to 10 minutes or until fork-tender. Transfer peppers, cut-side-down, to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool slightly. Add the arugula to the same bowl; cover and microwave on P10 for 1 minute or until wilted. Blot dry on paper towel.
2. Arrange the peppers, cut-side-up in a lightly greased, 9 x 13-inch (3 L) baking dish. Season evenly with 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt and pepper. Divide the arugula and half of the Asiago cheese, equally among the peppers. Whisk the eggs with the milk, basil, Parmesan cheese, green onion, garlic, nutmeg (if using) and remaining salt and pepper. Pour an equal amount of the egg mixture into each pepper.
3. Microwave on P4 (Med-Low) for 15 minutes. Sprinkle each pepper with an equal amount of the remaining Asiago cheese and pine nuts (if using). Microwave on P4 for 3 to 4 minutes or until eggs are set and cheese is melted. Makes 8 servings.
• Prepare the peppers, arugula and the egg mixture a day ahead. Simply fill the peppers and start cooking once the guests arrive.
• If your Panasonic Microwave has a Sensor Cook function, it can be used to steam the peppers and arugula by selecting “fresh vegetables”.
• For a smaller crowd or a smaller microwave, half the recipe and use an 8-inch (2 L) square, baking dish.