Simple Art of Cooking: Enjoy a Hearty Serving of Summer Brunch

Memorial Day is here, signifying the beginning of summer on the East End. Since I’m not quite ready to dust off the grill, I’m thinking brunch. Brunch may be any meal that is eaten in place of breakfast and lunch, and you don’t have to worry about the weather holding up.

Often served buffet-style, a weekend brunch can combine a few classics such as rum-flavored French toast with strawberries, a spring-like frittata, poached eggs Provencal, buttermilk scones or poached salmon with mayonnaise verte. The recipes allow much of the preparation to be done ahead, leaving you with little last minute preparation and plenty of time to spend with your guests.

SPINACH FRITTATA
This spring-like classic frittata can be prepared up to a day ahead.
Serves 6 to 8

1 pound loose fresh spinach, fibrous
stems discarded
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,
divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 whole garlic clove, peeled
1/2 teaspoon each salt and freshly
ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
5 large farm fresh eggs
3 tablespoons grated
Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf Italian
parsley

1. Wash spinach well in lukewarm water. Dry with paper towels, stack and slice into ribbons.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a sturdy 10-inch non-stick pan. Add onion and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until translucent. Add whole garlic and the spinach and stir to mix. Simmer mixture over low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and stir to mix. Discard garlic clove and transfer mixture to a bowl.

3. Meanwhile whisk together eggs, cheese and herbs and stir into the spinach mixture.

4. Pour remaining 1 tablespoon oil into the now-empty skillet and place over medium-low heat. Pour in the spinach mixture. As eggs are beginning to set, tilt skillet so uncooked eggs run to the edges. When eggs are set and frittata is well detached from bottom of skillet, put a plate, face down and invert onto plate. Return pan to heat and carefully slide frittata back into skillet to cook other side. Cook for 2 minutes and slide frittata onto a serving platter. Can be served warm or at room temperature. Cut into wedges for serving.

POACHED EGGS PROVENCAL
A simple tomato sauce is the base for softly poached local farm eggs topped with grated, nutty Mecox Bay Dairy Gruyere.
Serves 6

2 tablespoons white vinegar
6 extra-large farm fresh eggs
For the sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
6 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Dash cayenne
2 tablespoons chiffonade of fresh basil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
5 to 6 tablespoons freshly grated Gruyere cheese

1. To soft-poach eggs, bring 3 quarts water and vinegar to a rapid boil in a wide saucepan. Reduce to a brisk simmer and break one egg at a time on the side of the saucepan into the simmering water. With a spoon, rotate the surface over the egg to help draw the whites around the yolk. Continue to cook remaining eggs about 3 minutes for a runny yolk, rolling them over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon to a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking. Drain on paper towels and trim off any hanging pieces of whites.

2. Warm oil in a wide oven-proof skillet and add garlic. Sauté over medium heat about 30 to 40 seconds. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, cayenne and herbs and stir to mix. Simmer for 5 to 6 minutes to retain the texture of the tomatoes. Taste to adjust seasoning if necessary.

3. Arrange poached eggs in a single layer over tomato mixture. Season eggs with salt, pepper and cayenne and sprinkle grated cheese over the top. Can be prepared up to an hour or so ahead to this point.

4. When ready to serve, place in a preheated 350°F oven. Bake 3 to 4 minutes until the cheese melts. Serve hot with brioche rolls.

Adapted from Silvia Lehrer’s ebook, The Simple Art of Cooking.

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