Sunday, December 19, 2010

Planning a Festive Christmas Breakfast

Cinnamon Sugar and Raspberry Crepes
Breakfast on Christmas morning has to be beautiful but given the multitude of distractions its execution is a daunting task. If there ever was a meal that took place amid such chaos, this is it. You're likely dealing a houseful of extended family, expectant children, a present you forgot to wrap, and a scheduled departure for Grandma's house.  Planning, shopping and prepping ahead of time is the best tactic. Here's some ideas to get you started.

Four is the magic number for a well rounded breakfast. You want a balance of sweet and savory and choices for everyone. Choose at least one thing from the four breakfast food groups that are fruit, bread, eggs, and meat.

Fruit - Keep an eye out later this week for fresh pineapple, clementines or Satsumas, Ruby Red Texas Grapefruit or oranges and buy whatever looks good. Grapefruit and fresh squeezed orange juice are both great for smaller crowds. Tangerines make lovely centerpieces in bowls on the table. Fruit salads are lovely, but time consuming, so don't plan on doing too much peeling and slicing. Fresh papaya with lime is another great option - but look for the papaya sooner rather than later as it will probably need some time to ripen on your counter.

Almond Croissants
Bread - You've got lots of choices here. You could pick up some bagels, smoked salmon and cream cheese. You could get croissants - Costco has fairly nice ones; buy in advance and warm up in a 300 oven for about 15 minutes. Or, pick up some almond paste and make Almond Croissants - you can do all the work a few days in advance and bake them off on Christmas morning. You could toast/broil those decadent Wolferman's English muffins (blueberry are a personal fave) or crumpets. I would pick up some good rasperry preserves and a European butter to serve if you go the muffin/crumpet route. Another fantastic option is Baked French Toast. Pick up a loaf or two of brioche and soak it overnite - then bake in the morning and delight everyone. Pancakes- traditional or cornmeal - and crepes are lovely as well, but only suitable to prepare for 6 or fewer people.

Eggs - For several years we ate Eggs Benedict on Christmas morning. I don't particularly like Hollandaise sauce, or poached eggs for that matter, but a homemade Egg McMuffin can be a delightful thing. To make a traditional Eggs Bene, you might consider picking up some of those adorable silicone eggs poachers. If poaching scares you, just cook the eggs over easy. No one will complain, trust me. To complete the dish, cook up some Canadian bacon (or the ham mentioned below), and toast some English muffins. Whip up the Hollandaise as the eggs cook and plan to sit down to eat immediately after assembling everything.

Breakfast Tortilla
Other egg options are the ever delightful Breakfast Tortilla which you could make a day in advance and warm up before serving. And don't overlook a simple batch of scrambled eggs. Make your scrambles a little more decadent with the addition of some grated Gruy√®re right at the end of cooking, and top with a bit of chopped parsley for color.

Meat - I just love Amy Lu's Breakfast Club Breakfast Sausages. They're lean, they're delicious. I buy them in Chicago at Whole Foods or Treasure Island. Trader Joe's sells a lean (Niman Ranch) Applewood Ham that crisps up nicely on a hot griddle. Plan for 2 links or slices per person and serve family-style on a small platter.

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