Chapter 17: Light Meals — Breakfast & Brunch

At Home ships to me tomorrow from the Worldcolor printing plant in Kentucky. I planned this 19 chapter countdown to finish with the last chapter on the day the books shipped. I seem to have gotten my math wrong by one day. As a result, tomorrow I will preview the second to last chapter with the wrap-up on Saturday.

Today I finish with Section 6’s preview. Chapter 17: Light Meals — Breakfast & Brunch features twenty-one recipes that range from a layered Eggplant, Tomato & Goat Cheese Strata — a sort of savory bread pudding — to Coconut Pancakes with Caramelized Bananas — to Ida Newman’s Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Glaze. (Ida is a friend of my mother’s.)

The chapter begins with a pair of brunch hors d’oeuvres, although as you will read, the hors d’oeuvres featured in this preview began life at a special dinner.

Screen shot 2009-09-22 at 9.12.59 PM

Savory Parmigiano-Reggiano “Ice Cream”
We learned this sinfully delicious and simple-to-make hors d’oeuvre from Marta Pulini, a Modena, Italy–based chef. Marta was brought to The Franklin Institute by Panerai, the Italian watchmaker who sponsored the Galileo exhibit, and we assisted her in creating a wonderful press preview dinner. The success of this two-ingredient “ice cream” depends on the Parmesan produced in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. Accept no substitutes. Marta served it with a drop of 35-year-old aged balsamic vinegar that she brought from her home. If you have access to such a product, this is the time to use it. Otherwise, the ice cream is wonderful served naked.

do ahead “Ice cream” and crostini can be made three days ahead. Store ice cream in refrigerator. Assemble just before serving.

4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated sliced raisin walnut bread or other nut-based bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups heavy cream

1 Set a mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water. Add heavy cream. When the cream is very hot, about 5 minutes, add Parmigiano. Whisking occasionally, cook until cheese breaks down and melts into the cream, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and chill until cold, thick and scoopable, at least 4 hours.
2 Adjust an oven rack to the middle shelf and preheat oven to 325°. To make crostini, cut walnut bread into 24 small circles, squares or triangles. Lightly brush with butter. Place bread on a baking sheet and bake until lightly crisp but still pliable. Remove and cool.
3 To serve, spread ice cream on walnut bread or form a small scoop with a melon baller.

yields 24 pieces


A mimosa is a festive brunch drink that melds sparkling wine with orange juice. Use only fresh juice. On the other hand, inexpensive champagne or another sparkling wine such as an Italian prosecco or a Spanish cava is fine. More special still is a blood orange mimosa. Blood oranges are available late winter into early spring. Fresh tangerine juice also makes for a lovely variation. Both the juice and sparkling wine should be chilled. To make a mimosa, add about 11⁄2 ounces of fresh juice to a champagne glass. Slowly add about 5 ounces sparkling wine. It will foam up as you add. Allow to settle and add more. Gently stir.

A little editorial illustration from Pascal with regard to Ida’s muffins!

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Tomorrow: The final section of At Home is Sweet Endings. It is the last of our seven sections. There are two chapters within Sweet Endings…and for god reason. I am not a baker. I just don’t have the temperament. So…in deference to me I have included Chapter 18: Desserts for Non-Bakers. But I certainly could not offer “all the recipes you need” without a final Chapter 19: Baking Required. More about this special chapter on Saturday.

Less than two weeks left to buy the book — and companion website — and receive a signed, numbered first edition.

Note: I will be speaking all about At Home — book and companion website — at the Free Library on Thursday, October 15 beginning at 7:30 PM. Hope to see you there.


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