Bunny Brunch

Celebrate spring and enjoy an easy meal by preparing dishes ahead of time

April 19, 2000|By Kathy Casey | Kathy Casey,los angeles times syndicate

One way to celebrate Eas-ter is with an unhurried breakfast or casual brunch. In some areas it might even be warm enough midday to serve out on the deck. The day is a perfect one to cook some delicious fare and enjoy it with family and friends.

Make the occasion more enjoyable by preparing nearly all of the dishes in advance, so you can enjoy the day instead of spending it in the kitchen.

The menu should please everybody. Start out with oversize martini glasses filled with Sunshine Fruit drizzled with Ginger-Lime Splash and accompany with warm Almond Scones With Amaretto Butter. Then move on to a quick-to-fix but lush Green Onion and Sour Cream Hash-Brown Bake, crisp Brown Sugar and Pepper Glazed-Bacon, fluffy scrambled eggs with roasted peppers, fresh herbs and an oozy blend of cheeses, and fresh asparagus drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.

To end this festive feast on the sweet side, bake berries with a bread-pudding topping and sprinkle with granola -- it's a kind of cobbler-bread pudding combination and is terrific served with tart lemon cream.

It all makes for a time of celebrating springtime and good food.

Here's the plan of action:

n Up to seven days ahead: Make Ginger-Lime Splash for Sunshine Fruit. Make Amaretto Butter.

n Two days ahead: Make berry mixture for bread pudding. Make Brown-Sugar Glaze for bacon. Precook and glaze bacon.

n Day before: Don't bake, but assemble Green Onion and Sour Cream Hash-Brown Bake.

For scones, separately mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients. Store separately. Refrigerate wet mixture.

Bake Berry-Granola Bread Pudding and make Lemon Cream. For scrambled eggs, whip eggs and chop fresh herbs and peppers.

For asparagus, make Balsamic Vinaigrette and refrigerate. Cut up Sunshine Fruit. Chill martini glasses and champagne if serving.

Set table.

Place Amaretto Butter in pretty serving dish the night before and leave at room temperature.

*Day of brunch: Two hours before, bake hash browns and keep warm or lightly microwave or reheat after scones come out of oven 45 minutes before. Mix and bake scones. Crisp bacon.

Remove Balsamic Vinaigrette from refrigerator 15 minutes before using.

Dish up fruit and drizzle with ginger-lime syrup and garnish. Place at each setting.

Cook asparagus and toss with vinaigrette.

Brew coffee.

* When ready to serve: Serve scones with butter along with fruit course.

Quickly scramble eggs after fruit course and serve with bacon and hash-brown bake.

During main course: Reheat bread pudding at 300 degrees about 15 minutes. Rewhip cream if needed and serve bread pudding.

The Menu

Sunshine Fruit With Ginger-Lime Splash

Almond Scones With Amaretto Butter

Scrambled Eggs With Italian Cheeses, Fresh Herbs and Roasted Peppers

Brown Sugar and Pepper-Glazed Bacon

Green Onion and Sour Cream Hash-Brown Bake

Warm Asparagus With Balsamic Vinaigrette

Berry-Granola Bread Pudding With Lemon Cream

Sunshine Fruits With Ginger-Lime Splash

Serves 6-8

SPLASH:

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

6 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup water

1 teaspoon finely minced ginger

1 tablespoon finely minced lime zest

FRUIT:

1 large ripe mango, peeled and diced

1/2 pineapple, peeled and diced

2 oranges, peeled and segmented

8 large strawberries, cut into thin wedges

6 to 8 thinly sliced lime wheels for garnish, optional

To prepare Splash, combine lime juice, sugar, water, ginger and zest in small saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat and boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate to chill before serving. Splash can be made up to 1 week in advance.

To assemble and serve, place mango, pineapple, oranges and strawberries in large bowl and gently toss to combine. Serve in large chilled martini glasses. Drizzle each portion with 1 tablespoon Splash. Garnish rim of each glass with lime wheel. If serving buffet style, place fruit in attractive bowl and drizzle with the splash.

Almond Scones With Amaretto Butter

Makes 8 scones; 10 tablespoons butter

SCONES:

2 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

3/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup milk

1 egg white, mixed with 1/2 teaspoon water, for glaze

1 tablespoon coarse sugar, optional

AMARETTO BUTTER:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur

To prepare Scones, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry cutter (or use your hands) until mixture is texture of coarse crumbs (just like making pie crust). Stir in almonds.

In separate bowl, whisk together whole egg, almond extract and milk. Make well in center of dry ingredients and pour in egg mixture. Combine with a few swift strokes. Dough should form a ball and all flour should be incorporated. Do not over-mix.

Place dough on lightly floured surface and pat into 8-inch circle. Carefully place on baking sheet. Cut into 8 wedges, sides still touching. Brush lightly with egg-white glaze and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired.

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