Buffet-style brunch for Mom's day

May 07, 2008|By Amy Scattergood | Amy Scattergood,Los Angeles Times

For a Mother's Day celebration, imagine a leisurely spring brunch.

As the centerpiece, make a stack of Leek Pancakes designed for wrapping around a roasted asparagus spear or, if you wish, prosciutto. Gravlax - Scandinavian-style cured salmon - is a perfect complement. Basil, mint and lemon grass steep in a pitcher to make a fragrant tisane for sipping. For dessert: Chocolate-Orange Scones laced with oat flour, still warm from the oven.

The brunch is a breeze, not only because it is served buffet-style, but because much of it can be done ahead of time. For a Sunday brunch, you'll need to start curing your gravlax Friday morning. On Saturday, make the accompanying sauce: Toast caraway seeds in a pan, crush them and mix with a cup of creme fraiche, salt and pepper. The flavors will marry overnight.

The morning of your brunch, prepare fresh herbs to make the tisane. Measure out all the dry ingredients you'll need for the scones, and trim the asparagus.

Don't let the hollandaise that goes with the asparagus scare you; it is a simple emulsion of egg yolks and melted butter. It's easy to do, and it will hold just fine if kept warm on the stove until you're ready for it. The last tasks to tackle are the Leek Pancakes, which can be served at room temperature, and the baking of the scones.

Amy Scattergood writes for the Los Angeles Times.

Chocolate-Orange Scones

Makes 12 scones

1 cup flour

1 cup oat flour (see note)

1/4 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

zest from 2 oranges

4 ounces coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (65 to 70 percent cacao)

1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream, plus extra for brushing

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oat flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the orange zest and the chocolate.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the cream. Using a spatula, mix the ingredients until just moistened; the dough should look rough and shaggy. Gather the dough into a lump with your hands and knead it together 5 or 6 times, until it holds together and the sides of the bowl are clean.

On a lightly floured board, pat the dough into an 8 1/2 -inch round. Using a knife or a dough cutter, cut the round into 12 wedges. Place the wedges about an inch apart on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with cream and sprinkle them lightly with sugar.

Bake the scones until they begin to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. Allow the scones to cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: Oat flour is available at some Whole Foods stores and select health-food and baking-supply stores.

Adapted from Alice Medrich's "Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales From a Life in Chocolate"

Per scone: 225 calories, 3 grams protein, 22 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 15 grams fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 34 milligrams cholesterol, 208 milligrams sodium

Analysis provided by the Los Angeles Times.

Leek Pancakes

Makes 5 1/2 dozen small pancakes

4 large leeks, white parts only, washed and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)

6 tablespoons ( 3/4 stick) butter, plus additional for greasing the pan

1 teaspoon plus a pinch of sea salt (divided use)

4 eggs

2 cups whole milk

1 cup flour

1 cup kamut flour (see note)

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

2 teaspoons baking powder

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, saute the leeks in 6 tablespoons butter with a pinch of salt until soft and just barely beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until well-blended. Add the flour, kamut flour, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, the white pepper and baking powder and whisk together until combined. After the leeks are cooled, mix the leeks into the batter, being sure to add all the melted butter from the pan. Heat the same cast-iron skillet over medium heat, adding a little more butter if necessary. Ladle a heaping tablespoon of batter for each pancake into the pan, and cook until bubbles form and the underside is golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Flip and finish cooking about 1 minute on the other side. Repeat with the rest of the batter, keeping the pancakes warm on a plate near the stove.

Note: Kamut flour is available at some Whole Foods stores and select health-food markets.

Per pancake: 34 calories, 1 gram protein, 4 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 2 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 16 milligrams cholesterol, 58 milligrams sodium

Analysis provided by the Los Angeles Times.

Fennel-Aquavit Gravlax With Caraway Creme Fraiche

Serves 8 to 10

Note: Start the gravlax 48 hours before you want to serve it. You will need about 2 square feet of cheesecloth to wrap the gravlax. The Scandinavian liquor aquavit is available at most liquor stores.

GRAVLAX: 1/4 cup black peppercorns

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 medium fennel bulb with fronds

2 (1-pound) skin-on salmon fillets (the tail section)

1/3 cup aquavit

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