Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Mother of a Brunch

The Mother of a Brunch is a tradition that started the spring of 2005. That Mother's Day I cooked a brunch for both sides of my family as a way to get everyone in the house together and announce I was pregnant. While through the years we've had large crowds of family and like family, this year was a smaller gathering of just the more immediate family members of each side (13 total).

For the decorations I grabbed two mixed floral collections from the local grocery store, made my own arrangements from them.

Then put the arrangements inside zebra striped gift bags. Then I set out a few tea candles and curly ribbons over the white table cloths. For the place settings I used LK's grandmother's cut glass dishes set over a black plastic plate so they didn't blend in with the table cloths.

As people came they brought beautiful flowers as well- my FIL brought some of his homegrown Evelyn's (one of my favorites) that smell better than any rose you'll buy in a store

and my mom brought down one of the centerpieces from the party my SIL threw for her parents anniversary the night before

and the beautiful flowers my dad sent a few days before so they would be open and gorgeous for the brunch (they were also lovely to look at as I was sick in bed the week before the brunch- and yes, I did get a dr's clearance to cook and entertain after being so sick lead up to the party)

The majority of the food came from Tanya's cookbook that I've started working my way through. I did throw in my family's recipe of 5 cup salad, a basic green salad with dried apples and cranberries, rolls (not my MIL's homemade but still good), mixed veggies, potato salad, and one of my SIL's brought some mixed fruit and yogurt dip and the other roasted tomatoes and mozzarella (very yummy- need to get the recipe). But the three main meats and dessert- that was all Tanya.

One Hour Reuben Loaf, pg 102
This was the hit of the brunch- hardly a scrap of it left by the end. Looking at the instructions seemed a bit daunting to me- it calls for yeast and making your own dough yikes!- But really, it wasn't hard. In fact the hardest part for me was getting the stinkin' can of corned beef open. The little key on the side broke off the blasted thing and I was sure I was going to slice my finger off as I tried to figure out how to get the contents out of the can (And no, a can opener did not come to mind thank you, instead I thought I could just stab it repeatedly with a knife and pry the top off. And yes, that is exactly what I did. And no, please do not try that at home). But I'm wondering if I could find those glass jars of the thinly sliced dried corned beef if that would taste better or worse. The canned corned beef was really good (and I will prepare better for the next time). I did leave out the caraway seeds because she said it was optional, I'm not the biggest caraway seed fan, and I didn't have any on hand. As you can see from the picture this looked beautiful even when sliced and was equally as tasty.

Crispy BBQ Chicken from the Oven, pg 126
I had actually bought the ingredients for this prior to getting sick so it was sort of an afterthought to add it to the brunch. Since I wasn't expecting to serve 13 with it I just had the big pieces of bone-in chicken breasts the recipe calls for. So I just hacked them up (removing the smaller bones as I found them) and made smaller pieces of fried chicken. And since it wasn't necessarily the "main" dish of the meal, that it helped it go further. And yes, I know the picture's not that great, but I wanted you to see what it looks like even if through a blurry lens. The pieces that had the skin on were particularly yummy IMO. This was even great as leftovers post brunch.

I also made a dish of Tanya's Poppy Seed Chicken, pg 114 but I reverted to the less-healthy-original version she gave me when I married. I sort of went into autopilot mode and bought what I knew the original recipe called for even though I had the new recipe things written down. I kept thinking to myself, oh poor Tanya, here I am about to show everyone how wonderful your cookbook is and the first recipe is wrong. Only to get home and realize- no. It's not wrong- I was. She's just modified and improved from what I have in the older cookbook. So all that to say, I'll be trying the new version another time and I'll let you know how that one goes. But Tanya, this new one has a lot to live up to. To me, the original poppy seed chicken is one of those comfort food dishes that even ISH will eat- but I'm going to trust you on this one.

For dessert I served the fruit one of my SILs brought and some brightly decorated cookies and Tanya's Lemonade Cream Cake, pg 154. Tanya warns that this is a denser cake than if you just made a cake mix, but she's also right that it's "super soft and light" and it too come with lovely presentation. Believe it or not, I flat out followed the directions on this one (it's that easy). She calls for "1 small can frozen lemonade concentrate or 1/2 a large one." I could only find a 12 ounce can of concentrate, which I took as the large size so it could be it would have been less dense if I used all 12? I don't know- sounds like a good excuse to make this one again!

All in all- it was a lovely time and I'm very thankful I was able to share it my family.


Gena said...

You're amazing. I'm not so sure that you shouldn't have served your April Fools day menu with them. That was a meal I'll never forget. ;)

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