One of the joys of summer is outdoor dining, a treat that celebrates sun and good weather. But we’re thinking lunch or dinner here. I like an outdoor breakfast best. Weekdays, breakfast is a grabbed toaster pastry, apple or granola bar. Coffee in a Styrofoam cup.
One of the joys of summer is outdoor dining, a treat that celebrates sun and good weather.
In the city, some restaurants set tables on the sidewalks or fling open walls of windows to give the feeling of eating outside. Families take picnics to the beach or park or backyard.
But we’re thinking lunch or dinner here. I like an outdoor breakfast best. Weekdays, breakfast is a grabbed toaster pastry, apple or granola bar. Coffee in a Styrofoam cup. Saturday is errands and chores. But Sunday, oh, I love Sunday mornings. Slow and easy. Even if I’m still catching up on laundry I can ignore the insistent buzz of the dryer, sink into a chair and sip that extra cup of coffee — from a real cup with real cream.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that Sunday is “…not a day, but a gap between two other days.”
In that gap, we catch our breath, stop and smell roses or coffee, do something that pleases us. And in summer, eating outdoors pleases me. So does a leisurely breakfast. Better still, brunch.
So Betty Rosbottom’s new book comes in handy. The queen of Sunday, this cooking teacher and PBS host has written two previous cookbooks honoring the day and its food, “Sunday Soups” and “Sunday Roasts.” “Sunday Brunch: Simple, Delicious Recipes for Leisurely Mornings” completes the trilogy.
Chockful of beautiful brunches, its simple fare sets a cook to imagining baskets of muffins and tender biscuits, platters of crisp bacon, heaping bowls of fruit, tall glasses of iced coffee. She doesn’t skimp on bar classics either, including Bloody Marys, Mimosas and others.
A shelf staple, the book embraces cooks just starting a household. Ms. Rosbottom leaves nothing to chance. She doesn’t shy away from a tutorial on scrambled eggs or pan fried eggs, a title that makes the simple dish sound classed up.
For experienced cooks, she keeps in mind that they want to enjoy eating Sunday brunch as well as preparing it. So a sophisticated Mixed Mushroom Sauté forms the base for those fried eggs, to impress family and friends with something that might have emerged from a restaurant kitchen. Lemon-ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce is as simple as pancakes from a mix and tastes much nicer. And there’s Espresso-Scented Coffee Cake for those need an extra shot of caffeine.
Below is a sample of seasonal go-alongs for whatever eggs the cook chooses.
Plum Parfaits with Yogurt and Granola
Makes 6 servings
Since this is no weather to be turning on the oven for homemade granola, I pick up a bag at the grocery. Together with trendy Greek-style yogurt and perfect seasonal plums, this can be the fruit portion of brunch, or just as easily, dessert on another occasion.
Page 2 of 3 - Ms. Rosbottom writes, “The plums can be prepared 1 day ahead; cook, cover, and refrigerate.”
2 pounds medium-ripe dark red or purple plums, rinsed and dried
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1-1/2 and more if needed
3/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup your favorite granola
1. Halve the plums lengthwise, and pit. Slice each half, lengthwise, into quarters. Then cut the quarters in half crosswise, if desired.
2. Place a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat until the bottom of the pan is hot. Add the plums and sprinkle with the 1/3 cup sugar, ginger and cinnamon. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves and becomes syrupy and the plums are tender when pierced with a knife, about 6 minutes for medium-ripe plums. Watch carefully so that the fruit does not overcook and become mushy. Remove from the heat and cool the plums to room temperature. If needed, season with more sugar.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla.
4. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the plum mixture, including the juices, into each of 6 medium wine or parfait glasses and top with 2 to 3 teaspoons of the sweetened yogurt. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoons granola. Repeat this layering one more time in each glass. Serve immediately.
Southern Cheese Grits
Makes enough for 4 to 6
Ms. Rosbottom uses old-fashioned, not instant or quick cook, grits. She advises cooks who want to use stone-ground grits to be sure to follow the package directions as they may call for a different amount of water and a longer cooking time.
Unsalted butter for the baking dish
4 cups water
1 cup old-fashioned (not instant) grits
3/4 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish.
2. Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan with a lid, set over medium-high heat. Pour the grits in slowly. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt and whisk well.
3. When the mixture comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook the grits at a gentle simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, so they do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the grits have thickened, about 15 minutes or according to package directions.
4. Remove the grits from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the cheddar and all of the Parmesan. Add the black pepper and cayenne and season with more salt, if needed. Spread the grits in an even layer in the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheddar over the top. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead, cook, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before baking.)
Page 3 of 3 - 5. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the grits until they are hot and the cheese has melted on top, 25 minutes. If you would like to brown the cheese, arrange an oven rack 4 to 5 inches from the broiler and broil until cheese starts to brown lightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.
Linda Bassett is the author of “From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.” Reach her by email at KitchenCall@aol.com. Read Linda’s blog at LindABCooks.wordpress.com. Follow Linda for quick recipes on Twitter at @Kitchencall.