Dine with the Dead, Brunch edition
The rules are simple:
- Create delicious food
- That looks scary/gross/weird/dead
The guests may come dressed:
- As the dead
- Mourning the dead
Dine with the Dead is one of my favorite Halloween traditions. We try to host this every year, some years better than others. The open chest cavity (rack of lamb with roasted red pepper heart) was exceptional, as was the eyeballs flambé. The squid ink pasta was not a huge hit. Forbidden rice? Win! Sinister chicken? Meh.
For this edition, we wanted to expand our horizons a bit, so we choose to do exclusively brunch items. Bloody Mimosas, Eyeball Yogurt Parfaits, and our hands down favorite, Breakfast Intestines.
This recipe can be adapted to nearly any filling, the one below is outstanding. It was, admittedly, hard to stomach (no pun intended), but taste-wise, resembled a breakfast burrito or a breakfast pot pie (if such a thing exists).
Breakfast Burrito Intestines
- 1 pkg Puff Pastry, thawed per instructions
- Small Sweet Peppers, in assorted colors
- 1 Egg White
- Red Food Coloring
filling (feel free to pick your favorite breakfast burrito ingredients here)
- 1 ½ cup Scrambled Eggs (we choose to dye half greenish and half mauve-ish)
- 5 slices Bacon, cooked medium-rare, chopped
- ½ cup Cheese, shredded (we used Cheddar)
- ½ cup Salsa
- Preheat oven to 375, and line a 9″ x 13 ” pan with parchment paper
- Divide each puff pastry sheet into 3 equal strips lengthwise. Lightly flour a long work surface and lay each strip so that the skinny ends connect (you’re making a really long snake). Press and seal the seams between strips.
- Layer the filling ingredients down the entire length of the dough, leaving the edges free to pinch close.
- Pinch the entire length of the dough to seal it closed. Stretch the dough where necessary.
- Cut the peppers into halves lengthwise (so that they are long and narrow). Place the peppers into the baking dish. If you’d like, you can roast the pepper in advanced for a more toxic organs look. In the image, we have one small yellow pepper, one larger red pepper, and one dark reddish green tomato that shriveled in baking.
- Gently arrange the intestine into a a squiggly shape over the veggies.
- Whisk the egg white with a small amount of red food coloring. Brush the top of the pastry with the egg white, adding extra to the crevices.
- Bake 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Serve warm.
A couple of notes:
- Do not overcook filling ingredients, as they are going to bake for additional time.
- Food coloring is your friend. We made 2 scrambled eggs with a greenish hue, and they looked like bile. We scrambled 3 eggs with a mauve-ish hue and they easily passed for just miscellaneous insides.
- Feel free to substitute or add anything. Other great options:
- Sour Cream (dye!)
- Hot Sauce
What do you do when raspberries are on sale? You make
catnip for humans Raspberry Pinwheels.
Raspberries have come into season and grocery stores are practically giving them away. I can’t resist fruit on a regular basis, let alone at the peak of their season, and oh my, raspberries are in season!
These pinwheels are actually a combination of a couple different recipes. I basically did a web search for “Raspberry Desserts” and found some amazing options, and selected the best of each. The final product is a simple combination of a homemade jam, puff pastry, and a great photo opportunity.
Makes 18. Recipe inspiration from Tutti Dolce, Heather’s French Press and iStockphoto
- 1 ½ cup Raspberries
- 2 tbsp Honey
- 1 tbsp Water
- 2 tsp Cornstarch
- ¼ tsp Vanilla
- 1 tsp Chambord (Black Raspberry Liqueur)
- 1 pkg Puff Pastry (2 sheets)
- Milk, for sprinkles
- White Sparkling Sugar, for sprinkling
- 18 Raspberries, the prettiest ones
- Thaw the puff pastry according to the instructions.
- Combine raspberries and honey in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. When mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Whisk the water and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Add the cornstarch mixture to the raspberries and continue cooking until thickened, 1 or 2 minutes. Remove fruit mixture from heat and stir in vanilla and Chambord. Allow to cool.
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- While the filling cools, prepare your pastry. Roll out a single sheet of pastry on a large, floured cutting board.
- Using a pastry or a pizza wheel, cut the pastry into 9 even squares.
- Starting in one corner, cut a slit about halfway towards the center of the square. Make your way around to each corner of the square.
- Fold every-other tip into the center of the square to create a pinwheel shape. Press the tips in the center of the square into the dough to seal. Spoon a small dollop of raspberry filling into the center of each pinwheel. These two steps can be reversed:
- Using a pastry brush, brush a small amount of milk onto each pinwheel, and then immediately sprinkle sparkling sugar over the milk so that it sticks.
- Bake for 12 minutes, or until the pinwheels have just puffed up and are lightly golden. Working quickly, immediately place a fresh raspberry into the center of the pinwheel, gently pressing into the filling. Allow to cool before removing from the pan.
- Repeat steps 5 – 10 for the second sheet of pastry. If you roll the second sheet out too early, the dough will become too soft and difficult to work with.
My husband loves cinnamon-sugar flavored dough-based products. We’re at a diner, what does he want for breakfast?
Cinnamon French Toast
We’re at a carnival or fair, what kind of snack does he want?
What’s his favorite cereal?
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
What’s his favorite dessert?
Starting to see a trend? You can basically take any bread product, dip it in cinnamon and sugar and he will be happy. And really, it’s a good thing to know this about my husband. With one simple recipe I can win his attention, an argument, or his heart. Okay, I might be exaggerating, but you get the idea 🙂 So imagine the kind of points I can win if I make the worlds best Cinnamon Sticky Buns?
I first had these at a girlfriend’s house and knew immediately I had to have the recipe. Since then I’ve made large gooey rolls, and mini rolls, both outstanding. They take some time (overnight), but don’t require too much labor. Also, if you want to eat them in the morning, you’ll need to get up early, preheat the oven, baking time, cooling time… you get the picture. I recommend starting these on Friday or Saturday night and having them for brunch on Saturday or Sunday. They keep relatively well for a couple days so you can take the leftovers to work on Monday (not that we ever have leftover anything cinnamon-flavored in our house).
Melt Your Husband’s Heart Cinnamon Sticky Buns
Recipe care of Food.com. Makes 9 large or 18 small rolls
- 1 ¼ cup Milk
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 3 tbsp Butter
- 3 cups Flour
- 3 tbsp Sugar
- 1 ¼ tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Instant Yeast
- ¾ cup Brown Sugar
- 1 tbsp Cinnamon
- ⅓ cup Butter
- 1 cup Brown Sugar
- ¼ cup Light Corn Syrup
- 1 cup Pecans, chopped
- 6 tbsp Butter, room temperature
- Layer the roll ingredients in your bread machine according to your bread maker’s instructions (we have and love this breadmaker). Set to ‘Dough’ cycle. If you regularly make bread, you can also do this manually. I don’t have that skill set, so I use the breadmaker and it comes out perfect.
- While the dough is mixing prepare the filling. Mix the ¾ brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.
- Grease the bottom and sides of a 9″ x 9″ baking pan for large rolls or a 13″ x 9″ baking pan for small rolls.
- When the dough cycle is nearly finished, begin making the caramel by combining the ⅓ cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and corn syrup in a small pan over moderate heat. Heat and stir just until the syrup is dissolved, then pour it into the greased baking pan and spreafilling ingredientsd it out. Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the caramel.
- When the dough cycle ends place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to 12″ x 15″ rectangle.
- Spread the 6 tbsp room temperature butter on the dough leaving a 1″ border.
- Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar filling over the butter.
- For large rolls, roll the dough lengthwise. For small rolls, roll the dough widthwise. Pinch the seams closed. Cut the dough into sections, 9 large or 18 small (or whatever size you like). Place in the prepared, carameled baking pan spiral side down, close together.
- Cover the baking pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours. The dough will rise.
- When you are ready to bake, remove the baking pan from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature for 20 – 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- After the dough has been out of the refrigerator for 20 – 30 minutes, place in the oven and bake at 350 for 30 – 35 minutes or until nicely browned (darker than sugar cookies “golden brown) on top.
- Remove from the oven and immediately flip onto another surface. I like to flip onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat so that it doesn’t stick and for easy cleanup. To do this, I recommend placing the hot baking pan on a wire rack. Then place the baking sheet (and silpat) upside don the baking pan. While firmly holding the wire rack and baking sheet together, flip the buns over quickly away from your body. Be careful! The caramel inside will be boiling and you do not want this on your skin.
- Let the buns cool 20 – 30 minutes before serving. Your husband (kids, partner, friends, neighbors) will smell them and want to eat them at this time. Don’t let them (him). It will only result in burned fingers and tongues, and the caramel will be too runny to enjoy. I promise it will be better later.
- Now that you have waited patiently, serve.
Registering was one of the very few tasks my now husband and I looked forward to when wedding planning. We spent a lot of time trying to have a registry full of things we needed and wanted, thought were funny or useful, and that reflected our style as a couple. Some things were easy to agree on; we had been lusting over a food processor for years (I wish ‘years’ was an exaggeration, but it’s embarrassingly true). Others were a bit one sided; I picked the sewing machine and he picked the Fred & Friends Ninjabread Men Cookie Cutters>.
And then when we agreed the registry was finished, I then went back and added a bunch of things willy nilly.
It wasn’t that I was out to sabotage our registry with things that I wanted exclusively, it was that I spend more time shopping than Brian, and our registry was running out of items. I had been looking at registries for other couples (everyone we know is getting married these days), and I’d think, “Oh, we could use one of those too,” and find a similar object and add it. Brian worried that this behavior would dilute our registry and that we wouldn’t get the things we really wanted, but in the end we got nearly everything, and now we additionally have some extra items that we never would have bought for ourselves.
Honeycomb Pull-Apart Pan, image care of Williams Sonoma
One of these items is Nordic Ware Honeycomb Pull-Apart Dessert Pan (see it on Amazon here). Brian and I have never been bundt people. It’s not my favorite dessert, and I always think once you have a bundt pan, that particular shape and design becomes your signature bundt. People will recognize it as yours. And it takes up so much space in your cupboard for a single function tool that if I were ever going to own one, I’d have to really love it. After seeing a bundt pan on someone else’s registry, I started browsing through the infinite pans on Amazon. It was fairly easy to tell that Nordic Ware is the best in the biz, so I narrowed down my search and browsed through tea cake pans, pans shaped like castles or roses or bugs. Finally I found the honeycomb pan, and instantly I knew this was our pan.
I still felt a bit silly adding it to the registry. Again, we’re not bundt people. I felt even silier when someone bought it for us (thank you David!!!). I wasn’t even entirely sure what we could make in it, since it is an unusual pan with its dividers. We tried the recipe it came with, which was dry and mealy. While the cake came out exactly as the pictures look, the flavor and texture were so disappointing that the pan moved to the back of our cabinet for some time. If you do ever buy this pan, ignore that recipe. Then, one day, I stumbled upon this recipe for Honey Cornmeal Cake. The ingredients are simple, the instructions are easy, and the whole thing takes very little effort.
And the flavor?
I am going to be this mother. Some mothers make cookies or soup or ratatouille. Some mothers are known for their pie or roast or tamales. My mom is known for caramel corn (heaven).
I am going to be known for Honeycomb Cake. The cake can be served as dessert with whipped honey butter, or as breakfast with jam. It’s moist with great texture from the cornmeal, and it’s just dense enough to be a pull-apart bread rather than a true fluffy cake. The orange zest adds a lovely citrus flavor, and the pan divides it into the perfect sections.
I don’t know what this cake tastes like in a regular pan, I am sure it is fine. But it’s the combination of this recipe and this pan that will have my kids requesting it for special occasions and other mothers clamoring for the recipe (yes, I do live in my own little world).
Also, Brian did get his Ninja Cookie Cutters.
Makes one cake. Recipe care of Pure Wow, care of Bees & Beans.
Pan: Nordic Ware Honeycomb Pull-Apart Dessert Pan
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup fine grind cornmeal
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons plus 1½ teaspoons honey
- ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 5 eggs, at room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 325˚. Coat an 8-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the cornmeal until just combined. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar, salt, honey and orange zest until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating fully before adding another. (The batter may start to separate for the last few eggs.) Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake slightly, then remove from the pan, slice and serve.
Some recipes can transport you back to a specific time or place in your life, the sheer memory conjuring another time. Most people would associate a cobbler with home, matriarchs, or summer. Me? I associate this cobbler with being poor, living in the city, and working way too much. The simplicity of the ingredients meant that we could make this on a whim with what was already in the kitchen. After a long day at the office, or a really bad date, this recipe warmed out souls and convinced us we were eating healthy, even though that is simply not true.
All of the ingredients are adjustable. You can pick any fruit, fresh or frozen. You can use milk, heavy cream, buttermilk, whatever you have in the house.
City Girl Cobbler
Serves 8. Recipe care of Melissa, care of The Fannie Farmer Baking Book
- 1 ¾ cup Flour
- 1 tbsp Baking Powder
- ½ tsp Salt
- 6 tbsp Butter, chilled and in pieces
- ½ cup Sugar, plus more for fruit
- ¾ cup Cream or Milk
- 6 cups Fresh or Frozen Fruit or combination of fruits (I used frozen blueberries for this photoshoot)
- Preheat oven to 375°F and butter a 3 quart baking dish.
- Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.
- Add sugar and blend. Stir in cream with a fork. Knead dough 5-6 times until just combined.
- Sweeten fruit to taste and put into prepared baking dish.
- Place dough on top of fruit in spoonfuls and bake 40-50 min until brown and toothpick comes out clean.
- Garnish with cream and serve warm.