Our annual dinner at the Yarlings (the Ricardo to our Mertz) meant an exquisitely set table, cheese boards gorged with Gouda, sliced proscuitto and a ball of Burrata mozzarella nestled next to bread, figs and olives. After a dirty martini, we settled down to dine for a classic menu of surf & turf.
Grilled shrimp marinated in white wine and worchestire gave the rare gift of correrctly cooked crustaceans. They lingered in that fleeting moment between raw and rubbery that's almost impossible to attain.
Dinner was rounded out with filet mignon as thick as novels, grilled asparagus, mashed potatoes and a famous hand-whisked, brown sauce of Julia Child's that almost gave Tiff carpal tunnel, but was worth every earthy, wine-based layer. We washed it down with a magnum of Malbec…Merry almost Christmas!
Pajama wearing and gluttonous feasting were staples for Christmas brunch at our place and by now we had it down like clockwork. Our two go-to dishes were flawless for feeding a large group and the best part was they were both made the night before, so my only job Christmas morning would be turning on the oven:
6 slices white bread 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 lbs bulk sausage 6 eggs beaten
2 tbsp dry mustard 3 cups half & half
½ cup chopped onion ½ tsp of each: salt & pepper
Trim crusts off bread and place in bottom of greased, 9x13 pan. Brown and strain sausage, stir in mustard and spoon over bread. Sprinkle cheese and onion over sausage. Mix rest of ingredients and pour over top. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Cook at 350 degrees for 30 min.
Caramelized French Toast*
1 loaf day-old French baguette 1 cup milk
1 cup light brown sugar 5 eggs ¼ cup half & half
¼ lb butter 1 tsp vanilla
Melt butter, mix with sugar and pour in baking dish. Slice bread ¼ inch thick and arrange in pan. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over bread. Refrigerate overnight. Bake at 33 degrees for 50 min and flip bread pieces halfway through (so both sides caramelize). Sift powered sugar on top (I usually double the recipe when I have 6 or more people).
Finishing touches: We also got a spiral ham that Bubba glazed in mustard and brown sugar, along with an array of homemade Christmas cookies from Jersey. All of our brunch bases were covered, including beverages - mimosas, coffee and sparkling grapefruit soda.