Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bloggin' on Brunch... The Platinum Chef Challenge!

Welcome to my first blogging event – The Platinum Chef Challenge. Kate at Paved with Good Intentions won the event last month so she has thrown down the challenge this month and chosen the 5 required ingredients.

These are: Capers, Leeks, Cream (heavy cream, light cream, creme freche, cream cheese....I leave it to your choice), Rosemary and Lemon.

My initial reaction to the ingredients (like a few others) was chicken piccata. I also considered making a creamy lemon pasta sauce with the above and had a few other wild hairs as well. But... I have been wanting to do a brunch and thought I might (operative word here) be more original if so. With the weather as hot as it has been, today was a great day for brunch too!

I created lemon rosemary scones with (a sort of) clotted cream AND leek omelettes filled with smoked salmon, capers, scallions, avocado and lemon dill cream. (At the last minute I whipped up some rosemary potatoes with caramelized leeks too). I know that is technically 3 things (and the challenge calls for only one or two) but... I had to do it.

My scones are based off of a recipe from my very good friend, Terri who was one of my first cooking partners way back in college. The great thing about the recipe is that it is so easy and versatile and even adjustable.

The recipe is:

2 cups flour
3-6 tbls. sugar (I use 6)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup butter (cold)
fruit (optional)
1/2 cup buttermilk (or other cream/milk based ingredient) In this case I used sour cream and heavy cream in lieu of the buttermilk

extra sugar for top

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda. Cut in the cold butter until pea size shapes form. Put in desired fruit. In this case I put in grated lemon peel and fresh chopped rosemary. Add the milk/liquid and stir until beginning to come together. At this point I get right in there with my hands and squish it into a ball. Add more cream or milk if it is too dry or more flour if too wet to make a ball. On a floured surface pat the ball down into a round disc about 1/2" thick. Cut into desired size wedges and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle granulated sugar on top of each wedge and cook at 350º until the bottom of scones is lightly browned. Sorry guys! I will have to time it for you next time. I don't usually go by time very often. But you must make these scones. In addition to being very easy, they are actually moist! So many scones are drier than dry! They taste great with dried cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, orange zest... You decide!

For the make-shift clotted cream, I whipped up some heavy cream with sugar and vanilla to taste. Then I added an equal part of sour cream and a squeeze of lemon. It is really tasty this way.

For the omelettes with salmon, I really wanted to the flavors to be subtle and complimentary to each other. I also felt that the egg/omelette should be a very thin disc, almost like a crepe.

I began by sautéing the leeks in a little butter and olive oil until wilted and beginning to color. When cool, I placed the leeks in a bowl with 8 eggs (one for each of the 6 adults I was serving plus 2 for good measure). I then whisked in a splash or two of heavy cream and seasoned with salt and pepper.

With my pan on medium heat, I melt butter and pour in the egg mixture. When the bottom side set, I CAREFULLY flipped the leek omelette over and cooked for another minute.

After sliding the egg crepe onto the plate, I assembled smoked salmon (compliments of Costco and excellent), lemon dill cream, capers, scallions and a slice of avocado. Then folded slightly for optimum presentation.

The dill cream was simply about 1/2 cup sour cream with the juice of 1/2 lemon and dried dill stirred in.

I had NOOOOOOOOOO idea how this would all turn out! It did not LOOK quite as perfect as I had envisioned but still fairly attractive and the taste... Well I am rather pleased with myself! None of the flavors over-powered the other. All were present in their own glory and seemed to be the perfect marriage.

The crowd seemed to be happy!

Along with the main dishes, I served coffee, Cava and pink lemonade (in lieu of champagne and orange juice), fruit AND the cinnamon rolls from Orangette's (Molly's) article in Bon Appetit. I have been dying to try them out and here was the perfect opportunity. Look for a post on the cinnamon rolls very very soon! They were amazing!

By the way... I used to be queen of sitting at my dinner parties with my hand in ice after burning myself. And just last week I was thinking about how it has been years. Apparently I did not knock on wood as I should have. Ohhh what I am willing to suffer for the sake of a challenge, for you, for art, for food, for passion! I burnt my finger on a hot pan! I now have a nice blister to remind me of the wonderful brunch today.


Jaime said...

I have really enjoyed reading your blog, so I tagged you for a meme. Here's the link:

taste memory said...

Hey there ~ I love the picture of the buffet of food at the table with the little hand peeking through at the fruit platter!

Scones now - you bake too...Awesome, can't wait to read more that's up the A & A sleeve ;-)

Sherry said...

It all looks so yummy! I'm going to try an omelette with those fillings someday soon : )
Thanks for sharing.

Nicole said...

Jaime- I am so glad you enjoy my blog. It is good to hear. Thanks for the tag.

Taste Memory- I was wondering if anyone would notice the little hand. It is so typical of a party with kids. And yes... I bake now and then. And it usually comes out fine. But I have more ooppps with baking and less wow factors. But my scones are good!

Sherry- I was really happy how well the flavors worked together. It was so tasty!

Emily said...

Your brunch sounds so yummy and it lookes beautiful! Hahaha. I think it is quite funny that I made scones for brunch this weekend too but I only paired them with coffe and grapes. I am inspired to make a big brunch now. Prehaps for dinner tonight!

Robin Sue said...

Nicole you have my vote. Everything looks wonderful and delicious. I love scones too. What a creative meal so much more original than chicken piccata! You really used all the ingredients perfectly. Hope you win!

deLa said...

wow! you did a really good job documenting the experience!

Oil Well Lover said...

that was incredible, photos are nice and I miss my old recipe, the scones looked perfect. I love the hand in the pic as well. Ho many people were there?

Nicole said...

Emily- Brunch and eggs are great at any time of day. I love eggs for dinner.

Robin Sue- Thanks for the vote! My ego wouldn't mind winning but other than that it was just so fun to make.

Dela- Thanks!

Terri- Don't you use your old recipe any more? It is the only one I use. I had 6 adults (including us) and then 4 kids. Jac and Blair and the neighbors and their daughter (Danielle's friend).

Anonymous said...

Everything looks SOO darn wonderful! I recently used leeks for the first time & an in love with their flavor. You set a beautiful table, elegant menu & joyful atmosphere. Thank you for sharing, Nicole. I'm definitely trying the scones this weekend since I have everything AND I have a friend coming over for breakfast.

xoxox Amy

Nicole said...

Thank you for your sweet words, Amy. You should try my scones. They are so delicious!

Anonymous said...

Just made the scones this morning & YUMM!!! Baking them for 15 minutes was the perfect amount for my oven. The flavor was wonderful, the aroma divine & there's not a moist crumb left anywhere - totally devoured. Thanks for sharing.

xoxox Amy

Nicole said...

Amy, I am so glad the scones worked out for you! It is so inspiring to know that someone is trying some of my ideas. Thank you for letting me know AND telling me how long it took in your oven.