Magazine article Sunset

Easy on the Cook, an All-in-the-Oven Brunch

Magazine article Sunset

Easy on the Cook, an All-in-the-Oven Brunch

Article excerpt

Easy on the cook, an all-in-the-oven brunch

The enticing aromas of warm ham andfreshly baked apples linger in the air, soon joined by the fragrance of sizzling potatoes and the tantalizing smell of an egg-rich Dutch baby turning golden brown. These scents all come from the oven, and they're a calculated part of the welcome, as friends arrive for brunch.

Apples join the ham as it finishes roasting;they bake at the same temperature. Both can be in the last stages of cooking as guests arrive (or prepare them the day before). Then you shoot up the oven temperature and slip in the potatoes to brown--while guests temper hunger pangs with warm muffins and a frothy milk punch. When the potato cake is half-done, the Dutch baby goes in to bake alongside it at the same temperature.

Mary Lou and Robert Block have a large,well-equippel kitchen that's often the center of activity in their Seattle house; the couple's philanthropical projects frequently focus on parties at home. Their popular party menu can expand to serve a large group: they just order a larger ham and use more than one oven. But you only need one oven to adapt their brunch for an intimate party of six.

You could bake muffins earlier on, usinga favorite recipe, and reheat them. Or, like the Blocks, you might pick them up at a good muffin shop or bakery.

Block baked brunch

Milk Punch

Bran Muffins Butter

Herb-Crusted Ham

Tender Dutch Baby

Oven-crisp Potato Cake

Crunch-top Baked ApplesChampagne

To get started, whirl up milk punch, abatch at a time, to sip as you nibble warm bran muffins. Whether you make muffins ahead or buy them (allow 2 per person), set them slightly apart on 1 or 2 baking sheets and heat in a 350| oven until hot, about 10 minutes. Serve muffins with the meal, too. Consider champagne as a second beverage.

Recipes for the milk punch, ham, bakedapples, and the clarified butter option for the potato cake are on page 195.

You could also buy baked ham and serveit cold and thinly sliced. Allow about 3 ounces of cooked meat for a serving.

Garnish plates liberally with sprays ofwatercress: with its fresh, peppery bite, it adds flavor as well as color. You might also like to offer a sweet-hot mustard or a sweet-tart chutney.

Tender Dutch Baby

3 large eggs

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

6 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons butter or margarinePowdered sugar

1 lemon, cut into wedges

In a blender or food processor, whirl eggswith flour, granulated sugar, and milk until smoothly mixed, scraping down sides of container several times. …

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