I’m hosting a Mother’s Day brunch this Sunday, so I thought it might be fun for you to see what I’m cooking up for the special ladies in our family. It also gives me a chance to add a couple of recipes to the much neglected ‘Savory Bakes’ category in the recipe index here. I’m usually all about sweets, but there are some savory recipes that I feel are worth sharing, too! I think the hallmark of any good brunch is a mixture of both savory and sweet, and I’ve got plans for plenty of both.
First up, yam biscuits with country ham! This recipe is adapted from my favorite pumpkin biscuits recipe. You can find the printable recipe here with the yam variation instructions at the bottom. The biscuits are slightly sweet, which makes them a nice counter to salty country ham.
If you’ve never tried country ham, think of it as Appalachian prosciutto. It is salty indeed, which is why I suggest you buy packages labeled ‘biscuit pieces’ or ‘shaved’ because the ham will be thinly sliced. Fry the ham in a nonstick pan until browned; split biscuits and add just one ham slice per biscuit.
This cold soup is such a lovely sweet thing to serve at brunch because it’s pretty and so refreshing! I was introduced to Strawberry Bisque years ago when I had a birthday lunch at the Wild Plum Tea Room. The first order of business when I got home was to recreate the recipe. It’s become a seasonal favorite for us in spring and summer months. You can find the printable recipe here.
Is brunch ever complete without waffles? I don’t think so! My favorite buttermilk waffle recipe can be found here, and that’s what I used for these waffle sticks. I’ve decided to group them in cups of warm maple syrup on a tray for easy self-service.
I have a waffle stick iron thanks to my brother-in-law, who gifted it at our family’s White Elephant Christmas gift exchange. I think we had a $10 price limit, and he thought he was giving something funny that nobody would want! I was so happy to end up with the waffle iron, and I have used it many times since. (I digress.) If you don’t have a waffle stick iron and like my presentation, you could slice freshly cooked Belgian waffles into sticks using a chef’s knife.
One thing you can always count on when you come to brunch at my house- lots of eggs! Hard boiled quail eggs are seriously adorable and delicious. They make the perfect edible spring table decoration.
There’s hardly a recipe to follow, but here are some brief instructions. Cover eggs with cold water in a saucepan, bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon to a bowl of cool water. Serve alongside flake sea salt. SO GOOD! (Mash one with a fork on a yam biscuit – also good!)
This is my husband’s favorite cheese danish of all time, and it couldn’t be easier to make. I’m not sure why I’ve never shared it here before now, but you can find the printable recipe at the end of this blog post. It’s made with ready-made puff pastry and simple cream cheese filling.
I wanted to offer something new for Mother’s Day Brunch – cue this Croque Madame Bake! It’s stuffed with Black Forest ham, Dijon mustard, Bechamel sauce, and an egg on top, which is the signature of Croque Madame. This turned out better than I could have hoped! It is truly delicious and a mixed greens salad is the perfect compliment.
I have two tips regarding the eggs baked on top of the casserole. A fried egg with a runny egg yolk is the usual way to serve Croque Madame, and this recipe’s lowest bake range will yield a runny yolk. I added extra bake time to make sure the eggs were cooked through because some of my guests don’t like runny yolks. You may also want to take this into consideration when serving to a crowd. I found that farm-fresh eggs have the prettiest orange yolks for the nicest presentation, so I suggest using them in this recipe.
I love that this recipe is prepared in a casserole dish, which yields 6 sandwiches in one go. I plan to slice the sandwiches in half diagonally for 12 servings, because it’s a rich dish and also because I have plenty of other menu items to fill up hungry guests.
Many of these recipes can be prepped a day ahead of time. The quail eggs can be boiled and chilled, the strawberry soup can also be fully prepped. Yam biscuit dough can be made and cut into rounds, and stored under plastic wrap in the refrigerator until ready for baking. Danish can be made 1 day ahead and kept air-tight. I find that waffles are best fresh, and I’m not yet so closely acquainted with the Croque Madame recipe to recommend prepping it ahead of time. I will update here if I have a future successful attempt with making it ahead.
And there you have it! Brunch for a crowd. I hope you enjoyed this peek at our Mother’s Day fare.
Here are some quick links to the recipes on our menu. The Croque Madame and Easy Cheese Danish recipes follow.
Croque Madame Bake
Adapted from Epicurious
Yields 6 sandwiches
12 slices (3/4-inch thick) white bread, such as Texas Toast
6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups (720 ml) whole milk
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
8 ounces grated Gruyère cheese divided
1/4 cup (60 ml) Dijon mustard
10 ounces (ask deli for 12 thin slices) Black Forest ham
6 large eggs
Arrange racks in top and middle of oven; preheat to 375°F.
Arrange bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake, flipping once, until dry to the touch but not toasted, 5–10 minutes. Using a 2″ round cookie cutter or sharp paring knife, cut a hole in the center of 6 bread slices. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until butter is light gold and thickened, about 3 minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, whisking, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 4–6 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper into the sauce.
Add 1 cup Gruyère a handful at a time, making sure cheese is melted before adding more.
Coat a 13×9-inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread one-third of the Béchamel sauce in the dish. Spread Dijon mustard onto the six whole pieces of bread (the ones without holes). Arrange pieces in a single layer in the dish on top of the sauce. Top each with 2 slices of ham, folding to fit on bread if necessary.
Spread another third of the Béchamel over ham. Sprinkle evenly with half of the remaining Gruyère cheese. Place 6 bread slices with holes on top to form 6 sandwiches. Spread remaining Béchamel over sandwiches, avoiding the holes. Sprinkle with remaining Gruyère, also avoiding the holes. Crack 1 egg into each hole. Season with remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
Spray a large piece of foil with nonstick spray. Place the foil oiled side down over the baking dish. Crimp to seal the edges. Bake on middle rack for 20 minutes. Remove foil, increase oven temperature to 400°F, transfer dish to top rack, and bake until egg whites are just barely set and yolks are still runny (eggs will continue to cook slightly when removed from oven), 12-15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
Note: I added bake time to cook the eggs through. This took about 20 minutes on the top rack. I would recommend keeping a watchful eye on the eggs during the final bake so you can best gauge doneness.
Easy Cheese Danish
Yields 12 pieces
8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
1/3 cup (75g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 package (2 sheets, 1.1 lbs.) frozen puff pastry thawed
Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two baking pans with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the egg, vanilla, and salt, and mix on low speed until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
Unfold one sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Gently roll it out to approximately 9×12 inches. Cut the sheet into 6 pieces (about 4×4.5-inches each). Transfer the pieces to a prepared pan. Using a knife, score a line inside of each square about 1/2 inch from the edge. Use the tines of a fork to dock the dough inside the scored border of each piece. This will prevent the middles from rising. Repeat process with remaining puff pastry sheet.
Place 2-3 tablespoons of cream cheese mixture into the center of each square. Brush the edges of each pastries with the egg wash.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Allow pastries cool on wire racks.
In a small bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons milk. If the mixture is too thick to fall from a spoon, stir in the remaining tablespoon of milk. Drizzle glaze over cooled pastries and let stand until set, about 10 minutes.