Wednesday, May 14, 2014

ladies in blue

mother's day 2014 came with life promotions for all of us: great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, aunt, and abby. four generations in one room! i feel incredibly lucky being together and seeing all the love and grace in these women. it's pretty amazing.

we spent the day in connecticut, brunching and relaxing--pretty good plans if you ask me. for brunch i kept things simple with baked stuffed french toasts, sautéed asparagus, shaved fennel salad, and dairy-free lemon cremes with an oat crumble and mixed berries. the only downfall of the meal was the lemon creme; they melted on the drive up, never fully reset, and tasted not-quite-right. that aside the rest of the meal was a nice balance of richness and springy freshness. everything came together easily too, which is always great since that means less kitchen time and more family time.

the french toast recipe came from martha stewart and was similar to a croque monsieur minus the bechamel. i assembled the toasts in advanced, letting them soak up the egg mixture overnight. all i needed to do on sunday was bake them. i also made the lemon cremes and oat crumble and prepped the salad beforehand. eliminating tasks for the day-of is crucial to keeping things moving and low-stress.

when we got to my mom's, in went the french toasts to the preheated oven (texted mom when we were a few exits away, heh). next up was the asparagus: snapped off the ends and sautéed the spears in a little bit of butter. the salad was mostly done--fennel and zucchini sliced and dressing made--a quick toss with the arugula, and it was ready to plate. as the toast edges were coming to a nice brown, i topped the cremes with the crumble and berries. (good and bad, they looked much better than they tasted. the crumble and berries faired well, but those sad, liquidy cremes...-sigh- let's not dwell on that though.) after about thirty minutes everything was ready, and brunch was on the table!
the rest of the day was filled with laughs, photo sessions, more food, abby playtime, and general family togetherness. a truly happy mother's day~

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:: baked stuffed french toasts ::
(recipe from martha stewart)
serves 8.

unsalted butter, room temperature, for baking dish
1 14-inch loaf rustic bread, cut into 8 slices
8 thin slices ham, plus more for topping (optional)
8 ounces gruyere, thinly sliced, plus more for topping (optional)
8 large eggs
2/3 cup whole milk
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
pure maple syrup, for serving

1. butter bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. make a deep slit in each bread slice to create a pocket. stuff each with one slice of ham, then divide cheese evenly among pockets.
2. whisk together eggs and milk in a bowl until combined, and season with salt and pepper. pour egg mixture into prepared baking dish. add bread slices in a single layer, gently pressing into egg mixture, and let soak 15 minutes. flip bread and gently press again into egg mixture. let soak 15 minutes. (you can soak the bread in the egg mixture for just 30 minutes, but the french toast will be even more delicious if you let it sit overnight. if preparing the day before, refrigerate up to 12 hours, loosely covered, then let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.)
3. preheat oven to 350 degrees. top bread with remaining ham and cheese. bake until egg mixture is set and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes.
4. turn oven to broil, with rack 4 to 6 inches from heat source. broil until bread is toasted and golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. serve hot with maple syrup.

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