Christmas Brunch

Several years ago, I designed this Christmas Brunch menu for 425 Magazine, a local publication. It's the ideal holiday menu because everything can be prepared ahead. Each item is delicious on its own, but, perfectly compliments the next. 

SAVORY BREAD PUDDING CUPCAKES (serves 8 in 3 inch ramekins)

1 pound day-old crusty loaf bread, cut into half inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
5 ounces goat cheese (chevre)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
6 ounces chopped sundried tomato (if oil-packed, drain on paper towel)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

ONE (THE NIGHT BEFORE): Combine all ingredients, except for bread cubes, in a large bowl.
TWO: Stir the day-old bread cubes into the bowl with the custard.
THREE: Wrap bowl in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 
FOUR (THE NEXT MORNING): Preheat oven to 375 degrees. There should be very little custard remaining in the bowl, as the the bread should have soaked up most overnight.
FIVE: Spray ramekins with oil and place on baking sheet.
SIX: Transfer bread pudding into individual ramekins, packing the ingredients with a spoon, to create a mound in each dish.
SEVEN: Bake uncovered until set and top is golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes.
EIGHT: Slide a knife around the inside of each ramekin and carefully remove the bread pudding cupcake.


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup favorite sweetened granola
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped
4 pounds pears, peeled, cored and sliced

Whipped cream or creme fraiche

ONE: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
TWO (TOPPING): Combine flour, sugar, granola and salt in a large bowl.
THREE: Pour in the cubed butter, blending the ingredients with your hands, until topping resembles coarse meal, and no large pieces of butter remain. Set aside.
FOUR (FILLING): Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
FIVE: Add pear slices, turning to coat each slice in the dry ingredients.
SIX: Pour pears and flour/sugar/spices into a buttered 2-quart baking dish. Cover with topping.
SEVEN: Bake until fruit bubbles, around the edges and topping browns, about 40-50 minutes.
EIGHT: Serve with whipped cream or a dollop of creme fraiche.

Send your guests home with a kit of PEPPERMINT CRUNCH HOT COCOA STICKS (recipe below) and HOMEMADE PEPPERMINT MARSHMALLOWS


1/2 pound semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
4-5 candy canes, crushed
lollipop sticks
silicone ice cube tray (like this)

ONE: Sprinkle crushed candy cane into each compartment of the tray
TWO: Pour chocolate into microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat. Until all chocolate is melted.
THREE: Pour melted chocolate into each compartment until 2/3 full.
FOUR: Place in freezer for about 30 minutes. Place lollipop sticks into the center of each cube and continue to freeze until solid.
FIVE: Place hot cocoa stick in a mug with warmed milk. Stir until melted and enjoy!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas! Going to take the next few days to enjoy some time with my family and friends. Hope you can do the same.


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