A good friend called me the other day about getting together at a restaurant for Sunday brunch. I hadn’t met with him, his wife and their two adorable 7-year-old twin girls in what seemed like ages. So a brunch date was set, but no restaurant was decided on. It occurred to me later that their daughters might not get a huge kick out of sitting in a restaurant, eating adult brunch food while the “old folks” got caught up. So I decided to put together an impromptu brunch that was child friendly as well as adult satisfying. I also thought it would be a good idea to have my 8-year-old godson on hand to have a play date with the girls. It would give the adults an opportunity to get caught up at the dining room table and the kids would have my iPad to play games with, my cat to chase around the house and some astounding imaginations to rely on.
I also wanted to do a breakfast meat that kids would like and could eat easily with their hands, so I decided on sausage links. I made a visit toGene’s Sausage Shop, right across the street from The Chopping Block in Lincoln Square and bought some amazing, perfectly spiced breakfast links.But first, the menu. I immediately thought pancakes. Kids love pancakes, right? I like pancakes, and most adults like pancakes. It occurred to me that making lots of pancakes to order would keep me away from spending time with my friends. Solution: one big pancake, specifically a German Apple Pancake!
I added one of my favorite go-to breakfast items to the brunch menu: breakfast potatoes, made from quartered baby red potatoes.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add a a couple of tablespoons of butter and a bit of grapeseed oil and cook the potatoes until they are slightly brown. Transfer the skillet to a 375-degree oven for about 15 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven, add one medium thinly sliced yellow onion to the pan along with a quarter cup of chicken or veggie stock and place it back in the oven to allow the potatoes to finish cooking, about 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground pepper and a bit of fresh thyme.
I didn’t want to go too heavy with the seasonings, not knowing the extent of the girls’ palettes. I made that mistake years ago when preparing what I thought at the time was a very child-friendly breakfast for my 10-year-old niece and 8-year-old nephew. They were making one of their first visits to the States from England and staying with me for a couple of days. I made pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon. The first mistake I made was adding black pepper to the eggs. My nephew Daniel saw the tiny black specks in his eggs and he began to cry. I was stunned! I asked him what was wrong and he told me that he didn’t like black specks in his eggs. The other mistake I made was pouring maple syrup on their pancakes. They didn’t care for maple syrup on their pancakes! So with only bacon for them to eat, I was left with the worst bad uncle guilt ever. I’ve since experienced the same phenomena (kids eating pancakes without maple syrup) with my own godson.
For this brunch, I also made mini frittatas of eggs, veggies and cheese. I’ve shared the recipe below. Once the frittatas are removed from the muffin tin, they are a perfect, two bite breakfast item that kids can eat with their hands.
Of course, there were also adult beverages, including my signature White Peach Bellini. You could also use regular peaches or even frozen peaches for the Bellinis.
White Peach Bellini
Purée 4 peeled and diced peaches in a blender, along with ¼ cup of simple syrup. I added the syrup because peaches aren’t in season and aren’t entirely ripe and sweet yet. I also peeled a couple of peaches and cut them into small dice to use as garnish, which adds a bit of nice crunch to the drink. Pour a half a glass of Prosecco in a flute. Add a couple of tablespoons of the puréed peach mixture. Gently stir the prosecco and purée and add the diced peaches. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual brunch Mimosa.
Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
8 large eggs
1/3 cup of whole milk
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
¼ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
¼ teaspoon of salt
4 ounces of diced ham
1 finely diced zucchini
2 scallions thinly sliced
½ cup of fresh baby spinach that has been roughly chopped
¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of butter
1 teaspoon of olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Spray muffin pan with nonstick spray.
- In a sauté pan, lightly sauté the diced zucchini until it begins to soften.
- Add ham, sliced scallions and spinach to pan, until spinach begins to wilt, remove from pan to a small bowl and place aside.
- Whisk the eggs, milk, cream, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and add the ham, zucchini, scallion and spinach mixture.
- Fill the prepared muffin tins almost to the top with the egg, cheese and vegetable mixture. Sprinkle tops with a tiny bit of cheddar cheese. Bake in the preheated oven until the egg mixture puffs up and is just set in the center, about 8-10 minutes. The frittatas will be really puffy right out of the oven and will settle a bit once removed from the oven.
- Using a paring knife, run the edge of the knife around the edge of the frittatas to loosen them from the muffin cups. Place the frittatas on a platter. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
These are also excellent the next day. Simply reheat in the microwave oven for about 20 seconds.
What brunch foods do the kids in your life enjoy? Share your ideas with me here.