With all the joyful chaos of the holidays the presents, the parties, the cookies, the big, boozy dinners it can be easy to forget about the most important meal of the day: breakfast.
Theres a good chance you might have houseguests who need to be fed en masse. Or maybe youre hosting a convivial brunch on Christmas or New Years Day. The problem with the vast majority of breakfast gatherings is that they happen in the morning. And even if you didnt drink one too many glasses of Champagne or flaming rum punch the night before, you might be on the utterly, overwhelmingly exhausted side, because this time of year does that to even the most energetic of us.
These four marvelous breakfast recipes are not only festive, theyre easy enough to put together in a less-than-perfectly-alert frame of mind.
The simplest is the baked Irish oats, spiced with cardamom and cinnamon. Oatmeal may seem quotidian, but it isnt here. First, the Irish oats (also called steel-cut) are sauted in butter and spices until toasty and brown. This step adds layers of flavor. Then theyre mixed with cream and baked under a blanket of Demerara sugar, which melts into a glossy syrup. (Raisin lovers should feel free to stir a handful into the pan before baking.) Served with more cream, and raw Demerara sugar for crunch, its about as glorious as oatmeal gets, without much fussing.
On the savory side is a cheesy Dutch baby speckled with bacon. Of the four, it will garner the most oohs-and-aahs, especially if you can serve it while still puffy and golden. Even slightly deflated, its a sight to behold, with the fluffy egg mixture striped on top with slices of melted Camembert.
Less eye-catching, but no less delectable, are elegant baked eggs with crme frache and smoked salmon. Covered in a sauce of sauted shallots and dill, the eggs are cooked until just barely set, so the whites are firm but the yolks still runny. Serve these with toasted brioche or baguette for plenty of dunking.
And finally, while broiled grapefruit is not a meal in itself, it goes beautifully with the oatmeal and eggs. This version leans classic, with a topping of brown sugar and a little honey to caramelize under the heat. A sprinkling of flaky sea salt mitigates the bitterness of the citrus, though its not strictly necessary if you think your guests may balk. In which case, serve the salt on the side and let people season at will.
You will need a beverage to go with all this. Coffee, tea and mimosas are the obvious choices and the best way to continue that cycle of holiday cheer.
Baked Eggs With Crme Frache and Smoked Salmon
Runny-yolked eggs baked in individual ramekins or custard cups make for a very elegant brunch or light supper. These are bathed in a shallot-steeped crme frache and topped with smoked salmon for an especially rich result. Serve them with toast, croissants or crusty bread something to mop up the last bits of yolk and cream at the bottom of the ramekins. You wont want to leave behind a single drop.
Yield: 6 servings
Total time: 45 minutes
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the ramekins
- 2/3 cup thinly sliced shallot (2 to 3 shallots)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup crme frache
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, plus more for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 12 large eggs, at room temperature
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces smoked salmon
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, and brush six 8-ounce ramekins or ovenproof custard cups with butter. Place the ramekins or cups on a rimmed baking sheet.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in shallots and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook until very soft, 7 to 10 minutes, reducing heat if necessary to prevent browning.
3. Stir in 6 tablespoons cream, the crme frache, dill, lemon zest and remaining 1/4 teaspoon. Remove from heat. Divide mixture among the ramekins.
4. Crack 2 eggs into each ramekin and float 1 tablespoon of cream on top of each, then sprinkle tops with salt and pepper. Bake until egg whites are just set, and yolk is still runny, 12 to 16 minutes. (The eggs will look slightly puffed at the sides of the ramekins, but still jiggly in the center and thats OK. The eggs will continue to cook once out of the oven.) Remove from oven and transfer ramekins onto individual plates for serving.
5. To serve, top each ramekin with some of the smoked salmon and a little more dill. Serve warm.
Spiced Irish Oatmeal With Cream and Crunchy Sugar
A shower of heavy cream and plenty of caramelized Demerara sugar may make these Irish oats seem more like dessert than something youd serve first thing in the morning, but thats all the more reason to bake them up for a special occasion breakfast or brunch. Cardamom and cinnamon give them an especially earthy, perfumed aroma, and toasting the oats in butter before baking them lends nuttiness and depth. Theyre also extremely easy, and you can assemble the dish the night before, then bake them in the morning. Just add about 10 minutes to the baking time if youre starting them cold from the fridge.
Yield: 8 servings
Total time: 1 1/2 hours
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
- 2 cups steel-cut oats
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 1/2 cups boiling water
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup Demerara sugar, plus more for serving
- Flaky sea salt, for serving
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 1 1/2-quart shallow gratin or baking dish.
2. Cut 2 tablespoons butter into small cubes, and put them in the refrigerator until needed.
3. In a large skillet, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Add the oats and saut until they smell nutty and toasted, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the cardamom and cinnamon, and saut for another minute, until fragrant. Scrape oats into the buttered baking pan and stir in the boiling water, cream and salt.
4. Bake oats for 40 minutes, then give them a stir. Sprinkle sugar all over the oats, and scatter reserved cubed butter on top. Continue to bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer, until the top is glazed and bubbling.
5. Sprinkle oatmeal with flaky sea salt, if you like. Serve oats with more cream and sugar on the side.
Broiled Grapefruit With Brown Sugar and Flaky Salt
A classic at a fancy breakfast or brunch, the best broiled grapefruits have a glossy caramelized topping covering sections of the warm, juicy citrus. This recipe also includes a little cinnamon for a heady fragrance, and a touch of sea salt, which softens the bitterness of the grapefruit peel. Its best served warm from the oven, when the brown sugar is still melted and syrupy. Ruby or pink grapefruits make for the prettiest presentation, but white ones work just as well, and have a livelier, more acidic flavor.
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 10 minutes
- 2 grapefruits, preferably pink or ruby
- 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Honey, for drizzling
- Ground cinnamon (optional)
- Flaky sea salt, for serving
1. Move the rack 4 inches away from the broiler, and turn it on.
2. Halve the grapefruits through their equators. Using a paring knife or a grapefruit knife, cut the sections away from the membranes and pith so they are easy to spoon up. Place grapefruit halves, cut-side up, on a baking sheet. Sprinkle each grapefruit half with 1 tablespoon brown sugar, then drizzle with melted butter and a little honey. Sprinkle cinnamon over the tops if you like.
3. Broil grapefruit until the sugar melts and caramelizes, 2 to 5 minutes. (Broilers vary a lot so watch carefully to make sure they dont burn.) Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, and serve immediately.
Dutch Baby With Bacon and Runny Camembert
Most Dutch babies are sweet and often fruity. Not this one, which is topped with runny Camembert cheese and studded with bacon. Its savory, golden and perfect for a hardy brunch or light dinner. A word of caution: It deflates quickly, so be sure to serve it as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Yield: 6 servings
Total time: 40 minutes
- 4 ounces bacon, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 8 large eggs
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 (8- to 10-ounce) wheel of Camembert, rind on and cut into 1/4-inch slices (not wedges)
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place bacon in a 9-inch oven-safe skillet, then set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fat has rendered and bacon has browned on the edges, 7 to 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, pepper and baking powder. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk, then whisk egg mixture into flour. Stir in Parmesan and half the chives.
3. Once bacon is crisp and brown, raise heat to medium-high, and add butter, stirring until melted. Pour batter into skillet, then quickly arrange Camembert pieces on top.
4. Transfer pan to the oven, and bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining chives, and serve immediately.
And to Drink
Dry, tart handcrafted cider would be a natural accompaniment to this savory Dutch baby. Its what you would drink with Camembert if you were in Normandy, the cheeses home territory in northern France. Aside from the regional attraction, dry cider has a strong affinity for the rich, sharp lactic flavors of the cheese, especially with eggs and bacon. If you want wine, however, look for an incisive white with plenty of acidity to cut through the richness of the dish. Champagne would be a great holiday choice. You could try a Vouvray, either dry or moderately sweet, and if you want to stay in the bubbly realm, a sparkling Vouvray would be nice. I would not opt for a red, but if you insist, Beaujolais often goes well with egg dishes. ERIC ASIMOV