Sunday, April 8, 2007

Easter Weekend Brunch

Mini Easter Weekend Brunch

We finally got a dining table! And a buffet with hutch! Yay!

I have been living without any kind of kitchen table for over a year, for a few reasons. The first being that my last apartment was really tiny and didn't really provide room for a living room seating area AND a dining table. The second being that, apparently, I am really picky.

Anyway, last weekend we rented a trailer for J's car and drove up to the arboretum area and brought a lovely set from a lovely woman and her lovely mother. I would have liked a slightly more espresso-colored table to fit in with the decor better, but this is awesome. Now I just need to figure out how to arrange everything in the kitchen/dining area.

That day we bought the dinette set, R made dinner for J and I. R's boss had given her a bottle of $70ish wine, which she shared with us. It was amazing. I'm not much of wine drinker, but when I do drink/buy wine, it's usually in the $10-$16 neighborhhood. Most of these wines have been really tasty and fun. There was only one red wine, which cost $6, that I would never buy again, although I would gladly buy their chardonnay again. Even though I'm a wine novice, I could immediately tell that R's wine was an "expensive wine". It was complex and peppery, and over the course of the meal it changed, not only in flavor, but also in aroma. While I wouldn't normally spend so much on wine, I can definitely see the attraction.

It was during that dinner that I decided I wanted to make brunch. Eventually I think I'd like to throw a (a few) sleepover part(ies), then serve brunch in the morning. We talked about a Harry Potter themed party-watch all the movies, maybe make some theme dishes, a John Hughes 80's party or a Bad 80's slasher movie party....really, the possibilites are endless. While J thinks this is a bit of a silly idea, the few girlfriends I've mentioned it to have liked it.

So, thinking the sleepover idea out, I realized I needed to practice my brunch-making skillz.... Plus, I couldn't get the idea of biscuits, sausage- or bacon-style tempeh, and brown gravy out of my head. I know that true southern style bisquits and gravy means cream gravy, but, honestly, with the soymilk in the biscuits, and soybean tempeh, plus the shoyu I was using as a seasoning, I just didn't want another soy product on the table. And, my brown gravy is mighty tasty.

Our mini brunch included boiled collards, farm-fresh pink grapefruits, orange juice, brown mushroom gravy, "buttersoymilk" biscuits, sausage-style tempeh and crisp potatoes. The collards were simply boiled until soft (J likes his greens southern-style; boiled to hell with bacon or bacon grease, while I like my lightly blanched, so this was a compromise). I used a variation of this recipe for the biscuits. The potatoes were cut in half lengthwise, parboiled, then pan-fried until golden brown and crispy. The tempeh was the most time consuming dish, it was steamed, then simmered in water seasoned with shoyu, sage, thyme, basil, oregano and a little bit of toasted sesame oil, if you have all ingredients on hand, you could steam the tempeh the night before and marinate it overnight instead of simmering it. The liquid was then reserved for the gravy ("drippin's"), and the tempeh was browned in a cast iron skillet. After this, a minute amount of oil was heated, then shiitake mushrooms, onions, and garlic were sautéed, the drippin's were added, the seasoning was adjusted and then kuzu was added to thicken the gravy.

J was weirded out by the idea of brown gravy with biscuits, but R and I loved the meal, then again, we've never claimed to be southerners. I even had a biscuit, tempeh and gravy the next day as leftovers--yum!