After putting together last year’s Birthday Brunch Board (I later did another one inspired by Thanksgiving), I noticed there was exactly as many items as years I’ve been breathing. Not one to ignore coincidences, but instead catalog them as fate, I found it fitting to declare it a new tradition…a birthday brunch board featuring an item per year.
At first I wasn’t planning on doing anything special for my birthday, just making pizza and touring my favorite cemeteries in the rain with my mom (another tradition of sorts), but thankfully I thought back to last year and figured 25 year old me would be a bit disappointed that I couldn’t keep the tradition going at least a year. I guess that’s the point of traditions, isn’t it? Being stabbed by nostalgia, straight through the heart, to convince you to do things you don’t want to, but in the end you’re like “ah, yes..that was nice. Glad I did it”.
Other than the blackberries (which were a last hurrah of sorts, a goodbye to eating berries out of season) and cream cheese, everything seen here can be easily gotten waste-free. For Milwaukee people, bring a reusable container to Glorioso’s for the charcuterie and to St. Paul Fish Company in the public market for the lox and ask them not to use paper between the layers.
So what’s on this thing?
Charcuterie – prosciutto…hot coppa…smoked salmon
Cheese – whipped cream cheese…18 month Gouda (Uniekaas Reserve, my lover’s very favorite)
Sweets – french toast…espresso/balsamic fig spread…chai pear butter…blackberries…grapes…canteloupe
Spreads – mushroom pâté…tahini
The pickled -cured egg yolks…quick pickled red onions…capers
The rest– greek yogurt herb biscuits…garlicky sauteed kale…bruschetta…dill…avocado…extra crispy hashbrow rounds…harissa hummus deviled eggs…arugula
My favorite item was by far the mushroom pâté. I spread it on the hashbrown rounds then topped with kale and it was…oh man. SOO good. My favorite overall combination was french toast + espresso/balsamic fig spread + cream cheese + tahini…it was a spiritual experience.
baguette cut into 12 thin slices
1 large eggs
2 tsp sugar + extra for the skillet
freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground fresh cardamom
1/4 cup whole milk
butter or coconut oil for frying
In a medium sized bowl, mix all ingredients until well combined. Over medium heat, grease the skillet then sprinkle a bit of sugar. Toss your baguette pieces in the wet mixture until evenly coated. Fry until toasted and golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.
Espresso/Balsamic Fig Spread – recipe found here
Chai Pear Butter
2 pears (I used anjou but most types are fine), peeled/cored
2 tsp black tea
1 cardamom pod
2 whole cloves
1 inch ginger knob, peeled
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Blend all ingredients until. Add to small pot and simmer until thickened slightly.
2 tbsp butter
2 cups portobello mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
2 shallots, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
In a skillet, melt butter over low heat. Add shallots and garlic, cook until caramelized (really though…about 20 minutes). Add the rest of the ingredients, cook about 10-15 minutes or until much of the liquid has been reduced. Blend in food processor until smooth.
1 cup sesame seeds
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 350. Toast sesame seeds on a baking sheet until lightly browned and smell toasty, about 5 minutes, tossing halfway. Add to blender and turn on high while slowly adding the oil.
Cured Egg Yolks
6 egg yolks
1 1/4 cup salt
1 cup sugar
Stir salt/sugar until well combined. Pour half into a wide, flat bottomed container. Using the back of a tablespoon, make 6 indents in the salt/sugar mix. Place an egg yolk carefully in each indentation, then cover with remaining salt/sugar mixture. Place in fridge for 4-5 days, until the yolks are dehydrated. Brush off salt/sugar.
Quick Pickled Red Onions – Recipe located Quick-Pickled Red Onions
Greek Yogurt Herb Biscuits
1 cup all purpose flour + more for rolling out
1/2 tbsp baking powder
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp butter, cut into very thin slivers
1/4 cup Greek Yogurt
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (I use parsley, oregano and rosemary generally)
Preheat oven to 425. In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder + soda, salt, pepper and butter. Toss to coat. Combine the herbs and greek yogurt, then fold into dry ingredients. Stir until a shaggy ball is formed (add ~1 tbsp water or milk if it seems to dry), then sprinkle flour onto the table and roll out the dough into a 1/2 inch sheet. Cut the biscuits out using a jar. Bake biscuits for 12 minutes.
Extra Crispy Hashbrown Rounds
3 yukon gold potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
salt + pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425. Shred potatoes and immediately place in cold water. Strain potatoes really well (I generally use a flour sack towel and really squeeze out all the moisture). Heat large, oven-safe skillet over medium/high heat and add olive oil. Add potatoes, pressing with a spatula until completely flat and spread out. Let cook 3 minutes, then flip. Place skillet in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Optionally cut the hashbrowns into circles using a jar.
Harissa-Hummus Deviled Eggs – Recipe located here