On New Year’s Day, many people will not want to fuss too much in the kitchen, which is why brunch is perfect. After a night toasting to the old and ringing in the new, why not begin the New Year with an easy and relaxing, delicious brunch. Invite friends and family over, especially the little ones; my five grandchildren love the waffles with Nutella! Food always plays a big role in our holidays, so some of these brunch recipes are basic, while others are more elaborate.
Panettone Italian Toast
One of the great treats on New Year’s Day is to use any, or all of your left over panettone to make Italian toast.
1 cup water
1 packed cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons whipping cream
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 lb panettone
6 large eggs
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
¾ cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
½ cup mascarpone cheese
For the syrup – in a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil over a high flame, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil until the syrup reduces to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream and cinnamon. Keep the syrup warm over a low flame until ready for serving. (The syrup can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Reheat before serving).
For the toast – preheat the oven to a low temperature, 200°F is hot enough. Preheat a nonstick griddle or large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Using a serrated knife, remove the top from the panettone. Cut the bottom of the panettone in half crosswise and then cut each half into 4 equal pieces. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, milk and sugar until smooth. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter on the griddle. Working in batches, dip slices of panettone into the mixture, turning to allow both sides to absorb the custard. Cook the soaked panettone slices until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the panettone toast to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon butter and slices. Transfer the panettone to plates. Drizzle the cinnamon syrup over the toast and place a dollop of mascarpone on top. Lightly dust with powdered sugar and serve with fresh berries.
Waffles and Nutella Skewers
When the grandchildren come over for New Year’s brunch, this is a simple, but delicious way to add a twist to waffles, especially with the chocolate.
20 mini waffles
½ cup Nutella Hazelnut spread
½ cup sliced banana
½ cup sliced strawberries
Make the waffles and then skewer them alternating strawberry slices, Nutella and bananas.
Spinach and Mushroom Frittata
Nothing says Italian brunch like a frittata. This is a quick recipe that goes beautifully with waffles or panettone Italian toast.
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup onion, sliced
8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper
1 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
Melt butter in an oven proof skillet. Add onions and mushrooms and cook over a medium-high flame until the onions are translucent. Add the spinach and sauté for 2 minutes. Beat the eggs, adding salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the skillet, stirring to combine. Cook the eggs for about 4 minutes. The eggs will be almost, but not quite set, yet still moist on top. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano cheese and place into the oven. Broil keeping the skillet at least 6″ from the heat for 3-4 minutes, or until eggs are set and the cheese is lightly browned. Serve immediately.
Tasca Wake-up Pockets
‘Wake-up Pockets’ are a cross between a sandwich and a calzone – whatever you call them, it will be a hit at your brunch.
4 thin Italian baguettes, about 10 inches long
1 cup pecorino cheese, grated
Mortadella, one slice per baguette
salt and pepper to taste
Cut a deep “V” through the tops of each baguette until about a ½” from the bottom. Remove some of the bread from the baguettes. Spread each with butter, plus half of cheese and bake for 5 minutes. Place the eggs into a mixing bowl and lightly beat. Add the remaining cheese and lightly season with salt and pepper. Divide and pour the mixture into each baguette pocket and place onto a baking sheet. Add mortadella. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown, puffed and set in the center. Season with salt and pepper.
Pancetta, Egg and Potato Pizza
This hearty pizza is perfect for brunch.
1 Yukon gold potato
1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz pizza dough
3 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4” cubes
2 oz fontina cheese, cut into 1/4” inch cubes
3 green onion, thinly sliced on a long diagonal
4 oz. pancetta, sliced
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 extra large egg
Cook the potato a microwave oven for 5 minutes. Place a pizza stone in the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 500°F. On a lightly floured surface, stretch or roll out the dough into an 8” circle, then brush with olive oil. Arrange the mozzarella and fontina cheese over the pizza.
Cut the potato into 1/4” slices and place on the pizza. Add the green onion, while arranging pancetta slices crosswise and sprinkle with thyme. Leave room in the center of the pizza for an egg but bake the pizza for an additional 5 minutes. In the meantime, fry an egg on the top of the range, remove the pizza from the oven and place the egg into the middle. Serve hot.
Parmigiano and Arugula Potato Salad
A salad is an essential part of the brunch. Yukon gold potatoes are the closest variety to those found in Italy.
3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
1 small onion, chopped
10 oz arugula approximately
4 oz sun dried tomatoes
1 cup shaved parmigiano cheese
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Coarse ground pepper
Boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked, but not mushy. Drain the potatoes and rinse them in cold water. Refrigerate until ready to use. In a serving bowl, mix the cooled potatoes, onions, arugula and sun-dried tomatoes. Top with shaved Parmigiano and dress with extra virgin olive oil and crushed black pepper.