On a bookshelf next to our kitchen, you will find a large green binder containing 204 pages of recipes (we recently counted!) which we have been collecting over the past ten years. It is filled with scribbled notes, comments, and detailed descriptions of where they came from. It is meticulously alphabetized and divided into six categories: Main Courses, Sides, Cakes, Cookies, Other Desserts, and Breakfasts. On the thirtieth page of the Sides section, nestled comfortably between a no-mayo potato salad from Rachael Ray and a Puerto Rican pique sauce, lies this glorious sweet baked dish. And at the bottom of the recipe is a handwritten note from December 2010 declaring it the “best kugel we have ever had.” This traditional noodle casserole adapted from Gourmet Magazine stole the show at our Hanukkah party five years ago and we have continued to make it every year since.
There are a variety of recipes for deviled eggs to choose from, but the one we are sharing today is a classic from the definitive American cookbook, The Joy of Cooking. This dish has seen countless variations over the years since its humble beginnings in ancient Rome, and now just about every country has its own take on this festive appetizer. You can find the most plain recipes with two or three ingredients as well as modern versions using eclectic flavors like wasabi and pickles. Our deviled eggs use just a few basic ingredients: the golden yolks are combined with fresh parsley and chives, gently blended with tangy dijon mustard, minced shallots, and a spoonful of smooth mayonnaise, then mixed together into an elegantly creamy filling seasoned with a splash of white wine vine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and a pinch of cayenne giving these wicked hors d’oeuvres a devilishly irresistible bite.
It is a complete mystery to us why this simple and delicious, four-ingredient breakfast isn’t listed on every menu across the country. They are much easier and quicker to make than pancakes or waffles, not to mention there’s no waffle iron to clean. Everything is mixed in one bowl, cooked in one pan, and baked to a golden perfection in just fifteen minutes. A dutch baby is a beautiful and rustic dish similar to a pancake, but has toasted crispy edges, with a tender crepe-like center. As it bakes, it puffs up and rises high above the sides of the skillet like a gorgeous soufflé, before deflating dramatically when it emerges hot from the oven. There are so many wonderful toppings to choose from so you can make it differently every time, and this is where the fun begins.
Hosting brunch is one of those things that sounds good in theory, but actually can be kind of stressful. If you decide to make something classic like pancakes, you will quickly realize—as you hover over the stove flipping your twentieth pancake while the rest of your guests have already started eating—that perhaps a less labor-intensive meal would have been easier. The secret to a stress-free brunch is simply this: a main dish that is prepped the day before, so all you have to do in the morning is pop it in the oven and get ready for your guests to arrive. The other secret is to make a crowd-pleasing recipe like this baked french toast, in which crusty sourdough bread is layered with smooth cream cheese and fresh blueberries before being immersed in a delicious maple-flavored egg mixture, then baked in the oven to a golden brown perfection and topped with sweet, homemade blueberry syrup with hints of vanilla.