An Eclectic Weekend Brunch (Cauliflower & Ham Gratin and Banana Nut Sticky Buns)

4 Nov

Weekend brunch, to me, is a liberating excuse to prepare recipes that don’t fit together by the strict principles of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Sure, sometimes we eat breakfast foods at dinner, and occasionally we eat leftover slices of pizza in the morning.  But the primary meals come from a school of dogma that doesn’t mix pancakes with meatloaf, so to speak.  But then there’s brunch.  Brunch has no rules.

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This weekend brunch spread features banana nut sticky buns, cauliflower & ham gratin, and banana slices & raspberries lightly dusted with powdered sugar. 

Cauliflower & Ham Gratin
(recipe based on the November 2007 issue of Real Simple, I reduced the amount of cream and milk in my preparation)

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2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 oz ham steak, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk
4 oz crumbled feta
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
4 tbsp bread crumbs
1 tbsp dried thyme
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add in onions and cook until transparent, about 3-4 minutes.  Add in ham steak cubes and cook 3-4 more minutes, or until ham steak cubes start browning on the edges.  Add in cream, milk, feta cheese, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of black pepper, and cauliflower florets.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 5-6 minutes, or until mixture is thickened.

Transfer mixture to a casserole dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs and dried thyme.  Bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes.  Bread crumbs should be golden.

Serves 4

If I were to go back and serve this dish again, I would throw a loaf of crusty French bread into the mix, something to soak up the juices of this pungent and creamy dish.

Banana Nut Sticky Buns
(again, recipe is based off of the November 2007 issue of Real Simple, I modified the method slightly to make the toppings stick better to the buns)

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2 tbsp of butter, unsalted
1 medium banana, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of chopped pecans (they come packaged like this)
3 tbsp brown sugar
7 1/2 oz tube of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (such as the Pillsbury variety)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Take a muffin pan, and drop one banana slice per compartment into 10 muffin compartments.  Repeat with a few pieces of chopped pecans per compartment, about 1/2 tsp of butter per compartment, and 1 tsp of brown sugar in each compartment.  Top each compartment with a refrigerated biscuit, pressing biscuit into the toppings so that the toppings will stick to the biscuit.

Bake until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes (depends on the variety of biscuit, check the directions on the tube).

While biscuits are hot (fresh out of the oven), turn the muffin pan upside down and tap the bottom of each muffin compartment to drop biscuits right side up onto a chopping board or a sheet of aluminum foil.  Wait 5 minutes to cool before serving.

Makes 10 Banana Nut Sticky Buns

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