I have a few little traditions in life, and one of the cheapest traditions is Easter egg coloring (particularly thanks to Costco memberships, 5 dozen eggs for $9). I don’t generally do anything on Easter itself, so brunch came with the eggs this time. I think it’s funny how I’m not religious, but I end up participating in a lot of religious holidays just because they are so entrenched in American culture (though, I guess that’s the case for most Americans nowadays). I think it’s because I’m crafty and like working with the unusual materials that a lot of these holidays deal with– cookies, pine branches, eggs, etc. Lured in by unusual mediums!
Somehow these traditions seem to lump up in springtime (St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Cinco de Mayo if I have money). Maybe I’m just glad the weather is getting better.
Today for our Easter Egg Coloring Brunch (Preaster Brunch), I served Dutch Babies with fresh farmer’s market strawberries (and, admittedly, Chilean blueberries from Trader Joe’s) and Hash Browns with leeks. Friends brought along home made raspberry-filled pastries, cupcakes, some savory chicken, mimosa supplies, candy, and of course…bacon. It was perfect.
I used the dutch baby recipe from Allrecipes, Dutch Babies II. While places like Saveur and Epicurious are good for teaching you gourmet techniques and having fancy recipes, Allrecipes is a nice user-submitted site with a lot of very easily doable American classics, voted on by members. This recipe came out quite good.
A Dutch Baby is basically like a pancake, except you substitute some more eggs for some of the flour, turning it into a popover, almost.
You melt the butter in an oven-safe round dish, throw in the batter (which is just eggs, a bit of flour, and some spices. I added some vanilla extract to mine.), bake it for 12 minutes until golden brown, and top with powdered sugar. Serve with fresh fruit mixed with some sugar, a bit of lemon juice. So quick, so simple, and perfect for a brunch. Here’s my friend Mee (a lovely and talented developer and designer), from Xinair.net, giving her seal of approval on this recipe:
The hash brown recipe is my own doing, based on years of addiction to hash browns and subsequent years of experimentation. Today I used leeks for a little more color. I’ve roughly estimated the recipe below. Feel free to use more butter or spices as necessary– it’s pretty basic once you get the technique down, and I think the ratio is pretty forgiving overall.
Kestrel’s Hash Browns
- 6-8 yukon gold potatoes (depending on size)
- 4 small leeks (or 1-2 large ones)
- 3 tbsp butter
- Kosher salt (~1-2 tsp?)
- Black pepper (~1 tsp)
- Cayenne pepper (~1 tsp)
Wash & grate the yukon gold potatoes (food processors are awesome for the grating– I unfortunately forgot mine existed for some reason). No need to peel them, the skin has lots of vitamins! Set them in a bowl with some water and add a teaspoon or two of salt, mixing them up. Let it sit, 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Chop up the leeks into thin coins.
Empty the grated potatoes into a wire strainer. Rinse in cool, running water, moving the potatoes around with your hands to remove any excess starch. This is the key to getting fluffy hash browns. Gently squish out a bit of the extra water, and let them sit to drain a bit while you continue on to the next step.
Add the butter to a very large frying pan (preferably non-stick– if you’re using not non-stick, use extra butter.), bring the heat up to medium or medium low. Let melt and move it around so it coats the whole pan.
Add the leeks to the butter. Stir them around so they get all coated and delightfully buttery and keep stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down if they start browning too much. You want them to get translucent and a little golden, but not brown.
Add the grated potato and mix it all up very well until the leeks are fairly evenly distributed. Turn down heat to as low as you can, cover and let cook 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. This steaming effect helps cook the potatoes thoroughly.
Turn the heat back up to medium or medium high and turn the potatoes every 30 seconds or so, once they start getting golden on the bottom. You want to keep turning them so you won’t get burnt bits, just those nice golden bits throughout.
We came, we ate, we conquered. 5 dozen eggs, mimosas, and bacon later, everyone was ready for a Sunday nap. After some tea, I sent them off with more eggs than they knew what to do with in all sorts of bright colors. I hope no one food coma-ed while the were driving. What a gorgeous day, in all senses of the word.