Feb. ’10 What’s for Brunch: A Meal for Four

One month later, here’s the scoop on what we did for Valentine’s Day. WE SPENT IT TOGETHER! Look, the February issue’s What’s for Dinner was clearly more suited to brunch, and that was fine with us. What kind of brunch should end in chocolate truffles? A Valentine’s Day brunch, my people!

Various states are our Valentines!

My dude loves some croque monsieur, and Lesley’s dude loves…well, hopefully he loves snapping photos while we destroy his kitchen, because that’s the role in which he seems to inevitably land. Also on the menu, we had a delicious warm potato salad (that is, a salad featuring potatoes, not “potato salad”), roasted pears and red onions, and chocolate truffles for dessert. With the exception of the truffles, which we found uninspiring and overly bitter, every item on this list complemented the others to perfection.

Without further ado than the month it took me to actually post about this (work is a stresser, man, although I just watched The Hurt Locker, and now I’m pretty sure work isn’t nearly as stressful as it could be) (any work folks who are reading this: the stress I have is the stress of absolute love and affection), the menu:

  • Warm Potato and Frisee Salad
  • Croque-Monsieur
  • Caramelized Pears and Red Onions
  • Chocolate Truffles

It disturbs me that I put all of that into my stomach.

I can never find frisee anywhere, so we used some local salad greens and the effect was still impressive – the potato salad was the best part of the whole meal, according to me. Boil potatoes while you construct the vinaigrette, then marinate potatoes in the vinaigrette before tossing with greens and sprinkling with chives. Caramelizing pears and red onions was easy enough – just slice, drizzle, and stick in the oven. Pears/onions first, potato marinating second, then both do their thing while you fiddle with the croque monsieurs.

Please take note of the luxurious ham.

OK, a croque monsieur is basically a ham and cheese sandwich (we used HAM and gruyere), with a white-parmesan sauce overtop, broiled to perfection. The reason I capitalize HAM is that I searched for awhile for good, deli-style ham that didn’t come from a strange ham mold. I settled on something or other from the deli at Whole Foods. Flustered by the fact that I was overlooked at the deli counter yet again (100% of my deli interactions involve someone overlooking me, even when I am the only person there and wearing the highest possible heels), I hastily approved the thickness of the ham slices the dude dangled in front of me. By the time he sliced and rang up the twelve novella-sized slices I’d unwittingly ordered, my total was about 25 bones. Too embarrassed to explain that I really didn’t need two pounds of ham, and worried that he wouldn’t hear what I said due to my mysterious inability to register in the consciousness of deli counter technicians (?) around the world, I shoved the HAM into my cart and sucked it up. We used about four pieces. But the sandwiches were pretty good anyway. The lesson here is: don’t be a coward. Or, develop a shrill, piercing voice as early in your life as you can.

Ball up stuff on the left, roll it in stuff on the right, pop it into mouth (not pictured)

I’d been excited about the truffles, but the results were less than delightful. Maybe I refrigerated the stuff too long. Maybe I didn’t add enough cream. Maybe I should have been more diligent trying to get the excess cocoa powder off the exterior of the little chocolate ball. Martha wouldn’t tolerate these excuses. More likely she would shuttle us to the neurological specialist who doubtless lives in a Bedford Grey-painted hut on her estate and leave us there, defending our palates to a chilly and unrelenting ear. Let’s put it this way, I had chocolate confection leftovers that stayed in my fridge until I threw them out. This morning.

Truffles...more like EXPENDABLES

Though you cannot see the color-coordination aspect of our dress theme, one that is vaguely Valentinian and vaguely multi-state loyal, our V-day spirits were high and so was our blood sugar level. Not as high as my Whole Foods bill though, dang.

Verdict: Marthable

Time to cook: A thousand years. I forget why this one took so long. Probably because we had to grill the croque monsieurs individually. Possibly because we were drinking champagne-pomegranate cocktails.

Best meal element: I’d say the salad, Cam would probably say the sandwich, and the Brunos would probably say “the part where everyone went home and left us alone.”

Worst meal element: The truffles. But then we all reluctantly admitted that we weren’t huge fans of truffles to begin with. Then one or more of us choked briefly on inhaled cocoa powder. I did substitute creme de menthe for Grand Marnier, because the orange/chocolate combination makes me gag.

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