Brunch at Nisha’s

Bobby Flay has a show on the Cooking Channel called Brunch at Bobby’s. Ever since I saw him for the first time on that show, brunch cocktail in one hand, flipping eggs with the other hand (wrist), I thought, How do I get this dream job?  

I love to cook, I love to drink, I love to entertain, and I love making brunch at home. So, Bobby, if you’re looking to retire and need a replacement, I’m your girl. Btw, Bobby, do you like my blog? Please reply y/n. Thx.

As you may know from the very authentic, very realistic t.v. show Sex and the City, brunch is a staple in the lives of most New York City residents. You can go to any neighborhood on a weekend and find at least one restaurant that’s offering a bottomless mimosa/bellini/bloody mary brunch special. Unfortunately, there is typically an inverse relationship between (a) availability of bottomless booze and (b) quality of food. Which is why I often opt to skip out on brunch. I can usually cook up something way more delicious at home. Also, I’m cheap, so there’s that.

On Sundays, I often make a big frittata filled with vegetables and cheese and serve it alongside a salad, fruit, or roasted potatoes. But, I had to be a little more creative on Whole30 because cheese–the universal “make everything taste better” food–is unfortunately not permitted.

This first dish was probably one of the best brunch dishes I’ve ever made. It highlights the way in which Whole30 forces you to be creative in your cooking and to rely heavily on spices, herbs and aromatics–as opposed to cheese and butter–to create bold flavors. 

For the sweet potato hash, I used a spiralizer to make curly ribbons out of the sweet potato. A spiralizer will run you about $30-40 and is a great investment if you want to cook healthy yet fun meals at home. As this perky lady will tell you, though, you don’t need a spiralizer to make vegetable ribbons: you can use a vegetable julienne peeler or a mandoline.

Mexican Sweet Potato Hash with Eggs and Avocado

Sweet potato hash topped with sauteed onions, fried pasture-raised eggs, avocado, salsa, jalapenos, cilantro, and hot sauce.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes, spiralized into noodles
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 TBSP ghee (or coconut oil)
  • Extra ghee or coconut oil for frying onions
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeño, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 TBSP lime juice
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 avocado
  • Cilantro, chopped, for garnishing
  • Salsa, for topping
  • Hot sauce, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place sweet potato noodles in a 9 inch pie dish or cake pan. Toss noodles with ghee and salt and pepper to taste. Feel free to add other spices if you wish.
  3. Bake noodles for approx. 45 minutes until crispy and brown. Use a spatula to remove the potatoes from the pan and place on serving plate. 
  4. While potatoes are cooking, heat ghee or coconut oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. Add onions and season with salt and pepper.  After a few minutes, add jalapeno, garlic, cumin and chili powder. Saute until onion is soft. When done, drizzle with lime juice.
  5. When potatoes are almost done, start to fry eggs. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once heated, crack eggs into pan and lower the heat to medium-low. Fry until egg whites are set; cook a bit longer for over-medium eggs.
  6. Slice the avocado.
  7. To serve, divide potatoes into two plates. Top with onion mixture. Then, top each with two eggs and sliced avocado. Add salsa and hot sauce. Garnish with cilantro.

This next brunch dish was so good I cried the tears of baby Jesus. Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern dish of poached eggs in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, and spices. I’ve had it a few times in restaurants but decided to try it at home for Whole30.

This dish embodied umami perfectly. Every bite was bursting with a rich, deep flavor. Normally, I think you should experiment when cooking and use recipes merely as guidelines, but this dish came out so tasty that I wouldn’t tinker with the ingredients. I used four eggs for two people, but there was plenty of leftover sauce, so you could easily add six eggs for three people or two extra-hungry people. Serve over a bed of roasted or skillet-cooked potatoes! I topped mine with a Mediterranean-style pesto, but a dollop of harissa would also go well on top of this dish.

Shakshuka with Mediterranean Pesto     

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • Olive oil for cooking
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 fresh chili peppers, seeds and membrane removed, diced (I used a Serrano pepper and a long-finger hot red pepper)
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 28 oz. canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/8 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tsp each of cumin, paprika, and chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper or aleppo pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • Parsley and/or cilantro, minced, for garnish
  • Mediterranean Pesto, for finishing (see recipe below)

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large cast iron pan or deep nonstick skillet.
  2. When pan is hot, add onions. Saute a few minutes until onion begins to soften. Then add bell pepper, garlic, chili peppers, and bay leaves. Sauté 6-8 minutes until vegetables are softened.
  3. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, salt and pepper, and vinegar to pan. Stir thoroughly to combine.DSC_0024
  4. Allow mixture to heat over medium heat for 6-8 minutes until the sauce begins to reduce. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings accordingly.
  5. Crack one egg at a time into the skillet, spacing them evenly. Then, cover pan with a lid and let simmer on medium-low for 10-12 minutes.
  6. Remove pan from heat and garnish with parsley and/or cilantro. Top with Mediterranean Pesto.

Mediterranean Pesto

This will yield about a half cup of pesto. Serve on meat, eggs, or veggies!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 – 1 cup fresh parsley (omit thick stems)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (omit thick stems)
  • 1/8 cup cashews
  • 3 TBSP lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp each of salt, cumin, and paprika
  • freshly cracked black pepper or Aleppo pepper
  • large pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3-4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until ingredients are finely minced. 
  2. Add olive oil and process until a pesto-like sauce forms. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. 
  3. Serve leftovers in airtight container or mason jar in fridge.

A perfect brunch spread includes both a savory and sweet dish. Typically, for me, that means a stuffed french toast or pancakes (I’ve been without a waffle maker for several years now, sadly). But it’s Whole30 time. And that means that not only are grains and traditional sweets prohibited, but so are Paleo-ified or clean versions of baked goods (think pancakes made with almond flour, coconut milk, banana, and raw honey). Unfair, right?

Enter this fruit and nut breakfast “porridge.” This porridge gets sweet notes from the fresh fruit and coconut milk, which is slightly sweet in taste. But if you’re not on Whole30, I would definitely add a drizzle of honey. Because, duh. I would also top it with dark chocolate chips and shredded coconut for dessert.

This recipe might not look like it serves 4, but it’s very rich and luxurious so the serving size should be small. The porridge coats your belly nicely and stays there for hours.

Fruit and Nut Breakfast Porridge

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups of mixed nuts of your choice (I used hazelnuts, cashews, and almonds)
  • bottled or filtered water for soaking nuts
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 small ripe banana
  • Large handful of fresh mango, approximately 3 oz. (if using frozen, defrost and drain extra water/ice)
  • 1 13.5 can of full-fat canned coconut milk
  • Toppings: shredded coconut, berries, diced mango or sliced bananas, goji berries, chopped nuts, raw cacao nibs, dried unsweetened cherries, or whatever else you have on hand.

Directions

  1. Place nuts in a bowl and cover with water so that nuts are submerged. Add 1/4-1/2 TBSP sea salt. Cover bowl and let sit at room temperature overnight. Soaking the nuts makes them softer and yields a smoother consistency for the porridge. 
  2. In the morning, rinse and drain the nuts in a colander several times to remove the salt.
  3. Place nuts in a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix or a food processor. Blend until nuts start to break up.
  4. Add remaining ingredients–cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, banana, mango, and coconut milk. Blend until you achieve a smooth consistency that is similar to a thick smoothie. 
  5. At this stage, you can either serve as is for a cold porridge, or heat it in a saucepan on the stove for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. 
  6. Pour porridge into bowls and serve with desired toppings.

Happy brunching!

-Nisha

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