Sunday, February 1, 2009

Priya's birthday meal #3: brunch

This year, as has become the custom, Priya topped off her birthday celebrations by hosting a big, elaborate brunch in her tiny Greenpoint 1BR. Something like 30 people showed up, so at times it was kind of tight, yes...

We started cooking a couple of days before, cooked more on Saturday during the day, continued to cook until 2am after coming home from Korean BBQ, woke up early Sunday morning and cooked some more, and we were still putting stuff together when the first guest arrived at 1pm (shockingly: Toby).

Let's see, what'd we have? We put together a big platter of mini bagels and Acme smoked salmon (a neighborhood specialty), cream cheese, tomatoes, onions, and capers. We grilled a whole bunch of chicken apple sausages (after a drama involving running around to three different stores trying to find them at an acceptable price and ultimately paying an unacceptable price anyway), made a tray of garam masala hard-boiled eggs (the simplest possible thing, but a good way to get eggs into people that can be prepared way ahead of time), and baked some panko-crusted cheesy potatoes (some portions came out great; Priya got an uncooked crunchy piece somehow and worried that they sucked).

I brought over some French green lentils with mirepoix and tarragon (usually I cook 'em in bacon fat and chicken broth, but I made them vegetarian this time, with a bit of vegetarian bacon salt thrown in for a smoky flavor, and we served them on a bed of baby spinach) and ful mudammas--fava beans with shallots, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, and parsley (figuring I'd go a little nontraditional and serve them cold, and completely whole--that way pickier eaters could maybe view them as a "bean salad" instead of "weird mush that's not breakfasty at all!"). We baked a brie filled with fig jam and walnuts. And we shredded up a huge amount of beets to make a raw beet salad with orange-pistachio dressing and goat cheese. Priya made her special curried quinoa with pears, cranberries, and mint and what I think is fast becoming her new specialty: a really easy almond cake that tastes fantastic (even if it collapses in the middle 100% of the time--who cares!).

We upped the fruit quotient with broiled grapefruit with caramelized sugar and mint (though they didn't broil so much as bake, since Priya's oven doesn't have a proper broiler--or at least not one we knew how to use) and a peach-and-cherry crisp (frozen fruit with an oatmeal crumble on top).

Also, Katie brought her annual contribution, a fantastic eggy casserole (made with tortillas, chiles, and a healthy helping of cheese) and Erum brought some excellent homemade halwa (semolina pudding). The feast also included cookies from Lena, a beautiful fruit salad from Jamie (including little crab apples that tasted not at all crabby), rugelach from Mike and Jude, Peter Pan donuts from Brina (another Greenpoint fave), and lots and lots of Prosecco.

Did I forget anything?

Oh, how about the group picture (of everybody who was there when the picture was taken)?

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