Today has been a beautiful day in Portland. After several rainy days we enjoyed bright sunshine, big billowy clouds, and balmy temperatures. All the better to have a delightful Sunday brunch with our friends John and Alan, who were visiting from Vancouver, B.C. It was great to catch up with them and to return a little of the warm hospitality they showed us when we visited Vancouver last summer. We had known for some time that we were going to meet for brunch today but we only just recently decided that the best place to have a leisurely meal was here at home. I made up a menu, a grocery list, and shopped on Friday, and started preparations last night. I’ve concluded that brunches are really interesting meals – you can serve several courses but they don’t need to the rich, heavy dishes that you might expect at evening meals. Fruit and fruit juices are welcome, light alcoholic drinks are not untoward, toast and jam are de rigueur, eggs can be front and center, and coffee and a little desert complete the picture. Sweet or savory, it all works.
Knowing that our guests preferred vegetarian cuisine I steered clear of bacon and sausage, replacing it with my favorite smoked salmon. I love serving a flavorful salad for the first course so I started by roasting some beets last evening and letting the slices marinate in a little vinegar overnight. Being a fan of fruit desserts I decided to make a rhubarb something since rhubarb is one of few fresh, seasonal fruits available this early in the spring. Rhubarb is technically a vegetable (the recent answer on Jeopardy, notwithstanding) but it is almost always served sweetened in a pie, cobbler or crisp.
Here then is our menu and links to the recipes:
Drinks: Bellinis -Light and sunny drinks of two parts peach nectar to one part spumante. For those of us who don’t drink alcohol, we replaced the spumante with refreshing sparkling cider.
Salad Course: Grapefruit and White Beets with Yogurt and Tarragon – I fixed this salad for our recent, March 7 dinner party but it is well worth repeating. The recipe calls for white grapefruit and white beets neither of which I could find in Portland. The supermarkets are carrying red and a new, yellow variety of grapefruit and none of the produce departments had ever heard of white beets. Ironically, having dinner at Lucca last night, my friend was served a salad that contained white beets. After sending the waiter to the kitchen to find out where the chef had purchased them, he reported that they came from Sheridan’s, the one store I did not check. It was too late to run out for white beets last night so I settled for golden beets – a colorful and delicious variety.
Main Course: Smoked Salmon Hash – Always delicious onion, bell pepper, potato and smoked salmon hash, enlivened with a splash of lemon juice and fresh chives, and served with a chive and sour cream sauce. I upped the ante with a soft, poached egg and a grind, or two, of fresh pepper on top. On the side, toast and vanilla pear butter.
Dessert: Rhubarb, Oat, and Pecan Crumble and coffee – This is a rhubarb recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Rustic Fruit Desserts by Portland’s Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson (for more information on this cookbook, see my Special Cookbooks article). The recipe called for all-purpose flour but I substituted Bob’s Red Mill, All-Purpose, Gluten-Free Flour and the dish came out perfectly. Please note that I did not make the dessert gluten-free out of some noble dietary purpose – I had simply run out of white flour.
Three of my favorite guys.