Mother's Day Brunch New Orleans Style
In New Orleans, brunch is practically a religion because lots of folks like to go out to eat on Sunday after services, so we say why to waste a good dress up just on church services when you can extend it by going out after. There are certain restaurants that specialize in Breakfast and Brunch in the Big Easy. Among them are Brennan's, Commander's Palace, and countless little establishments that open on Sunday mornings with a special menu.
What do I serve at a New Orleans Style Brunch?
Mimosas or Bloody Marys
Cheese Grits Souffle
Apple Praline French Toast Bake
I prefer Bloody Marys, you can really be creative and go all out with a Bloody Mary Bar if you are so inclined. Celery stuffed with cheese spread, pickled asparagus, olives that are stuffed and shrimp are a few ingredients that shush up a Bloody.
Pork Grillades are smothered pork steaks or beef that have been cooked a long time in a tomato beef gravy. It's naturally served with Cheese Grits Souffle for Brunch. Here is my recipe for Pork Grillades that works great as a do-ahead dish. Just pull it out of the fridge and reheat in a slow oven for an hour, or throw it in when you cook the grits.
Cheese Grits Souffle has been a staple at Southern Brunches for decades. Easy to put together, it bakes in the oven and can hold for an hour or so after it's done. It does not transport well in my opinion, but it's a snap to make on the fly. Here is a link to the recipe.
Apple Praline French Toast is a fancy Bread Pudding dressed up for church. I love this dish because everything except the baking can be done ahead of time. Pop it in the oven with the cheese grits and you are good to go.
Torched Bananas are also a cook-on-the-go item. So easy to pull together when you have all the parts.
I use a chef's torch to flame it, but you can use matches. The liquor has to be over 40 proof for it to flame.
Check me out making here on TV with the local weather guy, and here is a link to the recipe and blog post I wrote a while back.
What can I do ahead to save time in the kitchen?
Planning ahead will make all the difference. Here's a plan for the day before:
-Make the Bloody Mary Mix and Set up the Bar with glassware, etc.
-Make the entire Pork Grillades dish and reheat in the oven.
-Shred the cheese and measure out the ingredients for the grits souffle.
-Prep the French toast bake and put it in the fridge to bake the next morning.
- Measure ingredients for Torched Bananas and have them ready. Check the torch or find matches.
-Set the table with a tablecloth, silverware, and real napkins.
-Pull out all the serving dishes you need and label if needed.
- Buy a bouquet of fresh flowers for the table.
Want more brunch ideas? Check out my book Cajun Cooking, Making it Easy available on Amazon.
How do I make Apple Praline French Toast Bake?
This recipe has lots of variations, but for a do-ahead brunch for the holidays, it can't be beat! Any white soft bread can be substituted for French bread Equal amounts of frozen apples will work instead of fresh ones.
Chef's Tip: If you are freezing the casserole ahead and not baking it right away use this trick to save space in the freezer: Line 9" x 13" casserole dish with a large sheet of plastic wrap. Prepare casserole in plastic-wrapped dish and place in the freezer to freeze. When frozen, thaw slightly, just enough to get the mixture out of the casserole dish in one block. Wrap again in plastic wrap and label before putting it back in the freezer. When ready to use, thaw just it enough to remove the plastic wrap and place it in the casserole dish you made it in to thaw. Bake as directed when thawed.
Serving size: 8
1 large french loaf bread, cubed
1/2 stick butter softened
8 large eggs
1 quart half and half cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch of salt
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and either grated or chopped
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup maple syrup to serve on the side
Preheat oven to 350 F 1. Evenly spread butter on the bottom of a 9" x 13" inch casserole dish. 2. Place cubed bread in the bottom of the casserole dish. 3. Beat eggs and sugar until smooth, add cream, extract, and spices. 4. Place apples on the bread mixture. 5. Pour custard over bread mixture and sprinkle with chopped pecans and sugar. 6. Bake for 1 hour at 350 F until puffy and golden. Serve with Maple Syrup.