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Organic Annie: New Year's Day Brunch

Think the parties are over, think again but worry not as Annie has a brilliant, easy, delicious solution!

New Year's Day, one more Holiday meal to cook before the Holiday kitchen shuts for another year. By now, we are all exhausted from the absolute whirlwind that is the Ibiza Christmas week. A week of family, friends and parties, an extravaganza of fabulous company, food and drink. I will mend my ways in the New Year, but not until the Second. There is fabulous New Years Brunch to be had.

Brunch is an American concept, think eggs, bread, butter and cheese in every variation thereof. For me, it calls to mind the great gastronomic city of New Orleans, Louisiana. A Southern city that shares in common with Ibiza an irrepressible joie de vivre and the love of a great party. It comes to mind due to the many fantastic brunch parties I have had the enjoyment of attending with my BFF Jenny, a longtime resident. Or possibly it's down to the cities famed restaurant Commander's Palace. The Commander's Palace Brunch is at the very pinnacle of notable restaurant food. I have never had a better brunch, ever. It is nearly an all-day affair, course after course of rich deliciousness, served up in an elegant and gorgeous old world dining room. Seriously, it is epic for the foodie, worth planning a trip.

A good brunch starts with a Bloody Mary or Mimosa Cava cocktail, and includes lots of rich comfort food. If at home, I like to serve it buffet style, on a beautifully decorated table. Guests mingle and pick between drinks. Use smaller luncheon size plates. Try to have at least three per person on hand. It is a luxury to change plates between courses; the sauces won't cross over between recipes. Fruit salad juice all over bread pudding or remoulade on fruit is a brunch faux pas.

For the host, this brunch menu is terrific. The recipes are simple and fast. Best of all, they are all to be made ahead. Rapid, fantastic food on the table as the guests arrives. I just can't think of a more fabulous way to entertain, as close to being a guest at your own party as can be. Oft repeated in New Orleans, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” (let the good times roll). Happy New Year!


Serves 8 to 10

Bloody Mary Cocktail
3 ounces tomato juice
1 1/2 ounces vodka
Juice from 1/4 lemon or lime
1/2 teaspoon horseradish, or to taste
A few drops of Worcestershire sauce
A few drops of Tabasco, or similar hot sauce
A couple of grinds of the pepper mill
A celery stick, or very New Orleans, a pickled green bean
Lemon or lime wedges

In a highball glass with ice, add the vodka, juice and seasonings. Stir with a long spoon and correct seasoning. Perch a wedge of lemon or lime on the glass rim and add the celery stick.

Tangerine Mimosa Cocktail
My oranges are not quite in sweet enough yet, but the tangerines are fabulous. A delicious twist on an old standard.

Pitcher of fresh squeezed tangerine juice, chilled
Bottle of cava, chilled
Grand Marnier

Into a flute, pour half a glass of tangerine juice, fill with cava. Add a splash of Grand Marnier. Refill often throughout the day.

New York Coffee Crumb Cake

In America a “Coffee Cake” is a cake to be eaten with coffee, sometimes late in the afternoon, but more often mid-morning. New York comes into it, because apparently, a New Yorker who liked lots of the crumb topping, doubled the amount called for in the original recipe. Good ideas catch fast and New York has its own version. The original recipe calls only for cinnamon. But living on Ibiza in close proximity to North Africa, I am taken with all of the warm spices and so like to use star anise, cloves and nutmeg in addition. For crumb cake perfection toast and grind your own spices.

Cake Batter:
Preheat oven to 350F/177C
Butter and flour a springform pan. Other round cake tins can be used, but with it's high sides the springform pan holds the topping together and makes for neat sides.

Sift together in a medium bowl:
2 Tablespoons canola oil, or other flavorless oil
1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 salt

In a small bowl lightly beat together:
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine the liquid ingredients into the bowl with flour mix and fold togeher

1 cup tight packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon equal parts clove, star anise and nutmeg

Mix all together in a bowl, it should be moist and crumbly
Pour the cake batter in to the prepared tin and shake back and forth to distribute the batter equally.
Lightly rub the topping mixture between the fingers to create medium sized crumbs, covering all surfaces of the cake batter in an even layer. Use it all. It looks like a lot, but every bit will be enjoyed.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, test for doneness by inserting a tooth pick, if clean it's ready.

Savory Bread Pudding:

The recipe is adapted from Gourmet Magazine's cookery book, by Ruth Reichl, one of America's premier food volumes.

IMPORTANT: For the bread to properly absorb the egg/milk mixture, the bread pudding must be put together at least 8 hours before baking. Make it the night before, it takes 20 minutes and makes for an easier morning.

Variations: The original recipe calls for layers of spinach, sadly my daughter hates spinach (actually, at this point, she considers any vegetable to be the ruination of a good rich pudding). For our family holiday, it's out.
If using spinach, sauté 500 grams spinach with the onion, wring out any excess water. Or sauté 750 grams of mushrooms with the onion. Make sure to cook all water out. I might add a Tablespoon or 2 of brandy to the cooking vegetables.

Preheat the oven to 325F/160C
Butter a gratin dish and set aside

1 large onion finely chopped
3 Tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 cups baguette style bread, about 1/2 pound/500 grams
2 cups grated semi cured Manchego cheese
1 cup finely grated parmesan or cured Mahon cheese
2 3/4 cups whole milk
9 eggs lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
A few drops, tabasco sauce

Whisk the wet ingredients and set aside.
In a heavy bottomed pan, soften - do not brown - the onion in the butter.
Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne and remove from heat and toss with the bread.
If using other vegetables, do not toss as it will be used for the middle layers.
Layer one third of the bread cubes, 1/3 vegetable mix if using, 1/3 cheese.
Repeat the layers 2 times, ending with cheese.
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes

Baked Ham with Remoulade

Sali fret
Paseo s'Alamera, 17
Sta. Eulalia
971 33 66 06

Call Carmen at Sali fret, the German Style butcher and order baked ham. They are hand prepared by her husband, Werner, and are divine. Generally around a kilo each, I would buy 2 for 8 people, it is hideous to run out. Open 1 at a time, in case the second is not needed. It comes in cryovac so will keep a few weeks. Get the horseradish needed for the Bloody Mary's and the remoulade here. It is labeled Thomy Meerrettich, comes in a green tube and is behind the counter with other Thomy condiments. Also available are sweet pickles.

For the ham:
Bring to room temperature, and slice. Reheating might dry it out and as this is served buffet style it does not need to be piping hot.

For the Remoulade
Remoulade is a New Orleans classic. It never fails to please, literally everybody loves it. Extremely versatile, it goes well with roast beef, chicken seafood or eggs. It is an excellent replacement for the Rose sauce normally paired with poached shrimp and is fantastic here with both the ham and the bread pudding. Make a double batch; it's great to have around. Adapted from Gourmet Magazine's cookery book

1/4 cup creamy Dijon mustard
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons minced parsley
2 Tablespoons minced chives or green onions
3 Tablespoons minced sweet pickle, sweet gherkins work well
2 Tablespoons horseradish
2 teaspoons sweet Spanish paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and fresh pepper to taste

Mix all together and taste. If the taste is a bit astringent or hot, add a couple of tablespoons of Greek yogurt, double cream or crème fraiche.

Fruit Salad

Pineapple is a great choice for this meal, it pairs extremely well with the ham and its acid is a great foil for the richness of the bread pudding. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to stick with other tropical fruit in combination with pineapple. Happily, Spanish mango is in season. Add a little color and festivity with a few berries.

2 Pineapples, peeled, de-cored and cut into chunks
2 Mangos chunked
1 box Raspberries
1 box Blackberries

Mix the mango and pineapple, careful not to squish the mango. Add the berries just before serving so as not to discolor the salad.

Note: Mango can be a mess. To prepare mango nicely, cut it lengthwise on each side of the stone, making 2 halves. Cut each half into cubes by cutting the straight lines lengthwise and then vertically. Cut only the flesh, leaving the skin intact, turn the half inside out, pushing the cubes up. Run the knife along the skin and the cubes will fall off.

Many thanks to Chef Neil Allen for his invaluable help with the preparation of the food and the photography. Neil is a great cook and a joy to work with.

To see all of Annies articles, please see Ibiza Spotlight Chef, Annie Sijmonsbergen

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