Tastemakers: Six Brunch Recipes from Amy Tobin

Amy Tobin shares brunch recipes from her book, <a href:http://www.amazon.com/Amys-Table-Food-Families-Friends/dp/1933197390/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218126225&sr=8-1>Amy’s Table: Food for Family and Friends.</a href> Maple-cured Smoked Bacon recipe is courtesy of Amy’s Table guest Michael Ruhlman.
Smoked Salmon Puff Pastry Pizza.
Smoked Salmon Puff Pastry Pizza.

Photograph courtesy Amy Tobin

Smoked Salmon Puff Pastry Pizza

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 2 pizzas, 16 servings

What’s Needed:
1 sheet frozen puff pastry; thawed according to package instructions
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
4-6 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon capers, drained
3 teaspoons lemon zest

Let puff pastry stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F.
On a lightly floured surface, gently unfold pastry sheet. Roll into a 15×10-inch rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise; prick each half all over and thoroughly with a fork. Transfer to a baking sheet.
In a medium bowl combine cream cheese, goat cheese, and mayonnaise.
Spread ½ of cheese mixture onto each piece of pastry to within ½-inch of the edge. Bake 15 minutes.
Remove from oven, top with salmon, red onion, dill, capers, and lemon zest.

To Serve: Cut each half into 8 pieces; transfer to a platter; serve.

Variation: use the topping on Crostini:
½ cup olive oil or olive oil spray
Salt and pepper to taste
1 baguette sliced into 1/3-inch slices

Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush or spray both sides of bread slices with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake 10–12 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.

Like Buttah: Compound Butter

Butter makes everything better. Every single thing. Flavored butters make every single thing even better than that!

Compound butter couldn’t be simpler to make. Start with really soft butter. Add a pinch of salt and your flavorings. Mix until well combined. (I like to mix it in my KitchenAid, but you can also do it by hand.)
Pack the butter into a crock or roll it into a log. Transfer the flavored butter to a small crock if you plan to use it all at once. Or transfer it to a piece of plastic wrap, shape into a log, and roll and twist the ends to create a nice cylindrical shape.
Stash it. Compound butters freeze beautifully. I like to wrap it in plastic first, then wrap the plastic in parchment so that I can write the flavor on the parchment paper. (I discovered the hard way that writing on the plastic wrap bleeds right into what you’ve wrapped!) I place the double wrapped log into a Ziploc before freezing. You can collect an assortment of flavors in one Ziploc. Trust me, you will feel so smug!
Use it. Serve with meats, fish, or bread. Use to flavor rice, vegetables, sauces, or anywhere you’d like a burst of beautiful flavor.

Some flavor inspiration:
Add 3–4 tablespoons of flavor elements per stick of butter, or to taste.
Blue cheese and roasted garlic
Roasted red pepper, sundried tomato, and kalamata olives
Chile, cumin, and lime
Lemon, dill, and caper
Cinnamon and maple
Cherry and brandy
Whiskey and orange

Tequila-spiked Fruit Salad with Lime.
Tequila-spiked Fruit Salad with Lime.

Photograph courtesy Amy Tobin

Tequila-spiked Fruit Salad with Lime

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: serves 6

This is one of my favorite ways to eat summer fruit. It’s from my book, Amy’s Table: Food for Family and Friends. This fruit salad makes a great brunch dish and is wonderful with grilled fish or chicken. You can always leave out the tequila or replace it with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. The dressing can be made a day ahead. The fruit can be dressed and chilled for up to several hours. Add the banana just before serving.

What’s Needed:
4 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons tequila
2 cups cantaloupe, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups honeydew melon, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups seedless red or green grapes, cut in half
2 cups pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks
2 firm bananas, peeled and sliced
1 cup strawberries, hulled and halved
Garnish: Lime zest

In a large bowl whisk together the honey, limeade, and tequila. Mix in fruit. To Serve: Garnish with lime zest.

Prosecco and Popsicles

This trend is popping up everywhere and I love it! Pretty, fresh, and effortless, it’s bound to be a summer staple at my house.

Put all-fruit popsicles into wine glasses and pour Prosecco over each. Guests can swirl and sip their drinks. The popsicles melt and turn the cocktail into a fruity-bubbly refresher. Cheers!

Baked Cinnamon Apple Pancake.
Baked Cinnamon Apple Pancake.

Photograph courtesy Amy Tobin

Baked Cinnamon Apple Pancake

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: serves 4-6

This wonderfully puffy pancake is something my sister Julia used to make for me. Try it for dessert with a scoop of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream. Tip: You can add thinly sliced apple to the batter, too.

What’s Needed:
3 large eggs
¾ cup milk
¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1½ tablespoons butter
¼ cup butter
5–6 baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
¼ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 450°F.
In a medium bowl beat the eggs, milk, flour, salt, and cinnamon until smooth.
In a heavy, ovenproof 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, pour in the batter.
Immediately place the skillet in the oven. Bake 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350°F and bake until the pancake is golden brown and puffy, about 10 minutes.
While the pancake is baking, melt butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Cook until just tender, about 8–10 minutes.

To Serve: Slide the pancake onto a platter; top with the apple filling. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.

Michael Ruhlman talks Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing

Michael Ruhlman is a well-known author, food blogger, cook, and journalist whose mission is to translate the chef’s craft for every kitchen. In addition to CHARCUTERIE: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing, he has authored or co-authored more than a dozen books about food and cooking, including Ruhlman’s Twenty, which won both a James Beard Foundation award and an International Association of Culinary Professionals award.

Michael found out that the best things in life happen when you get carried away.  He went into a culinary school to write about what it means to be a chef, and instead he became a cook, got a job line cooking, lucked into one of the great restaurants of the world to work with the chef on his book, and Ruhlman kept on writing about food. “I got carried away, and it’s made all the difference.” Ruhlman’s main goal is to get people into the kitchen to cook, to try new things, learn, and have fun. The kitchen to some is a challenging place, but it should not be. With the right techniques, books, equipment, and attitude, anyone can cook like a pro in the kitchen.

Maple-Cured Smoked Bacon

Today, when people no longer need to preserve food to survive, this recipe is a powerful reminder of America’s rich culinary history. Likely made popular by English settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries (all manner of cured pork sides were, writes Alan Davidson in The Oxford Companion to Food, “peculiarly a product of the British Isles”), cured or smoked pork has long been a part of our cooking, essential in regional specialties from New England chowders to Southern succotash. Making your own bacon embodies all the reasons we should take the time to do it at home. There may be no better flavor than good bacon, and even if you only have a charcoal grill, you can achieve excellent results.

Many small producers make excellent versions of bacon in this country, varying with time of the cure and the seasonings used. This recipe is for a sweeter bacon. There should be some sugar or sweetness to balance the salt, but if you prefer a more savory taste, omit the maple syrup. If you like black pepper, add it to the cure. Seasonings can vary infinitely, but it is the curing and the smoke that make bacon one of the greatest flavors on earth.

Yield: 4 pounds smoked slab

What’s Needed:
The Cure:
¼ cup kosher salt
2 teaspoons pink salt
¼ cup maple sugar or packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
The Meat:
One 5-pound slab pork belly, skin on


  1. Combine the salt, pink salt, and sugar in a bowl and mix so that the ingredients are evenly distributed. Add the syrup and stir to combine.
  2. Rub the cure mixture over the entire surface of the belly. Place skin side down in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag or a nonreactive container just slightly bigger than the meat. (The pork will release water into the salt mixture, creating a brine; it’s important that the meat keep in contact with this liquid throughout the curing process.)
  3. Refrigerate, turning the belly and redistributing the cure every other day, for seven days, until the meat is firm to the touch.
  4. Remove the belly from the cure, rinse it thoroughly, and pat it dry. Place it on a rack set over a baking sheet tray and dry in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 12–24 hours.
  5. Hot-smoke the pork belly (see page 74 in Ruhlman’s book) to an internal temperature of 150 degrees F, about three hours. Let cool slightly, and when the belly is cool enough to handle but still warm, cut the skin off by sliding a sharp knife between the fat and the skin, leaving as much fat on the bacon as possible. (Discard the skin or cut it into pieces and save to add to soups, stews, or beans, as you would a smoked ham hock.)
  6. Let the bacon cool, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate or freeze it until ready to use.

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