Friday, April 27, 2012

Special Brunch - Egg Strudel

Mother's Day is coming up!  Have you thought about plans for the mother or grandmother in your life?  For some people that means reservations at a nice restaurant.  If your family is like The Lawyer's, however, that's not very practical.  He has a extended family that includes four generations who are all very close. Family celebrations are large and include everyone from his parents (who are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary this summer) to several itty-bittys just learning to walk. One of the family's major annual events is their Swedish sausage-making party shortly before Christmas. They work in teams to shove a gooey mass of potatoes, meat and milk into (ahem) "natural casings". I tend to watch from a safe distance and try not to think about the casings.

If you also have extended family gatherings (hopefully sans casings), think about this egg strudel recipe for a wonderful Mother's Day brunch.

 It's visually stunning and makes a lot of servings.  It can even be made in advance and simply baked before the party.  That's why a little orange juice is added to the eggs - the vitamin C helps preserve their color.  Everyone from Generation 1 to Generation 4 will like the ingredients:  potatoes, ham, eggs, cheese, and puff pastry. I would suggest serving it with asparagus in lemon sauce on your prettiest plates, accompanied by mimosas and coffee for the adults and juice for the kids. (On second thought, maybe you shouldn't use your prettiest plates if there are kids involved.  Save them for adult occasions - see below.)

Not only would this make a great Mother's Day brunch, it's ideal for weekend guests or anytime you want to have a special brunch.  It looks very fancy but actually it's really easy - the key is how you cut the puff pastry for braiding.  Just follow the visuals and you'll be fine.

* * click here for a printable recipe copy * *

Egg Strudel
Makes 2 strudels, 8 to 12 servings depending on how they are cut

1 box (two sheets) puff pastry dough (1.1 lb)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup frozen cubed hash brown potatoes
1 cup green or red bell pepper, seeded, diced
½ cup onion, diced
1 cup smoked ham or turkey, diced
11 eggs
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons shredded parmesan

Thaw puff pastry according to package directions.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and sauté 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and onion; sauté 3 minutes, then add ham or turkey.

Whisk 11 eggs and chives together. Add them to the pan and scramble just until set and still a bit soft. Season with salt and pepper and take off the heat. Stir in the cream cheese and orange juice until blended. Refrigerate eggs while working on the pastry.

Unfold a thawed pastry sheet on a work surface lightly dusted with flour. Roll pastry to a 12” x 10” rectangle, then transfer to a piece of parchment cut to fit a baking sheet. Trim pastry by cutting off the top corners at an angle and notching the bottom corners (see picture below).

Spoon half the egg mixture down the center, then cut an equal number of strips on both sides at a 45 degree angle. 

 Fold the flaps up over the eggs at both ends, then braid the strips by alternately crossing them over the filling. 
Repeat with the other pastry sheet and remaining egg mixture. Transfer parchment and strudels to baking sheets.

Combine the remaining egg and water by whisking; brush over the tops of the strudels and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. (At this point, strudels may be covered in plastic and refrigerated overnight.) 

 Bake strudels for 20-30 minutes, or until golden. Let cool 5 minutes before slicing.

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