Sunday brunch is all about enjoying the most relaxing day of the week. Why get stressed putting it together? Here are recipes low on fuss but high on taste, starting with a Tex-Mex Strata (an egg and cheese casserole), from Leanne Ely’s “Saving Dinner Basics: How to Cook Even If You Don’t Know How” (Ballantine Books, $14.95).
It can be assembled the night before and popped into the oven in the morning. Leave out the chilies and onions and use cheddar cheese for a milder taste.
The Stuffed French Toast, a recipe featured on Rachael Ray’s “$40 a Day” television show on the Food Network, is also fast, easy and yummy enough to merit a “thumbs up” review from Tribune tasters. However, we did end up with a lot of leftover cheese mixture.
The Blueberry Sauce, which takes 15 minutes to make, is not just a great topping for French toast. Try it on ice cream, cheesecake or waffles. Just a tablespoon will transform a container of plain yogurt.
Yield: 6 servings
Source: “Saving Dinner Basics: How to Cook Even if You Don’t Know How” by Leanne Ely
6 eggs, beaten 2 cups milk Salt and pepper (to taste) 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 6 slices whole-wheat bread 1 can chopped chili peppers
(4 ounces), drained 2 tablespoons finely minced onion 3 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
Procedure: 1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix eggs, milk, mustard, chilies, onion and salt and pepper. Set aside. Cut bread into cubes. Place a layer of bread followed by a layer of cheese in casserole dish. Repeat layers until all bread and cheese are used. 2. Pour egg mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 1 to 2 hours to allow egg to soak into bread.
3. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or
until light and fluffy.
STUFFED FRENCH TOAST
Yield: 5 servings
2 1 /2 pounds ricotta cheese 3 /4 cup sugar 1 orange, zested 1 lemon, zested 2 eggs 1 /2 cup milk 3 tablespoons margarine or butter 10 slices white bread
Procedure: 1. Blend ricotta cheese, sugar, orange and lemon zest in a medium mixing bowl. Cover and set aside. Beat eggs and milk in a wide flat bowl. 2. In a large saucepan or griddle, melt margarine on medium heat. Dip each piece of bread into the egg mixture briefly on each side. Place in saucepan and cook until browned on each side. 3. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture onto 5 pieces of French toast and spread. Place remaining 5 pieces of toast on top of mixture.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries 1 /4 cup water 1 cup orange juice 3 /4 cup white sugar 1 /4 cup cold water 3 tablespoons cornstarch 1 /2 teaspoon almond extract 1 /8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Procedure: 1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the blueberries, 1 /4 cup of water, orange juice, and sugar. Stir gently, and bring to a boil. 2. In a cup or small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and 1 /4 cup cold water. Gently stir the cornstarch mixture into the blueberries so as not to mash the berries. Simmer gently until thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the almond extract and cinnamon. Thin sauce with water if it is too thick for your liking.