Sunday, February 14, 2016

On the Homefront: Valentine's Day Brunch Table

Cuddles the Dalmatian comes to the table bringing
Valentine's Day gifts!

Since Valentine's Day is on a Sunday this year, I decided brunch was the perfect holiday meal option.  My table is set with lots of traditional red, and I went with a rustic modern look by keeping the table simple but adding a natural woven table runner, earthy ivory plates, and flatware with faux wooden handles.  Red and white paisley napkins continue my obsession with this pattern, and a toy Dalmatian sits in the sleek black vegetable bowl at each place setting as a special gift for each diner.

Round red woven placemat; ivory BHG Amity Dinner Plate (on sale from Walmart last month); black Apilco Reglisse Bowl (from Williams-Sonoma); Valentine's Day Dalmatian toy (from Walmart); faux wood-handled flatware; red and white paisley napkin (from Tuesday Morning this month); Luminarc Working Glass; red Waechtersbach Fun Factory Mug; dark wood coaster.

A sturdy ceramic vase full of roses and a small heart-shaped
plate with a red heart-shaped candle sit at the head of the table.

A red Waechtersbach Fun Factory platter holds a cream pitcher and
sugar bowl by the same manufacturer, as well as a tin of Harney & Sons
Valentine's Blend tea.

A hearty brunch was in order for this very cold Valentine's Day!  A vegetable-filled warm stuffed tomato starts the meal, followed by easy baked French toast topped with apples sautéed to a chunky  applesauce texture with sausage chunks added.  Maple syrup is optional but a decadently sweet addition to this dish.  Juice (or mimosas!) and coffee or tea rounds out our late morning menu.

Valentine's Day Brunch Menu:

Sautéed Sausages and Apples*
Baked French Toast**
Juice/Coffee or Tea

It looks like mush, but this dish makes an excellent topping
for French toast.

*Sautéed Sausages and Apples

8 oz. fully cooked breakfast sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 T. butter
6 MacIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/4 C. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

In a large skillet, melt 1 T. butter over medium heat.  Add the sausage and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Remove the sausage and set aside.

Melt the remaining butter in the skillet.  Add the apple slices and sauté, stirring constantly, until they are almost tender, about 6-7 minutes.  Stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Add the reserved sausage and heat through.  Serve warm.  Serves 6.

Notes: I used Al Fresco Apple Maple Chicken Sausage.  The outcome of this recipe is very dependent upon the variety of apple used.  MacIntosh apples are very soft and cook down to the consistency of very chunky applesauce.  If you use a firmer apple, you may need to thicken them with a slurry of 1 tsp. cornstarch and 1/2 C. water.  If your apples are not sweet, you can increase the brown sugar to 1/2 cup.  I tend to be generous with the cinnamon because it is my favorite spice.  Vary the spice(s) depending upon your preferences (whatever works in an apple pie will work here).

**Baked French Toast

2 T. butter
1 loaf challah bread, cut into 1-inch thick slices
3 C. milk
3 T. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs, beaten
cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling

Soften the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds on HIGH.  Spread the butter generously on the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking dish (I just used a butter knife).  Place the challah slices in a single layer over the butter (I was able to fit in eight slices).  Whisk together the milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, and eggs until blended. Pour the mixture over the bread.  Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and sugar.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes, until puffed and golden.  Cut into generous squares and serve with maple syrup or topping of choice.  Serves 6.


The candy on the table (milk chocolate Lindt Lindor truffles) fills a large red glass platter, which also serves as the simple centerpiece:

Two small red heart-shaped baking dishes hold more candy (caramel-filled Lindt Lindor truffles) on the credenza:

And two silly but lovable dogs wish everyone a very happy Valentine's Day!

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