By Barbara Beltrami
Can even a small silver lining be found in the cloud of the COVID-19 isolation? If you and your spouse or significant other are both working from home, you can do a Valentine’s Day brunch. And even if you’re alone, you can do one for yourself, because hey, ya gotta love yourself too. It can be anything from a thick deli sandwich to takeout from your favorite restaurant to whipping up something special at home. If you’re inclined to think the third choice could be fun, I’ve got some great menu items to suggest. I’m thinking a lobster salad with avocado on a croissant, a quiche Lorraine with browned onions or coconut-almond pancakes. Of course, a Bloody Mary, Mimosa or glass of champagne is a must, and to make the whole thing extra special, have your brunch in bed.
Lobster Salad with Avocado
YIELD: Makes 2 servings
1/2 pound lobster meat
1 celery rib, cleaned and finely chopped
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 croissants, sliced open and lightly toasted and buttered
2 large leaves Boston lettuce, washed, drained
1/2 avocado, cut into 4 wedges, then brushed with lemon juice
In a large bowl combine lobster, celery, scallion, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper. Lay the croissant halves on two plates; spread lobster mixture on one half and top lengthwise with two avocado wedges, then lay lettuce on top of avocado. Place other croissant half on top and cut croissant in half. Serve with a tossed salad and potato chips.
Quiche Lorraine with Browned Onions
YIELD: Makes 4 servings
Pastry for an 9” pie
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled, fat reserved
1 onion, diced
1 cup diced Swiss cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups half and half
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line pie plate with pastry and build and flute a substantial crust around rim; place aluminum foil over bottom of crust, then spread pie weights evenly over it. Bake 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, cook diced onion in bacon fat until nicely browned, about 8 to 10 minutes; remove to paper towels to drain. Remove crust from oven; remove pie weights and discard aluminum foil. Reduce oven heat to 375 F. Sprinkle bacon, onion, Swiss cheese and grated cheese evenly over inside of partially baked crust. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, nutmeg and salt and pepper; pour into crust over bacon, onion and cheeses.
Place pie plate on cookie sheet and place on middle rack of oven; bake until knife inserted near edge comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot or warm with fruit salad or spinach salad.
YIELD: Makes 2 servings
1 1/4 cups shredded coconut
1/3 cup sliced almonds
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup milk
2 small or medium eggs
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled
Nonstick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread coconut and almonds on a baking sheet and toast till lightly browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and let cool; reserve baking sheet; reduce oven temperature to 200 F. In large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In medium bowl whisk together buttermilk, milk, eggs, coconut extract, honey and melted butter. Whisk into dry ingredients just until combined (don’t worry about a few lumps); let batter rest for 10 minutes. With heat on medium-high, heat a griddle until hot (a few drops of water should bounce when sprinkled); spray with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle 1/4 cup batter onto griddle and spread into 5” round; repeat procedure; flip once till golden brown on both sides; remove to baking sheet and put into oven to keep warm.
When ready to serve, stack pancakes with coconut and almonds sprinkled between them. Serve hot with maple syrup and sliced mangoes or oranges.