Spice my brunch up

Not having the ability to go into the future and show you the food I am making for brunch tomorrow, I instead offer you the view from where tomorrow's pre-brunch 5K will be. Hey -- Minneapolis. I love you.

Tomorrow I’m going to HeartBeat 5000, a 5K benefiting Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. I’ll be under the registration tent as a volunteer, not under the sun as someone who would willingly run three miles. I’m volunteering with a group of friends, and afterward they’re all coming over for brunch. While I am opposed to the cutesy joining of two words to form a new word (guesstimate!), I support the juxtaposition of classy dishes alongside normally-not-classy drinking-before-noon. They cancel each other out in a way that society has deemed appropriate. It’s best not to question it.

I’ve set a spicy theme for the brunch. I’m also opposed to themed meals. But, as established in the previous paragraph, brunch defies logic.

But wait, you say. Get back to this spicy theme. OK, I say. Let’s examine the menu:

  • huevos rancheros – spicy black beans with salsa and sour cream atop a crispy tortilla! (I demand more reasons to use the word “atop”)
  • spicy cheddar hashbrowns – made from scratch!
  • pepper jelly pastries – puff pastries filled with pepper jelly (duh) and cream cheese!
  • Bloody Mary bar – with horseradish vodka and tomato vodka!

Here’s a secret, though. Don’t tell anyone. I have a few things on the menu that are not spicy, as I enjoy overplanning:

  • watermelon granita – a delicious blend of watermelon, lemon juice, sugar and vodka!
  • champagne granita – champagne thrown in the ice cream maker!
  • yogurt with strawberries, blueberries and agave nectar – to make sure there is enough for everyone!

So. Help me. Let’s just say yogurt, champagne and watermelon do not require spice. We’ll break theme. Don’t tell whoever keeps track of brunch themes. (Wait. Is it me?)

What other spicy dishes or drinks would you serve for brunch? Say things. I’m lonely. And I have to make this stuff tonight.

Fresh Herb and Grain Salad

Fresh Herb and Grain Salad

Fresh Herb and Grain Salad

I’ve had a craving lately that I couldn’t quite pin down. Then I realized: I want to eat spring.

Months of climbing through snow and missing quality time with the sun made me want to cook dishes that would trick me into believing it was springtime. If not all of me, then at least my tongue, and that’s a part of my body I try never to anger.

So I ran to the store without much of a plan and wound up with a new recipe: my Fresh Herb and Grain Salad. The fresh flavors come through in each bite, along with a great nutty texture, thanks to the mix of quinoa, farro and bulgur wheat. To add an extra bit of happiness and sunshine to the mix, I suggest eating this while riding a unicorn across a rainbow. Should unicorns have gone extinct by the time you read this, substitute a chariot led by puppy dogs and leprechauns.

As this was an eat-as-you-go kind of recipe, I just kept throwing in more dill and parsley until I was happy. Try the three grains out as a base for your own salad, then experiment with it and let me know if you like other herb combinations as well. The herbs are where almost all of your flavor is coming from, so be generous. I also tried this salad as a warm side dish, and it worked well. Just don’t cool the grains after you’ve cooked them if you’re going for that, then serve the leftovers as a cold salad later on.

Fresh Herb and Grain Salad

1 C quinoa
1 C bulgur wheat
1 C farro
4 oz. clover sprouts (or alfalfa sprouts)
2 lemons
3 T olive oil
1/2 bulb of fennel
handful of fresh dill
4 oz. fresh parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare the quinoa, bulgur wheat and farro. I use a rice cooker for my quinoa, then rinse the farro and cook it in boiling water for about 15-20 minutes, throwing in the bulgur wheat about halfway through.

Meanwhile, juice both of the lemons and whisk with the olive oil. Mince the fennel bulb and finely chop the herbs and sprouts. Combine herbs and sprouts with lemon dressing.

Drain and cool the grains, then mix all ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley.