Eat & Drink

Brunch for a bunch serves up the fresh flavors of spring

An easy-to-do spring brunch spread includes Cheese Grits, Watermelon Gazpacho, Japanese-Style Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes With Berries, Shrimp Caesar With Parmesan Crisps and Baked Egg and Prosciutto Baskets.
An easy-to-do spring brunch spread includes Cheese Grits, Watermelon Gazpacho, Japanese-Style Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes With Berries, Shrimp Caesar With Parmesan Crisps and Baked Egg and Prosciutto Baskets.; food styling by Karen Elizabeth Watts, special to The Star

Easter is the perfect time to host a brunch for friends and family.

So be a good egg and try these prosciutto-wrapped eggs baked in a muffin tin for easy portioning. Serve the eggs alongside Japanese-style hotcakes lightened with ricotta cheese then garnished with fresh berries and powdered sugar. These hotcakes are sweeter, lighter and fluffier than American-style pancakes.

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Craving a fresh salad? Try our Caesar salad with shrimp for an elegant bite. Decorate with edible flowers for a presentation sure to wow your guests. Or offer up a refreshing watermelon gazpacho, a nod to warmer days to come.

Cheese grits can only add a touch of comfort food to your festive gathering.

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And if you need a quick and clever floral arrangement for the table, add baby bok choy and cabbage buds to a bouquet of flowers from your yard or the store.

Baked Egg and Prosciutto Baskets

Makes 6 servings

12 slices prosciutto

1 cup grated Gruyere

12 large eggs

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram

1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Carefully fit 1 slice of prosciutto in each cup of the muffin pan, covering the bottom and sides. Equally divide cheese over prosciutto. Crack 1 egg into each cup and top with thyme, marjoram and cracked pepper. Drizzle each egg with cream.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until egg is just set. Run a knife around the edge of each cup and remove from muffin pan.

Per serving: 291 calories (64 percent from fat), 20 grams total fat (9 grams saturated), 468 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams carbohydrates, 23 grams protein, 702 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber.

Shrimp Caesar With Parmesan Crisps

Makes 6 servings

Parmesan crisps:

3/4 cup grated Parmesan


1/2 cup olive oil

4 anchovy fillets, chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard


2 heads romaine hearts, cleaned and separated into leaves

1 pound (16-20 count) shrimp, shelled, deveined, cooked and chilled

Red, yellow and orange pepper, diced

Edible flowers, optional garnish

To prepare the crisps: Heat nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add cheese, by the teaspoon, forming a circle, into the skillet. Cook until lacy and slightly set; about 1 minute. Flip and cook until crisp, about 1 minute more. Allow to cool on wire rack.

To prepare the dressing: Combine all ingredients and chill

To assemble salad: Divide romaine leaves among 6 plates, drizzle with dressing, top with shrimp and diced peppers and garnish with Parmesan Crisps. Add edible flowers, if desired.

Per serving: 331 calories (61 percent from fat), 23 grams total fat (5 grams saturated), 125 milligrams cholesterol, 8 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams protein, 449 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.

Cheese Grits

Makes 8 to 10 servings

4 cups water

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup quick-cooking grits

1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup half and half

3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8-by-8-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Bring 4 cups water to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in butter and grits. Reduce heat to medium; cook until mixture thickens slightly, stirring, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Fold in cheese. Whisk half and half and eggs in small bowl. Gradually whisk mixture into grits.

Pour cheese grits into prepared dish. Bake until grits feel firm to touch in center (grits will still be soft), about 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.

Per serving, based on 8: 264 calories (56 percent from fat), 16 grams total fat (10 grams saturated), 122 milligrams cholesterol, 17 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams protein, 295 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber.

Watermelon Gazpacho

Makes 8 servings

4 cups cubed seedless watermelon

1 cucumber, diced, reserve half

3 medium tomatoes, diced, reserve half

1 small red bell pepper, diced, reserve half

1/3 cup chopped green onions, diced, reserve half

1 garlic clove

6 leaves basil

3 to 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 jalapeno pepper

Set aside the reserved half of the chopped cucumber, tomatoes, red pepper and green onions and place the remaining half in a blender. Add the watermelon, garlic, basil, vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, pepper and jalapeno pepper. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Chill for 3 to 4 hours or overnight.

Serve with reserved chopped vegetables, drizzled olive oil.

Per serving: 98 calories (52 percent from fat), 6 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 10 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 243 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Japanese-Style Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes With Berries

The following recipe is simple to execute but requires English muffin rings. R&M 2080 English Muffin Mold Rings are $6.47 for a set of 4 on Amazon, or check with your favorite housewares store.

Remember to have patience, and cook low and slow for the perfect hotcake.

Makes 6 servings

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

1 cup buttermilk

2 whole eggs

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

Zest from half a small lemon

1 pint fresh blueberries and/or blackberries

Slivered almonds for garnish

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a bowl. Slowly add the melted butter until the flour mixture starts to form pebble-shaped balls. Slowly add the buttermilk, then 1 egg at a time until fully incorporated. Gently fold in ricotta cheese and lemon zest into batter.

Heat a large griddle or saucepan over medium-low heat. Grease the inner sides of 6 egg rings with butter, then place them on the griddle or saucepan. Fill each ring three-quarters full with the batter. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Once bubbles begin to appear in the batter and the pancake rises to the top of the ring, carefully flip the hotcakes and cook for additional 3 to 4 minutes on the second side.

Serve with blueberries and/or blackberries. Garnish with slivered almonds and powdered sugar.

Per serving: 437 calories (42 percent from fat), 21 grams total fat (12 grams saturated), 124 milligrams cholesterol, 54 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams protein, 1,337 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

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