Brunch on the Range
Brunch offers a relaxed approach to holiday entertaining with friends and family. Mornings are just brighter, in more ways than one. Each day begins fresh, with the promise of delicious things to come. Plus, this time of year, "the sun goes down at 3 or 4 in the afternoon," says Molly, "so if we want to get together in the daytime, it's naturally going to happen around brunch." Plenty of holidays revolve around "big dinners, like Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve," she says. "But I just love the morning time. I love waking up early and seeing the freshly fallen snow, and baking and waiting for people to come over." Here, Molly shares a make-ahead brunch menu that's full of joy and meant for sharing. It's one you'll be happy to serve your friends and family.
Harissa Bloody Marys
Kick off your festivities with this fun take on the classic brunch beverage. Molly likes to boost her version with harissa, a traditional Tunisian chile paste with a spicy, pleasantly bitter edge. "I just love those flavors," she explains, "and they're not common around Grand Forks, North Dakota. I really like being able to introduce a new ingredient like harissa to my community through a more familiar thing like a Bloody Mary." Look for harissa in cans, jars, or tubes on the international foods aisle or with the specialty sauces. If you can't find it, substitute a few dashes of hot sauce. Garnish as desired with celery stalks, lime wedges, and pickles. You can combine everything except the club soda a day ahead; give it a good stir before serving, and top off with club soda at the last minute.
You'll make more rosemary syrup than you need, but it's great to have extra on hand. It keeps well in the refrigerator, where it will last for 2 to 3 weeks. Molly suggests stirring some into club soda to make a rosemary soda, and mix with vodka or gin for a cocktail. Or, she suggests, "If you have a clean yard with freshly fallen snow, you can put some in a cup and drizzle the syrup over it" for a homemade snow cone. "That's really, really tasty," she says. You can also share the syrup with someone on your holiday gift list; attach a card with suggestions for how to use it.
Kale and Pomegranate Salad
Balancing hearty bites of kale and sweet notes of pomegranate, this salad is a flavorful, seasonal way to kick off a holiday meal. Packed with vitamins, and nutrients, kale and pomegranates are both superfoods that make for a wholesome, healthy salad. This starter is colorful and crowd-approved, making it the obvious option for your next hosting gig.
Spiked Hot Chocolate
This warming treat is the perfect accompaniment for a walk through the snow: A hint of peppermint schnapps will give everyone a little pep in their step. Think of it as more of a dessert than a beverage, as this hot chocolate is a bit of a splurge. Canned coconut milk gives it full-bodied richness and makes it an indulgence. Blogger and cookbook author Molly Yeh explains that "coconut goes well with chocolate and mint, so it really brings this hot chocolate together nicely."
Baked Marzipan Donuts
Molly admits that her love of marzipan is "never-ending." You can use the sweetened almond paste both as an ingredient in baked goods and as a decorating tool, she explains. "Since I don't have great [decorating] technique, I like using marzipan cutouts," she says. "They're so easy." The paste can get sticky, so Molly suggests dusting it and your work surface with powdered sugar. And if you're new to it, she advises approaching it like it's Play-Doh: "You can use gel or liquid food coloring with it, and just knead it into the marzipan." Look for it on the baking aisle in large supermarkets or in specialty baking stores.
Breakfast Hot Dish
If you're not from the Upper Midwest, you may not be familiar with hot dish. Traditionally, it's a casserole of starch (often French fries or tots), meat, and vegetables held together by a creamy sauce. "It's an easy way to feed a crowd," says blogger and cookbook author Molly Yeh, "and it's perfect for the dead of winter because it's so hearty and warm and comforting." Her update uses sweet potatoes flavored with Aleppo pepper. To get a head start, you can roast the potatoes and brown the sausage a couple of days ahead.
Molly on the Range: Recipes and Stories from An Unlikely Life on a Farm
Food-blogging sensation and classically-trained musician, Molly Yeh, takes us through her life on a Minnesota/Dakota farm. With a Chinese/Jewish background, her food is anything but predictable and ordinary. Whether it's her Asian Scotch Eggs or her Scallion Pancake Challah bread, Molly keeps us on our toes with her flavorful, exciting food. Read more about Molly in our December issue!