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Elegant Spring Breakfast
An elegant breakfast—that’s correct, breakfast—starring the season’s sweetest berries and brightest bouquets makes early rising a time to celebrate
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Breakfast done beautifully for the pleasure of others rarely occurs in most homes. But this meal, long recognized as the most important of the day, calls for celebration now and then. Presented with the same attention to detail as any other fete, a morning get-together can be exquisite.
“We’re all so eager to move our day along that breakfast is neglected,” says senior style editor Krissa Rossbund. “Most of us defer a civilized meal until dinner, especially when we’re entertaining. And that’s a shame. Breakfast, served in the soft sunlight of early morning, brings an entirely different mood to the table.”
“Mariola” linen fabric from Romo makes no apologies for its fresh floral appeal on window panels and placemats. The “Dauphin” chandelier from Currey & Co. hangs over Ethan Allen’s “Miller” dining table, which is surrounded by “Benham” side chairs. An apple-green linen settee is from Wesley Hall. The “Amherst” rug is from Safavieh. “Festival” linen napkins are from Sferra.
Photography: Peter Krumhardt
Produced by Krissa Rossbund
By May, the table’s palette can go intense, with rich purple blooms fresh-cut from the garden replacing early spring’s pastels. Sporty purple chargers blend with the flowers, anchoring shimmery glass dinner plates topped with blue-and-teal salad plates in a chinoiserie toile pattern. Glassware with both clear and blue designs and flatware featuring pearlized handles further lighten the presentation. Napkins playfully alternate from apple green to yellow, each one accented with a tiny bird’s nest of blue candy eggs. Now who says breakfast is boring?
Here’s to you, morning sunshine!
Skip the pastels and stack full-color vibrancy. Villeroy & Boch’s “Anmut My Colour” charger anchors Juliska’s “Colette” glass dinner plate and Lenox’s “Toile Tale” salad plate. “Napoleon” flatware is from Rosanna Inc.
Mix feminine silhouettes such as a “Colette” delft blue footed glass from Juliska with the sturdy shape of Villeroy & Boch’s “Boston” highball glass. “Josie” clear glasses with hobnail decoration are from Crate & Barrel.
No Ordinary Name
Silk ribbon is draped into Rosanna’s mini milk glass bowls, each abloom with a single hydrangea, and used as a display surface for each guest’s printed name card. The frayed bottom edge of the ribbon creates texture.
A table spread with vibrant garden flowers gives an uplifting start to the day. Trellis containers, nest-and-egg decorations, and all flowers used for the centerpieces, place cards, and menu cards are from Natural Decorations Inc.
Butter Equals Better
A take-home gift of thyme butter will find many uses in the kitchen. It pairs easily with sweet and savory flavors: spread it on toast with jam or baste a roast chicken. To make, soften butter and fold in one tablespoon snipped fresh herb per stick.
From Scraps to Style
Printed menu cards gain sophistication with a facelift from fabric. A remnant of apple-green linen was cut to frame the paper card and frayed at the edges. Silk ribbon holds the menu cards and the place cards together.
Get the Look - "Bunny"
We assembled variations on spring-colored table schemes to give you options that are equally stylish.
Pottery Barn’s “Bunny” accent plate rests on an “Amber” dinner plate and a “Chelsea” stitched napkin from World Market.
Get the Look - "Mariefleur"
A “Mariefleur” salad plate from Villeroy & Boch pairs with Lenox’s “French Perle” dinner plate. The “Riviera Stripe” linen is from Raoul Textiles; the woven charger is from Caspari.
Rise and Shine
It’s the season for strawberries. Chef Mary Payne Moran of Hail Mary Food of Grace has created a menu to showcase the versatility of this succulent heart-shaped fruit in both sweet and savory applications.
We’ve organized a shopping list to make shopping for this party menu easier for you. Package sizes are included so you have enough for duplicated recipe ingredients.
Check your pantry for these necessary items before shopping:
- Red wine vinegar (need 3 tablespoons)
- Olive oil (need 2 tablespoons)
- Cracked black pepper
- Whole milk (need 3/4 cup)
- Eggs (need 5)
- Unsalted butter (need 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
- All-purpose flour (need 3 cups)
- Baking powder (need 2 teaspoons) (check expiration date)
- Sugar (need 1 cup plus 1-1/4 teaspoons)
- Superfine granulated sugar (need 3/4 cup for 6 cocktails plus more for rimming glasses)
- Powdered sugar (need 2 tablespoons)
- Brown sugar (at least 3/4 cup for serving)
- Honey (need 2 tablespoons)
- Vanilla extract (need 1/2 teaspoon)
- Nonstick cooking spray
Specialty food store
- 1 (16-ounce) bottle organic lime juice
- 1 (16-ounce) bottle organic lemon juice or juice from 3 lemons (need 6 tablespoons total)
- Strawberries (based on six strawberries to a cup, you will need about 60 strawberries or 10 cups/2-1/2 liters/5-1/4 pints, Driscoll's brand strawberries produce the most consistent size)
- 1 bunch thyme
- 4 heirloom tomatoes of any color (about 1-1/3 pounds)
- 2-1/2 cups baby spring greens, such as rosebud mâche and/or baby arugula
- 1 (9.5-ounce) jar strawberry preserves
- 1 small container apple juice (need 2 tablespoons)
- 1 package shortbread cookies
- 1 (4-ounce) package pistachios
- Crystallized ginger
- 1 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry
- 1 (12-ounce) piece cured ham (smoked is okay)
- 1 (half-pint) container whipping cream
- 3 ounces double cream Brie
- 2 burrata cheese balls (about 4 ounces each) (You may need to visit a specialty grocery store or cheese shop. It may be helpful to call or order ahead.)
- 1 (750 ml) bottle tequila
- 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
- 2 ounces tequila
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
- 1 cup crushed ice
- Superfine granulated sugar for the rim
- Fresh strawberry
In blender combine 1/2 cup strawberries, tequila, lime juice, and 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar. Cover; blend until smooth. With blender running, gradually add ice through opening in lid until mixture is smooth.
Pour cocktail into sugar-rimmed glass* and serve with strawberry garnish. Makes 1 serving.
*Tip: Sugar-rimmed glass: To coat rim of glass, rub lime wedge around rim of 12-ounce glass. Dip rim into dish of superfine granulated sugar; set aside.
Baked Brie Bites with Strawberries
- 1/2 of 17.3-ounce package frozen puff pastry sheets (1 sheet)
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 12 small strawberries
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 ounces double cream Brie
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pistachios
- Cracked black pepper (optional)
Thaw puff pastry according to package direction. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 24 mini-muffin-pan cups (1-3/4-inch) with nonstick spray; set aside.
Hull and quarter half the strawberries. Place quartered strawberries in small mixing bowl. Add honey; gently stir to combine. Let stand until ready to use. Hull and slice or quarter remaining strawberries; set aside.
Leaving rind on, cut Brie in 1/2-inch pieces; set aside. On lightly floured surface, unfold puff pastry. Roll to 10x10-inch square. Cut into 2-inch squares. Place puff pastry into prepared muffin cups allowing corners to stick out of cup (you will have one extra). Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until slightly browned.
Remove pastry cups from oven. Quickly form an indentation in center of each shell using thumb or backside of rounded teaspoon measure. Place one honey-tossed strawberry quarter into bottom of each puff pastry shell. Place cut Brie on top of strawberries.
Bake 2 minutes more or until Brie is warm but not completely melted. Cool on wire racks 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups.
Top the bites with pistachios and sliced strawberries. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper if desired. Makes 24 hors d’oeuvres.
Strawberry Glazed Ham on Thyme Biscuits
Find burrata at specialty cheese stores. The cheese is a type of mozzarella, usually produced in-house to guarantee freshness. Burrata has an outer shell of traditional mozzarella and a milky, smooth interior of fresh (“unspun”) mozzarella combined with cream. It’s best to chill the cheese as soon as you get home, and use it within a few days.
- 6 Thyme Biscuits* (recipe follows)
- 2 burrata cheese balls (about 4 ounces each), chilled
- 12 slices of Strawberry-Glazed Ham (recipe follows)
- Strawberry Glaze
- Thyme sprigs
- Heirloom Tomato Salad (recipe follows)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt and additional for garnish
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves and additional thyme leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup strawberry preserves
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons apple juice
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 12 ounces cured ham chunk (smoked is ok)
Prepare the Thyme Biscuits. Preheat oven to 400°F. In large bowl combine flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, and sugar. With pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add milk all at once. Using fork, stir just until mixture is moistened.
Knead dough by folding and gently pressing just until dough holds together. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Pat or lightly roll dough to 9x6-inch rectangle, about 3/4-inch thick. With sharp knife, cut dough lengthwise in half. Cut each half crosswise into 3 equal squares. Cut each square in half on diagonal to form 12 triangles. (Or, cut dough with floured 2-1/2-inch biscuit cutter. Reroll scraps as necessary and dip cutter into flour between cuts.)
Place biscuits 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Brush the tops of biscuits with egg; sprinkle with additional thyme leaves. Sprinkle with additional salt. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.
Prepare the Strawberry-Glazed Ham. Preheat oven to 325°F. In small saucepan combine preserves, water, apple juice, butter, and sugar. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes or until thickened and glazing consistency.
Place ham, cut side down in baking dish. Add 1/2 cup water. Cover dish tightly with foil. Bake about 40 minutes or until heated through (140°F). Uncover; drain water. With spoon, spread 2 tablespoons glaze over ham. Bake, uncovered, 5 minutes more. Remove ham from oven and cut it into 12 slices.
To serve, halve each biscuit. Cut each burrata piece into 3 portions. Add 2 ham slices, a spoonful of remaining glaze, and portion burrata to bottom of each biscuit. Spoon additional glaze on top of cheese. Lay top of biscuit askew of stack. Garnish with thyme sprig. Makes 6 servings.
Note: Biscuit recipe will make 12 biscuits. Remaining biscuits may be frozen up to 3 months in freezer container or bag. Thaw at room temperature and use as desired.
Heirloom Tomato Salad
The simple, tangy dressing on this salad has wonderful contrast to the rich, velvety taste of the burrata, sweet strawberry glaze, and buttery biscuits.
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 sprig of thyme leaves (1 teaspoon)
- Salt and cracked fresh pepper
- 4 heirloom tomatoes of all colors (1-1/3 pounds)
- 2-1/2 cups baby spring greens, such as rosebud mache and/or baby arugula.
In small bowl mix together red wine vinegar, olive oil, thyme leaves, and salt and pepper. Set aside. Wash and dry heirloom tomatoes. Cut off growing end. Cut tomatoes into 8 wedges each. Add greens and tomatoes to bowl. Add dressing; toss everything well but gently. Season salad with additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.
Strawberry Buffet with Lemon Curd
The fruit stands alone: so satisfying to accessorize a big bowl of beautiful fresh berries with a variety of toppings so your guests can create individual desserts.
- 24 strawberries, hulled
- Lemon Curd (recipe below)
- 2 cups Whipped Cream (recipe below)
- Packed brown sugar, crystallized ginger, purchased shortbread cookies, and cracked black pepper
Rinse strawberries, set aside. Prepare Lemon Curd and Whipped Cream; chill until ready to serve. To serve, on a buffet set out bowls of strawberries, Lemon Curd, Whipped Cream, brown sugar, ginger, cookies, and pepper. Makes 6 servings.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
In mixing bowl combine sugar and butter until well combined, about 4 minutes. Add eggs and egg yolks. Stir until well combined.
Transfer mixture to top of double boiler. Place over gently boiling water (upper pan should not touch water). Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until mixture comes to gentle boil. Cook 2 minutes more. Add lemon juice to saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat 12 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened and an instant read thermometer registers 165° F. Remove from heat. Transfer to bowl.
Cover surface with plastic wrap. Makes about 2-1/2 cups.
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
In mixing bowl whisk whipping cream 4 minutes until soft peaks start to form. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Continue to whip cream one minute more. Set aside for later use. Makes about 2 cups.