HomeLifestyleFoodIn the Kitchen With Vera: Festive holiday brunch ideas

In the Kitchen With Vera: Festive holiday brunch ideas

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Brunch is my favorite time of day to eat, and the menu allows so much creativity. Occasions for entertaining at that time of day generally include a ton of food or are filled with a festive flair, so prep time on this is generally joyful.

The Very Vera Show this week focuses on that versatile brunch meal with festive touches just in time for Christmas. The show airs on WJBF-TV at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

The sweet potato rolls are a natural bread addition to this time of day and time of year.  They truly compliment ham or chicken, which are the hands-down favorite for that time of the morning. This recipe will tempt you to step outside of your comfort zone and hopefully with great results.

Sweet potato rolls are a great Christmas brunch addition. Chris Hall/WierStewart

Sweet Potato Rolls

Makes: 24 rolls

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Bake Time: 12 to 15 minutes

⅓ cup granulated sugar

½ cup warm water (110°F to 112°F)

1 (¼-ounce) packet dry active yeast

¾ cup canned sweet potatoes, mashed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, beaten

3½ cups bread flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

Cooking spray

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve sugar in warm water and add yeast. Let bloom for 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the sweet potato puree, butter, salt, and beaten eggs. Using the paddle attachment, mix until well incorporated. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the bread flour and baking powder. Add flour mixture 1 cup at a time to the mixer bowl. Mix until dough clings to the paddle.
  4. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead 4 to 5 times. Be careful not to over-knead.
  5. Place the kneaded dough in a large oiled bowl and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  6. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. 
  7. Spray hands with pan spray, then punch down the dough and divide into fourths. Divide each fourth into 6 balls, 24 balls total. Place two balls into each cup of the prepared 12-cup muffin pan. 
  8. Cover the pan with a tea towel and let the rolls rise for 1 more hour. 
  9. Preheat the oven to 375°F while the rolls are rising. 
  10. Once the rolls have finished rising, bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. 
  11. Let cool slightly in the pan before removing. Serve warm or let the rolls cool completely before storing in an airtight container. 

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Portabella mushroom soup sounds like “stick to your bones,'” “cold day celebration” and “something you don’t always get at home.” What better reason to try this now or at any point during the Christmas Holidays. I could definitely see that paired with a Turkey sandwich.

Portabella mushroom soup. Chris Hall/WierStewart

Portabella Mushroom Soup

Serves: 4 to 6

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 to 45 minutes

4 tablespoons salted butter, divided

2 cups portabella mushrooms, cleaned and diced

¾ cup green onions, diced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons chicken base

½ cup whole milk

½ cup half & half

1 cup heavy cream

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Water, as desired

  1. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a soup pot.
  2. Sauté the mushrooms and onions in the melted butter. 
  3. In a separate pot, melt the remaining butter and add the flour, whisking constantly until a roux forms. Turn down the heat to low and stir occasionally. 
  4. In a liquid measuring cup, mix the chicken base and milk with a whisk. 
  5. Turn the heat back to medium and add the chicken-base mixture to the roux, stirring constantly until it thickens. I like to use my flat-edge wooden spoon so I can feel the bottom of the pan and make sure the thickening soup is not scalding on the bottom. The roux will be thick. 
  6. Remove the pot from the heat. 
  7. Add the roux, half & half, and heavy cream to the mushrooms and onions in the soup pot. 
  8. Cook on low heat for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the soup thickens. Serve hot. If the soup becomes too thick, loosen with water. 

For a variation, try adding your favorite sausage as a garnish!

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White chocolate raspberry bars could be a great afternoon activity for the children while school is out. The layering process is educational, and multiple children could get involved with the different steps. Be sure to follow the directions for the pan size and remember the fact that these freeze well. We’ve got some great football coming up in January, so you will be ready with a half-time treat.

Yummy Christmas brunch bars. Chris Hall/WierStewart

White chocolate raspberry bars

Makes: 30 (2-inch) squares

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Bake Time: 25 to 30 minutes

Floured baking spray

3 sticks unsalted butter

3 cups Hershey’s® premier white chips, divided 

3 large eggs

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon almond flavoring

1 ½ cups raspberry jam

1 cup sliced almonds

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and grease a half sheet pan (13 x 18 inches), with edges, with floured baking spray. 
  2. In a large bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
  3. Add half of the white chocolate chips to the melted butter. Set aside and do not stir the mixture. 
  4. In a mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed until foamy. 
  5. Gradually add the sugar, beating on medium speed until the mixture is creamy. Stir in the white chocolate chip mixture.
  6. Add the flour, salt, and almond flavoring, mixing at low speed until just blended. 
  7. Spread ¾ of the batter into the prepared pan. Set the remaining batter aside.
  8. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly brown.
  9. Stir the remaining white chocolate chips into the remaining batter and set aside. 
  10. Warm the raspberry jam and spread evenly over the warm baked crust. 
  11. Gently drop tablespoons of the remaining batter over the fruit spread. Swirl with a metal spreader to even out until a little raspberry jam is peeking through all over. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds.
  12. Place back in the oven for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
  13. Cool completely and cut into 2-inch squares.

Charcuterie is just the hottest thing going and just about the time you’ve had enough of that from holiday parties, here comes Vera with her take on the whole thing.  I really love the tent card idea because people really want to know what’s what!  

Remember to accessorize your presentation just like that black dress you wore to a couple of parties with different jewelry and shoes each time.  WOW your guests and even your family with your skills to make your board unique.

To find more of Vera’s recipes, visit her website, veryvera.com.

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