New Year's Day Brunch!

Photo: Frances Janisch

Who says the party has to end after the sun rises on New Year’s Day? Cap off the celebration with a low-key daytime get-together for friends.

“A brunch to me is festive but casual,” says Mark LoRusso, 39, executive chef of the Wynn Resort’s Tableau restaurant, one of the hottest brunch spots in Las Vegas. “You can put everything out on an island if you have one, and people can stand around, talk and nosh.”

Start the festivities after 11 a.m. to give invitees time to recuperate from the previous night’s revelry (don’t let that stop you from offering champagne and mimosas), and plan a menu full of morning favorites. “You can make it fun by getting a nonstick griddle and making the pancakes to order,” says LoRusso. “People like breakfast all day long.”

Serrano Ham Omelet

Makes 6 omelets

18 eggs
¼ cup half and half
1½ cup Piperade (see below), warm
½-lb. Serrano ham, julienned
½-lb. Manchego cheese, thinly sliced
½ cup clarified butter
Salt and pepper

1. Whisk together eggs and half and half and season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a non-stick omelet pan and brush with clarified butter. Add enough eggs to make one omelet and cook until they reach the desired consistency.
3. Place ham, cheese and piperade (see below) in the center and fold over onto plate.


¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
3 red bell peppers, julienned
1 white onion, julienned
3 tomatoes, quartered
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh thyme

1. In a large pot, heat up olive oil with garlic. Once garlic is toasted, add peppers and onion. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and add the rest of the ingredients.
2. Cover and let cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Be sure to remove bay leaf and thyme sprig when ready to serve.

Apple Cinnamon French Toast & Homemade Granola >

Apple Cinnamon French Toast

Serves 6

1 loaf cinnamon raisin brioche
4 cups apple filling (see below)
1 stick butter
Powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cut brioche into 12 slices, about ¾-in. thick. Place about ½ cup of apple filling between two slices of brioche.
2. Using a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter till slightly browned. Place two pieces of French toast in pan and cook until both sides are golden brown. Continue with the rest of the sandwiches, adding butter as necessary.
3. Place sandwiches on sheet pan and bake for about 5 minutes or until center is hot. To serve, cut off crust and cut crosswise into triangles. Dust with powdered sugar.

Apple Filling

Makes 4 cups

10 Granny Smith Apples
1½ cups sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Peel, core, and small dice apples.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and place over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes until apples are tender. Drain remaining liquid and refrigerate.


Serves 6

3 cups oatmeal
½ cup sunflower kernels
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
½ cup almonds, slivered
½ cup cashews, whole
½ stick butter
½ cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup brown sugar
¾ cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place first five ingredients onto sheet pan and bake until light brown, about 10 minutes.
2. In a small pot, place butter, honey, vanilla extract and brown sugar. Heat, stirring till sugar has dissolved.
3. Place toasted mixture in a large bowl and toss with honey mixture till evenly coated.
4. Place back into oven at 325ºF. and bake till golden brown and crumbly, about 20 minutes. Let cool, then add raisins.

Ricotta Pancakes >

Ricotta Pancakes with Cranberries and Orange Butter

Makes 18 Pancakes

Ricotta Pancakes
3 cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. baking powder
1½ cups Ricotta
2¼ cups buttermilk
3 eggs
3 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tbsp. lemon zest

1. Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl.
2. In separate bowl, combine ricotta, buttermilk, eggs and lemon zest. Mix in melted butter.
3. Sift dry ingredients into wet ingredients and fold together, making sure not to over work the mixture.

Cranberry Compote
1 cup cranberries, frozen
½ cup sugar

1. In a small pot, combine both ingredients and simmer till cranberries plump up, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Orange Butter
1 stick butter (softened)
¼ cup marmalade

Mix together.

To assemble: Spray griddle or large pan and heat to medium. Place three large spoonfuls of pancake batter on cooking surface. Spoon 6 to 8 cranberries on each pancake. Cook each side till golden brown and stack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with orange butter.

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