Holiday Brunch On the Run

Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

This time of year we are especially on the run-way too much to fit in those short daylight hours. These recipes for a lively brunch have been well thought out to give the biggest bang for the buck! All can be made ahead and only the frittata needs to be lightly reheated and can be served at room temperature.

The napoleon and coffee cake wreath are from Marlene’s Sorosky’s Entertaining on the Run cookbook which I helped create. We strategized and put great effort into creating menus with recipes that were special enough for a snazzy event but saved the chef time and trouble, behind the scenes. During that 2-year adventure we tested and retested so that the recipes were the fullest in flavor and the lowest in fat and calories-still a rare treat!


Smoke Salmon Napoleon

Serves 10


  • 1 package (17 1/2 ounces) puff pastry, defrosted and kept very cold
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


  •  About 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 
  • 1/2 pound garden vegetable or herb soft cheese (such as Boursin) at room temperature 
  • 1/2 hothouse cucumber, peeled and sliced very thin 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced very thin
  • 8-10 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon


  • 2-3 slices smoked salmon
  •  Dill sprigs

 To Bake Pastry

 Preheat oven to 375F.

 On a lightly floured board, roll 1 sheet of pastry into a rectangle about 15×12 inches. Cut rectangles in half lengthwise, making two 15×6 inch pieces. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Do the same with the second sheet. (Reserve 4th rectangle for another use-like pizza). Prick the 3 sheets with a fork at 1-inch intervals. Brush tops with with beaten egg making sure it doesn’t run down the sides.

 Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and puffed. Remove to racks to cool.

 To Assemble

 Up to 2 hours before serving, trim pastry to even the edges, if uneven. Place 1 sheet on the serving platter. Spread with a thin layer of mustard (it only goes on this layer) and 1/3 of the cheese. Top with half of the cucumber slices, overlapping them slightly, sprinkle with half of the dill, top with half of the onions and cover with half of the salmon. Place 2nd pastry layer on top and spread with 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat layering cucumber, dill onion and salmon. Spread underside of the third pastry layer with remaining cheese (this helps it adhere) and place as the top of the loaf, cheese side down.

To Garnish

 Make salmon roses. Arrange dill sprigs on top of Napoleon. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a cool place but at room temperature until serving time (no longer than 2 hours).

Cut into thin slices with a serrated knife.


Frittata With Bacon, Fresh Ricotta, And Greens

A frittata always provides the perfect eye opener and even better, it can be made the day ahead and lightly reheated. Inspired from Bon Appetit Magazine this version makes use of local ingredients of the season-bacon, shallots, greens, eggs and ricotta.

Serves 6

  • 12 ounces applewood-smoked bacon, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup sliced shallots
  • 12 cups (packed; 12 ounces) assorted coarsely chopped greens (such as kale, chard, and mustard greens)
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 12 ounces fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese (about 1 3/4 cups)

 Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook bacon in 12-inch-diameter ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour bacon drippings into bowl; reserve. Return 2 tablespoons drippings to skillet. Add shallots and sauté over medium heat until golden, about 4 minutes. Add half of greens and toss until beginning to wilt, about 1 minute. Add remaining greens and sauté until wilted, tender, and dry, about 15 minutes. Transfer greens to plate; cool.

 Rinse and dry skillet. Beat eggs and salt to blend in large bowl. Whisk in 3/4 cup Parmesan, then greens and half of bacon. Stir in ricotta, leaving some clumps. Heat 1 tablespoon reserved drippings in skillet over medium heat. Pour in egg mixture; spread greens evenly. Sprinkle remaining bacon and 1/4 cup Parmesan over eggs. Cook over medium heat until frittata is just set at edges, about 10 minutes. Transfer to oven and bake until just set, about 20 minutes. Cut around frittata to loosen; slide out onto platter. Let cool 30 minutes. Slice into wedges and serve.


Crowned Cran-Apple Coffee Cake Wreath

Serves 12


  • 3 large tart apples
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup chunky applesauce

 Cran-Apple Topping

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • Dash salt
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1 small red apple, unpeeled and cut into 3/8-inch slices
  • 1/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

 Grease a 12 cup tube pan with a removable bottom (such as an angel food cake pan). Preheat oven to 350F.

 To Make Coffeecake

In a food processor fitted with metal blade, pulse apples until coarsely chopped; remove to a bowl. Pulse cranberries until coarsely chopped; add with apples. In same food processor bowl, pulse both flours, baking soda, cinnamon, sugar and salt. Add egg whites and applesauce and pulse until batter is moistened. Add chopped apples and cranberries and pulse until just incorporated. 

 To Bake

Pour batter into prepared pan; it will fit only a third of the pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Cake will fall as it cools. Go around edges with a knife and remove sides of pan. Cut away from bottom and invert onto cooling rack to cool completely

(Cake may be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen at this point.)

 To Make Topping

Up to 2 hours before serving, in a 3-quart (12 cup) microwavable bowl, stir both sugars, salt and yogurt together until blended. Microwave uncovered on high for 5-7 minutes without stirring, until caramel colored. Stir in pecans, apple slices and cranberries. Microwave on high for 1-3 minutes more until syrupy. Stir fruit to coat. With a slotted spoon, remove fruit and nuts and spoon on top of cake. Set caramel aside until it thickens enough to coat. Spoon over fruit. (If caramel gets too thick, soften in microwave for 10 seconds.)

photo credits: Salmon Napolean, Crowned Cran-Apple Coffee Cake Wreath-Teri Sandison