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A toast to holiday brunch: Gather round the table and share a meal with loved ones

Tidings Christmas Brunch-72205586_l-123rf
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In my house the anticipation of Christmas morning isn’t entirely focused on the presents under the tree – or at least not for me and my wife. Other than the sheer enjoyment of watching the kids open their gifts, my highlight is Christmas brunch which is a tradition inherited from my parents that I have shared with my family. Despite the multiple decades that have passed since my first Christmas brunch the timeline and key ingredients are remarkably similar.

At heart of the meal are bagels and lox. There is an undeniably unique fragrance of Montreal-style bagels. I swear I can still smell the Montreal-style bagels my aunt Mary Lynn brought over every Christmas morning when I was kid.  Good bagels still are the foundation of our brunch, as is local cold smoked salmon such as Willy Krauch & Son’s and St. Mary’s River brands. Brunch in my house consists of a platter of bagels, smoked salmon, finely sliced red onion and capers accompanied by a glass of bubbly – see our sidebar on sparkling wine picks for the holiday season – and scrambled eggs but you can put your own twist on meal with our recipes for potato pancakes with smoked salmon and chive scrambled eggs, green onion pancakes with smoked salmon or for a more substantial offering considering serving our sausage strata.

After brunch simply set out a board of locally cured meats and cheeses and you have grazing fare that is sure to satisfy everyone until the turkey comes out of the oven.


Potato Pancakes, Smoked Salmon and Chive Scrambled Eggs

Ingredients (potato pancakes):

  • 3  lb potatoes, peeled
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  •  ½ cup olive oil

Ingredients (scrambled eggs):

  • 12 eggs, whisked
  • 1/4 cup cheddar, grated
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 500 grams cold smoked salmon
  • Chives, chopped


Directions

  • Grate potatoes and add to colander. Rinse in water for one to two minutes and then allow to drain. Place grated potatoes and onion on kitchen towel. Wring to drain excess liquid. Transfer potato mixture to a bowl and mix with egg, salt and pepper. Heat oil in non-stick pan. Add 2 tablespoons of potato mixture to pan. Working in batches of 3-4 latkes at a time cook latkes until underside is browned (approximately 5 minutes) turn and cook for another five minutes. Continue until the potato mixture is finished. Keep in a warm area until ready to serve.
  • Make the scrambled eggs by whisking the eggs and cheese together. Season with salt and pepper. Add butter and eggs to a non-stick pan set to medium heat.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon. When the eggs are fluffy but still moist removed from heat.
  • To serve top potato pancakes with scrambled eggs, a couple slices of smoked salmon and garnish with chopped chives.
  • As an option, serve accompanied with a chive crème fraîche.

Green Onion Pancakes with Smoked Salmon

Ingredients (pancakes):

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Pinch pepper
  • Vegetable oil

Ingredients (toppings)

  • 1/2 red onion, skin removed, thinly sliced
  • 375 grams cold smoked salmon
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/8 cup chopped chives

Directions

  • Combine all the batter ingredients and mix thoroughly. The mixture should have the consistency of a light pancake batter. Adjust the amount of water as needed. Add two tablespoons vegetable oil to a non-stick frying pan. Place over medium heat. Fry pancakes in batches. Serve the pancakes on a platter accompanied with smoked salmon and individual bowls of sour cream, red onion and chopped chives.

Sausage Strata

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 lb mild Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 large red pepper, halved, roughly chopped
  • 1 large loaf rustic French bread, cut in 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 2 cups grated Gouda
     

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 °F. Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Whisk the eggs, milk, cream, Parmesan, oregano and salt and set aside. Place sausage and peppers in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Sauté until the sausage is cooked through. Use a wooden spoon or fork to break up sausage. Add half the bread to the baking dish. Pour half the egg mixture over the bread. Sprinkle half the Gouda and half the sausage mixture over the bread. Repeat. Let the mixture settle and then place in oven. Bake in an oven until nicely browned; approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.

A toast to the Christmas morning toast

There’s a certain inherent indulgence to Christmas morning, so why not accompany the “toast” with a celebrate toast to the day. Here are 5 picks available in Nova Scotia.

1. Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir Sparkling

While not made in the traditional method – it goes through a second fermentation in tank rather than in a bottle like Champagne - this consistent value delivers light bread-like notes and an attractive mix of fruit flavours. Interesting enough to serve on its own but inexpensive enough that you can mix it with some OJ without any buyer’s remorse.

2. Blomidon Estate Crémant

A little less carbonation makes this Nova Scotia TM (traditional method) sparkling wine seem a little bit creamier and less austere than other Nova Scotia sparklers. It’s fresh and simply delicious. It’s an affordable way to celebrate the day with local.

3. 2016 L’Acadie Vineyards Vintage Cuvée Certified Organic

Made exclusively from organically grown grapes this L’Acadie Blanc dominant traditional method sparkling wine delivers complex biscuit, toast mineral, bruised apple, pear and almond flavours. It’s definitely an opportunity to raise the taste interest of your morning sparkling wine while keeping the offering local and organic. A perfect pairing for Nova Scotia seafood!

4. 2013 Benjamin Bridge Rosé

This stylish and very pretty rosé made in the traditional method is a classic blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. It’s fresh, fruity – think flowers and red berries – and remarkably pure and invigorating. A stylish choice for a sophisticated Christmas morning celebration.

5. Champagne Gimmonet Brut Cuis 1er Cru

There is little reason to go outside of Nova Scotia for top sparkling wine but if you do this grower Champagne never disappoints with its verve and nerve. Even if you are groggy from an early morning rise, this Champagne promises to awaken your taste buds.

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