Bunny-hop out of bed for Easter breakfast

Published 10:02 pm Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Easter is hopping up on us soon. All your family coming in and plenty of eggs to decorate are in your future. You’ll be cooking up an Easter Sunday lunch or dinner and I thought I might give you a few things for Easter weekend breakfast or brunch from a few or my favorite chefs.

Paula Deen’s Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup

1 loaf French bread

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8 large eggs

2 cups half-and-half

1 cup milk

2 Tbs granulated sugar

1 tsp good vanilla extract

one-fourth tsp ground cinnamon

one-fourth tsp ground nutmeg

dash salt

Praline Topping, recipe follows

Maple syrup

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in two rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly.

Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk/egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Praline Topping

2 sticks butter

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

2 tbs light corn syrup

one-half tsp ground cinnamon

one-half tsp ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.

Giada de Laurentiis’ Easter Pie for Breakfast, Brunch or Dessert

three-fourths cup powdered sugar, plus extra for garnish

3 large eggs

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 Tbs orange zest

1 (15 oz.) container whole milk ricotta cheese

one-half cup cooked short-grained rice

one-third cup toasted pine nuts

6 sheets frozen phyllo, thawed

three-fourths stick unsalted butter, melted

Blend three-fourths cup of powdered sugar, eggs, vanilla, orange zest and ricotta in a food processor until smooth. Stir in the rice and pine nuts. Set the ricotta mixture aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly butter a 9-inch glass pie dish. Lay one phyllo sheet over the bottom and up the sides of the dish, allowing the phyllo to hang over the sides. Brush with the melted butter.

Top with a second sheet of phyllo dough, laying it in the opposite direction as the first. Continue layering the remaining sheets of phyllo sheets, alternating after each layer and buttering each sheet. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the dish. Fold the overhanging phyllo dough over the top of the filling to enclose it completely. Brush completely with melted butter. Bake the pie until the phyllo is golden brown and the filling is set, about 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool completely. Sift powdered sugar over the pie and serve.

Until next time, have fun in the kitchen, experiment and indulge your cravings!

Laura Clements is the pastry chef at Napoleon’s.