Kitchen Accomplice By John Kirkendall

One avenue to an elegant brunch

 Begin by ushering your guests to the patio.  Have four pitchers and lots of sparkling stemware awaiting on a serving table —  one pitcher for Bloody Marys, one for Mimosas, one for iced tea and one for lemonade.  Put a guest in charge of keeping the glasses filled while you wrap up the brunch entrée in the kitchen.  Have lots of ice in interesting containers.  Garnishes might include olives, lime, slivered jalapeño peppers and celery sticks for the Bloody Marys; Orange slices for the Mimosas, lemon wedges for the iced tea, and mint for the lemonade.  Remember, if you use tall pilsner style glasses, no garnishes are necessary or appropriate.   A tray of breadsticks, some with Maytag Blue Cheese butter, will round it out.

Make your own iced tea — very economical and tastes decidedly better than others.  I think some of the  boxed lemonades are quite good, but this, too, you can prepare yourself if you choose.  
The beverages can be done in advance.  Just open the champagne at the last moment.  You will also want to do the Mornay Sauce and the Duxelles ahead.  This will make your egg roll up a cinch to do while guests are milling and renewing old times.  The blue cheese butter is best done a day ahead, covered and refrigerated.  Bring to room temperature before using.
The patio gathering is for the purpose of keeping everyone out of your kitchen while you put the finishing touches on a glorious brunch entrée.  I have suggested using sausage.  Another terrific choice is fresh or smoked salmon.  You will know your crowd.  If I were to choose salmon I would opt for a Hollandaise topping with dill, rather than the salsa I suggest here.  Salsa is simpler.  You’ll know.  And if you want something vegetarian, use slices of fresh zucchini instead of the sausage or salmon.  The real point, as always, is to please those you have invited to join you.  (And this menu, I promise, will please your guests!)
Mesa Grill’s Spicy
Bloody Mary 
20 ounces tomato juice
6 ounces vodka
2 dashes Bobby Flay’s Hot Sauce
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
Pinch celery salt
Pinch black pepper
1 lemon, juiced
Celery spears, for garnish
1 jalapeno pepper, slivered, (and I have added olives and lime, too) for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a small pitcher, pour into 2 large glasses filled with ice and garnish with celery spears, slivers of jalapenos and an olive and lime wedge. 
Sesame bread sticks with Maytag blue cheese and butter
Blend a stick of unsalted butter with a small package of Maytag blue cheese (don’t even bother considering inferior blue cheeses for this brunch.)  Put into the mix a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce and spread on one half of a sesame breadstick.  Goes famously with the entrée and the Bloody Mary!
Your Mimosas will be cocktails having two parts of thoroughly chilled orange juice combined with three parts icy cold champagne.   This cocktail is a perennial favorite brunch addition.
Elegant Egg Roll Up
Time 20 minutes
Serves 4
6 eggs separated
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flour
Nonstick cooking spray
1-1/2 cups cooked sausage, crumbled – use one cylindrical package, more or less
1-1/2 cups Duxelles
1/2 cup cooked, drained, seasoned and squeezed spinach
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/4 cups Mornay Sauce
Chopped parsley (the current rage favors flat leafed Italian parsley – my vote is for the curly parsley instead for this dish.)
Cheddar cheese 
How to make it 
In mixing bowl combine yolks, pepper and salt then beat well.
Beat in flour until smooth.
In separate bowl beat egg whites until stiff then fold into egg yolk mixture.
With nonstick cooking spray grease bottom of jelly roll pan.
Line with parchment paper then grease again.
Pour egg mixture into pan and spread to 1/2” thickness to edges.
Bake in preheated 350 oven for 8 minutes.
Immediately invert onto clean sheet of wax paper.
Remove pan and peel off paper.
Spray skillet with cooking spray then add duxelles and just heat through.
Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
Gently heat Mornay sauce and spoon 3/4 cup over egg layer.
Add the remainder of the filling ingredients.
Starting with long side roll jelly roll style keeping filling inside.
Place roll in a shallow baking pan with seam down.
Drizzle remaining Mornay sauce over and around the egg roll.
Bake in preheated 375 oven for 10 minutes on a heat-proof platter suitable for serving.
Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Have Salsa in a bowl on the side.
Classic Mornay Sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups warmed milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is pale yellow and frothy, about 1 minute. Do not allow the roux to brown. Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens and comes to a boil, about 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Allow to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cheese and whisk until melted. If the sauce seems too thick, thin with a little milk.
1/2 lb.mushrooms 
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter; divided
3 Tbsp. finely chopped shallot
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. dried thyme or 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup white wine
1. Finely chop mushrooms in a food processor. 
2. Scrape mushrooms out into a clean, cotton towel. (Note: Do not use terry cloth, and choose an old towel as you will stain it.) 
3. Twist towel around mushrooms and wring out as much liquid as you can over the sink. 
4. Heat a large (10-inch) non-stick skillet over a burner set between medium and medium-high. 
5. Add 1 tablespoon butter and swirl to melt and avoid burning. 
6. Add mushrooms, shallots, a pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper, and thyme. 
7. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms appear dry and are beginning to brown; about 5 minutes. 
8. Stir in remaining tablespoon of butter, and, when melted, the wine. 
9. Cook, stirring frequently, until the wine has evaporated. 
10. Remove from heat and cool.
Judge Kirkendall is a retired Probate Judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. I am (thankfully) past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at