Wolfgang Puck's Brunch Recipes

As part of Good Morning America's "Holiday 101" series, Wolfgang Puck shared some of his delicious and simple recipes for a holiday brunch. Check out Wolfgang's Southwestern Strata with Sausage, Pistachio Crusted Vanilla French Toast, Brandied Apricot Jam and Caramel Pecan Cinnamon Rolls.

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Southwestern Strata with Sausage

Makes 4 to 6 servings

• 3/4 pound bulk pork or turkey sausage, mild Italian sausage, or chorizo, casings removed
• 1/2 pound stale rosemary country bread or French bread, cut in 3/4-inch slices
• 1 garlic clove, cut in half
• 1 cup grated pepper-jack cheese
• 6 eggs, slightly beaten
• 2 cups milk
• 1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• Freshly ground pepper
• 1 cup fresh tomato salsa for garnish

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the sausage. Saute, breaking it up into bite-size chunks with a wooden spoon, until cooked through and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage pieces to paper towels to drain and cool.

Oil a 12 x 10-inch baking dish or gratin dish. Rub the bread slices with the cut clove of garlic and spread in a single layer over the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle half the cheese over the bread, top with the sausage, and finish with the remaining cheese. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat together the eggs, milk, mustard, salt, and pepper. Pour over the bread mixture. Bake 45 minutes to an hour, until the top is browned and the mixture is slightly puffed. Serve with salsa on the side.

Pistachio-Crusted Vanilla French Toast

Makes 4 servings

• 4 large eggs, beaten
• 2 cups milk
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 8 (1-inch-thick) slices good-quality white bread, brioche, or egg bread such as challah
• 2 cups shelled pistachios, coarsley ground in a food processor fitted with the steel blade or 2 cups slivered almonds
• 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
• Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter one or two baking dishes large enough to accommodate the bread in one layer. In a large, wide bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt.

Heat a large, heavy, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. One by one, dip the bread into the egg mixture, turning it and making sure it is completely saturated. Carefully dip the slices into the ground pistachios, coating them evenly on both sides.

Add the butter to the hot pan and swirl the pan. When the butter foams, carefully transfer as many pistachio-coated slices as will fit in the pan without crowding. Brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side, and transfer to the baking dish. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake 15 minutes.

To serve, cut each slice diagonally in half and arrange the triangles on heated serving plates. Spoon powdered sugar into a fine-meshed sieve and tap the sieve over each serving to dust it attractively with sugar. Serve hot with jam, maple syrup, fresh berry compote or Wolfgang's Brandied Dried Apricot Jam.

Brandied Dried Apricot Jam

Makes 1½ cups
Wolfgang suggests serving this as an accompaniment for his Pistachio-Crusted French Toast.

• 1 cup firmly packed, dried apricots, cut into small pieces
• 1½ cups water
• 1/4 cup apricot or peach brandy
• 1/4 cup dry white wine
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cinnamon stick

Put the apricot pieces in a mixing bowl, bring the water to a boil, and pour over the apricots. Add the brandy and wine, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in the refrigerator to soak for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour or for as long as overnight.

Transfer the apricots and their soaking liquid to a nonreactive saucepan. Add the sugar and the cinnamon stick and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has a thick, jamlike consistency, about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl or storage container, remove and discard the cinnamon stick, cover, and refrigerate.

Caramel-Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 12 rolls

For the dough:
• 2½ teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
• 1 cup milk, heated to lukewarm (80 degrees F. to 90 degrees F.)
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 3 large eggs
• 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the topping:
• 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup light brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
• 1½ cups pecan halves

For the filling:
• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
• 2 tablespoons milk, at room temperature for brushing before baking

Combine the milk and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to dissolve. Add the sugar and stir together until the sugar is dissolved. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix together using the paddle attachment of your mixer (or with a wooden spoon in a bowl). When the mixture is smooth, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand for 1 hour.

Add the eggs to the sponge, one at a time, and beat with the paddle attachment until incorporated, scraping down the sides after each addition. Add the remaining flour and salt. Change to the dough hook and knead at low speed for 1 minute, then at medium speed for 5 minutes, or until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

With the mixer at medium speed, add the room-temperature butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue to knead until each addition is incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times by hand. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball. Rinse and oil your bowl, return the dough to it, rounded side down first, then rounded side up. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for 1½ hours, until doubled.

When the dough ball has doubled in size, use your fist to punch it down in the bowl. Cover again and set in a warm place to rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the topping.

If using a muffin tin for the rolls: In a heavy saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons butter and stir in the light brown sugar, honey, and seeds from the vanilla bean. Stir in the 1½ cups of pecan halves and mix well. Spray muffin tins with pan spray, and spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of each cup. If using a round frying pan or casserole for the rolls: Combine 6 tablespoons of the butter with the light brown sugar, honey, and seeds from the vanilla bean in a 12-inch chicken-fryer or metal casserole. Stir over medium heat until the butter and sugar have melted. Stir in the 1½ cups of pecan halves and mix well. Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan, remove from the heat, and set aside.

To shape the rolls, lightly flour a work surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough ball to a rectangle measuring about 9 x 18 inches. Brush evenly with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar. Sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly over the surface, and roll up the dough, starting at a long edge, like a jelly roll. With a sharp serrated knife, cut the log crosswise into twelve 1½-inch thick slices. Arrange them on top of the mixture in the muffin pans or in the pan or casserole. Cover with Pam-sprayed plastic wrap and leave at warm room temperature to rise for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Uncover the muffin tin or pan. Brush the rolls with milk and bake for 10 minutes at 400ºF. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees F and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer, until puffed and golden brown.

Unmolding the rolls:

Muffin tins: Place a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet. Remove the buns from the oven and invert immediately onto the parchment. Leave them alone for about 30 seconds, then lift the muffin tin. Do not touch the caramel -- it's very hot. Serve the rolls warm.

Pan or casserole: Remove from the oven and invert a large heatproof plate over the casserole. Using oven gloves or pads, hold the casserole and plate securely together with both hands and invert them onto a work surface. Leave them alone for about 30 seconds, to give the rolls and their topping time to unmold. Then, lift off the casserole and use a spatula to dislodge any of the pecan mixture still sticking to the pan and transfer it to the rolls. Serve the rolls warm.

Recipes courtesy of Wolfgang Puck, copyright 2004.

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