Even though I am rarely at home for the Christmas holidays and even more rarely partaking in a large family gathering, I do enjoy the cooking and baking that such occasions bring. Heck, I just enjoy entertaining, so when my Katja from Everywhere Society approached me to review the Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving and Holiday Cookbook, I couldn’t have been more pleased. A compilation of over 80 recipes from the 13 all-star chefs of The Culinary Council, this book explores the history of the legendary Thanksgiving Day Parade and gives you ideas to start new traditions of your own with festive food for the holidays.
Available for $24.95 (US) at select Macy’s stores and on macys.com this holiday season, this is a beautifully presented book featuring recipes, cooking and entertaining tips from the Macy’s Culinary Council chefs, who include Rick Bayless, Cat Cora, Emeril Lagasse, Nancy Silverton, Wolfgang Puck and Marcus Samuelsson. There’s a classic Thanksgiving menu from Marc Forgione, a Hannukah menu from Michelle Bernstein and a New Year’s Eve party by Takashi Yagihashi – really something for everyone, whateever holiday you celebrate (or not!). There’s also a wonderful look at the history of Macy’s famous Thanksgiving parade, started in 1924, and a peek behind the scenes.
I was particularly excited to find a great menu for a “Parade Party” from Emeril Lagasse. Suggested as a meal to enjoy whilst watching the parade on TV, Emeril’s menu is suitable for any holiday brunch – a meal I often find that doesn’t get enough attention amidst the plethora of evening events so typical of the holiday season. A sparkling Prosecco cocktail is followed by coddled eggs with fresh herbs, chicken sausage breakfast patties, and homemade granola and the “main event” – breakfast casserole with broccoli, ham and cheese. As soon as I saw this, I knew I had to test it out – I am always on the lookout for variations on breakfast eggs (other than the usual scrambled or omelettes) and I liked the sound of a casserole you prepare the night before. On further inspection, I discovered it is not actually made with that many eggs (one per person), half-and-half instead of cream and it’s actually packed with broccoli, making it much healthier and lighter than your regular egg dish for brunch.
It’s a cinch to prepare and then it just bakes for 45 minutes in the morning – my kinda breakfast, holidays or not!
Breakfast Casserole with Broccoli, Ham and Cheese
An easy breakfast casserole that's not too heavy but packs a flavour punch!
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, plus more to season
- 6 cups broccoli florets (from about 2 pounds broccoli heads)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
- 1 1/4 cups (about 8 ounces) finely chopped ham
- 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
- 8 cups cubed crusty bread such as French or Italian (1-inch cubes)
- 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 cups half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives or scallions (white and tender green parts)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- To assemble the casserole: Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Fill a large pot three-fourths full of water and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. Season the water with salt, add the broccoli florets, and blanch until bright green and barely tender, about 1 minute. Using a skimmer, transfer the broccoli to the ice bath to halt the cooking. When the broccoli is fully chilled, drain well, pat dry with paper towels, and set aside.
- In a small saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a couple of pinches of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, cooled onions, ham, Cheddar cheese, and bread cubes. Toss gently to combine, then transfer to the prepared baking dish, spreading the mixture in an even layer.
- Using the same bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, chives, 1¼ teaspoons salt, paprika, and cayenne pepper until thoroughly mixed. Pour over the broccoli mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. About30 minutes before baking, remove the casserole from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.
- To bake the casserole: Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Remove the plastic wrap from the baking dish and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove the foil and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the top. Return the casserole, uncovered, to the oven and continue baking until the top is golden brown and puffed and the casserole is cooked through when tested with a knife, about 15 minutes longer.
- Transfer the casserole to a rack and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Cut into squares to serve.
This was a tasty regular weekend breakfast that was filling but not overly so, and I will absolutely be adding this recipe to my mental list of easy dishes to serve to a crowd at brunch – anytime!
That’s one of the bonuses about this book – even though it’s definitely targeted at the holidays, there are a number of menus you won’t want to wait until it’s a special occasion to make. There’s really something for everyone’s taste and level of skill in the kitchen too – from a full blown Thanksgiving/ Christmas dinner to a holiday open house menu to a dumpling party. If there is a cookbook lover on your list these holidays, I’d definitely recommend a copy of The Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving and Holiday Cookbook
Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of the book and compensation in exchange for writing this review. All opinions are 100% my own.