I love Christmas; the season, the events, the extra charitable activities at church and in our community, and the outdoor yard displays and lights. But let’s not forget the food! Oh yes, the food, from our family’s baklava baking party to our version of “The Feast of the Seven Fishes” Christmas Eve, and all the foods in between. The foods really are the icing on the cake in December.
At our home, we have a great Christmas Eve Party for family and close friends. We pull out all the stops and prepare a combination American-Greek feast. But come Christmas morning well ... Let’s just say coffee and sweets are the eye-openers for us Christmas morning, and by 10 a.m. everyone is ready for a meal. We don’t have our Christmas dinner until late in the day, so our Christmas brunch is usually pretty hearty, enough to keep us going after church, through gift exchanging, game playing, holiday-movie watching, and all the way to dinner time.
Brunch recipes, for me, are so much fun to prepare. The options are endless. New recipes are always popping up on the internet, which I read, review, tweak, make and tweak again. Some inspirations come from visiting restaurants. When we heard Sunday brunch was now being served, until 1 p.m. at Seasons 52, we just had to head out of Kingwood and give it a try!
From the start, we were so impressed with this gem of a restaurant that we didn’t know where to begin. So, we started with a spicy shrubby Bloody Mary to accompany a smoked salmon flatbread. Our warm, crisp flatbread was topped with cold-smoked Kendall Brook salmon, capers and red onion, and was drizzled with horseradish crema. This was by far one of the best flatbreads I have ever tasted and it was a great size for sharing!
The over-preparer that I am, I had already gone online and reviewed the brunch menu and was pleasantly surprised to see Shakshuka as a brunch entrée option. I have seen several recipe versions of this spicy, Middle Eastern dish and was anxious to order it before I attempted to create it at home. This version of pasture-raised eggs baked in a sauce of sweet peppers, tomatoes and crumbled feta was unique with the addition of chorizo sausage. It arrived hot in a cast-iron skillet sizzling and perfectly browned on the edges. The chorizo, tomatoes and peppers had caramelized into a mouthwatering bath of flavors and textures. And the dish was topped with eggs that were cooked perfectly. My long-awaited desire to finally taste Shakshuka did not disappoint. It was fantastic and I couldn’t wait to try to duplicate it at home.
Not wanting to order the same dish, my husband ordered the toasted brioche with mushrooms, wilted spinach and pasture-raised poached eggs with a hollandaise drizzle and he opted to top it with a poached lobster.
Now what? Dessert at brunch? You bet. Our server, Jonathan, insisted we try Seasons’ brick-oven brioche French toast; as he said, it is the dessert of the brunch meal. It was fantastic, topped with blueberry-infused maple syrup and whiskey-smoked, brown-sugar pecans. We had a cup of Rainforest Alliance-certified Columbian coffee, took one bite of the decadent dessert and decided it was to die for. We boxed the remaining portion to go and agreed we didn’t need to eat another meal until at least Tuesday!
I made Shakshuka the very next weekend and according to my husband, mine were pretty darnn good! So why not try your hand at this brunch dish?
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces chorizo, crumbled
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 large green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 large red bell pepper, sliced
2 large ripe diced tomatoes
1 14-ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained, reserve juice
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
DIRECTIONS: In a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, cook the chorizo, 4-5 minutes or until done. Remove from pan, and set aside (do not drain). In the same pan, sauté the onions and bell peppers for 5-7 minutes until soft and add the tomatoes and garlic, stirring gently until thickened. Add salt, pepper and spices. Cook 2-3 more minutes, then carefully fold chorizo back into the pan. Gently crack in the eggs one by one, making sure to space them out evenly. Top the eggs with the feta cheese. Cover the pan and allow the mixture to simmer 8-12 minutes, until the eggs are set to your desired doneness. Serve immediately.
P.S. Offering the best of each season, straight to your table, you can find Seasons 52 in Houston's CityCentre near Sam Houston Parkway as well as a second location in uptown, the Galleria on Westheimer: seasons52.com/locations/tx/houston/houston-citycentre/4542