Have A Hassle-free Brunch

During the holiday season, it's traditional to show your hospitality through good food.

At this busy and often expensive time of year, one of the easiest, most economical ways to entertain is through a brunch. A brunch can be elegant or fairly simple, as you prefer. You can load up a buffet with an assortment of dishes or count on a single special entree to make your reputation.

Ham and Eggs en Croute is one dish which can please guests with its pretty appearance and gourmet quality and please you with its ease of preparation. The croute part (say krooh-t) -; the crust -; is an already prepared puff pastry sheet which you only need to defrost and roll. To make the colorful filling, simply stir together sunny hard-cooked eggs, bright spinach and rosy ham with nutty Swiss cheese and a tad of mustard and lemon juice for zing.

You can prepare the filling ahead of time, if you like. Enclose it in the pastry just before baking to keep the dough from becoming soggy. After a mere twenty minutes baking time, you'll have six generous servings of a beautiful brunch dish worthy of your closest family members and friends. For a full meal, serve slices of the loaf with a tossed salad and fresh fruit.

Dishes like Ham and Eggs en Croute are just one example of the many ways eggs can help with your holiday menu needs.

Ham and Eggs en Croute

6 servings

2 eggs

1 tablespoon prepared

mustard

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 package (10 oz.) frozen

chopped spinach, thawed

and drained

4 hard-cooked eggs,

chopped

1 cup chopped cooked lean

ham

1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded

reduced-fat Swiss cheese

1 sheet frozen puff pastry,

thawed

Lettuce leaves, optional

In large bowl, beat 2 eggs well. Set aside 2 tablespoons for glazing. Stir mustard and lemon juice into remaining eggs until thoroughly blended. Stir in spinach, hard-cooked eggs, ham and cheese until well combined. Set aside.

On lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry into 15 x 9-inch rectangle. Brush lightly with some of the reserved 2 tablespoons beaten eggs. Spoon reserved spinach mixture lengthwise down center of pastry. Fold both sides over to cover. Pinch together edges and short ends of pastry to seal. Place seam-side down on lightly greased baking sheet. Brush top and sides with remaining beaten eggs. Cut 5 diagonal slits in top of pastry to make steam vents.

Bake in preheated 425 F oven until golden brown and heated throughout, about 20 minutes. To serve, cut into 1-inch slices. Garnish with lettuce leaves, if desired.

Nutrition information per serving of 1/6 recipe without optional lettuce: 383 calories, 24 gm total fat, 232 mg cholesterol, 525 mg sodium, 313 mg potassium, 23 gm carbohydrate, 18 gm protein and 10% or more of the RDI for vitamins A, B12 and C, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc

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About The Author, Rodney Wright
Visit www.aeb.org for more recipes for all times of day and all parts of a meal from appetizer to dessert. - NU