Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Cooking: Spanish Springtime Brunch for Book Club (Recipes & Printables)

It's teasing of Spring around here, which makes me want to celebrate it. What better way than with a brunch of delicious foods? Brunch is my favorite meal because it combines all of them. The menu can include breakfast foods, a salad on the side, and dessert of course. And brunch usually accompanies a special occasion. In this case it was a gathering of friends to discuss one of my favorite books: The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway.

I have loved Hemingway's writing since I studied it in high school. I find his economy of words and tight prose invigorating. And his stories have such romance. The Lost Generation and wars and romance and heartbreak. All set in beautiful European cities and rural landscapes. If you haven't read this book you should pick it up. (We read The Paris Wife along with it, which is a fictionalized account of Hemingway's first marriage and the time period in which he wrote The Sun Also Rises.) And then host your girlfriends for a discussion with brunch! I've got invites and a menu you can edit with your details, and all the recipes below.

You can find The Sun Also Rises Art Deco/1920s-inspired printable invitation file here (yes, it's a re-imagining of this Roaring 20s invitation.) It is a PDF, which prints two invitations per 8.5"x11" page, designed to fit in a #10 envelope (such as these metallic silver envelopes). Download it, edit it with Adobe reader, and then I recommend printing on bright white cardstock. There is a fan pattern for the back if you'd like to print double-sided. (Please note that "The Sun Also Rises" graphic cannot be edited.)

Because this novel is set in Paris and Pamplona I decided on a Spanish-inspired menu for our brunch. My husband and I took a trip to Spain a couple years ago this Spring and I loved all the delicious food! He had spent a couple years in Sevilla years before and had talked of their Tortillas and I became a big fan on our trip. So the headliner for this brunch was a Tortilla Espanola. It requires a good investment in olive oil and some tricky flipping in the pan but it's so worth it!

I served this with steamed asparagus and a rich Spanish aioli (lots of garlic). I was a little timid about the aioli but loved it on the asparagus as well as the Tortilla--yum!

I brightened these indulgences with a Spring Greens salad tossed with slivered almonds and my favorite Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette, and a Citrus Salad with Cinnamon-Cayenne dressing (trust me on this--so good!).

Finally, I served Garlic Marinated Shrimp. Not only is it pretty to look at but it tastes fresh and good too.

Such a pretty Spring plate. This would be a beautiful menu for an Easter Brunch. I may have to repeat it! Especially now that I have a tablecloth to go with it. (My tablecloth was sewn with IKEA Rosemarie fabric in grey.)

You can download the printable Spring Brunch Menu File here. It can be edited with Adobe Reader to match your own menu and then printed two-per-page on letter sized paper. You can also add the fan pattern to the second side of this printable to match your invitation.

I decorated with a "snake vase" I purchased at the Takashimaya Manhattan store years ago (when it still existed) to use for our wedding. I don't bring it out often enough. It's perfect for a long table.

I also printed photographs of Hemingway and his friends on their Pamplona trip to see the bullfights. I found these via his Wikipedia page. Fun to have them sitting in frames like some distant relatives looking over our dessert buffet. Hemingway was a handsome devil.

Speaking of dessert, I served Chocolate Croissants, Almond Croissants and Almond Horn cookies from Trader Joes (I always purchase part of my menu to give myself a little break in the prep) alongside a rich Drinking Chocolate. This recipe came from my wonderful friend, Lynda, who knows a good recipe! But it's incredibly easy (you make it in a crock pot!).

Now that your mouth is watering, you can click through for all the recipes. Welcome Spring and throw a brunch! It's such a luxury in a busy life to relax midday with good friends and good food. I'm still thinking about it...


Tortilla Espanola
Citrus Salad with Cinnamon Cayenne Dressing
Spring Greens with Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette
Asparagus with Spanish Aioli
Garlic Marinated Shrimp

Drinking Chocolate with Croissants

(adapated from this Spanish Tortilla Recipe)

1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered and cut into 1/4" slices
1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
8 large eggs, beaten to blend

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, onions and salt. Spoon the olive oil over the potatoes so all are coated. When the oil starts to bubble reduce the heat to medium and cook, turning the potatoes frequently. Cook until the potatoes are tender, but not browned, 20-25 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes and onion to a large heatproof bowl. Add the (beaten) eggs and stir gently to combine. Be careful not to break the potatoes into pieces. Strain the oil from the pan into a glass measuring cut and wipe out the skillet. 

Add 3 Tablespoons of the reserved oil back into the skillet over medium-high heat. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook, stirring gently until the eggs begin to set (eggs will look scrambled). Gently arrange the potatoes and onions in an even layer. Reduce the heat to medium low. Cook until the eggs are nearly cooked through, 12-15 minutes. (Check done-ness by insert a knife and peering into the middle of the tortilla. Eggs should not be liquid.)

When the eggs are nearly set, use a spatula to loosen the edges of the tortilla. Then invert a large plate over the skillet, and using oven mits, hold the pate and skillet firmly together and flip, releasing the tortilla onto the plate. Then gently slide the tortilla back into the pan to finish cooking the other side. when the eggs are done, about 8-10 minutes, slide the tortilla onto a serving plate. 

Let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes and up to two hours before serving. This is best at room temperature! 

You can make this the day before. Cook as directed, then let the tortilla cool 20 minutes before wrapping in plastic wrap and refrigerating. Remove from refrigerator and let sit about 20 minutes before serving.


A selection of citrus fruits such as Navel Oranges, Valencia Oranges, Cara Cara Oranges, Blood Oranges, Tangelos, Grapefruit, and Ruby Red Grapefruit.

1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoon lemon juice
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel citrus and slice rounds about 1/3" thick. Arrange in salad dish.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a blender for a few pulses. Drizzle dressing over the arranged citrus. Offer remaining dressing on the side to indulge in as desired.


Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Put all ingredients in a blender and emulsify. **Let dressing stand for three hours to mellow flavors.** Combine with Spring Greens and sprinkle over blanched/slivered almonds to taste.


4-6 large cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup good olive oil
1 T. chopped fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried 

Place minced garlic, salt, egg yolks and lemon juice in a food processor and process until well combined.  With the machine running, add olive oil in a thin stream until the mixture thickens. Stir in tarragon. Makes about 1 cup. Serve with steamed asparagus.


1/4 cup tarragon vinegar 
(or 1/4 white wine vinegar plus 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 heaping Tablespoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
3 cloves garlic
6 chopped scallions
1/4 cup capers
2 pounds frozen cooked shrimp, tails on

Start this recipe 24 hours before your event. Thaw shrimp in the refrigerator according to the directions, all day or overnight. Mix all other ingredients together and add the shrimp to the marinade. Marinate overnight or all day. Serve chilled.


2 cups good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
6 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put all ingredients in a crock pot on low for two hours, stirring occassionally. Chocolate should be thick and medium brown in color. If there are specks of un-melted chocolate use a whisk or immersion blender to blend until smooth.


Anonymous said...

Todo perfecto!! Me alegra mucho que te guste la tortilla, aquí es una comida muy habitual y a mi me encantan las ensaladas con muchas cosas variadas como las hacéis vosotros y me ha encantado la mesa que has preparado!!Aquí en Sevilla llueve, también forma parte de la primavera, que le vamos a hacer, ya saldrá el sol!! Muchos besitos, Ani.

Anneliese said...

@Anonymous (Ani): Thank you, Ani! It's such a compliment if it looks good to you! I hope you have plenty of sun with the rain.

Bari Jo said...

Thank you for the recipes - especially the drinking chocolate!!!! I have a favorite store in Santa Fe - Kakawa Chocolate - and they serve a wonderful drinking chocolate I have not been able to replicate. This looks like it is just what I've been searing for! Thank you!!!!

Terry, Idaho, USA said...

Thank you so much - beautifully written and gorgeous photos - can't wait to try some of the recipes you have shared.

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