Brunch with Friends & Potato Baskets

There is something about brunch that just warms my heart. And while I love hanging out at busy, boisterous cafés – during these chilly winter months, I can think of nothing better than welcoming friends into my home, getting a fire roaring in the fireplace, and serving a deliciously indulgent brunch.   The welcoming aroma of freshly brewed coffee filling the air. A savory frittata warming in the oven. Bowls full of sweet wedges of blood red oranges and chunks of vivid yellow pineapple.

This all sounds so idyllic. And it was the scene I pictured in my mind for a recent Saturday morning brunch. Until the obsessing started. I really wanted to impress my guests. And it wasn’t like I was having Barack and Michelle and the girls over. This was just meant to be a simple brunch with friends. I doubt they even expected more than coffee and a muffin. But I wanted to thrill. To astound. I was hoping for “oohs” and “aahs” and groans of delight. 

AND I was cooking for a gluten-free friend. I toyed with baking. I perused many of the inviting and mouth-watering recipes from Gluten Free Girl. She is amazing. Inspiring. Makes it sound so easy. But I just wasn’t ready for my first foray into baking without wheat flour. Call me a coward. But I was going to stick to what I knew. For now.

The frittata I had in mind sounded good. But I wanted great. Different. New and exciting. What came to mind was….potato baskets. Not a terribly elegant name. But deep in the recesses of my mind was a picture of thinly sliced potatoes, crisped to a golden brown and wrapped around a delicate piece of fish. I think I saw it on a Food Network show a while back. “Surely I can make a brunch item with similarly crisped potatoes,” I thought. Immediate beeline to Google. My search unearthed a number of recipes for potato baskets. Though the majority used frozen hash browns. Which was not an option. So I continued my search. Some recommended boiling the potatoes before baking. Others went with raw. So many choices. What to do? What if I fail? So I did what I always do. I dove in and I cooked.

The result was a new brunch favorite. Individual “baskets” composed of crisp shreds of potato filled with creamy eggs dotted with melting goat cheese and bright little shards of pungent chives. And when all was said and done (and eaten), I got the moans of delight I had so wanted. “Amazing,” exclaimed my friends. But at that point, my focus on impressing my guests had passed. It was more about camaraderie, laughter and a meal amongst friends.

Potato Baskets Filled With Goat Cheese & Spinach Eggs

Makes 8 Baskets

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 oz. goat cheese
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper 
     

Instructions: 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Peel and shred potatoes into a medium bowl – using biggest holes on grater. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Add 1 egg and a pinch of salt and pepper; toss to combine. Spray 8 medium muffin cups with cooking spray, coating well. Spoon rounded 1/4 cup of the potato mixture into the palm of your hand; squeeze out excess moisture; place in each muffin cup. Push potatoes onto bottom and up side of each cup.  Spray “nests” lightly with cooking spray. Bake on in oven for 40 minutes – the tops will be browned. When potato baskets are done, remove from oven. 

Begin preparing filling when potato baskets have been cooking about 30 minutes. Warm olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until slightly caramelized. Add spinach and cook over medium until wilted. Salt to taste. Set aside in bowl.

Reduce heat to medium low and add one tablespoon of olive oil. Whisk eggs together with a 1 tablespoon of milk (or water) in a bowl. Add eggs to pan and stir GENTLY. Cook over low heat until eggs begin to set. The more slowly you cook the eggs, the creamier they get. Add goat cheese when eggs start to come together. Fold in spinach. Total cooking time for eggs will be approximately 10 minutes.

Spoon egg mixture into egg potato baskets. Top with small dollops of goat cheese (optional). Serve immediately sprinkled with chives. If the potato baskets have cooled, you can place the egg filled baskets back in the oven for 3-5 minutes to warm.

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