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Easy, Yummy Holiday Brunch from Thomas Keller

Widely considered one of the best American-born chefs, Thomas Keller, owner and executive chef of French Laundry in California's Napa Valley and Per Se in Manhattan, certainly knows how to whip up one fabulous holiday brunch.

This holiday season, Keller is releasing two of his best and most recognized cookbooks, "The French Laundry" and "Ad Hoc at Home," as a boxed gift set called "The Essential Thomas Keller."

On "The Early Show," Keller prepared a very easy, today to whip up a very easy and delicious holiday brunch. All of the recipes come from "Ad Hoc at Home."

"Early Show" Recipes Galore!



2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
6 large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To poach the eggs, bring 6 to 8 inches of water to a boil in a large deep saucepan. Prepare an ice bath. Add the vinegar to the boiling water and reduce the heat to a simmer. Crack 1 egg into a small cup or ramekin. Using a wooden spoon, stir the water at the edges of the pan twice in a circular motion to get the water moving, then add the egg to the center of the pan and simmer gently for 1 1/2 minutes, or until the white is set but the yolk is still runny. With a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the egg to the ice bath. Skim and discard any foam that has risen to the top of the water, and cook the remaining eggs one at a time. (The eggs can be poached several hours ahead and stored in ice water in the refrigerator. Place in warm water before serving)

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a simmer. With a small pair of scissors, trim any uneven edges from the poached eggs. Lower the eggs into the simmering water for about 30 seconds, just to reheat. Remove the eggs with a skimmer or slotted spoon and blot the bottoms with paper towels. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and serve.

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups cake flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
11/2 cups buttermilk, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons for brushing
2 to 3 tablespoons (1 to 1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

These biscuits bake up light and fluffy. It's important not to overwork the dough, which would make the biscuits tough. To that end, we pulse the butter and dry ingredients together in a food processor, then turn them out into a bowl and gradually work in the liquids by hand. You can serve them with some good butter and raspberry jam, and perhaps a sprinkle of fleur de sel, but they're so good you might want to eat them as is, straight out of the oven. We serve these with fried chicken, but they make a good brunch accompaniment and also work as a strawberry shortcake biscuit for dessert.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the flours, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to blend. Add the chilled butter and pulse several times, until the pieces of butter are no bigger than small peas. Do not overprocess; the dough should not come together.

Transfer the dough to a large bowl and make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour in the buttermilk. Stir and lift the mixture with a sturdy spoon, gently working the flour into the buttermilk. The dough should begin to come together but not form a solid mass, or the biscuits may be tough.

Dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Pat the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle. Using a 2 1/2-inch round cutter, cut out the biscuits. (If the cutter sticks to the dough, dip the cutter in flour before cutting.) Place the biscuits on the baking sheet. The dough trimmings can be gently pushed together, patted out, and cut one more time; do not overwork the dough.

Brush the tops of the biscuits lightly with buttermilk. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until a rich golden brown. As soon as you remove the biscuits from the oven, brush the tops with melted butter. Serve warm.


For the rest of Keller's recipes for this brunch, go to Page 2.

Plum Zinfandel Jam

2 pounds Santa Rosa plums
1 cup Zinfandel
3/4 cup granulated sugar, or to taste

Cut the flesh of the plums away from the pits and cut into 3/4-inch pieces. Combine the plums, wine, and sugar in a large saucepan and attach a candy thermometer to the pan. Bring to a simmer over medium- high heat, then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, skimming off any foam that rises to the top, until the jam reaches 215° to 220°F. Remove from the heat. Taste the jam and add additional sugar as needed, stirring to dissolve it. Spoon into a canning jar or other storage container, cover, and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for up to 1 month.


*Note on Plate Testing: To check that compotes, jams, and jellies are at the right consistency, put a tablespoon of what you're cooking on a plate and chill it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. If it is too thin, return to the heat, cook a few more minutes, and retest.

Scallion Potato Cakes

5 scallions
3 pounds large russet potatoes
1/2 cup cornstarch
Canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

While potato pancakes can be made by grating potatoes straight into the pan, we grate and rinse them, squeeze them dry, and toss them with cornstarch. The cornstarch prevents the potatoes from discoloring and helps to bind the cakes (they don't contain any eggs) and make them crisp. These can be served with duck or with corned beef, and topped with a poached egg. You could make smaller individual cakes to serve as an appetizer with smoked salmon and Horseradish Cream (page 57) or Slow-Cooker Apple Butter (page 249) and sour cream.

These are best eaten immediately, but you can keep the first and second batches warm in the oven while you cook the final one.

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Set a cooling rack on a baking sheet. Cut away the ends of the scallions on a severe diagonal and discard, then cut the dark greens into very thin slices. (Reserve the remaining scallions for another use.) Set aside.

Set up a food processor with the coarse shredding blade. Peel the potatoes and shred them. Immediately transfer them to a large bowl of cold water and swirl and rinse the potatoes. Lift them from the water and dry in a salad spinner. Transfer to another large bowl. Spoon the cornstarch around the sides of the bowl and toss the potatoes with it (adding the cornstarch this way will help to coat the potatoes evenly). Do not let the potatoes sit for too long, or they will release their starch and the centers of the potatoes can become sticky.

Heat some canola oil in a 10-inch nonstick frying pan over medium- high heat until the oil is shimmering. Turn down the heat to medium. Add one-sixth of the potatoes, gently spreading them into an 8- to 9-inch circle. Keep the potato cake light and airy; do not press down on the potatoes. Season with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Reserve 1/4 cup of the scallion greens for garnish, and sprinkle one- third of the remaining scallion greens over the potatoes. Carefully spread another one-sixth of the potatoes on top; again, do not press down on them. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes, to brown the bottom. You should hear the potatoes sizzling in the oil; if the potatoes get quiet and are not sizzling, or the pan looks dry, add a bit more oil. Turn the pancake over to brown the second side. The pancakes are somewhat fragile and can be difficult to flip with a spatula; if you don't feel comfortable turning them, invert the pancake onto the back of a baking sheet, held tilted over a second baking sheet, as some oil may seep out, then return the pan to the heat and slide the potato cake into the pan browned side up. Cook until the second side is browned and crisp, then transfer to the rack and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining 2 pancakes.

Cut each pancake into 4 wedges, stack on a platter, and garnish with the reserved scallion greens.


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