Summer brunch includes these puffy, golden, butter-and-jam delivery vehicles. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Ah … summer brunch. Whether you’re a party of one or preparing a light repast for your sweetie, brunch is special. It smacks of luxuriousness, sleeping in and lounging in satiny pajamas with Sunday papers strewn about.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected] Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Perhaps you want to invite a few friends or your sisters or whomever. In that case, the satiny PJs should probably be exchanged for a cute summer outfit or at least an unwrinkled T-shirt and a clean pair of shorts.

At any rate, set the table on the porch and whip up a batch of cooling avocado-cucumber soup. If you want to show off, garnish the soup with a cunning little blossom of lobster or crab meat, or a lusciously large shrimp. For those of you who want to be just a tad fancy, you could sprinkle on chopped almonds or top this unusual soup with extra avocado and cucumber sliced just so. This beautiful pale green soup can be your very own canvas … or you can forget about all that and slurp it straight from your favorite mug while you sit on that aforementioned porch with your feet up.

Two easy and delicious accompaniments include creamy Torta Rustica, a cheesy spinach soufflé-type dish that can be served warm or at room temperature, and fresh-from-the-oven popovers dripping with melted butter and the very best jam you can lay your hands on. It’s important to bake the popovers until they are really crusty on the outside. Whatever you do, do not open the oven while they are in there! Another trick is to take the popovers out of the oven at the end of their baking time, poke them with a knife to let out the steam then return them to the turned-off oven for about 30 more minutes to crisp them up further … that is, if you can wait that long.

Add some fresh fruit, if you wish and you are in Brunch Heaven.

Oh, don’t forget the mimosas.


Avocado-Cucumber Soup

2 large ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
3 cups cold chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup cold unsweetened almond milk
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt to taste
Tabasco sauce, optional
Mint or cilantro leaves for garnish

Place avocado and cucumber in a blender. Add chicken stock, almond milk and lime juice and puree until smooth. (If your blender doesn’t hold this all at once, do this step in two batches.)

Pour into individual bowls then season and garnish. Serve within two hours. Yield: 4 servings

Torta Rustica

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups baby spinach, julienned and lightly steamed
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until softened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.


Combine spinach and cheeses in a bowl. Stir in onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the casserole dish and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 5 minutes then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 20 more minutes or until the edges are browned and the torta is set in the middle.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Cut into 6 wedges to serve. Yield: 6 servings


1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a muffin or popover tin. Sift flour and salt together in a bowl. Whisk eggs and milk together in a large glass measuring cup. Whisk in butter until frothy. Add flour and salt to the liquid and whisk until blended and only a few small lumps of flour are visible.

Fill muffin cups two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 15 minutes then turn oven temperature down to 350 degrees and bake for 20 more minutes until popovers are brown and crusty. Do not open the oven.

Remove from the oven, place the popovers on a cooling rack and puncture them with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Serve immediately or place back in turned-off oven for up to 30 minutes to crisp further. Yield: 6-8 popovers

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