tips & tricks


Shake up brunch with these out-of-the-shell ideas.



With spring and summer come thoughts of dusting off the patio furniture and inviting a handful of friends over for brunch in the sunshine … but not just any ol’ brunch. What if we home cooks said goodbye to diced-ham scrambles and hollandaise sauce and, instead, challenged ourselves to create a feast using locally grown, seasonal produce with a dash of cultural flair?

We might find ourselves searching for fresh, unexpected flavors at our neighborhood farmers’ market, then impressing our guests on a lazy Sunday with a spread that looks and tastes as if hours were spent laboring in the kitchen, but in reality was a breeze to whip together.

Not yet convinced that a relaxed weekend brunch can truly be a casual, no-fuss event? Then allow these local Carson City and Lake Tahoe chefs, who specialize in breakfast and brunch recipes at their own dining establishments, surprise you with their unusual takes on their favorite dishes, both sweet and savory, which are infused with their own cultural influences and distinct flavors. Your guests just might be amazed and no doubt will toast you with multiple mimosas.

Aimee Eiguren-Necochea is a gluten-free food writer and founder of A.R.E. Public Relations (gluten-free PR and marketing at She’s also a celiac disease advocate and advisory board member of The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. A former Reno resident, Eiguren-Necochea now resides in the Bay Area.

The Sweet

Brunch L.A. Bakery

Mediterranean Couscous Breakfast Porridge

(courtesy of Ali Arbabha, sales manager, L.A. Bakery in Carson City. Serves 4)

3 cups low-fat milk

1 2-inch cinnamon stick

1 cup uncooked couscous

½ cup dried apricots, chopped

¼ cup dried raisins

6 teaspoons dark brown sugar, divided

¼ teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons butter, melted and divided

Combine milk and cinnamon stick in large saucepan over medium-high heat; heat 3 minutes or until small bubbles form around inner edge of pot (about 180 degrees F). Do not boil.

Remove from heat; stir in couscous, apricots, raisins, 4 teaspoons brown sugar, and salt. Cover mixture and let stand 15 minutes. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Divide couscous into 4 serving bowls, then top each with 1 teaspoon melted butter and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Serve immediately while hot.

Brunch Bleu Cafe Crepe.002

Crêpes with Mascarpone Cream and Lavender Berries

(courtesy of Roberta Davies, chef/co-owner, Bleu Café in Carson City. Serves 4 to 6)


6 whole eggs

1½ cups whole milk

1 cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free flour may be substituted)

Pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Let rest for 1 hour, or overnight. Skim any foam from surface of batter. Heat 6-inch nonstick pan over medium-high heat; coat with butter. When butter foams, pour ¼ cup batter into pan and swirl to coat pan with thin layer. Let cook untouched until lightly brown, then flip and cook 1 minute more. Stack cooked crêpes on plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap until ready to use. Crêpes may be prepared the day before, wrapped tightly, and kept in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before handling.

Mascarpone cream

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

8 ounces quality cream cheese

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ cup sugar

Place all ingredients in mixer bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Mascarpone cream may be made up to 2 days in advance.

Lavender berry compote

6 ounces each blueberries and strawberries

12 ounces raspberries, separated

½ cup lavender syrup (Monin)

1 teaspoon orange zest (using a Microplane)

Place 6 ounces raspberries and all remaining ingredients in bowl and let stand in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Strain fruit and reserve liquid.

Place 6 ounces of raspberries and reserved berry liquid in blender and blend until smooth; strain to remove seeds, if desired. Stir blended liquid into berries.

To assemble dish

Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of Mascarpone cream into each crêpe. Fold two sides in toward each other, turn crêpe, and roll up. Arrange crêpes on plates, and top with berry compote and fresh mint leaves. Serve at room temperature.


Maple Cherry Sticky Toffee Pudding

(courtesy of Mark Jeffers, executive chef, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. Makes 5 6-ounce servings)

1½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1 cup white sugar

½ cup butter, divided

1 cup milk

¾ cup fresh, pitted cherries

2 cups water

1 cup brown sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Sift flour and baking powder together in small bowl. Beat egg, sugar, and ¼ cup butter together in large bowl. Add flour mixture alternately with milk to egg mixture, stirring just to combine. Fold in cherries. Pour batter into prepared dish.

Bring water to boil in saucepan; stir brown sugar, ¼ cup butter, and vanilla extract into water and return to a boil for 2 minutes. Pour sauce over batter. Bake until center is set, about 45 minutes.

The Savory

Brunch Adeles Amelias Chicken.001

Sixteen-Clove Garlic Chicken

(courtesy of Charlie Abowd, chef/owner, Café at Adele’s in Carson City. Serves 4, but easily can be increased as needed to serve larger groups)

2 organic, whole, skin-on chickens cut into 10 pieces each (2 legs, 2 wings, 2 thighs, each breast cut into 2 pieces for 4 total breast pieces)

All-purpose flour (enough to lightly coat chicken pieces)

½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

½ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

While oven is heating, lightly flour chicken pieces. Place chicken in roasting pan with touch of olive oil to prevent sticking.

Place in oven and roast 20 minutes. Then reduce oven to 300 degrees F and continue roasting another 20 minutes.

While chicken is roasting, make sauce.


2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

16 whole garlic cloves, crushed (Abowd uses garlic from Glorious Garlic Farm in New Washoe City, Nev.)

10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

10 medium mushrooms, sliced about ¼ inch thick

Salt and pepper, to taste

Pour all the sauce ingredients into saucepan and whisk over medium heat until completely mixed. Turn down to simmer. Stir occasionally.

To assemble dish

After the chicken has finished cooking according to directions above, remove from oven, patting off any excess olive oil with paper towel. Transfer to oven-friendly serving dish, at least 3 inches deep, and pour sauce evenly over all pieces. Return to oven at 300 degrees F for another 20 minutes, basting once or twice. Remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley and mint, and serve.

Brunch Bleu Cafe Strata.001

Strata Fiorentina

(courtesy of Roberta Davies, chef/co-owner, Bleu Café in Carson City. Serves 6 to 8)

1 20-inch baguette (thin, European style), cut into ½-inch slices

6 tablespoons butter, softened

6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped

4 medium shallots, minced (or ¼ cup red onion)

4 cups fresh baby spinach, lightly packed

¼ cup roasted red bell peppers, diced

½ cup sauvignon blanc or Chardonnay

1½ cups fontina cheese, grated

7 large eggs

2 cups half and half

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Adjust oven rack to middle position. Heat oven to 225 degrees F. Arrange bread slices in single layer on large baking sheet. Bake until dry, turning once, about 40 minutes. When bread has cooled, lightly butter 1 side of each slice — should use about 3 tablespoons — and set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons butter in medium-sized nonstick pan over medium heat. Sauté shallots about 3 minutes. Add about ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, and 3 teaspoons of minced garlic to shallots, just before they become opaque. Remove shallots, leaving butter in pan, and place shallots in medium bowl. In same pan, add spinach and sauté until wilted and bright green. Place spinach on several layers of paper towels and roll up, squeezing all excess liquid from spinach. Add spinach to shallots. Add roasted peppers and bacon. Stir to combine. Pour ½ cup wine into same pan over medium heat; let reduce to ¼ cup. Set aside to cool.

Butter a 9-inch glass pie plate with 1 tablespoon butter. Arrange bread slices, butter side up, in single layer to cover bottom of dish. Sprinkle ½ spinach mixture and ½ cup fontina evenly over bread. Continue with second layer of bread, spinach, and cheese. Whisk eggs in medium bowl; add half and half, reduced wine, ¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg. Whisk until fully combined. Pour egg mixture over bread slices, cover with plastic wrap, and place dish on sheet pan. Some egg mixture may spill out when weight is applied. Place dinner plate over plastic for weight and place in refrigerator overnight.

Remove dish from refrigerator and let stand 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove plastic, press down any bread that is protruding, and bake 50 to 55 minutes. Remove from oven and turn on broiler. Spread last ½ cup cheese over strata and broil 3 inches from heat, just until cheese begins to brown. Let stand 5 minutes and serve.

Farmers’ Market Chicken Salad

(courtesy of Anthony Fish, chef/owner, Sassafras Eclectic Food Joint in Carson City. Serves 2 to 4)

1 pound mixed greens

1 cup roasted corn

1 cup jicama, cut in a julienne

½ pound queso fresco, crumbled

1 to 1½ cups mixed stone fruits, sliced

4 to 6 ounces grilled chicken breast per person

Toss with baby or mixed greens and garnish with sliced seasonal stone fruit from your local farmers’ market, such as sliced apricots, plums, cherries, or peaches. Add roasted corn for sweetness, jicama for texture, and Sand Hill Dairy Queso Fresco for creaminess. Top off salad with grilled chicken and serrano vinaigrette dressing.

For dressing

1 cup basil leaves

1 cup cilantro leaves

½ cup parsley leaves

½ cup pineapple juice

¼ cup orange juice

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 garlic cloves

2 serrano peppers

1 cup olive oil

Blend all ingredients except oil in blender. Slowly add olive oil while blending to emulsify. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Toss over salad and serve.


Café at Adele’s

1112 N. Carson St., Carson City • 775-882-3353 •

L.A. Bakery

220 W. John St., Carson City • 775-885-2253 •

Sassafras – Eclectic Food Joint

1500 Old Hot Springs Road, Carson City • 775-884-4471 •

Bleu Café

240 E. Winnie Lane, Carson City • 775-297-3301 •

Manzanita restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

13031 Ritz-Carlton Highlands Court, Truckee • 530-562-3050 •





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