Celebrate fall's bounty with brunch

Celebrate fall's bounty with brunch


All the bins of apples at the local farmers market make my heart beat faster. How much to buy? Which varieties are my favorites? Do I take a chance on a new apple? How many can I eat on the 1-mile drive home?

September tomatoes likewise cause an internal frenzy. Soon, all those luscious vine-ripened red beauties will disappear until next year. Supermarket tomatoes are just not the same, so I try to eat my fill. That includes tucking them into every meal, including weekend brunch.

This fall, baked chilaquiles is featured on our Sunday brunch menu. At its simplest, chilaquiles combines hearty tortilla chips with a red or green sauce for a starchy combo that welcomes additions such as fried eggs, chicken shreds, cilantro, cheese.

When the tomatoes are plentiful, I make a sauce of fresh tomatoes, canned ground tomatoes and a little chipotle chile. Ground turkey and a packet of taco seasoning add lean protein and zesty flavor. The meaty sauce mixture can be made a day or two in advance and reheated while the oven heats. Likewise, I bake my tortilla chips a day in advance to make the morning prep speedy. Of course, when I have thick, restaurant-style corn tortilla chips available, I use those instead of baking my own; the dish will be a bit richer.

For baked chilaquiles, I crack eggs right into the sauced chips before popping the dish into a hot oven. Serve the baked chilaquiles as soon as the eggs are set so the yolks stay runny and the tortilla chips maintain some texture and crispness. Garnish as you like, but be sure to pass something tangy to cut the richness such as plain yogurt, hot sauce and/or fresh lime wedges. I serve a romaine and arugula salad, dressed with fresh lime and olive oil, and topped with sliced tomatoes alongside the casserole.

The apple sheet cake recipe that follows is based on an old family favorite baked in a Bundt pan. These days, I prefer to use my 13-by-9-inch baking pan with a reduced amount of sugar in the batter. I change up the apples depending on availability. Lately, the SweeTango captures my fancy, but the more readily available Gala and Honeycrisp taste awesome, too.

This tender cake is dairy and nut free. When I’m baking for gluten-sensitive friends, I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour in place of the all-purpose flour. You might need to increase the baking time by 4 or 5 minutes.

The cake is best served warm, with hot coffee or cold milk for breakfast or brunch — or with vanilla ice cream after dinner. Make two cakes when the apples are aplenty and deliver large squares to the neighbors or co-workers to celebrate the bounty of fall goodness.


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