Easter brunch with an Italian spin

March 31, 2013 6:26:20 AM PDT
Easter Sunday usually means the family gets together for breakfast or brunch. If you're still looking for inspiration or want to switch things up at your regular Sunday brunch, why not put an Italian spin on it?

Chef Anthony Gambino, owner and operator of Cucina Paradiso, came into our ABC7 studio kitchen to show us a few recipes for that.

Anthony's Tips:
- Hide plastic Easter eggs for kids to find on tables.
- Serve Easter Brunch buffet-style to tempt guests to try all of your dishes.
- Serve sweet and savory dishes that will satisfy all guests.
- Create an easy-to-execute menu with dishes that have components that can be prepped the week of Easter.
- Keep the food simple to ease the stress of entertaining.
- Set the table the night before to eliminate a time-consuming element of party planning.
- Mix up your Frittatas with your favorite meats, cheeses, veggies and herbs.
- Offer low-calorie or low-fat options for guests watching their waistlines.
- Personalize the Italian Easter Pie dish with your favorite combination of meats, cheeses and vegetables. Eliminate meat for a vegetarian option.

Easter Brunch at Cucina Paradiso
Sunday April 8, 2013
10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
814 North Boulevard
Oak Park
Adults: $23
Children (12 & younger): $13

Chef Anthony's Recipes:
Italian Easter Pie
1 lb. cooked fennel sausage (no casing)
1 lb. diced Genoa salami
1/4 lb. diced cappocolla
1/4 lb. diced mortadolla
3 lbs. of ricotta
1/2 cup of romano
1/2 cup of parmesan
black pepper to taste
1 bunch of chopped parsley
4 eggs well beaten
16oz. can of pizza dough

- Cut dough into two pieces (12oz. piece and 4oz.).
- Stretch the 12 oz. piece to fill a 9" deep dish pie pan.
- Remove casing from fennel sausage to crumble, then fry to cook.
- Combine ricotta, romano, parmesan, pepper and eggs. Beat mixture with a wooden spoon.
- Dice salami, cappocolla, mortadolla and add to mixture, along with the sausage.
- Blend everything together well.
- Fill dough pan with mixture.
- Stretch 4oz. piece of dough over the edges of the pan and press edges closed.
- Brush the top layer with a beaten egg for a gloss.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.
- Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Cucina Paradiso Cinnamon French Toast
4 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pinches ground cinnamon
4 (1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick) slices of brioche, challah, cinnamon raisin bread or any preferred moist and fluffy bread
2 tablespoons butter
Nutella (hazelnut chocolate) / Optional

- Beat eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl until well blended.
- Pour the egg mixture into a baking pan large enough to give you room to turn and soak the bread. (i.e. 13 by 9-inch pan)
- Lay the bread slices in the egg mixture and let them soak, turning them several times, until the bread has soaked up all the egg. Turn them gently so they don't break apart.
- Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. When it starts to bubble, lay the soaked bread in the pan.
- Cook, turning once, until the bread is nicely browned and the egg in the center of each slice is cooked through, about 4 minutes.
- Spread Nutalla on top of French toast as desired.
- Serve warm with the bourbon Bananas and hazelnut chocolate.
- Note: If your skillet isn't large enough to hold all the bread slices at once, cook them in batches. Before you start your first batch, preheat your oven to 200 degrees F (or "Warm"). Keep the cooked slices warm on a baking sheet in the oven while you cook the rest.

Bourbon Bananas
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 large bananas, sliced thinly on an angle

- Heat bourbon, sugar, butter and orange juice in a large skillet until butter melts.
- Add the bananas.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat so the sauce is bubbling gently.
- Cook until the bananas are softened, about 4 minutes.

Easter Frittatas
Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
8 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces thinly sliced ham, chopped
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Spray 2 mini muffin tins (each with 24 cups) with nonstick spray.
- Whisk the eggs, milk, pepper, and salt in a large bowl to blend well.
- Stir in the ham, cheese, and parsley.
- Fill prepared muffin cups almost to the top with the egg mixture.
- Bake until the egg mixture puffs and is just set in the center, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittatas from the muffin cups and slide the frittatas onto a platter.
- Serve immediately.

Oven Roasted Potatoes with Bell Peppers, Onions, and Fresh Herbs
12 russet potatoes
Canola oil, for frying
Butter, for frying
1 large onion, cut into fine dice
1 green pepper, cut into fine dice
1 red pepper, cut into fine dice
1 yellow pepper, cut into fine dice
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until fork tender, about 45 minutes.
- Place the hot potatoes on a cutting board and dice them into 1-inch pieces.
- Heat a skillet over medium-low to medium heat.
- Put a tablespoon of canola oil in the skillet. Add in a tab of butter and onions and sauté until they start to turn brown.
- Add in cooked diced potatoes and peppers.
- Salt and pepper the potatoes, then stir, slightly pressing/packing them into a hot skillet.
- Cook without stirring for 5 to 7 minutes. Add more butter to the pan as necessary.
- After several minutes, use a spatula to flip the potatoes over and cook on the other side for another 5 to 7 minutes.
- Serve immediately.