I've only been to Jack's Wife Freda, a restaurant with two locations in Manhattan, a handful of times, but every time I've been there, I've left happy as a clam, a little drunk on cantaloupe mimosas, and thankful that I can share a meal with friends in such a cozy spot. Started by husband-and-wife team Maya and Dean Jankelowitz in 2012, this is one of my favorite brunch destinations in the city. Spring is a particularly good time for brunch, whether you go to a restaurant or have a bunch of people over to your house for a lazy day of good food, drinks, conversation, and record-playing. So here are three recipes from their new cookbook, to get you in the mood for a lil'party planning of your own.
"I approach brunch with dishes that can be made in large format and left out for everyone to pick at,"said chef Julia Jaksic, who developed the recipes alongside Maya and Dean. "One of my favorites is a large pot of creamy, buttery French-style soft-scrambled eggs, along with a few different types of toasts and toppings like smoked salmon, goat cheese, caper berries, and caviar if it's a celebration."I am getting hungry just thinking about it! I think these three recipes would make an excellent addition to any brunch (or lunch! Or dinner!) party in your future.
BLOODY MARY MUSSELS
Yields 2 servings
This is a bold and spicy preparation for mussels, borrowing from the favorite brunch classic. Fresh horseradish gives it a nasal-clearing kick, while the celery lends a bit of freshness.
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 tablespoon hot sauce, optional
1 piece fresh horseradish, roughly 4 inches long
2 pounds mussels
3 garlic cloves
2 celery stalks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
Toasted baguette, for serving
Cut the lemon into quarters, removing the seeds. In a blender, combine the tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, celery salt, juice from 2 lemon wedges, and hot sauce (if using); blend until smooth.
Peel the horseradish and grate using a Microplane, add to the blender, and blend again until well combined.
Clean the mussels by rinsing them under cold water and pulling off any beards. If you spot any open mussels, discard them.
Mince the garlic and slice the celery across into 1/4-inch half-moons. In a large pot over high heat, add the olive oil, garlic, and celery, stirring until the garlic begins to toast. Add the mussels, stirring to combine with the garlic and celery. Season with salt, add the white wine, and cover to allow the mussels to open, 3 to 5 minutes. Once opened, add the sauce to the pot of mussels and stir to combine. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the sauce to heat up, and give one last stir to incorporate all the sauce from the bottom of the pan.
Serve with a toasted baguette and the remaining 2 lemon wedges.
NECTARINE AND PLUM FRUIT CRISP
Yields one 9-inch pie/8 to 10 servings
We change our crisp seasonally depending on what fruits are the ripest and most abundant. You can substitute any fruit in the recipe below. We're particularly partial to stone-fruit season in late summer, so this nectarine-and-plum iteration is one of our favorites. Add a dollop of labneh and a drizzle of honey before serving.
6 black or red plums
3/4 cup packed brown or other preferred sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
Pinch of kosher salt
Use a 9-inch glass, ceramic, or metal pie dish to bake the crisp.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the nectarines and plums into wedges, discarding the pits. Add 1/2 cup of the brown sugar to the fruit and stir to combine. Add the lemon zest and juice and 2 tablespoons of the flour to the fruit, and mix well. Let the fruit sit for a few minutes, then transfer to the pie dish, making sure to stir the fruit once before transferring.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup flour, the oats, remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, the cinnamon, and the salt. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it comes together and small pea-size lumps begin to form. Cover the fruit with the topping and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Put the pie dish into the oven on top of a baking sheet to catch any juices that overflow.
Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown.
Yields 4 servings
This take on the classic brunch cocktail uses our homemade cantaloupe juice. Cantaloupe juice is such an unexpectedly refreshing drink, velvety and sweet. The key to this recipe is a very good, very ripe cantaloupe. Look for a cantaloupe that feels heavy for its size and leave it to ripen at room temperature for 2 or 3 days until it develops a pleasantly floral and sweet smell. If your melon doesn't ripen perfectly, just add a touch of sweetener: honey, agave, date sugar, or organic granulated sugar.
4 ounces Lillet Blanc
4 ounces cantaloupe juice
Champagne or other sparkling wine
To make the Cantaloupe Juice:
1 whole ripe cantaloupe Sweetener of choice
Using a large knife, cut off the top and bottom of the cantaloupe. Stand the melon on a flat surface and remove the outer rind, following the natural curve of the melon in a downward motion, taking care not to cut off the fruit. Once the cantaloupe is peeled, cut it in half and discard the seeds.
Rough chop the melon into small pieces and place in a blender starting with 1 cup of water. Blend on the highest speed, gradually adding more water until the consistency is more of a juice than a smoothie. Add a sweetener of your choice to taste. Refrigerate and chill. Serve by itself or over ice.
Combine the Lillet Blanc and cantaloupe juice. Measure 2 ounces of the cantaloupe mixture into each of four champagne flutes. Top each flute with champagne.
From JACK'S WIFE FREDA: Cooking From New York's West Village by Maya and Dean Jankelowitz. Recipes by Julia Jaksic. Published by Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright ©2016 by NoamBennyLLC.