Spring Brunch

There's quite a feast to be seen here. 

Our annual spring brunch coincided perfectly this year with my father-in-law's birthday. Given that Easter is early, we thought it would be the perfect way to work on a seasonal menu and celebrate the occasion all at once. Much like our Friendsgiving tradition, putting together a round-up of recipes in time for you to make them for your friends and family is one of my favorite things we do for Better Happier.

Spring seems to have popped by a bit early in Philly, knock on wood, and that made planning this years feast easier than usual. When there are signs of life outside after the winter it gets me super excited to dive right into fresh greens and lighter fare.

I think Robert really outdid himself this year on the food. He elevated some simple flavors, and let others shine on their own. We had artichokes with a squeeze of lemon and a terragon radish green gremolata, lamb shanks, homemade socca with smoked salmon and a spring take on the classic shakshuka. With raspberry jam and chocolate doughnuts to top it off, we devoured it all. A different twist on a cocktail you might remember from last year, (this Lillet Collins) got a refresh with mint and cointreau.  

With an abundance of bright flavor, we've covered the meat, vegetables, sides and sweets fit for any Easter gathering. Scribe winery won our heart when we went to Northern California, and I was excited to have a bottle from them that paired so nicely with this meal. If you're interested in pairing, because starting with cocktails and switching to wine is the way we do it around here, their rosé of pinot noir was out of this world delicious and balanced it all perfectly. 

We hope you find some menu inspiration here for your spring and Easter gatherings!




Lillet Rose Collins with Mint
makes 1 drink

2.5 oz Lillet
0.75 oz Cointreau
a splash of rose simple syrup
2 dahes of lavender bitters
1 mint sprig
club sod

  • In a collins glass filled with ice, combine Lillet, Cointreau, and rose simple syrup, stir with a cocktail stirrer to chill.
  • Top with club soda, and garnish with mint sprig and lavender bitters. 

Braised Artichokes
4 artichokes
1 lemon, halved
tarragon & radish green gremolata

  • In a large pot, bring 10 cups of water to a boil. 
  • Meanwhile, peel and clean artichokes. Halve each and remove the choke. Rub each half with lemon juice to prevent browning and set aside.
  • When water is boiling, add artichokes and lemon halves. Reduce heat to a simmer and braise for 30 minuets, or until the artichokes are tender and easily pierced with a knife. 
  • Remove from heat, drain and serve with tarragon & radish green gremolata.


Tarragon & Radish Green Gremolata
1 bunch tarragon, leaves removed
2 bunches radish, leaves removed from stems
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 clove garlic
2 tbs olive oil

  • Finely chop tarragon and radish greens.
  • In a small nonreactive bowl, combine greens, lemon zest and juice.
  • Grate garlic into mixture and whisk in olive oil to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 


Cumin Lamb Shanks with Pomegranate Molasses Au Jus
4 lamb shanks
2 onions, diced
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs cumin
3 tbs pomegranate molases
salt and pepper


  • Remove lamb shanks from cooler and bring to room temperature. Season generously on all sides with salt, pepper and cumin. 
  • In a large dutch oven over medium high heat, warm 1 tbs oilve oil until shimmering. Working in batches, brown lamb shanks on all sides, taking care to make sure each is evenly browned, about 3 minutes per side or 12 minutes total per shank. Remove shanks from heat and set aside. 
  • Add onions to dutch oven and deglaze with white wine, making sure to scrape the browned bits. When onions have softened, add chicken stock and return lamb shanks to pot.
  • Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook, covered for about 1.5 hours or until meat is tender and falling off the bone. 
  • When shanks are finished cooking, remove from dutch oven and set aside. Strain liquids and onions through a fine mesh sieve into a skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add pomegranate molasses and reduce into a thick sauce, cooking for about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and spoon over shanks to serve. 

Socca with Smoked Salmon, Chive Cream Cheese and Radishes
makes 2 flatbreads

1 cup garbanzo flour
1 cup water
1 tbs olive oil, plus more for skillet
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup whipped chive cream cheese (recipe below)
8 oz smoked salmon
1 bunch radishes, sliced thinly

  • In a small, nonreactive bowl, whisk together flour, water, oil and salt. Set aside and let rest for at least 1 hour.
  • Turn broiler on high and set a cast iron skillet on a rack placed six inches below the broiler. Warm for at least five minutes. Carefully remove skillet from broiler and add olive oil to coat.
  • Pour half of batter and swirl to coat pan. Return to broiler and broil for 3-5 minutes until edges are charred. 
  • Remove socca from skillet and set aside to cool. Add additional olive oil to skillet and pour remaining batter into skillet.
  • Broil an additional 3-5 minutes until edges are charred. Remove socca from skillet and set aside to cool. 
  • When cooled, slice socca into wedges. top with dollop of cream cheese, radish slices and smoked salmon

Whipped Chive Cream Cheese
8 oz cream cheese
2 tbs  heavy cream
1/4 cup chives, minced

  • In a large bowl, whisk together cream cheese, heavy cream and chives until light and fluffy 

Spring Vegetable Shakshuka
2 potatoes, sliced thin
2 shallots, sliced thin
1 lb brussel sprouts, shredded
1 bunch asparagus, chopped
1 cup fresh peas
5 eggs
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs olive oil, divided
salt and pepper

  • In a large cast iron skillet, heat 1 tbs olive oil over medium high heat. When oil is shimmering, add asparagus, garlic and shallots to skillet. Cook until asparagus is lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  • Add brussels sprouts and peas, season generously with salt and pepper and continue cooking an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 
  • Warm additional 1 tbs olive oil in the skillet and arrange potatoes in a single layer on the skillet, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook until browned, about 2 minutes.
  • Flip potatoes and top with brussels, asparagus and pea mixture.
  • Make 5 small wells in the vegetables and gently crack eggs into each well. Cook for 2 minutes and transfer to a the oven with broiler set on high.
  • Broil, carefully rotating skillet to evenly cook eggs until whites are set and yolks are slightly runny, about 4 additional minutes. 
  • Remove from broiler and scoop to serve. 

Raspberry Jam and Chocolate Doughnuts
makes 12 doughnuts

1.5 cups all-pupose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup greek yogurt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2.5 oz dark chocolate, for melting
2 teaspoons dark cocoa powder
2 tablespoons raspberry jam preserves

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease doughnut pan and set aside.
  • In a large bowl sift together the flours and baking powder, and whisk in sugar and salt. 
  • Using a stand mixer on a medium setting, mix the butter, milk and greek yogurt together until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, followed by vanilla. Take care not to over-mix. 
  • Heat a small saucepan over low heat, add dark chocolate and cocoa. Whisk the chocolate as it melts and remove from heat. Whisk until completely smooth and set aside to cool.
  • Pour half of the batter into a large mixing bowl, and stir in the dark chocolate. In the other half of the batter, stir in the raspberry jam preserves. 
  • Using two piping bags (one for the chocolate batter, and one for the raspberry) or a spoon, fill each doughnut cup with one full ring of the raspberry batter followed by the chocolate. Bake until doughnuts are a light golden brown and are springy to the touch, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly before removing from pan. Cool completely before frosting 

                White Chocolate and Raspberry Jam Frosting
                                 8 ounces white chocolate
                                     1/4 cup heavy cream
                          1 teaspoon raspberry jam preserves


  • Combine the white chocolate and heavy cream in top of a double boiler.
  • Place over simmering water until chocolate has almost completely melted. Remove from heat immediately and continuously stir until smooth. 
  • Cool for about 10 minutes, until thick.
  • Stir in raspberry jam preserves.