"It's not exactly what we call Post Toasties in the state of Ohio. But it's good. Very good," announced Sen. John Glenn after breakfast last Wednesday. Thus the Senate Democratic leadership gave its seal of approval to Brennan's Crab and Oyster Soup, Eggs Hussarde, Eggs Sardou and Bananas Foster served at the Capitol by the chef, sous chef and manager of Brennan's restaurant, flown in with loads of ingredients for occasion.
The occasion, actually, was a two-day seminar for 60 heavy-hitting fundraisers and contributors to the Democratic Party, a group known as the U.S. Senate Democratic Leadership Circle. They had eaten dinner at Ted kennedy's the night before: Maine lobsters. And they were going on to briefings and a tour by Sen. Alan Cranston of his favorite spots in the Capitol. Since each of the members had contributed or raised $15,000 a year for the Democrats, a rough calculation would price the roomful as representing nearly a million dollars to the party. The compliments about the breakfast led one to believe the guests felt they had gotten their money's worth.
The bloody marys and milk punch that started the 8 a.m. breakfast were merely sipped rather than quaffed, but oceans of oysters and seas of hollandaise disappeared from the plates. The crab, oysters, bread, rusks, canned artichoke bottoms and New Orleans chicory coffee had been brought from New Orleans. Chef Mike Roussel considered it all easy, working with his crew of Lazone Randolph and David Wilson plus the Capitol kitchen staff to prepare a three-course breakfast for 80 in a strange kitchen. He is, however, an old hand at cooking on the road, in television studios, even at the Capitol, where two years ago he had cooked a meal arranged by Tip O'Neill. "It makes no difference where we go," he shrugged, "we're here to do our thing." The difference was not in what he cooked, but in what he ate. Roussel had dined the day before at Le Lion d'Or, where he had much admired the mussels and veal, and the Palm; and after serving the breakfast he was off to lunch at Le Provencal. In the meantime, the remains of Bananas Foster turned to ice ice cream soup on the tables, Sen. Joe Biden was clearing the his palate with a tall glass of orange juice and more than one guest was ready for a light nap after such a heavy breakfast.
Brennan's left the guests with recipes for its most famous of breakfast, in enough time to reproduce them for Sunday brunch: BRENNAN'S OYSTER SOUP (8 serving) 1 cup butter 2 cups celery, finely chopped 1 cup gren onion, finely chopped 1 1/4 cups flour 2 tablespoons garlic, finely chopped 4 dozen large, freshly shucked oysters 12 cups oyster water (the oyster liquor plus sufficient water to make up 12 cups) 4 bay leaves 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon white pepper
Melt the butter over medium heat in a 6-quart heavy saucepan, then saute the celery and green onion until tender but not browned, stirring frequently. Gradually stir in the flour and cook 5 minutes longer, stirring constantly, over low heat. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and scoop out the bay leaves with a slotted spoon or a long fork; discard. Serve immediately.
Note: For this occasion, lump crabmeat was added with the oysters. If you like your oysters lightly cooked, you could add them and the crabmeat for only the last 5 minutes of cooking. EGGS SARDOU (8 servings) Creamed spinach 1 cup butter 1 1/2 cup white onion, chopped 1 1/4 cups flour 4 cups milk About 1 teaspoon salt About 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 8 cups cooked spinach, chopped For the eggs: 16 large cooked artichoke bottoms, heated 16 poached eggs Hollandaise sauce: 8 large egg yolks 4 tablespoons lemon juice 1 1/2 pounds hot melted butter, clarified 1 teaspoon salt About 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
To prepare creamed spinach, melt the butter over low heat in a heavy saucepan. Add the chopped onion and cook until just soft. Add the flour gradually, stirring constantly. Stir in the milk and cook, still stirring, until evenly blended and warmed through. Add the salt, pepper and spinach and cook a few minutes more, just until the spinach is warmed through and the mixture evenly blended. Put equal amounts of creamed spinach on 8 heated plates, then place artichoke bottoms on top of the spinach.
To poach the eggs, bring the water and vinegar to a boil in a large skillet or saute pan. Keeping the water at a continuous low rolling boil, crack the eggs one by one into it. Cook until the egg whites are firm, about 2 minutes. Lift the poached eggs out of the water with a skimmer or slotted spoon, allowing the water to drain back into the pan. Place two poached eggs side by side on each artichoke bottom.
To prepare the holldaise sauce, put the egg yolks and lemon juice in a mixing bowl.Place the bowl over or near the pilot on top of the stove.Beat briefly with a whisk, then slowly pour in the hot melted butter, beating briskly and constaqntly while you pour. When the sauce begins to thicken, sprinkle in the salt and pepper. Continue to beat while adding the rest of the butter. Beat until the sauce reaches an attractive thick consistency. When the sauce is finished, ladle an even coating of hollandaise over each portion. BANANAS FOSTER (4 servings)
This is Brennan's most famous and most popular dessert. It's really quite simple to prepare. Wait until the rum gets hot, so that you get a good flame when it's ignited. This can also be prepared over a stove burner, then brought to the dinner table and flamed. 4 tablespoons butter 1 cup brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 4 tablespoons banana liqueur 4 bananas, cut in half lengthwise, then halved About 1/4 cup rum 4 scoops vanilla ice cream
Melt the butter over an alcohol burner in a flambe pan or skillet. Add the sugar, cinnamon and banana liqueur and stir to mix. Heat for a few minutes, then place the halved bananas in the sauce and saute until soft and slightly browned. Add the rum and allow it to heat well, then tip the pan so that the flame from the burner causes the sauce to light. Allow the sauce to flame until it dies out, tipping the pan with a circular motion to prolong the flaming. Serve over vanilla ice cream. First lift the bananas carefully out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream, then spoon the hot sauce from the pan over the top. MILK PUNCH (4 servings) 6 ounces bourbon 1 1/2 cups half-and-half 4 teaspoons confectioners' sugar 6 drops vanilla extract Ice cubes nutmeg
Combine all the ingredients except the nutmeg in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously, the strain into old fashioned glasses. Sprinkle each drink with nutmeg before serving. Recipes from "Brennan's New Orlean's Cookbook