Confetti Vegetable Smish

Makes about 1 cup

Here, the vegetables' role is mostly to lend color to the cream cheese spread smish, so it's the peelings of the radishes and zucchini that are used (reserve the flesh for another use). If using a mini-food processor to dice the vegetables, do them separately to better control their size. Serve with crackers.

Peelings from 6 bright red radishes, finely diced

Skin and about 1/8 inch from 1 small zucchini, finely diced

1/2 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced

7 ounces prepared cream cheese spread (such as smoked jalapeno, chive and onion or walnut herb)


Freshly ground black pepper

On a plate, combine the diced radish, zucchini and carrot. Taste the cream cheese spread and add salt and pepper to taste. Roll the cheese spread into a log about 4 inches long and then roll the log in the diced vegetables, gently pressing the vegetables into the cheese. If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Per 2-tablespoon serving: 127 calories, 3 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 7 g saturated fat, 157 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Marcia Kramer; e-mail questions to

Smoked Salmon Smish

Makes about 1 cup

Scraps of salmon sliced in-house, available at many stores, can substitute for the sliced smoked salmon at half the price. Serve with pumpernickel or melba toast.

8 ounces smoked salmon pate or smoked salmon cream cheese

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon chopped dill

1 tablespoon capers

4 ounces sliced smoked salmon

Chopped dill, parsley or chives, for garnish (optional)

In a small bowl, using a rubber spatula, combine the pate, lemon zest, dill, capers and a quarter of the smoked salmon until blended, retaining the chunky texture of the smoked salmon. Place in a serving crock. Pile the remaining smoked salmon on top and garnish with some chopped dill, parsley or chives, if desired. If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Per 2 tablespoon serving: 149 calories, 7 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 7 g saturated fat, 453 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Marcia Kramer; e-mail questions to

Chicken Sausage and Three-Cheese Egg Casserole

8 to 10 servings

Most Southerners will remember this make-ahead casserole from their childhood. David Hagedorn makes the dish richer by adding croissant cubes; pork or lamb sausage also works well. Using a mixture of cheese gives the dish more depth.

11/2 pounds chicken sausage

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove chopped garlic

4 cups day-old French bread, with crusts, cut into 2-inch cubes

2 stale croissants, cubed

12 large eggs

2 cups low-fat milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard or 1 teaspoon dried mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound mixture of shredded cheeses of choice (Monterey Jack, cheddar, Gruyere, Swiss, mozzarella)

Have ready a large, rectangular baking dish (or other 3-quart ovenproof baking dish) sprayed with nonstick spray oil.

Remove the sausage from its casings and break into chunks. In a large pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, then the sausage and chopped garlic and cook, stirring, until sausage is browned and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Strain in a colander and then drain on paper towels. Transfer the mixture to prepared dish.

In a large bowl, mix the French bread and croissant cubes. Scatter cubes on the sausage mixture.

In a large bowl, using a whisk or a hand-held mixer, combine eggs, milk, cream, mustard, salt and pepper until well blended. Add cheeses and mix until combined. Pour the custard mix over the casserole. Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with a nonstick spray oil and place it, sprayed side down, over the casserole. Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to bake, remove the casserole from refrigerator and bring to room temperature (at least 15 minutes) while preheating the oven to 325 degrees. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until casserole is golden brown and puffed, 15 to 20 minutes. The casserole is done when a knife inserted into the center yields no liquid. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Per serving (based on 10): 914 calories, 42 g protein, 56 g carbohydrates, 58 g fat, 430 mg cholesterol, 28 g saturated fat, 1,582 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Hal Mehlman; e-mail questions to

Chilled Asparagus With Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

8 to 10 servings

Sun-dried tomatoes are not as soft as oven-roasted marinated tomatoes, but the ones packed in oil may be substituted. The asparagus should be refrigerated several hours or overnight to allow the vinaigrette to meld with the asparagus.

3 pounds thin or medium asparagus

8 ounces oven-roasted marinated tomatoes, such as Whole Foods Divina Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar


Freshly ground black pepper

2 hard-cooked eggs, grated, for garnish (optional)

Have ready a large bowl of ice water.

Snap off the bottom of the smallest asparagus stalk just above the hard, pithy part of the stalk. Using the trimmed stalk as a guide, cut the other stalks to the same length. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until the stalks are bright green and firm but not crunchy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. When chilled through, 5 to 10 minutes, drain on paper towels. Gather the stalks with the tips together and place them in a resealable plastic bag. Set aside.

To make the vinaigrette, remove the tomatoes from the marinade, retaining the marinade in the jar. Cut the tomatoes into julienne strips, place in a sealed container and refrigerate. To the jar of tomato marinade, add the lemon zest, vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Cover jar and shake well. Pour marinade over asparagus, remove air from bag and seal. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, snip the corner of the plastic bag and drain off excess liquid. Place asparagus on a serving platter and garnish with the julienned tomatoes and grated egg, if desired.

Per serving (based on 10): 94 calories, 7 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 g saturated fat, 521 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Margaret Roth; e-mail questions to

Lemon Pudding Souffles

8 to 10 servings

This Southern standard is not quite spongecake, not quite pudding. Don't worry if it looks curdled when you add the beaten egg whites. The souffles can be served warm or at room temperature.

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 cups whole milk, at room temperature

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 eggs, separated, at room temperature

2 oranges, preferably blood oranges

Sugar (optional)

Place oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using butter or nonstick spray oil, lightly grease 8-ounce ramekins and place them in a large baking pan. Set a kettle of water on the stove to boil.

In a large bowl, add the sugar, flour, salt, lemon juice and zest, milk and melted butter and whisk until smooth. Beat in egg yolks one at a time and whisk until mixture is thick and pale yellow.

In a medium bowl, using a hand-held mixer, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the whites into the lemon mixture. Ladle the mixture into the prepared ramekins until each is three-quarters full. Place the pan on the middle rack in the oven and carefully pour the boiled water into the baking pan until it comes 1/2 inch up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until souffles are lightly browned and the pudding jiggles slightly, about 40 minutes.

Carefully remove the pan from the oven and lift the puddings onto a rack to cool, then cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, heat oven to 325 degrees then turn oven off. Place puddings in the warm oven for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut off tops and bottoms of the oranges. Remove all peel and pith. Separate the segments from the membrane and put the segments in a small bowl. Squeeze any remaining juice on top and add sugar to taste. Orange segments and juice can be spooned onto or served alongside the warmed puddings.

Per serving (based on 10): 269 calories, 5 g protein, 50 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 98 mg cholesterol, 3 g saturated fat, 166 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Hal Mehlman; e-mail questions to

The Smiths' revised brunch menu features chilled asparagus with roasted tomato vinaigrette -- a colorful option for vegetarian guests.