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Merry Christmas Morning

From my kitchen to yours, Nollaig shona duit!


Ireland Hopping/ By Margaret M. Johnson

All the preparations for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are finished — turkey is bought, stuffing is made, pudding is steamed — whew! And then the “big day” finally arrives and someone asks, “what’s for breakfast?” —oops! No need to worry if you take a little time to prep some delicious dishes for a Merry Christmas morning.

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Most recipes for French toast call for the bread to be dipped in a mixture of milk, eggs, sugar, and cinnamon and then pan-fried in butter. It’s most often served dusted with confectioners’ sugar and then topped with maple syrup, fruit sauce, or fresh berries. Making it with challah, brioche or Italian panettone gives it an additional eggy flavor and this version is prepared ahead of time and then baked. Double or triple the recipe for a bigger crowd.

12 (1/2-inch-thick) slices challah, brioche, or panettone

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 2/3 cups half and half

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans (optional)

Confectioners sugar for dusting

Maple syrup for serving

  1. Spray 13- by 9-inch baking dish with butter flavored cooking spray. Spread top of each slice of bread with butter and arrange in single layer in dish.

  2. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt. Pour over bread, pressing down with spatula to be sure bread absorbs liquid. Cover with buttered aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before baking

  3. Preheat oven to 425° F. Uncover pan and sprinkle with pecans, if using. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until bread is puffed and browned. Remove from oven and dust with confectioner’s sugar. Serve 2 slices per person with maple syrup.





This muffin cup recipe is perfect for a holiday morning because you can cook the bacon (or use chopped cooked ham) and mushrooms in advance, cut the bread, and refrigerate together overnight; stir in egg mixture in the morning. Alternately, you can bake the puddings ahead and reheat them for 10 to 15 minutes.

4 slices bacon or chopped ham

6 tablespoons butter.

1/2 pound white mushrooms, chopped

1 loaf hearty white bread, cut into cubes

5 large eggs

2 1/4 cups half and half

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, or in microwave, fry bacon until crisp; cool and crumble.

  2. In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Cook mushrooms for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Mix bacon or ham, mushrooms, and bread and refrigerate overnight.

  3. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place oven rack in center of oven. Spray 2 standard muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray.

  4. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Beat eggs with an electric mixer on medium for about 2 minutes, and then beat in butter and half and half. Season with salt and pepper and stir in parsley. Pour over bread mixture, stir in cheese, and then toss to coat; let stand for 8 to 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

  5. Spoon mixture into wells of 18 muffin cups and press down gently. Place pans on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until tops are golden (puddings will deflate slightly when removed from oven).




You can have these muffins on the table in less than 30 minutes if you mix the dry ingredients the night before and stir in the egg mixture in the morning.

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup oat bran

2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

1 large egg, beaten

1 1/4 cups milk

4 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

Grated zest of 1 orange

Softened butter for spreading

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, oat bran and confectioner’s sugar. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

  2. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a 12-well standard muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together egg, milk and butter. Stir into dry ingredients and then stir in cranberries and orange zest.

  1. Spoon batter in prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned and a skewer inserted into center comes out clean.

Margaret M. Johnson’s “Favorite Flavors of Ireland” is a “labor of love and tribute to her thirty years of travel there. It offers more than 100 best-loved recipes from her previous ten cookbooks and celebrates the special flavors of each Irish season: Spring/An t-Earrach, Summer/An Samhradh, Autum/An Fómhar, Winter/An Geimhreadh.” For ordering details, visit