Whether you’re planning an Easter brunch for the family or having a few friends over for a leisurely Sunday get together, hosting a brunch is very easy. Most of the prep can be done ahead of time, which means you get to enjoy the party too!
A brunch menu includes a selection of both savory and sweet foods which can be served buffet style. Main dishes such as overnight French toast, quiche, crêpes, savory strata or frittatas are easy to assemble and bake before guests arrive. Add fresh fruit, a variety of breakfast sausages or ham, and some freshly baked muffins and you have a welcoming spread.
THE GAME PLAN
- Set chilled juices, sparkling wine, hot coffee (with cream and sugar) on a side table with glasses and cups
- Buy or bake a selection of baked goods such as muffins, scones, croissants or a coffee cake
- Serve a bowl or platter of seasonal, fresh fruits, such as mixed berries, fruit salad, melon wedges, etc.
- Prepare an egg dish for the main course (which can include the meat)
- Offer a meat (baked ham, sausages, bacon) or fish dish (salmon or crab cakes), if desired
- Select one to three side dishes, such as roasted potatoes, potato gratin, hash browns, vegetables
Set out a chilled bottle of sparkling wine, a pitcher of fresh orange juice with glasses, as well as a pot of freshly brewed coffee on a side table with glasses and coffee mugs. Let your guests can serve themselves.
BREAKFAST PASTRIES AND BAKED GOODS
Offer a selection of muffins, bagels, scones, croissants, pastries or a coffee cake. The farmers market has many vendors who sell delicious baked goods — Beckmann’s, Sweet Elena’s Bakery, and Companion offer a wide selection. However, muffins and coffee cakes are very easy to make ahead. Use paper liners in the muffin pan cups to make clean up easier. If you bake muffins the night before, be sure to cool and store them in an airtight container.
Rewarm baked goods briefly in the oven just before serving. If time allows, bake muffins in the morning so that the delicious aroma greets your guests as they come in the door! And don’t forget the condiments — the farmers market offers many delicious jams, jellies and other fruit spreads.
Recipes: Almond Apricot Coffee Cake, Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake, Fresh Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake, Lemon Crumb Muffins, Cheesy Chive Biscuits, Buttermilk Bran Muffins, Sweet Cornbread Muffins, Crunchy Topped Banana Muffins, Blueberry Coffee Cake, Maple Nut Oat Scones, Blueberry Cake Muffins, Whole Wheat Date Scones, Coconut Macadamia Coffee Cake with Rum Glaze
Use local, fresh seasonal fruits for a fruit salad or compote. Mixed whole berries are colorful, easy, and delicious and require little preparation other than rinsing and draining before placing in serving bowl. If you’re using larger strawberries, cut in half. When in season, wedges of cantaloupe, honeydew or watermelon can be arranged on a platter early in the morning. Try to avoid storing cut fruits overnight.
Prep the ingredients for your main egg course the day before — grate the cheese, slice or chop your vegetables. You’ll be ready to assemble and pop the strata or quiche into the oven first thing in the morning. And don’t forget about crêpes and eggs benedict! They are classic brunch favorites and easy to make ahead and assemble at the last moment.
Recipes: Classic Eggs Benedict, Orange Eggs Benedict on Scones, Chicken Divan Crêpes, Asparagus and Crab Hollandaise, Shirred Eggs, Vanilla Orange Pain Perdu with Balsamic Strawberries and Cream, Pain Perdu, Copper Mountain Quiche, Broccoli and Cauliflower Casserole, Asparagus, Spinach and Green Garlic Strata, Crab Quiche, Sausage Vegetable Frittata, Sun Sweet Apricot-Stuffed French Toast, Make Ahead French Toast with Berries, Quiche Lorraine, Smoked Salmon and Dill Frittata, Poached Eggs with Asparagus and Meyer Lemon Hollandaise
MEAT OR FISH
For a large group, a pre-cooked apple wood smoked ham from Corralitos Market and Sausage Company or breakfast sausages work very well on the menu. Fresh salmon is a delicious alternative and easily prepared ahead of time, and finished at the last minute.
Sausages are the easiest to prepare for a large gathering. To cook sausages in the oven, place the links, not touching, on a foil-lined baking pan and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for about 20 -25 minutes, rolling the sausages over once. Small link sausages take less time to cook; larger sausages, like bratwurst or kielbasa, may require slightly longer cooking time. Just to be safe, before turning off the oven, slice open one sausage to make sure that it is no longer pink in the middle. Grilling is another option to cook sausages if you have an outdoor grill —it frees up oven space if you have an “oven-intensive” menu.
Recipes: Asparagus Wrapped in Crisp Prosciutto, Baby Beets Glazed with Orange, Vanilla and Cardamom, Broccoli and Cauliflower Casserole, Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin, Lemon Garlic Broccolini, Sformato di Broccoli (Broccoli Flan), Spinach Gratin, Balsamic Glazed Fingerling Potatoes with Garlic, Chile Potatoes Au Gratin