A great way to start the day and the easiest meal to host.
A friend recently commented that brunch is her event of choice when entertaining. It’s a smart move – especially if you don’t mind waking up a bit early to prep. Why is brunch best? Let me count the ways.
Hesitant to Entertain? Three Reasons Why Brunch Is Best
- It’s an easier meal. Whether you envision soufflés or bagels and cream cheese, as an invitation it’s more simple, and expectations are lower. Inviting someone for dinner involves a few more steps than brunch and somehow, if you’re feeling it, the pressure is lifted.
- It’s early in the day. Which means you’re done by 1 or 2 pm! I know I am guilty of spending (happily, for the most part) two days preparing for a dinner party. The ‘day of’ is consumed—from sun up until the guests arrive. With brunch, you’re done by mid-afternoon, and have the rest of the day!
- It’s a treat. I don’t know when it happened or how it happened, but we associate brunch with special treats. Most days we have three meals—breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On special occasions (Mother’s Day, bridal showers, birthdays), we have brunch. Inviting someone to brunch is cashing in on that association.
What to serve?
Brunch menus can be as complex as you want them to be. If you’re reading this, you probably want a menu that’s a bit more ambitious than some nicely presented bagels and fruit.
If you’re someone who enjoys making some dishes from scratch, and you want to put some time into the prep, here are three brunch menus guaranteed to delight. As you look through, you’ll notice a couple things about these menus:
- No egg dishes featured. (This is not a political statement. Just worked out that way. Thought it was noteworthy.)
- Over the years I have cut way back on the sweets (muffins, donuts, scones, cakes) at breakfast/brunch events. I find that the savory stuff and fruit is much more popular in the morning.
Three Brunch Menus Guaranteed to Delight
This menu celebrates the flavors of Lebanon and Spain. It can be prepared entirely in advance with the exception of the flatbread. The smell of the flatbread baking will win over anyone who comes through the door. It’s intoxicating.
- Flatbread, plain or with zaatar (This recipe from the Moro cookbook is great, and the dough takes just an hour to rest. Be sure to double or triple depending on the number of guests, as the yield is small.)
- Three spreads, such as: Labne, hummus, tapenade, or muhammara (excellent recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini)
- Cheese and olive plate (Manchego would be great)
- Fruit plate: berries and plums
- Poundcake, the best you’ve ever had (I love Gina DePalma’s ricotta poundcake, and you will, too)
Look South Brunch
The flavors in this menu are vibrant, and the big mouthful of burrito is enormously satisfying. I can’t vouch for authenticity, but I can attest to the result. It’s delicious. This menu can be prepared entirely in advance with the exception of re-heating the tortillas and ingredients for the burritos, and assembling them.
- Black Bean Quinoa burritos with ahi sauce (you will love this recipe from Feasting at Home), served with slices of avocado
- Mexican Street Corn dip and chips (recipe from Damn Delicious)
- Salsa (pico de gallo, or peach salsa, would be great!)
- Fruit plate: mangoes and melon
- Chocolate cake (“Winning Hearts & Minds” cake, for the person who does not believe there is a such thing as too chocolatey, recipe from the Orangette blog)
Seconda Colazione, or Italian-style Second Breakfast
In Italy there are two breakfasts. At home, you have the first: a quick shot of espresso and maybe a grocery-store cookie to dunk in it. When you get to the office, you run down to the bar on the corner and have a fancier coffee (cappuccino, etc.) and a pastry. That’s your second breakfast, or “seconda colazione.” Mid-morning, you might also enjoy a slice of pizza bianca. Or in summer, a granita with panna (whipped cream). This is as close as we can get to an Italian morning in northeast Indiana.
- Pizza Bianca (Please make this life-changing recipe from Serious Eats – Note that you mix the dough the night before and let it sit out for two hours before baking, so this will require someone in the house to wake up a bit early)
- Burrata and tomatoes (or strawberries, with a drizzle of balsamic glaze)
- Fruit and nut plate: grapes, dried figs, walnuts
- Sliced prosciutto (get the good stuff)
- Fried peppers (no recipe needed – just slice banana peppers in half, remove the seeds, and fry in a drizzle of olive oil. Add chopped garlic and salt.)
- Espresso granita, with whipped cream (Note that the recipe from Bon Appetit says you can make the granita in advance, but in my experience it gets gummy in the freezer. I’d make the coffee in advance, add sugar, and chill it. The morning of, dump the coffee into a large Pyrex so it’s shallow, and scrape every 30 minutes.)