Whether you’re planning a weekend brunch for the family or having a few friends over for a relaxed Sunday get together, hosting a brunch is a very easy way to entertain.
A brunch menu generally includes a selection of both savory and sweet foods and is easiest served buffet style. Main dishes such as overnight French toast, quiche, stratas 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. Set out a pitcher of fresh orange or grapefruit juice with glasses, as well as coffee mugs and a pot of freshly brewed coffee and your guests can serve themselves.
Here are a few tips and recipes for a casual brunch menu that will allow you to relax and enjoy brunch as much as your guests!
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 your strata or quiche into the oven first thing in the morning.
Recipes: 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, Make Ahead French Toast with Berries, Quiche Lorraine, Smoked Salmon and Dill Frittata
BREAKFAST BREADS AND PASTRIES
Bake (or buy) selection of muffins, scones, croissants, pastries or a coffee cake. Muffins, scones and coffee cakes are very easy to make—below are a few of our favorite recipes. Use paper liners in your muffin pan cups to make clean up easier. If you bake muffins the night before, be sure to cool and store in airtight container. Briefly re-warm your breakfast breads in the oven right before serving. If time allows, try to bake muffins in the morning so that the delicious aroma greets your guests as they come in the door!
Recipes: Angel Biscuits, 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
MEAT OR FISH
Sausages are the easiest to prepare for a casual 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; and large sausages like bratwurst or raw kielbasa may require slightly longer cooking time. (Just to be safe, before eating and turning off the oven, slice open one sausage to make sure that it is no longer pink in the middle.) Grilling is another option if you have an outdoor grill —it frees up oven space if you have an “oven-intensive” menu.
A pre-cooked smoked ham or planked or poached salmon are delicious alternatives to the usual breakfast sausages or bacon or if you're serving a large group.
Recipes: Brandied Glazed Ham
Use local, seasonal fresh fruits for a fruit salad or compote. Mixed whole berries are colorful, easy and delicious and require little preparation other than rinsing and draining prior to 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 prior to serving.
Quick reference guide for selecting foods to serve for brunch:
Choose one meat and /or one fish dish
Add an egg dish as your main course (which can include the meat)
Select 1-3 side dishes (e.g., roasted potatoes, hash browns, vegetables, etc.)
Include a selection of quick breads, muffins, scones, croissants or a coffee cake
Include seasonal, fresh fruits (e.g. mixed berries, fruit salads, melon wedges, etc.)