Brunch is undeniably my favorite meal. I'm a morning person, so it's at just the right time. I can still do my normal morning Tim Horton's and f-e-t-c-h routine without being completely starved for time to get ready. Brunch is also, in my opinion, key to a successful group or family vacation. What can make a group vacation most difficult are the many different schedules we all naturally operate on. If A wakes up at 5, B wakes at 7:30, C & D rise at 8:30, E surfaces sometime between 9 and 10, F is rarely seen before 11, and G, well she might be medically labeled as in a coma, then getting everyone to meet for dinner at the same time is a bit like giving all the horses in the Kentucky Derby Quaaludes. They'll stagger there eventually as there's nowhere else to go, but it won't be efficient. Brunch puts everyone on the same schedule, mealwise. It is a gracious dictator's greatest tool. The early shift can have a little nibble with their coffee and wait. I have plenty of time to go to the beach with Barbie, play f-e-t-c-h, give her a bath, shower, prep dinner, and run to the grocery for fruit. The late and unconscious crowd have significant motivation to crawl to the table slightly early. It gives everyone a chance to plan their separate and together activities without the combative questions at the door will you be home by 12:30? I need the car to get to yoga! -- There will be another car here! -- You know damn well I can't drive a stick! I could kill someone. You take that car. A good plan, eventually, but now someone is late to yoga which will likely lead to passive aggressive comments at dinner that are less than subtle after a generous pour at happy hour. And you do not want to be the person who has the car I was planning to take to the grocery to get one pineapple for shrimp and pineapple crostini (I never buy pineapples more than twelve hours in advance, too unpredictable).
|We wouldn't want our accessories to clash|
|Vacation brunch is about 11:30|
Also, vacation wise, it keeps people out of your way when you're prepping dinner in the morning. Left to their own devices, people will inevitably be stupid on vacation and use your chef's knife to slice a bagel and accidentally cut 75% of a fingertip off (yes, that happened in 2009. I was more concerned about my cutting board being ruined, also I hated my friend K's boyfriend so I thought she might dump him if he only had 9.8 fingers. He recovered I think).
I'm sure you already know the history of brunch, but basically it was invented by hungover Edwardians who couldn't sit up for breakfast until a later hour. God bless them. Some contest that theory but it's my favorite so I deem it true.
Of course, brunch is not just for vacation. It can be a wonderful way to celebrate a holiday or entertain. As I tend to do, I have some rules for brunch that I think are matters of life and death. Take them with a grain of fleur de sel and don't be afraid to disagree. Just make sure my car is back on time.
1. Choose a reasonable time to start. Brunch should be fun and light, which will be impossible if you're fuming because your guests are a half hour late and yawning. 11, 12, and 1 are all acceptable or any half hour between. If it starts at 10, it's breakfast and you're crazy.
|A most adorable brunch guest|
|Running out of steam|
|Brunch accommodates all schedules and can be finished before|
2. Do not cut your fruit the night before. Buying pre-cut fruit is not okay. Ever. If you're really terrified of cutting a pineapple or a mango, do all berries and grapes. Think about fruit for a moment. What is it? Fruit is a rapidly decomposing vessel to perpetuate the species. The more broken down a whole fruit is, the faster it will decompose and the sugars will turn to acid. Air + sugar/carbohydrates + moisture=yeast. You don't want your fruit platter to have a yeast infection, do you? Pineapple, mango, strawberries, and citrus taste much more acidic when cut and refrigerated overnight, almost pickled. Versus sweet perfection when sliced fresh that morning.
and grapefruit are best bought the day before, kept at room temperature
overnight, and sliced the next morning, and in tupperware at room temperature
for 1-2 hours. It does make more work
for the morning of the brunch, but it's so worth it.
|I always serve fruit with Greek Yogurt mixed|
with a little honey.
|If whole pomegranates are available, I love to sprinkle the seeds over the|
platter. I don't buy the seeds outside of the fruit though. They taste weird.
|My favorite in the summer: melon, cucumber, tomato salad is perfect for brunch.|
In this case, you should douse with vinegar in addition to salt.
3. Do not have the coffee, toaster, or mimosas on the buffet. Have them in a separate zone. Multiple toasters are helpful if your group is larger than eight. I always have something that can be toasted to make sandwiches. Sometimes bagels, and sometimes buttermilk and cinnamon-raisin rolls (I base my rolls off this recipe, I use buttermilk instead of milk and add about 2T of butter. For the CR rolls, I heat 1 cup buttermilk barely, and add in about 2T cinnamon and 1 1/2 cup raisins. The warm buttermilk is infused with cinnamon and the raisins are plumped. Budget triple rise time as cinnamon is a yeast inhibitor). I often have the buffet, coffee and toaster, and mimosa station making a U around the table. This way none of them feel like outposts, but can operate without any bottlenecking.
|Barbie and her esteemed guest, Arnie. Too polite to beg|
for bacon but too canine to abandon hope some will fall.
4. Have your buffet and table in front of an east-facing window, if possible. Okay I know this is a stretch but lighting is important! Just like you don't want brilliant, bright light for a dinner party, you do want the energy of early light for a brunch. Brunch food is so appetizing with rays of sun on it. Think about those glorious early episodes of Barefoot Contessa, what makes those episodes so beautiful? The light. The dinners are dark and moody and the brunches are bathed in sun.
5. Bake your bacon. In another nod to early Ina, I only bake bacon. It is so much easier and you can make a lot at one time. I line baking sheets with foil, spray with vegetable oil, and line the bacon on the sheets. It's a bit crowded, but obviously the mass reduces. I do this the night before and put them in the refrigerator uncovered. The dry, cold air on the surface of the bacon is a good thing. It makes it crisper. When everyone arrives, I put it in a cold oven and set it for 350 on convection. I let it bake for 20-22 minutes and turn the oven off. Let it sit another ten minutes and it is perfect. You may need to adjust based on your oven. I always bake it in my KitchenAid oven, which heats very quickly. On vacation, I have a Thermador and it takes about 2 minutes longer. Use my recipe only as a guideline and keep a close eye on it the first time to see how it may differ in your oven. Once done baking and resting, remove and place on a plate with paper towels. I generally do two layers of bacon and paper towels so all the grease is removed. Also, did you know rolling a package of bacon inward like a jelly roll and then outward the same way makes the slices easier to separate? Save the bacon fat for thinly sliced roasted potatoes with rosemary that night.
|Could there be a brunchier combination than sunny roses|
and blue glass? This was for my New Year's Day brunch
|FF, do you like the way I handle my ham?|
An All Clad fork works perfectly.
I glaze with the juice of two grapefruits, two limes,
a "just look the other way" shake of brown sugar,
1/4 cup ground mustard, and 2 Tablespoons onion powder.
I bake it in a covered dutch oven and only uncover to brown.
|Guest who cant eat pork? Do Huevos Rancheros.|
I use this recipe. If you can believe it, I use less than half
the cheese. This recipe is perfect otherwise. Warning: the
ATK website is very annoying.
6. Music is kind of hard for brunch. I think the easiest party music is '70s on 7 on Sirius XM. However on Saturday and Sunday morning-afternoons, they replay old Kasey Kasem countdowns. This is bad because people want to hear the anecdotes and stop talking. So for a weekend brunch, I do a '60s and '70s mix of my own making. One of the best and most appropriate being this, to which my sister used to think the words were You and me and Leslie and that it was about a threesome!
7. Though I struggle to make really good coffee and am still mad I bought this coffee maker before knowing this was the best one like Dani did, I think you are better to go too strong with your coffee than weak. I tend to have half & half and a coffeemate flavored cream. My favorite is hazelnut. I just put out real sugar in a china bowl because I think packets are ugly. Luckily in the
Midwest, I don't need to
bother with tea. In the summer or on
vacation, I often have sun tea with lots of fresh mint. Sugar on the side for that, too.
|The Blueberry Muffin recipe from Martha's Entertaining is|
failsafe and makes the most beautiful muffins, it's the base
for my banana bread blueberry muffins.
8. Do you know how to make a proper mimosa? Often people do a 1:1 ratio of champagne (or prosecco at my house) and OJ. Incorrect. It's always hard for me when I'm doing wedding hair and I have to watch the bridal party butcher my third favorite drink. Some say 1 part OJ to 2 parts bubbles. I say 1 part OJ to 3 parts bubbles.
9. I like a mix of silver and white platters with green and/or blue and white accents. All silver can go a little too fussy, and I don't think fruit looks as pretty on silver as it does on white. I will torture you all with another entire post dedicated to arranging a fruit platter.
10. I rarely buy tomatoes outside of July-October when they are perfect at the farmers' market. I do make an exception for brunch. Sliced tomatoes are, for whatever reason, essential to brunch. I have best luck with tomatoes from
as vine-ripened. The Teets has a deal
with the devil and has nice heirloom tomatoes all year. Slice and salt liberally about 20 minutes before serving. No pepper or vinegar,
this isn't a rave. Bonus points for a
tomato server. Though a fork works
almost as well.
|How I love a piece of specialty silver|
What did I miss? Do you have any brunch tips to share? Do you forsake the mimosa for the bellini? Are you having a Mother's Day brunch? I have the best muffin recipe that I promise to share before then.