To me the best thing about making brunch these days is a nice meal after sleeping in and the inclusion of sweet plus savory dishes. The sleeping in part was not always true. When I was growing up brunch was often a big buffet at the local club after getting up early for church services. There was always so much to choose from and I could fill my plate with breakfast and lunch. The food was okay, but after sitting above steam baths and being poked and prodded by dozens of other diners before I got to it, not always as tasty as what was made at home. My favorite parts of the buffet was always the omelet station and dessert table. When I make brunch I like including the variety representing lunch and breakfast.
When doing a brunch at home it can be made very simple or very complicated. Dishes like Eggs Benedict or souffles or perfectly poached seafood can be good, but hard to time when people are arriving. In my experience the level of complexity is a choice and I lean towards hosting brunches that don’t take a lot of prep or maintenance. Stick with fresh ingredients and you will be fine. With a little prep the day before (but not absolutely necessary) you can serve your guests a variety of foods and cook them at the pace you prefer. Here is how I did Sunday morning brunch recently at my mom’s house, adding a little bit of complexity, but with a small party it was fun to do so.
I was a living, breathing omelet station! As you can see from the pictures there was a wealth of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables with dip, some wheat free muffins and little personal menus for people to choose their omelet ingredients. It was a small party, so the kitchen table that seated six was perfect. I could make omelets and still participate in the conversation. I prepared some omelet ingredients and muffins the day before, so I just had to pull them out of the fridge right before people arrived.
I call it the Almost Easiest Brunch because in my opinion the easiest would not include the omelet station, but something eggy and cooked en masse. Things like meaty or salmon frittatas and egg muffins can be popped in the oven right before people arrive, and be hot and ready by the time the first round of mimosas is sipped away. That is easier when hosting a brunch, but I wanted a little more challenge this time; thus, the omelets! The great part of the omelets is complete absence of guessing about what people want. We had salmon lovers and haters, Little B currently dislikes mushrooms, and a couple of serious vegetable eaters. As long as you do not burn the eggs there is little room for omelet content consternation. Try making a brunch for a bunch this weekend then take a nap, especially after the morning cocktails!
2 small omelet/saute pans with cover (use foil or large plate if covers unavailable)
1 stiff spatula
1/2 cup butter
Whisked eggs – plan for two eggs and 1 Tbsp milk per person. Add eggs and milk to large measuring cup, whisking them together with a dash of salt and pepper. Note: using a large measuring cup or pitcher with a pouring spout allows for easy pouring into pans when time to make omelets.
At least 3 meat ingredients. Suggest meats pre-cooked and chopped, like bacon, breakfast sausage, poached or smoked salmon, ham. Plan for about 1 tablespoon of meat per person.
At least 3 vegetable ingredients. Suggest blanching or cooking until soft any raw vegetables to speed up omelet preparation, like sauteed mushrooms, peppers or onions, blanched broccoli and raw, chopped spinach. Plan for about 2 tablespoon per person.
At least 2 cheese ingredients. Suggest at least one mild and one sharper flavored cheese, like cheddar, feta and cream cheese. Plan for about 2 tablespoons per person.
Hand out small pieces of paper with the guest name and available omelet ingredients listed. Have guest mark what they want in their omelet. When ready to make omelets preheat the omelet pans to medium. Melt a pat of butter. When butter begins to bubble pour in thin layer of egg to cover the bottom of the pan, about 1/3 cup. Add cheese to entire surface of egg (cream cheese would be dropped in with other ingredients, unless you want to try to spread it on with uncooked egg surface – good luck!). Add a spoonful of each vegetable/meat ingredient to one half the egg surface. When egg edges and bottom begin to firm up (can’t see the color of the pan bottom through the egg), fold over the cheese only egg layer on top of the vegetables and meat half. Cover pan for one minute to allow cheeses to melt, ingredients to heat and egg to finish cooking. Slide on to serving plate. Repeat until all omelets are made.
Vegetable Tray. Provide about 1 cup per person of prepared seasonal raw vegetables that dip easily: grape/cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, carrot sticks, red or green bell pepper strips, snap peas, cucumber coins or sticks, radishes, zucchini sticks.
Fruit tray. Provide about 1/2 cup per person of prepared fruit: berries (slice strawberries if they are big!), apples, oranges, grapes and pineapple.
Dips. Provide at least one sweet and one savory dip: with fruit include Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip or whip together some cream cheese and pureed fruit like this frosting, and for the vegetables include French Onion Dip, hummus, or tzatziki.
Sweet Muffins. To balance the savory egg dish include some sweet muffins, like cranberry, blueberry, or oatmeal apple.
Savory Crisps. To go along with the dips serve some chips or crackers. A great item to serve is crispy veggie chips – beets, sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots and green beans baked and salted. Very crunch addition to the meal!
Signature Drink. Although drink preferences of guests will vary, suggest having ingredients for a signature cocktail, like Mimosas, Caesars or Bloody Marys. Make available coffee, herbal iced tea and at least one type of juice as well.