the perfect brunch

Welcome to All in the Detail... I am so glad you are here!

Showing up for brunch is easy. Hosting brunch, now that's a horse of a different color. But with a little planning ahead, some great tips and recipes, hosting your next brunch can be more fun with less fuss.

First Step: Plan your Menu

When it comes to brunch, your options are myriad: You can serve breakfast dishes, lunch dishes, or a combination of the two. I suggest choosing a muesli (see my recipe below), a fresh salad, an egg dish, and a couple choices of breads with condiments, plus a fresh pot of coffee and a choice of a couple cocktails or mocktails and juice. Consider finishing off the menu with a fruit platter or pastries (store bought at your favorite bakery is the way to go here).

When preparing a fruit platter, choose only the ripest fruits at the market (depending on when you purchase, you may not have time to wait for them to ripen at home). I prefer a fruit platter with big chunks of colorful fruit, not small diced pieces of fruit all mixed in a bowl. This makes for a beautiful presentation on any buffet table. A fruit platter can be done in advance to save you time and worry during your brunch.  

The trick is to get yourself out of the kitchen and into the action as much as possible while still pulling off a killer brunch. To that end, pre-prep as much of your brunch as you possibly can. Choose brunch recipes you can whip up in advance. This will make you look like a wizard to your guests.

My Muesli recipe that can be made in advance.

18 oz California Mix
2 C quick oats
1 C rye flakes
½ C sunflower seeds
2 C bran flakes
1 C golden raisins
1 C walnuts, chopped coarsely
1 bag Craisins
You may not find all the ingredients - but it will still be just as good!
Mix well all ingredients in large bowl and store in airtight container for future use.

Choose drinks that can be made in advance.

Serving mimosas? Squeeze those oranges the day before. Only fresh orange juice will do!

Easy Mimosa recipe

1 Cup chilled champagne or prosecco
½ Cup Fresh squeezed orange (only the fresh will do)
Serve in champagne flutes
Garnish with a slice of orange and a whole strawberry

Whip up a pitcher of my Bloody Mary mix for a perfect Bloody Mary bar.

Be sure to serve your hot coffee in a thermal carafe (don't keep it cooking on the coffee pot burner) and include all the coffee bar condiments required: cream, sugar (sugar substitute and raw sugar) and what other needs fit your guests requirements, it's ok to ask your guests ahead of time for any likes/dislikes, allergies and needs - 

A Good Host is a Host Who Care about their Guests

Maybe even offer a coffee liquor - Kahlua or Baileys that will start the day off with a bang!

Where’s the bacon?

Of course! Make big batches of bacon on baking sheets in the oven. Baking your bacon instead of frying it on the stove frees you up to put the finishing touches on brunch. Plus, there's no greasy pan taking up space on the stove.

Here are so many good reasons for cooking bacon in the oven:
You can cook a whole pound of bacon at one time in just minutes.
Baked bacon cooks flat and doesn't curl up.
No need to turn the bacon.
No grease burns on your skin.
No grease stains on your clothes.
No grease splatters all over your stove.
Free up space on your stovetop for other foods.
While the bacon is in the oven cooking itself, you can turn your attention to other things, like mixing/drinking mimosas.
Clean-up is as easy as it gets.
Bacon is its own best reason to cook bacon.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven.

1 pound thick-cut bacon - Check you package for serving size

Large rimmed baking sheet
Aluminum foil
Baking rack (Optional: Cooking the bacon on a rack makes the bacon crisper and lets the grease drip off the bacon as it cooks. If you go the rack route, you should still line your baking pan with foil to make clean-up easy.)

Preheat your oven to 400 F. You won't be broiling the bacon, so put your oven rack in the middle of your oven to distribute the heat evenly.
Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Make sure the foil extends up the sides of the pan so it captures all the bacon grease and clean-up is easier.
Arrange bacon strips directly on the foil. It's okay if the bacon overlaps slightly because it will shrink slightly as it bakes. OR place the bacon on a rack. Place the baking pan in the oven.
Cook bacon for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how chewy or crispy you like your bacon.
Transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined platter. The extra grease will be absorbed by the paper towels, and the bacon will crisp up a bit as it cools. You can then transfer it to a clean plate to serve.

Include a fresh salad, it's quick and easy.

A large bowl of fresh salad is always a great and easy addition to any brunch buffet table. This can be prepared ahead of time and just add the dressing at the last minute to keep everything fresh. A store bought rotisserie chicken from the deli section can be chopped up and added too - so easy because it's store bought!

Make this instead of that.

Crepes and omelets demand your near-constant attention at the stovetop during the brunching fun. The smart alternative is going with a make-ahead breakfast casserole, a breakfast strata, or a quiche recipe instead.

When deciding what egg dish to make, take into account how much time you have to prepare and how much time you want to spend at the stove: Frittatas take a bit longer and require more ingredients than scrambled eggs, for instance, but a frittata can hold its heat a bit longer on the table than scrambled eggs.

I love serving poached eggs with hollandaise at brunch gatherings but doing more than a few can end up feeling annoying and time-consuming when hungry guests are waiting out in the dining room. Luckily, eggs can actually be poached ahead of time and then reheated right before serving.

Here's a way to prepare poached eggs for a crowd:

Poach all your eggs as normal, but under-cook them slightly. A minute off of your normal cooking time should do the trick. Just make sure the whites are nearly set. Strain the eggs and put them into a refrigerator container filled with cold water.

When you're ready to serve, bring a pot of water to a gentle simmer and give your eggs their final minute of poaching. Because the whites are already set, you can heat several eggs at once without worrying that they will stick together. This takes much less time than poaching all the eggs at the last minute - and it's less stressful, too!

I usually poach the eggs the night before or the morning of the brunch. If it's already close to serving time, you can also hold fully poached eggs in a bowl of warm water so you can do several batches of eggs but then serve them all at once.

Hollandaise can be made 1 hour ahead. Transfer to a heatproof container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and set in a small saucepan of very hot water to keep warm. Whisk until smooth before serving. Same goes for French toast and pancakes. Skip all that stove time and make baked French toast casserole instead.

Try serving a platter of deviled eggs, easy to prepare ahead of time and always a huge hit with a crowd.

Order a honey-baked ham in advance, no wear on the cook, and extremely easy to set out to serve the day of the brunch.

Coffee cakes, scones, banana breads, muffins, and other quick breads can all be made ahead of time. Actually, make a run to your favorite bakery and stock up. Plan well enough in advance, and you can freeze quick breads. Then thaw them for the big day.

The best and easiest plan for any gathering is to make a few items and purchase a few (good) items. 

Here is My Perfect Bagel Bar set up:

Purchase at least two types of good bagels, I usually go with a plain (for those who are timid) and an everything (for those who prefer to have it all).

You can toast all the bagels yourself before serving or set the toaster on the buffet table and let each guest go for it themselves!

When I create a bagel bar, I place an extra-large cutting board on the buffet table and arrange the following items on it:
Softened Cream Cheese
Softened Sweet Butter
Assortment of jams
Lox (smoked salmon)
Diced hard boiled eggs
Diced red onions
Diced fresh tomatoes
Freshly ground pepper
*Be sure that all the items have a serving utensil.

Set the table the night before.

Keep it casual when setting a table for a Sunday brunch. Not too formal will relax the guests and set the mood for the day, which in turn will start conversation flowing and create that perfect brunch atmosphere to remember.

One last tip for a Perfect Brunch:

Serve the food buffet style. That way, everyone can help themselves to seconds (and thirds) and can chose exactly what they want (or don’t want) to eat without the host having to fill plates or the guests having to pass family style dishes around the table.