There's none of the formality of luncheons or dinners. Invitations are up to you, but with this informal type of gathering it's usually just a quick message or phone call. Decorations are limited to arranging the food attractively for your guests to choose their favorites. You may want to dress the table with a nice floral centerpiece, but keep it simple. No one wants to fuss before breakfast!
What do you serve at a brunch?
The choices are endless. Any food that can be eaten for either breakfast or lunch is appropriate for a brunch. Some elaborate catered brunches even offer carving stations where roast turkey, ham and beef are served. If you are looking for a more relaxed, informal get together, the foods should reflect that.
Buttermilk pancakes can be topped with syrup or stuffed with un-breakfast-like fillings such as crab meat or vegetable medleys -- or with jams and chocolate for the non-dieters in the group. Waffles are another crowd pleaser, if anyone has a waffle iron handy.
Eggs... not just for breakfast
Egg dishes can be your best friend. Omelette aficionados have been know to offer at least a dozen fillings to pick and choose -- or combine in delicious pairings. The only problem with omelettes is that they keep you in the kitchen while your guests enjoy themselves.
Dishes like deviled eggs can be made the day before and are always a hit. Quiche Lorraine is an egg, cheese and bacon pie that can be prepped the night before. About half an hour before the guests arrive stir up the eggs and cream, put everything in the prechilled pie crust and in an hour serve up a piping hot brunch dish that cooked while you chatted.
Fishing for variety
You may not think of fish as a breakfast dish, but smoked salmon is a favorite, as in bagels and lox! For a quick and simple brunch variation on fish tacos just set out bowls of shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes and white meat tuna with a bowl of sour cream for topping. You can add avocados, onions, chillies or other fillings if your guests are adventurous eaters. Bean dip, guacamole or even the old standard, onion dip, can add savory spices to the tacos.
There are no food rules at a brunch. Whatever you feel like cooking and serving fits this meal. Try to keep the foods simple to prepare. It's early in the day and you want to get to enjoy time with the people you invited. Impress everyone with your cooking skills at dinner. For brunch, make it easy on yourself!
Sweet scones or breakfast breads
One favorite bread at brunches is scones - easy to make and so good. The beauty of scones, besides the mouth watering taste, is that they can be made the night before and popped in the oven for stress free deliciousness. Freshly baked biscuits are a bit less exotic, but always welcome. Many hosts serve French Toast, another simple dish that has endless variations to dress it up. This is not really toast, but a moist, mouth-watering distant relative served with sweet syrups or fruits and even cream. If you want to impress with your cooking skills and still enjoy the company you can always go all out and bake your own Banana Walnut Bread the day before.
Cereal becomes a parfait when you add layers of yogurt, granola and fresh fruit to a clear glass container or serve it up in individual parfait cups.
Drinking before noon
Brunch drinks are sweet and not heavy on the alcohol. Mimosas and screwdrivers are favorites. A Mimosa is a mix of champagne and orange juice. A screwdriver is a glass of orange juice with an ounce of vodka. Both are served over ice. A twist on the mimosa is the bellini, using peach nectar instead of the orange juice.
Many of your guests will prefer their orange juice with no alcohol, and any underage guests will have no choice! Some hosts skip the alcohol altogether and just set up a serve yourself juice bar with some fruit nectars added to the orange, grapefruit, cranberry juice standards.
Nectar from passion fruit, mango, papaya, cherry, peach or pear are delicious on their own... or mixed into swirls of colorful combinations by your guests. The benefit to the serve yourself bar is that any guests who have not met before get to mingle as they mix.
Plenty of coffee and tea to make sure the caffeine drinkers wake up by the end of the meal is always important. These can be set out with the drinks or served with the meal. You can refresh any empties if you serve brunch desserts or just keep the coffee urn full and let guests help themselves.
Of course, your choices will be dictated by the number of people you invite and the occasion.
If the brunch is a holiday or wedding festivity you may want to go all out, but for a simple weekend gathering of a few friends just choose one or two dishes, set out the food then sit down to eat and relax.
Be warned that brunches can be habit forming
Brunching is so much fun that friends often make a habit of getting together every weekend to enjoy this relaxed dining ritual. It's a great way to start the day. You can start a house hopping brunch tradition or have a pot luck where you host and friends bring the foods and drinks.
Mix friends and family with good food and any relaxing weekend is even better. If you've never hosted a brunch, give it a try and you'll understand why this mixed up meal is such a treat!
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