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BrunchA brunch is the perfect way to entertain on long weekends when sleeping in is the 'in' thing to do.

Brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch, both in terms of scheduling and the dishes that are often served.

In the US, brunch usually begins with lots of coffee and orange juice to fortify your guests, followed by a relaxed nosh that may include fresh scones, biscuits, or a homemade quick bread. Main brunch dishes may include buttermilk pancakes or waffles served with fresh fruit.

For an extra-mellow brunch celebration don't forget alcoholic drinks such as a tomato juice-fortified Bloody Mary, or a Champagne Mimosa with orange juice.

When, what, and how to serve brunch

salad fixings
Garden party brunch: A make-your-own salad station.

Brunch is popular on weekends, and often served to groggy guests the morning after a late night wedding or weekend party.

For special occasions, brunch can be the perfect solution to an Easter celebration, a Mother's Day party, a wedding shower, or any other less formal get-together you want to keep relaxed and casual.

Brunch can be served anywhere from mid-morning to early afternoon (depending on when your guests get up!)

As a result, buffet style makes it easy for everyone when prepared ahead of time.

What's for brunch?

The easiest brunches include lots of fresh fruit, salads, cheeses, yogurt, scones, bagels, lox and cream cheese, and a tray of pastries and cookies. Make it extra fancy with deviled eggs, Italian antipasto or shrimp cocktail.

For hot dishes, such as pancakes, bacon, sausage, and egg dishes, you'll need warming trays or at least a microwave available so that guest can warm their food before heading to the table.

Either way, be sure to have cold pitchers of orange juice and steaming pots of hot coffee and water (for tea lovers) ready and waiting. And, for guests who need a 'hair of the dog' pick me up, have pitchers of Bloody Marys and mimosas prepared ahead of time.

For a buffet, remember to arrange a separate space or an entire table reserved for cutlery, napkins, mugs, glasses, plates, butter, sugar, jams and jellies.

also see related feature -> A Brunch to Get You Goingmore brunch recipes

All about brunch

Get the conversation going at your next mid-morning celebration with these morsels of information and fun facts about brunch:

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Dim sum, the traditional Chinese brunch.

• Brunch originated in 19th century England where it was served to Saturday night "carousers" the following morning, right after Sunday services.

• A tradition unique to South Africa is that brunch consists of nothing more than fresh fruit and pancakes.

• In oil-rich Dubai, they kick off the weekend with Friday Brunch, when locals and tourists flock to local restaurants and fancy hotels for mid-morning feasts ranging from budget buffets to luxury banquets that last hours.

• Dim sum is a traditional brunch at Chinese restaurants the world over. It includes an array of small dishes such as roast pork buns, steamed and fried dumplings, shrimp toast and spring rolls, along with sweets such as sesame seed balls and mango pudding.

More about brunch around the Web:

Whether you decide to have your brunch as a formal sit down or casual buffet, these sites will perk up the party with delicious recipes and ideas for drinks and serving suggestions.

Brunch Drinks - Great ideas for early afternoon entertaining with suggestions on preparing sangria, Bloody Mary's and Mimosas, Racing Party mint juleps and links to complete instructions for mixing up Frosty Sours and Strawberry Daiquiris.

Sexy Cooking: Brunch - The romantic late breakfast plus suggestions for music to get in the mood, serving suggestions and recipes for quick, but artfully prepared platters together with more complicated recipes for soufflés and homemade waffles, drink suggestions and more.

Breakfast and Brunch Recipes - Hit the jackpot with literally hundreds of recipe ideas for French toast, waffles, quiches, along with countless different ways to cook an egg.

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