Our ability to brunch is what separates us from the animals. Recently some friends and I got together to celebrate our position at the top of the food chain and our girl Andrea’s birthday with a fun, girly brunch at my house. Here’s how it came together:
First, make a menu:
Menu planning is my second favorite part of the brunch experience (the first, of course, being the eating.) I peruse Pinterest, scour foodie blogs like Damn Delicious or Smitten Kitchen, watch Tasty videos and consult the OG brunch babe herself, Barefoot Contessa, for easy, low-key ideas that won’t have me slaving in the kitchen while everyone else is downing mimosas. I then turn my menu into a shopping list – the first test of your menu’s feasibility. My menus always start out super ambitious – fried chicken and waffles … shrimp and grits … a full-on omelet station – but once I see all the ingredients written out, I reel it in a bit.
Then make a plan:
Proper planning is crucial to brunch success, and possibly your survival, since there’s nothing more dangerous than a bunch of hangry (possibly hungover) females craving carbs and melted cheese. This is the second test of your menu’s feasibility. Plan every single step of cooking your dishes. I mean, seriously, write that shit out. It’s the only way to ensure your eggs aren’t stone cold and your sorbet a melted mess. (I toyed with the idea of a sorbet, but alas, no.) Knowing what needs to go into the oven when and at what temperature will tell you if you need to scratch competing dishes. Figure out what you can make ahead. Where you can sub in store bought? Don’t be a hero. If it’s too complicated, nix it.
Balance sweet and savory:
The genius of brunch is that it’s breakfast and lunch … which means sweet and savory. If all your dishes are sweet, it just feels like breakfast. Too savory and it just feels like lunch. Make sure you have a good mix of both.
You can make brunch pot luck or at least have a couple of people bring dishes or drinks. At our birthday brunch, my friend Jennifer of Stellar Fashion and Fitness brought a French toast bake that stole the show and another friend Amanda brought cheesy biscuits and a pumpkin bread that were to die for. Other friends came bearing bottles – always a welcome contribution.
Take a lesson from IKEA:
Say it with me now: some assembly required. A lot of my dishes just required assembling components – like a cheese plate, a Caprese salad or prosciutto and melon. I also offered everything guests needed to make their own Greek yogurt parfaits: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, pomegranate seeds, chocolate chips and granola. There are lots of other dishes your guests can DIY: a breakfast burrito bar, biscuit topping bar, even a Bloody Mary bar. (Now I want to host brunch again.) Seriously, cooking isn’t a requirement. Come to think of it, I only made two dishes: breakfast sliders (ham, cheese and scrambled egg on Kings Hawaiian rolls) and brown sugar bacon (strips of bacon, sprinkled with brown sugar and chili powder, cooked in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes till crisp.)
Stock the bar:
Speaking of drinks, I kept things simple with iced coffee, mimosas, bellinis and rosé. Girly drinks that wouldn’t derail anyone’s Sunday if they had anything more strenuous than a nap planned. Mine was heaven.
Feeling inspired? Brunch can be as elaborate as or as simple as you want to make it. There’s a place here in Birmingham called Saturn that has Cereal Adventure brunch – nothing but cereal and pop tarts with cartoons on the TV. So don’t overthink it. Relax and enjoy yourself! And if you invite me, pretty sure this will be my reaction.
What about you? Got any go-to brunch dishes? Or a favorite restaurant where you go? Spill it.