With all the brunch posting last week, I got thinking that it really is my favorite meal for entertaining. It's usually a low-key, casual get together. It's a great way to start the day. And, it usually involves butter, eggs and sugar. Really can't beat that.
I have my own personal brunch formula that makes it work, for me. It comes from lots of cookbook reading, hours obsessing over The BC and mostly, from observing my parents. Best entertainers I know.
Unless company is family... I don't try a new recipe.
I've had my share of failed meals, and I've learned the hard way that it's best to practice and make perfect before making company my test kitchen. Unless, of course, it's my family. But, even for them, trying a new recipe tries patience, which can make me crazy. I try to avoid the crazy.
Always: make something that's make-ahead friendly, with a good balance of sweet and savory.
Brunch is not always easy for one-dish wonders, but I've found a few that I stick to - and just added to the list is last week's baked french toast. Other make-ahead, simple dishes I love are lox and bagels, waffles (give someone the batter and let them go to town!), gratins (like this one) and breakfast breads like scones, muffins and coffee cake. I also try to keep the menu simple. If I am trying something new or rather involved, I pair it with something tried and true. Or even better: something store-bought.
A specialty drink makes it special.
Anything in a pitcher is pretty, be it water with lemon slices, orange juice or a cocktail. And I always have coffee and tea on hand.
Two days out: flowers; Night before: set the table and run the dishwasher. Seriously.
I like to arrange my own flowers, and if they're especially fresh, I arrange them two days before brunch, giving them enough time to really blossom and fill out. The night before, I set the table and get all the goods ready to go: the trays, the utensils and plates, serving pieces, etc. And at some point, I run the dishwasher and empty it (thanks to Eddie, on most days) so that it's ready for its duty the following day. I love waking up to a clean, perfectly put-together kitchen, all ready to party.
It's not about the table. Or the flowers. It's about the people.
A perfectly put-together kitchen is empty without the cheer and laughter of friends and family. I enjoy bringing people together, and really, breaking bread is about sharing. Like planning our wedding, it's about people, joy and love and not about the way the flowers fall in a vase.
I usually have to remind myself of that. Often.