Food

Brunch 101

Easy tips to serve a gourmet brunch at home.

There’s a strong argument to be made for brunch at home. No lines, no overpriced eggs benedict, and the best reason of all – you can sip on a mimosa while wearing your coziest pajamas. Because brunch is generally cooked for a crowd and served in the morning, it can seem like intimidating meal to plan and execute. After all, getting up at the crack of dawn to cook a large meal for a bunch of your friends is hardly an enjoyable way to begin a Sunday morning. The good news is that with a little planning, prepping and trusting in the power of convenience foods, brunch can be a surprisingly simple meal to pull off. Who knows? You might even decide to make weekend brunch a regular thing!

Be a queen of convenience

Don’t be afraid to use convenience items such as pre-cut fruits and vegetables or eggs from a carton, your guests will never know the difference and you’ll be giving yourself some extra time to have a shower and get ready before your guests arrive. Not a baker? Step away from the measuring spoons and make use of your local bakery for homemade(ish) breakfast treats such as bagels, croissants, donuts, and muffins. Likewise, instead of making everyone’s favourite espresso-based coffee drink ask your guests to pick up their own on the way over (make sure to submit your request, too!).

Prep, prep, hooray!

The key to a successful brunch (meaning, a brunch that you get to enjoy just as much as your guests) is getting as much done beforehand as possible. Quiches and egg bakes can be made the night before and then served at room temperature the following morning. Steel cut oats can be made in a slow cooker overnight and then served with a variety of different toppings. Eggs can be poached 24 hours in advance, chilled in the refrigerator and then reheated by quickly submerging in simmering water. Baked French toast or bread pudding tastes best when the stale bread has been given at least 12 hours to soak up the eggy liquid, all you’ll need to do is pop it in the oven for an hour or so the morning of the brunch.

Setting the brunch scene (before your guests arrive)

Set the table for brunch the night before whenever possible, you’ll be surprised by how much this simple task can alleviate last-minute stress when you’re putting the finishing touches on your meal. Iron and lay out the tablecloth and cloth napkins (if using), lay out individual place settings or create a buffet style set-up and make sure glassware and utensils are all readily available. For a pretty pop of colour add a few small bouquets of freshly cut flowers (daffodils, tulips and tea roses are especially beautiful).

Have a brunch pot luck party

Take some of the pressure off yourself and make brunch a pot luck party, all you’ll need to do is co-ordinate who is making what. Opt for traditional brunch fare or choose a theme, this is especially fun for book clubs and cooking groups if you regularly meet for brunch. Having a pot luck brunch is also a great way to share the cost of the meal, ask one person to bring the alcohol or make it a BYOB affair. Make sure everyone knows what to bring, there’s always a good chance you’ll end up with ten egg dishes if the menu isn’t planned.

Boozy brunch for a crowd

Serving Caesars to a large group of people? Make up pitcher-sized portions of this Canadian classic the night before and allow your guests to serve themselves during brunch. Set up a small Caesar-making station with celery salt and lime wedges for rimming the glasses, as well as thinly sliced celery sticks, various pickled vegetables, and extra hot sauces. Similarly, a make-your-own mimosa station can be put together with bottles of sparkling wine and fresh orange juice (kept in ice buckets if possible) and sliced fresh fruit for garnishes.