How To Brunch with Simplicity and Style

July 21, 2011

Ah, brunch.  Truly, nothing brings to mind relaxation on a weekend morning more than the thought of a leisurely brunch with friends.  If I’m ever on vacation on a Sunday, one question I always ask is “Where should we head for brunch in this town?”   Even at home, and especially at Easter, one of my favorite things to do in the spring and summer is host a brunch. 

Today, Courtney Lake is back for his monthly contribution on the topic of how to stage a simple and stylish brunch for your friends and family.  

Please welcome Courtney on the subject of How To Brunch in Style!

“Summer is the season of alfresco dining.  Simple, easy and care free meals with friends and family at a leisurely pace are one of the season’s little perks.  I can’t imagine a meal better suited for this type of entertaining than brunch -  that wonderful combination of breakfast and lunch.  Brunch is the perfect opportunity to break out of your formal entertaining rut!  Here are a few quick and simple steps to creating an effortless brunch for six on a budget.

MENU PLANNING

Look at the people coming to your brunch and ask yourself a few important questions.  What time does the brunch start ?   The general rule is the later the brunch, the hardier the menu.  Do any of your guests have dietary restrictions?  Food allergies, low-sodium and gluten-free diets are becoming more prevalent, so think about dishes that can hit multiple categories. 

How much food should you prepare?  I go by the rule of having two additional servings for each dish. Since the number I typically expect for brunch is six, I plan that the dishes should feed eight.  It guarantees that those bigger eaters in the group will have plenty, and also that you will not be stuck with a fridge full of leftovers.

When I serve brunch at my own home, I love using this menu for its ease and ability to please a variety of palates:

1) Baked Eggs with Tomato Compote:  So simple and versatile, this dish has earned an honored spot on my brunch menu. It can be morphed into any number of variations but I found this particular version is especially tasty.  Add crumbled feta if you like an extra layer of cheese.

Graphic 1 - baked eggs

Recipe here.

 


2) Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado Platter with Flavored Aioli:  Rather than assemble the BLTs prior, here’s and idea: let your guests make their own!

Prepare a platter with choice cooked bacon, lettuce, heirloom tomato, avocado and flavored aioli such as garlic or wasbi.  Arrange a basket slices of sourdough, wheat bread and rye bread next to a toaster.  With this setup, your guests can experiment and create their favorite combinations with the flavors they love!

Graphic 2 -BLT Platter

 

3) Vegetarian Thai Breakfast Spring Rolls: With the simple addition of egg, you can turn this Thai classic into a quick and easy brunch dish.  They are gluten-free, nut-free and low in sodium.  If you want to step it up a notch for the meat eaters, add in ground lamb to create a main entrée. These versatile rolls can be made in minutes and are always a crowd pleaser.

Graphic 3 - springrolls_blogs_kansas_com

Recipe here.

To round out the menu, serve a medley of salads like a seasonal fruit salad with fresh mint and a light mixed green salad with a good quality store bought ot homemade vinaigrette.

MENU QUICK TIPS:

1) Don’t cook or bake more than two dishes and limit the brunch to five dishes in total.  Focus your energies on preparing two great dishes and everything else is either bought or assembled.

2) Dishes must taste great at room temperature.  A dish can start out hot but it must still taste great for those mid-brunch nibbles that always tend to happen.

3) No individually prepared dishes.  You don’t want to be become a short-order cook at your brunch, so as much as you love making pancakes for breakfast, avoid the temptation unless you love standing at the stove the whole time watching everyone eat.

DRINKS:

I am non-conformist in many ways, but when it comes to drinks at brunch, I think one reigns supreme. The combination of orange juice and sparkling wine, aka the mimosa, is my all-time favorite.  Simplicity is my friend – no open bar or complicated breakfast smoothies that have you running between the freezer and a blender. 

However, if you want to introduce a twist on the traditional mimosa, then I would set up a “Mimosa Bar” which is stocked with sparkling wine or Prosecco along with pitchers of fresh fruit juice (orange, mango and strawberry) and corresponding fruit garnishes.  Guests can then help themselves throughout brunch.

Graphic 4 - mimosa_thepartydress

The Party Dress

DRINK QUICK TIPS:

1) Assign a guest as the designated “bartender” whose job is to make sure the bar remains stocked.  When the guest arrives, show him or her where the extra supplies are and how to restock.  As a thank you, it’s kind to give them a bottle of wine or champagne upon their departure.  Assigning a guest as bartender is a a quick and easy way to keep you from performing double duty, and also keep the party going with the help of a good friend!

2) Stick with one drink outside of coffee and/or tea. There is no need for a full bar at brunch, it’s more work, stress and expense on you.  A simple mimosa bar or juice bar is all you need. 

3) Assume two to three glasses per person and plan ahead.  For a party of six, assume about twenty clean glasses.  People have a tendency to lose their glasses so either provide charms or labels, or have plenty of extras on hand.  You don’t want to be stuck on dishwashing duty when brunch is in full swing.

TABLE SET UP:

The theme here is keep it simple, and brunch is rarely a sit down meal at my house.  I set up a buffet on the kitchen island and let people serve themselves.  Place settings are stacked at one end of the buffet with silverware rolled in napkins already so guests just have to pick up and go. 

All the table needs is a stylish vase filled with flowers.  Don’t ignore the décor completely, but don’t make it a huge production.  Simple blooms coupled with whimsical branches, or a few stems in bright colors are really all you need. 

Graphic 7 Centerpiece_Courtney Lake

via

 

Graphic 8 Centerpiece_limelightfloral_wordpress

Limelight Floral

The beauty of brunch is that it’s a relaxed and leisurely meal so consider that most of all when preparing for guests.   Think simple, quick, and easy and you will be sure to have a brunch that not only your guests but you will enjoy. 

In the end, anything that brings friends and family together is a good thing so don’t over think or over plan.  Cheers!”

 

Thanks so much Courtney for your tips on hosting a stylish and successful brunch!  I’m loving that lily and branch centerpiece, and that mimosa bar idea too!  Be sure to hop over and say hello at Courtney’s blog Life Out Loud

More articles by Courtney:

Secrets for a Successful Terrarium

Meaningful Modern Design

Breaking Design Rules

 

What are your favorite brunch dishes to eat or serve?  

 

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24 Responses to “How To Brunch with Simplicity and Style”

  1. Pinning this right now for future reference!! Love the tips!!

  2. An excellent article! I especially loved the tip about how many servings to plan on. I always seem to over cook. Enjoyed reading this!

  3. What wonderful tips. I’m throwing a brunch shower for my sister in about a month and I love the idea of the BLTs, we were looking for something with a bit of “substance” for the meal. Thanks for the tip.

    Oh yes, the most important and favorite part is mimosas :-) Or poinsettias, champagne and cranberry juice, just as delicious and you can serve them at different times of the year, like the holidays.

  4. I love Brunch. These are great tips. Thanks for sharing. I love Bellini’s actually. Peaches & Champagne. Here is a recipe I found online with a little backround of where it originated from. http://cocktails.about.com/od/atozcocktailrecipes/r/blni_cktl.htm

  5. Blair says:

    What a great article! I absolutely love making my brie bites for any occasion and they are perfect at room temperature as well! If I don’t make mimosas, I am always a fan of Italian Sodas, and letting the guests make their own. Here’s my brie recipe: http://thefirstapartment.blogspot.com/2011/02/easy-entertaining-brie-bites.html

    Thanks,

    ~Blair

  6. Such a fun article! I love that bar! Can’t wait to meet Courtney tonight.

    xo,
    cristin

  7. Shivani says:

    I saw you today on the Nate’s show!! You were amazing girl. And what a gorgeous gorgeous house….you sure are a house proud.

    Yesterday night i was reading your no sew pillow covers and today saw you on the show. You are a great inspiration to me. I am new DIY er and for sure a regular visitor here.

  8. Bonnie says:

    mmmm, we love brunch! Great ideas, thanks!

  9. Lauren says:

    why is the title of the roll “vegan” if there are eggs in it?

  10. CentsationalGirl says:

    Ha! Oh no a typo, updating now, thanks Lauren!!!

  11. I agree with Courtney; Mimosas are a staple of any brunch, but I also like BELLINIS. The peach and prosecco is a little surprise for guests.

    You can’t go wrong with sweet or savory crepes. I also love masquerading dessert as “fruit” with a great lemon curd fruit tart. It just feels like a healthier indulgence! Loved the article.

  12. Twila says:

    This is so wonderfully creative and informative! Thank you and I also have saved this for future reference! Now to find an excuse to have a brunch…hmmm.

  13. jennifurla says:

    Love the idea of a mimosa bar!

  14. Christine says:

    Thank you for the tips, Courtney! Brunch is truly magnificent any time of year. My favorite dish to serve: quiche. Specifically, a gorgonzola-pear quiche jumps to mind that I served to my mother, mother-in-law, sister, and sister-in law long before I became a mother. Thanks also for forcing me to recall such a sweet day from almost 10 years ago!

  15. Beth C says:

    Great tips! I’ve been wanting to start a brunch tradition at my house for some time.

  16. April in CT says:

    What wonderful ideas and two scrumptious recipes I can’t wait to try!

  17. you had me at BLT! I love Courtney and would follow him to the moon…..and I bet right now you two are sharing a cocktail in San Fran and I could not be more jealous!!!

  18. Abi says:

    Brunch is my all-time favorite meal! and a mimosa is a must! =) If someone can figure out an easy way to keep a peach bellini in my hands, that would be awesome too!! Love the tips Courtney! I’ll def out them to use.

  19. Abi says:

    *Def put them to use…. and no, I’m not drinking now=)

  20. Cindy says:

    This really makes me want to have brunch with my family now! The only problem is scheduling and my lack of awesome cooking skills haha

  21. maureen says:

    Courtney, all the tips and images are amazing! I’m often ogling ur creations at Casasugar!

    Brunch is absolutely one of my favorite things to do on a gorgeous weekend and my girlfriends & I try to do this as often as we can. After all, it’s the only time we can have endless mimosas!

  22. Hilarious Abi, I’m a lover of bellinis and mimosas, too, problem is, I have two and I’m no good to the world for the rest of the day! Maybe that’s a good thing?

    :)

    Kate

  23. Yummy! I love the idea of Mimosa Bar–perfection and fun!

  24. Yelena says:

    Lovely and informative post!

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    http://www.glamthings.com

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