I’ve always been a fan of brunch. It’s a meal that seems to say, 'Go ahead and sleep in!' You can still eat waffles and omelets at noon; and it’s okay to drink champagne in the middle of a Sunday afternoon... just as long as it’s mixed with orange juice!
My mom was always big on brunch, too. I remember her standing over the waffle iron making waffles to order as guests meandered in and out of the kitchen. I can still smell the scent of fresh, homemade waffles, piping hot coffee and trays of thick sliced bacon.
Today brunch, especially Easter brunch, has practical purposes as well. In the current economy where gas prices are flirting with $4.20 per gallon and food prices continue to rise, hosting a brunch as opposed to a dinner not only makes sense, but will leave a few cents in your pocket.
Here are some tips to get your brunch hopping:
1. Eggs are cheap, and what other meal can feature this perfect food better than a brunch? Dishes like Sally’s French Toast Casserole and Chile Egg Souffle (recipesbelow) are proven economical crowd pleasers.
2. Don’t forget about your table scape. Just because you are opting to stay in for a family affair instead of heading out to a fancy brunch buffet doesn’t mean that your surroundings can’t be beautiful. Try fresh cut ivory tulips in a glass vase anchored by river rocks. This kind of centerpiece gives your brunch buffet an elegant Easter effect without being overly pastel.
3. Brunch isn’t just breakfast. Make sure to have lunch items on your buffet as well. Mine will feature a spiral sliced ham (from Costco), chicken salad and croissants.
4. Don’t forget the cocktails. Mimosas, Belinis and Bloody Marys all go well with a festive Easter brunch. Have some Perrier or other sparkling water on hand for those who don’t want alcoholic beverages. For the kids combine one part Sprite with one part orange juice or peach nectar for a drink they will love as well.
5. Use what you have. Nothing will blow your budget like the purchase of new dishes or serving pieces. I recommend using your plain white casual buffet plates with festive spring salad plates to liven things up. Use plain white napkins tied with inexpensive satin ribbon to coordinate with your salad plates.
6. Opt for dishes that can be made ahead. Standing over a griddle making pancakes is no fun for the host.
However you choose to celebrate Easter Sunday, enjoy! It's friends, family and food that make holidays so special and memorable.
Chile Egg Souffle
Preheat oven to 350º.
Ingredients: 10 large eggs, 1/2 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 pint small curd cottage cheese, 1 pound shredded co-jack cheese, 1/2 cup butter melted, 2 cans diced green chiles.
1. Beat everything together except chiles. Fold in chiles and pour into a 9 x 13” baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350º for 30 - 35 minutes or until top is lightly browned.
2. Slice into squares and serve with salsa.
Sally’s French Toast Casserole
Ingredients: large loaf french bread, 8 eggs, 3 cups milk, 7 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, pinch of salt
Topping: 1 cup softened butter, 1 cup light brown sugar, 1 cup chopped pecans, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Cut bread into 1” - 1 1/2” slices. Place in 9 x 13” baking dish two or three across. Blend eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour over bread. Make sure each slice is wet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, blend butter, brown sugar, pecans, syrup cinnamon and nutmeg. Spread evenly over bread. Bake at 350º for 40 minutes. Serve with warmed maple syrup.