Mar/Apr
2013

Let's Do Brunch

Written by Margo Stich
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No-fuss ideas for spring gatherings

Brunch makes weekend mornings marvelous. Featuring classic breakfast and lunch items, this versatile meal can dress up and go formal for special occasions or don casual elegance for more relaxed affairs.

So, whether you’re hosting your favorite niece’s bridal shower or just having the book club over on a Saturday, here are ideas for semi-formal and informal brunches, complete with everything from inspiring table settings to tested menus and delicious recipes, pie included.

Casual Elegance: An informal buffet

A buffet brunch is the perfect solution to accommodating many guests, especially when you want to keep the surroundings casual. But just because the setting is informal, it doesn’t mean the food has to be. The complex, surprising flavors of the Three-Cheese Stuffed French Toast on this menu will add a touch of elegance to your gathering.

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three-cheese-stuffed-french-toastThree-Cheese Stuffed French Toast

1 loaf Challah bread* (French bread can be substituted)
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 cup (4 oz.) mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup orange marmalade
6 eggs
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 tsp. salt
Corn flakes, crushed

Mix the three cheeses and marmalade. Cut bread in 1-inch slices then cut a pocket midway to the edge of the crust in each slice (be careful to avoid cutting too far down); stuff with cream cheese mixture (2–3 Tbsp. per large slice of Challah). Squeeze cut edge together slightly to seal. Beat eggs, milk and salt together. Dip each piece of bread into egg mixture, flipping to get both flat sides, soaking briefly on each side. Coat with corn flakes then place on a platter and let stand 5 minutes before frying. Cook over medium heat, 3–4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve with jam or honey. *Note: amount of bread required will vary given filling amount and egg dip used per slice.

 

strawberry-cream-cheese-pieStrawberry Cream Cheese Pie

1 9-inch baked and cooled pie shell
1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped

Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon extract until smooth and creamy. Fold in the whipped cream. Spread over the bottom of the prepared pie shell. Chill a minimum of one hour.

Topping:
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup grenadine syrup
1/8 tsp. lemon extract
1 1/2 pints fresh strawberries, halved

Combine the brown sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Slowly stir in the water. Heat over medium heat to dissolve the sugar, then add the grenadine syrup and lemon extract, stirring constantly until thickened and clear; cool. Stir in the strawberries. Spread evenly over the cream cheese layer. Chill 2–3 hours to set. Serves 6–8. This is best served the day it is prepared as its moisture content causes crust to turn soggy.



Sitting Pretty: A semi-formal affair

Set a fun yet formal table with ease by bringing out the fine china, silverware and stemware and giving it a boost of color with bright chargers, fun placemats and an arrangement of spring flowers set loosely in a glass vase.

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garden-strataGarden Strata

2 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 cup fresh spinach, broccoli or mushrooms, finely chopped
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss or Parmesan cheese (or combination of the two), divided
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups packed fresh bread crumbs

In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients, reserving 1/2 cup of the cheese. Pour into a buttered 8-inch pan. Sprinkle the reserved cheese on top of the frittata. Bake at 350° F 30–40 minutes. Serves 6.

 

cranberry-fizzCranberry Fizz

2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
1/2 cup grapefruit juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 (12 oz.) cans ginger ale, chilled
6-8 fresh raspberries or oranges for garnish

In a glass pitcher, combine juices and sugar; chill. To serve, pour 3/4 cup juice mixture into a champagne glass. Garnish each glass with a raspberry or orange slice. Serves 6–8.