Brunch for Shut-Ins

nuts, crackers, crostini, dips & terrines, homemade muffins and preserves

Waiting for a table during Toronto’s infamous Sunday brunch rush isn’t so bad, in the summer. But waiting for eggs benedict in the cold? No way. So, until the sun comes out and patio season is in full swing maybe you should consider staying home and embarking on a little DIY project.

What if I asked you to stay in your robe and slippers all day reading the gossip rags and drinking caesars? Any takers?

Somebody bring me a caesar and step on it!

Sounds like heaven right? Well it can be yours in a snap. Follow these guidelines and you will be fast on your way to becoming the most popular stay at home bruncher on the block.

First, figure out a simple menu. You want food that is easy to execute and won’t require you to be away from your mimosa for too long. Next, call a few of your friends and invite them to brunch, when they invariably say, “What can I bring?” have a gander at your menu and tell them your plan. They will either offer to bring something from the menu, or, if they can’t cook, offer to bring booze. Sweet.

A nice, easy menu for a homebody brunch should include something savoury, something sweet, something egg-y and something alcoholic. Savoury could be a bagel & lox bar. All this requires you to do is lay out some smoked salmon, bagels, capers, sour cream and whatever little extras you’ve got in the fridge with a few napkins and voila! One could jazz this up with some smoked trout and pickled herring, or really put on the ritz with a tin of caviar and oysters on the half shell.

This saves you time in the kitchen but requires you to spend time shopping for the best of each ingredient. Cooking vs Shopping. You decide.

Get the coffee brewing and put a pot on the table next to a homemade muffin station. Mix a few muffin batters the night before. Blueberry buttermilk muffins, banana chocolate muffins, cinnamon apple muffins…. quickly cook up a batch of each as your guests arrive. Serve with butter, jam and honey and a bowl of fresh berries. If you really feel like showing off you could even make a flavoured compound butter. Just blitz some room temperature butter with raspberries or strawberries or maple syrup. Scrape flavoured butter out onto plastic wrap, form into a log and chill until firm. Unwrap and slice into little flavoured butter coins for serving.

me want muffins!

Brunch usually means eggs. In lieu of turning into a short order cook for your guests, opt for a make-ahead recipe that uses eggs. A quiche, strata or breakfast sandwich are all good options. Quiche can be made the night before and sliced, just warm it up when the time comes and serve with a green salad. A strata is basically a savoury bread pudding, mix it up the night before and pop in the oven to bake while you put together some cut fruit to serve alongside. For breakfast sandwiches, buy biscuits or english muffins and slice open. Lay out all the biscuit halves, cut side up, on a tray. Butter each half and top with sliced cheese and crispy bacon or slices of ham, or go veggie and top with sliced tomato or avocado. Wrap the whole tray and keep in the fridge until needed. When the time is right, slip the tray into the oven to warm while you scramble eggs to top the sandwiches, serve open-faced with roasted potatoes and sour cream.

Finally and most importantly at brunch, we come to the alcohol. Let your guests start with coffee or tea and a few nibbles before leading them over to a Mix Your Own Mimosa area with champagne on ice and a selection of juices like grapefruit and apple to put new twists on the old oj & champers combo. Or you could set up a caesar station where people can mix their own, because, as we’ve seen in those Clamato ads, no one wants to get stuck on caesar duty, especially not in Canada.

Doesn’t all that sound great? Relax and enjoy while someone else line up for eggs benedict.

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